Thursday, July 31, 2008

Logo's "Sordid Lives" -- Absolutely Fabulous!

I'm plum in love with cable network Logo's new comedy series Sordid Lives, which premiered last week. Logo, from the Viacom/MTV family of networks, specializes in gay-friendly programming. In their own words:

Logo is entertainment programming for lesbians and gays and just about anyone who enjoys a gay point of view. Logo is for us, our friends and our family.

Logo is also for anyone who's looking for the consistently interesting and always well-acted series Queer as Folks and The L Word now that they're off Showtime (a Logo sister network.) Unfortunately both shows are edited for content now, but what do you want from basic cable anyway? (Well, perhaps a bit more than just an edited version, considering what FX gets away with on their original series.) However, if you want the full monty at least you can get hold of the DVDs.

The series Sordid Lives is a prequel to the 1999 movie of the same name, which itself was an adaptation of a popular stage play. The world of Sordid Lives was created by Del Shores, a talented writer/director/producer who's been turning out successful, hilarious and often meaningful comedies for over twenty years, in addition to writing for lots of episodic TV . His own works are informed by his experience as a late-blooming gay man, which makes Logo possibly the perfect venue for this latest incarnation of the over-the-top antics of Sordid Lives. As with all great art, however, the sheer excellence of the material transcends all boundaries. Sordid Lives is a series that will please all sorts of people on every kind of level.

SL's basic story resolves around a small town family in Texas, a wild bunch of colorful characters whose excesses and eccentricities are many and varied. I won't even attempt to summarize the plotline; Logo has an excellent and quite detailed overview to get you started caring about the folks on Sordid Lives, and I believe that you will care after you've watched even a few minutes of the show. In addition to Del Shores' snappy and snippy dialogue, the chief charms of SL are the performances of the marvelous cast, many of whom are reprising their roles from the movie. The talented comedy veteran Rue McClanahan is new to the SL world in the role of the clan matriarch Peggy, with familiar face Beth Grant (Donny Darko, Little Miss Sunshine) as her sister. Peggy has two grown daughters, one a little wild (played by Ann Walker) and one straight-laced (played by Bonnie Bedelia -- do you remember when she married Little Joe on Bonanza?), and a son who has spent the last twenty years in a mental institution mainly because he goes around in Tammy Wynette drag, and where he is currently under treatment from a vainglorious and deluded therapist bound to dehomosexualize him.

And so it goes. Alongside McClanahan, Grant and Bedelia, comic actress Caroline Rhea is terrific as the sexually unsatisfied Noleta, whose husband has two wooden legs and the hots for other women. Actor Leslie Jordan, Emmy-winner for his recurring role on Will and Grace, is absolutely amazing as Brother Boy, the locked-away son. He's hilarious, of course, in sequined drag outfits as he milks the broad comedy with everything he's got, but Jordan's also incredibly touching in the role and takes Brother Boy to a level where a lesser actor couldn't go. There's tremendous heart in his portrayal, and overall there's a huge well of compassion and genuine human emotion in this show. In this respect it reminds me a great deal of the Canadian hit Trailer Park Boys which also manages to find truth, beauty and authentic modern family values in the midst of slapstick and non-stop profanity. Sordid Lives has a core of warmth and affection that is obviously not accidental and is completely winning.

There's also a plotline involving Peggy's grandson Ty (the appealing Jason Dottley) who is an ex-soap opera actor in Hollywood struggling with the decision to come out. This allows for some show biz lampooning and some prominent guest stars -- Margaret Cho, Carson Kressley -- and if right now Ty's life doesn't seem to have quite the pizazz as his Texas brethen's, it's still mighty enjoyable. Even the insanity of Hollywood life can barely hope to compete with a cast of veterans going all out in well-written flamboyant farce. I don't mean to forget Olivia Newton-John as a just-released-from-prison bar singer befriended by Peggy. N-J is a good sport and her wonderful voice is a treat.

