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Toddler TV

Song Lyric of the Day:

We’re looking for our friends / We’re looking for you / Hey, there’s Sid / Did you hear the one about the kid who wanted to know everything about everything?

Sid the Science Kid / “I’m Looking for My Friends

Coraline’s always been very into books and playing, more so than she was