The first two episodes are a two-parter, and it looks like current and future episodes will be played many times to allow for new viewers to join in. My recommendation for now would be to tune in this Saturday night at 9pm for "The Day Tammy Wynette Died - Part 1" and stay for Part 2 immediately following at 9:30pm. I predict you'll be completely up-to-speed and hooked on Sordid Lives after the hour. Visit the Sordid Lives website on Logo for entertaining character profiles and other background material, though unfortunately no full episodes available for viewing. (That seems like a mistake; clips just won't cut it these days. Better we get our episode fix from Logo's website than finding it elsewhere...and we will find it elsewhere.) I also suggest reading this terrific post from written by Del Shores about the show and his life and how they are related, and you will also want to check out his website here.

Now I've got TWO shows I can't wait to see each week: AMC's Mad Men and now Logo's Sordid Lives. Summer TV rocks!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Summer of '76 gets some lovin' and The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame gets a boot in the head

After reading Judith’s amazingly well-written and impassioned July 23rd plea to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to reconsider some of their long-held artistic and political stances, I felt the need as a lifelong student of the Billboard charts (and beyond) to comment on her article. But I didn’t want my reply to get lost on the comments page because I have similarly rich and strongly-stated opinions on this matter. Also I did some research regarding Judith’s complaints that I think comprise a valuable addendum to her fine and necessary editorial. So I’m posting my reply as a separate story rather than simply as a comment.

It seems that Judith (whom I’ve never met) and I are of the same age group, given her vivid recollections of the year 1976. I share like-minded memories of a great time to be a child, particularly a child (like me) aware of culture, politics, sociology, history, art, film, and music. So I also begin my piece by recalling my memories of that time in my life, in our country’s Bicentennial year, and how the craft of music continued to shape my worldview during three of those 12 glorious months. So I'm now starting to magically smell and taste
Shasta, Razzles, Icees, Cherry Charms pops, Funyuns, Funny Faces, Zotz, Marathon bars, and that Gold Rush Golden Nuggets chewing gum that used to come in a little prospector's bag. Like, I totally remember this creepy, funny Shasta commercial starring Frankenstein (here deemed "Igor," probably because of Universal Pictures' meddling), John Fiedler (Winnie the Pooh's Piglet, 12 Angry Men, Bob Newhart) and Happy Days dad Tom Bosley on voice-over!!!!

In the summer of 1976, the season from which my most vivid recollections of Bicentennial life and music derive, I was nine years old, set to hit the big ten in late October. At that time, my mother was working in personnel at a government agency and my father, a former Atlanta cop, was working for his father at a construction business the Treadway family owned. Being the grandson of a genius lawyer—my mother’s father—I had grown up listening to the volumes and volumes of classical music to which my grandfather, Mr. Pops (as I called him), was determined to expose me. This was a project of his that had begun probably as soon as I could talk. Beethoven was his chief love, then Mozart, Bach, and the hundreds of other great classical composers that lay well-played in his musty-smelling cabinet of ancient and new LPs.

I think at first a shock of fear would shoot up my spine when Mr. Pops would command me to sit down quietly and listen to the unparalleled sounds of the world’s great composers. But I know that shock disappeared when I discovered I loved this music. It was so totally new in its oldness that I was captivated. Still, I’m sure it would have irritated Mr. Pops to know that, when he he would leave his family’s post-war-designed Atlanta home on Franklin Circle, I would not often on my own continue to seek solace in the strength of Wagner, the gentleness of Vivaldi, or the energy of Liszt.

Instead, I switched on pop radio.

I had not yet started my own record collection—that would happen three years later when, after a windfall of cash came my way, I bought my first albums: The Beatles 1962-1966 (the blue greatest hits double album, printed on blue vinyl), The Beatles 1967-1970 (the red greatest hits double album, printed on red vinyl), and The Beatles (the famous White Album—yes—printed on white vinyl). Before that, though, I was lucky enough to have young parents who were, themselves, rock and pop fans. My mother, in particular, had (and still has) two 3’x 5’ sturdy wooden boxes that, at first glance, appear to be simple window seats, topped with black vinyl-covered padding on which to sit. A closer look would reveal a push button that would release the seat tops and open the wooden boxes to reveal the often still shrink-wrapped albums inside, often with yellow $1.98 K-Mart stickers still affixed to the plastic.

Some were purchased in her teens, some newly acquired. Among them: Chicago Transit Authority (the 6-album Carnegie Hall box set), Harper’s Bizarre, Herman’s Hermits, Black Sabbath, Iron Butterfly, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Bob Seger System (“Ramblin’, Gamblin’ Man”), The Guess Who, Elton John, Cat Stevens, Paul McCartney and Wings, The Swingin’ Medallions (“Double Shot of My Baby’s Love”), Tom Jones, Bee Gees, Electric Light Orchestra, The Monkees, Percy Faith, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (“Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Is In”), The Rolling Stones, Martha and The Vandellas, The Shirelles, The Box Tops, Paul Revere and The Raiders (“Kicks”), The Eagles, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, and a whole lotta classical music.
When at home, to sing along with, I would most often pull out McCartney’s Band on the Run, Simon and Garfunkel’s Wednesday Morning 3 A.M., Cat Stevens’ Greatest Hits, CCR’s Green River, ELO’s Face The Music, Rolling Stone’s December’s Child, a 1972 Easy Listening compilation with the Mamas and the Papas, O.C. Smith, and Otis Redding on it, and Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

But, in the summer of 1976, I spent most of my days at my grandmother’s house—Chick-Chick, we called her. Or Mom. I called my mom “Lynn” and my grandma “Mom.” Go figure. Even as a kid I did things my way.

At Mom’s house, I spent my days stationed beside the big radio in the family room. When I could HEAR the radio, that is. My 14-year old Uncle Jeff has just taken up the drums so they ruled the aural environment at the house, which I'm sure accounted for a certain rivalry between my uncle (who was more like an older brother) and I. The dreaded drums were located downstairs, in the extra-cool basement with the fancy bar and the comfy beds, and the pinball machine that had long ago stopped working. There, in the corner was a twelve-piece trap kit that Jeff played pretty well. Compared to my musical tastes, his seemed largely Southern-flavored—Neil Young, The Allman Brothers, The Shorty Watkins Band, Little Feat, ZZ Top, Bad Company, Moody Blues, and The Atlanta Rhythm Section were the live acts Jeff would venture out to go see in the summer of 1976. And I would sit downstairs marveling at the Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd albums he loved to play along with (“Several Species of Small Furry Animals in a Cave Grooving Together With A Pict” was the Pink Floyd cut I laughed most derisively at). Jeff was hipper than me, though, and I loved him for it. My Aunt Jerry, then married or at least about to be, was pretty with-it, too---that summer, she went to see Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Seals and Crofts, Fleetwood Mac, Chicago (at Georgia Tech), ELO, Neil Diamond, and the Average White Band.

Upstairs, when the drums were off, the radio was on. I would listen mostly to top 40 stations like Quixie (WQXI, somewhere around 94 on the dial). Then there was Z-93 and 96 Rock as well. But my young ears liked Quixie. Back then, top 40 radio was in the baby stages of getting as repetitive as it is now. But still there was a lot of diversity. You could hear “Convoy” by C.W. McCall, “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Barry White, “Everything is Beautiful” by Ray Stevens, “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale, “Shaft” by Isaac Hayes, “Claire” by Gilbert O’ Sullivan, and “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love” by Bad Company all in the same hour. On Sundays, I'd listen for hours to Casey Kasem's "America's Top 40" (all the way up to number one, unless a mall outing screwed things up). And at night: The King Biscuit Flour Hour, the trippy-sounding live concert show where you could hear Boston playing THAT album or The Grateful Dead playing THAT one. And finally, the creme de la creme: Dr. Demento at 9 pm on 96 Rock. God bless 'em, they hadda sense of humor back then, too. "Shaving Cream," "Star Drek," "Dead Puppies," "Pencil-Neck Geeks," "Fish Heads," "My Bologna," "Hello Mudda Hello Fadda," "Telephone Man," "Mr. Jaws," "They're Coming to Take Me Away Ha Haaaaaa!" (still the scariest top 5 record in chart history), "The Cockroach That Ate Cincinatti," "The Spam Song," "Dead Skunk," and "The Hawaiian War Chant" are the songs I remember hearing on this amazing program the most. Those days are over, lemme tell ya.

There were five, count ‘em, five Number One singles in the summer of ’76, from May 15 to September 1st: “Boogie Fever” by the family R&B band The Sylvers (who did some pretty cool songs the Jacksons never did, like the ultra-amazing “Misdemeanor”); “Silly Love Songs” by Wings (McCartney’s disco-influenced heavy bass obviously made everyone smile, because it stayed on top for 5 weeks); the somewhat frightening “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross (I always used to think “That can’t be Diana Ross” when she started singing “I don’t need no cure, I don’t need no cure”—I am still not sure that’s her); “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band (a smash of a one-hit-wonder,
who landed a bunch of Grammies at year’s end, and who made me go into a radio-station-dialing frenzy when I first heard their 45rpm confection; I immediately hadda hear it again); “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee (a rare single-only release from Elton, who was my boyhood idol and who wasn’t known for doing many duets then; this song was the most memorable release of 1976 for me. I remember listening to it over and over again, when my Uncle Jeff, who hated the record, came up to me and revealed to me that Elton was gay. I was young so I had to ask what that meant. I was shocked when I found out, but I couldn’t abandoned Elton because of that, so I shrugged, and I’m sure my Uncle Jeff walked away worried about me. "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" would even provide me with my first glipse at a "video." Seriously, this is the first "video" I remember seeing (the second was 1979's Blondie hit "Heart of Glass"):

On TV, I chiefly remember watching Sonny and Cher, Barney Miller, The Captain and Tennille, All in the Family, Bob Newhart, Shields and Yarnell, The Hot L Baltimore, M.A.S.H., Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Schoolhouse Rock, Soupy Sales, Fat Albert, Carol Burnett, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Bicentennial Minutes (my God, Bicentennial Minutes---why don’t they release those on DVD!!!! Here’s the only one I could find, with Jessica Tandy)

At the movies: The Outlaw Josey Wales (Eastwood taking the lead from John Wayne), The Shootist (John Wayne’s last movie), Survive (the airplane-crash-in-the-Andes-with-cannibalism movie, on a double bill with Roeg’s horror film Don’t Look Now), Taxi Driver (on a rare foray into four-walled theaters, during which I fell asleep), The Bad News Bears (like a documentary of my little league days on the losingest team in league, the unfortunately yellow-suited--like the Bears--Orioles), Logan’s Run (exciting!!!), Gus (goofball Disney movie about a football-playing donkey), Shoot (stunning anti-gun drama with Cliff Robertson), Family Plot (Hitchcock’s finale), All The President’s Men, Tommy (probably for the 20th time), The Gumball Rally, Silent Movie (an intro to bawdiness for me), Ode to Billie Joe, Cannonball double-billed with Death Race 2000, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (still playing after its Oscar-winning late 1975 release). Here's the amazing, strangely-Disneyfied 1976 Bad News Bears trailer!!!! All childhood summers are sublime, but the summer of 1976 was more than that for me--so much so, I can’t detect a word hot enough to describe it. For the 200th Fourth of July alone, it was stratospheric. Add the music, movies, TV shows, radio and friendships, and we're now beyond the limits of the known universe in quality-summer talk. Okay. So enuff of the memories. Thanks for them, but we move on to the deeper issue at hand, namely…

What is it with this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Judith’s July 23rd post tackling this issue got me to thinking. In that piece, she implored the RRHOF to consider honoring Neil Diamond, Chicago, The Doobie Brothers, Heart, Linda Ronstadt, Pat Benatar, Connie Francis, Cat Stevens, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Hall & Oates, Peter Gabriel/Genesis/Phil Collins, Steve Winwood, the Monkees and Donna Summer.

Let’s get the no-brainers out of the way: The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Cat Stevens, Heart, Linda Ronstadt, Alice Cooper, Genesis, and Donna Summer all deserve immediate recognition. No arguments, just get on with it. I know one of these acts per year for the next ten years should be included. Again, screw the arguing…

The only person in Judith's original grouping I’m perhaps not familiar enough with is Connie Francis. She may make it in that Brenda Lee sort of way, but honestly, the hits of hers I know are good, but not that good. Sorry, Judith’s sister. May hafta wait a while (though maybe not that long…she did rank an impressive 6 #1 hits). Cheap Trick, Hall and Oates and Peter Gabriel may have to wait a bit longer, too. But they’ll get in, eventually, you can bet on it.

You see, being admitted into the RRHOF is largely a numbers game. You have five yearly slots, not including the specialty slots like Sidemen and Early Influences. With those five placements (which can be expanded to six or seven), if you look at the acts who have been admitted over the past few years, it seems as if the RRHOF have come up with a formula: A couple of 80s acts, one or two 70s acts (including one that had no real hits), and a 60s/50s act. One female is usually in there, as a solo or group inclusion; one or two black groups are in there; punk and post-punk is usually among the groups now; one hit-maker, if not three, is in the mix, and hip-hop is starting to claim its ground.

So one can reduce this sort of thing down to a silly math notion. But you should know something, Judith. I’ve done some research on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame--primarily by calling my Beatlemaniac friend and all-around music expert Brad Hundt, and by reading the comments of Beatlefan publisher Bill King ( have since found out something quite shocking. You know how the Hall supposedly has these 1000 people voting on each year’s entries? Well, this might be the case, but did you know two people have the right to overturn any results they can’t stomach. Those two people? Their photos are looming above this paragraph: Jann Wenner, longtime publisher of Rolling Stone magazine, and snooty/brilliant rock critic Dave Marsh (Springsteen biographer and writer of two of my favorite music books: The Heart of Rock n’ Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles of All Time and The Book of Rock Lists).

The only mention I can find of Chicago, for instance, in Marsh’s Rock Lists book is in the “Worst of All Time” categories: most chiefly, the “40 Worst #1 Albums,” in which Chicago V, Chicago VI, Chicago VII, and Chicago VIII (as well as Blood Sweat and Tears AND Linda Rondstadt’s Living in the USA) all make appearances.
Short answer: Chicago will never make the RRHOF unless there’s a jazz-inspired riot of some sort. And I love Chicago. First concert my parents too me to, before the death of Terry Kath. Loud, boisterous and fun, it was. I can still sing, by memory, “Saturday in the Park” and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” EXACTLY like the lead singer (I once did it for best friend/music addict Brian Matson and he blanched at how dead-on my imitation was). It’s wrong to leave Chicago out of the mix, no matter how much you despise them, Dave Marsh.

And who gave you and Jann the right to come waltzing in to overturn any democratically-arrived-at results, you insolent, outdated MFs? That’s cocky bullshit, if you ask me. That’s like having Academy Awards president Sid Ganis come in on a whim and say “Oh, God, not No Country For Old Men. Please!! How about American Gangster instead?” If news of this sort of thing came out regarding the Oscars, they’d be absolute hell to pay. And even if he does have a distaste for Linda Ronstadt (Which he must, given she's not in the RRHOF yet), why would've Jann Wenner placed her on the cover of Rolling Stone seven times? That doesn't make a whit of sense! She should be in the RRHOF tomorrow!!!!

As for Pat Benatar and solo Steve Winwood, they hit the airwaves around 1980 or so. That would mean that, given the 25-year wait before induction, they would have started being eligible in 2005. Often, if you notice, acts like The Mamas and the Papas have to wait ten years into their eligibility before their induction. So look for Benatar and Winwood around 2015. Again, this is a numbers game.

Judith had some wounding comments about the induction of many of acts that she found lacking. Her article encouraged the reader to look at the induction list. So I did. And, surprisingly, I agreed with almost everyone on the list, I have to say. The only ones I could see leaving off the 22 lists delivered since 1986 are Jackson Browne, the Righteous Brothers, Solomon Burke, Bonnie Raitt, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Young Rascals, and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. And I would leave these guys off only because I have other inductees I’d have included. These acts are still landmarks of the business.
I close with my choices for the 30 acts that I THINK should be inducted into the RRHOF, now or when eligible: KISS (I hear Jann and Dave hate them, too; they're not my faves, but are indeniably the cause of an entire generation of young boys getting into rock n' roll), T-Rex, The Minutemen, Chicago, Electric Light Orchestra, The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Ringo Starr (maybe as a sideman), Wire, XTC, Burt Bacharach, Barry White, Run DMC, Public Enemy (I’m sure they make it on in a year or two), Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett (as early influences), Linda Rondstadt, Edgar Winter, The Carpenters, The Cars, Black Flag, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, George Jones (I think there’s plenty of early blues repped; now how’s about some more early country), Leslie Gore, Joe Meek (as a producer), The Fleetwoods, Conway Twitty, The B-52s and...what the hell? Dr. Demento (or dj Barry Hansen, if you prefer).

Now I gotta listen to some records and look through my collection of these!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mad Men Season Premier: Slow but Satisfying

Just a few notes to add to Lisa's post about the season two premier of Mad Men. It did move at a very leisurely pace, although the office venue is still hopping. Best moments; figuring out where to put that new fangled Xerox machine (and ultimately, it didn't take them long to start copying body parts), the old black and white TV footage of Jackie Kennedy giving a tour of the White House in the background on very vintage televisions (kudos to the MM set designers) and Don Draper mentoring Peggy the junior copywriter on the most compelling way to position the new airline account. It's not sex that's emotion. "What did you bring me, Daddy?" Don Draper and Peggy Olsen are the most intriguing characters, and this first episode leaves us wanting much more of them both. I also liked Don Draper's final voice over, which was prose in the shadow of Robert Frost...cold, precise, and very New England. Most of the Mad Men long to be published writers, but Don Draper may have the most accomplished way with words of them all.

So, How Did Everybody Like "Mad Men" Last Night?

I did an intensive on AMC's Mad Men in anticipation of last evening's 2nd season opener. I watched all 13 of the first season episodes on Saturday and Sunday, finishing the last one about ten minutes before the new season started. For those of you who are already hooked on the series, you understand completely -- the show is terrific. For those of you who haven't fallen for it yet, dig right in -- you can find the earlier eps online (let us know if you can't find them) -- and catch up. Don't wait any longer.

For the uninitiated, I can see where last night's episode might seem a tad underwhelming -- this show is definitely cool, in all ways -- but much is afoot. Don has some male performance issues, his wife is getting frisky -- from all that horseback riding -- and flirty -- with that mechanic -- and the gals in the office just met Mr. Xerox machine. And Peggy, the young female copywriter (played so well by Elisabeth Moss) who had a mysterious -- to her, even -- pregnancy and delivered a baby in the season finale, seems to have ditched the kid and slimmed down. I guess we all know that the duplicitous and creepy nearly androgynous-looking Pete Campbell has to be the father, but he's balking at getting his own wife pregnant at home. Definitely much afoot there! You'll find a thorough synopsis of the episode on AMC's Mad Men website here, and also synopses of all previous seasons episodes plus an overall Season One review. Good stuff!

Here's a peek at last night's episode, with commentary from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner:

What did you think of the 2nd season premiere episode "For Those Who Think Young"?

Saturday, July 26, 2008


On July 1, 2008 I posted an article on the impact Animal Planet's Animal Cop shows had on my life. I am pleased to say that the outcome of one of those shows has now happened in the real world of one of the largest animal shelters in the nation. Actually, good outcomes happen every day in shelters all across the country, but I took this outcome a bit too personally.

Jimmy the Dog was adopted on Thursday. He was neutered Friday morning and was picked up to go to his new home after the surgery. I was at the shelter yesterday afternoon and I scrambled out of there an hour into my stay due to my tears of joy and a few tears of sadness. I am thrilled he will have a happy, healthy and safe home, but I didn't get to say goodbye to my buddy.

I met the woman who adopted him and she was a seemingly wonderful woman who had adopted a lovely female German Shepherd six weeks ago. Jimmy met her dog and the dog intro went well. I saw Jimmy for the last time (although, I didn't know it would be the last time) on Tuesday evening as we went for what would become our last walk together. He escaped out of his cage on Tuesday night prior to my departure and I chased him around the shelter. The thought of it had me laughing. He wanted his freedom! I had named him Jimmy (after my dad and kid brother) and I think his new owner liked his name, so hopefully he will spend the rest of his life as Jimmy. Jimmy has a terrific personality and a sweet spirit.

I mentioned in the original post that I had prayed for Jimmy to get a good home, so I have to be thankful my prayer was answered. I am thrilled that the system did indeed work. My only sadness is that I will never see Jimmy again. He recognized my voice. When he would hear it he'd come to the side of the cage before he could even see me. He knew I'd walk him and let him graze in the grass. He always had that look on his face that said "hey, let me lay here a bit longer." I'd give him his bacon strip and his big dog bone. I petted his neck (he loved it there). I made up his bed after I walked him.

When I saw his empty cage yesterday (the note I had written about how great he was and the shelter's note on his history were gone) the only things that remained were the now empty water bowl and the bed I made up for him when I left on Tuesday. There it was - the purple pillow upon a blue sheet and a soft cream towel.

I was told that his new home has a big fenced-in yard. I hear the house is big too! Hopefully, he will have a big and comfy bed as well. Jimmy had been in a cage 24/7 (outside of a walk or two a day, if he got lucky) for almost six months. He now deserves a great life!

I will miss him, but I hope he never misses me.

The animal shelter deserves lots of kudos. Their volunteer coordinating staff is wonderful and caring. The guy who originally trained me (Joe) deeply cares about the animals at the shelter. They did a house check to make sure that Jimmy would indeed have a yard to run off his energy in.

Thanks again to Animal Planet for providing me with an outlet to serve in some way. Without Animal Cops, Animal Precinct and the network's heroes I would never have gotten involved with volunteering at an animal shelter and would never have met Jimmy. My life is better having served him. Buddy, I enjoyed our time together. May you live a long, healthy, happy, safe and secure life. May the food be good, may the walks be fun, may the grass in summer be green and pleasant and may the house be warm in the winter, may your life be wonderful!

This was the note I had posted on his cage for potential adopters to see:

Hello there, My name is Jimmy and I'm a sweet boy who loves to lie in the grass and have my neck petted. I also love a cozy bed. I've been here awhile, so I need a real home. Love Jimmy

He has now been adopted and I will be a bit sad for awhile, but the sadness will leave every time I visualize my boy laying comfortably on his big, soft bed in that big house with that big yard. Who knows, maybe I will see him again one day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fabulous Dexter Promo on the Showtime Website

Just a quick note to let everybody know that Showtime has posted an awesome video promo for the new season of Dexter. Click on this link.
You will see scenes from last season as well as many never before seen shots from the upcoming season that will premier in late September. Get a glimpse of Jimmy Smits, who will be featured as a new regular cast member! OK start the countdown...two months and counting until our favorite serial terminator returns...
If you don't want to go to the Showtime site and need the promo fix right now, here it is!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Madison Avenue Madness Returns

It's dark. It's clever. The writing sparkles and the 1960's period clothing is to die for. Yes, ladies and gents, the Madison Avenue gang from Sterling-Cooper is back for season number 2, this Sunday night, July 27th at 10pm on AMC. The phenomenal series Mad Men returns, carting a wheelbarrow full of 16 Emmy nominations. I'm placing my bet that it will win Best Drama and become the first basic cable program to do so. Shocking that it has taken about 20 years for a basic cable show to get this close to the golden winged statue for TV excellence. If ever a (non-HBO) program deserves one, this is it. From the the exquisite early 60's NY setting, to the smoke filled, sexist and sexy pressure cooker offices of a big NY Ad Agency at mid century...Mad Men is like a long, long drag of a Marlboro cigarette, only it won't kill you. It's a cold Manhattan straight up at the Bull and Bear bar in the Waldorf Astoria during a time when men wore hats and women wore steel belted undergarments like armor.

For those who may have missed part or all of the first season, here's a brief re-cap in advance of Sunday's Round 2 premier. If you plan to spend the weekend catching up on your recorded episodes (AMC played them all last weekend), don't read on. For those who can't, this study guide might help you dive in to Season Two with minimal confusion.

Don Draper (Joe Hamm) is the Creative Director for NY Ad Agency Sterling-Cooper. He is cold and enigmatic, and has assumed the identity of a fallen Korean War comrade in order to escape his small town past. His wife is a blond ice queen who keeps the house clean, dreams about doing the air-conditioner sales man, and sees a shrink for her "nerves". Roger Sterling (John Slattery) is the suave and silver haired boss who has suffered a heart attack at the end of season one. And who would not have a coronary at this agency, since they all smoke cigs incessantly in nearly every scene. Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) is the shifty, Teutonic, ladder climbing Account Executive. With his boyish face and slicked back hair, he is the office Anti-Christ for all seasons. Mucho evil lurks behind that pale, bland facade. The Art Director Sal Romano (Bryan Batt) is a hugely interesting character. Heavily closeted, he tries to keep up with the non-stop sexist banter. It's like watching Paul Lynde navigate a Stag party.

As riveting as the male members of the cast are, this program would not be as robust without the fantastic female leads. Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) plays the flame haired Office Manager and femme fatale. She's like a Gilligan's Island Ginger with brains. But my absolute favorite is Jr. Copywriter Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss). A plain potted plant in an office full of orchids, we've watched her strive to crawl out of the typing pool through season one. She's actually a brilliant and creative advertising genius, and her attempts to climb the ladder of success along with the guys is (to me) one of the most compelling aspects of this series. Which leads to my one plot complaint about season one. Peggy's weight gain turned out to be a pregnancy in the season finale last year, a complication of which she was bizarrely unaware, right up until the birth. I thought this turn was hard to swallow, given that she was established as an intelligent young woman who proved she could swim with the sharks on Madison Ave. We'll see how the writers resolve this discrepancy in Season Two.

There are twists and layers and enough deception to satisfy even the most jaded TV viewer in Mad Men. But for me, the high point of last season, was the final episode ("The Wheel") and it showcases the reason I wanted to tune-in to this series from the very beginning. I believe the world of big Madison Ave advertising is endlessly amazing, and I had hoped, we would get a glimpse of its machinations amidst the soap opera story lines. In "The Wheel", Don Draper is challenged to create an advertising campaign for Kodak's new wheel shaped slide projector, which he renames the Carousel. He begins his pitch to the captivated Kodak execs saying, “This is not a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards and forwards, and it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.” As he describes what this product can do with precious family photos, it reveals the real poetry that fuels the creation of a world class advertising campaign. Absolute magic. It resonates with what motivated me to go into this media business, so many moons ago.

Well folks, that should wet your interest. Tune in this Sunday and see Mad Men on AMC. It is the best time machine you will find on TV today.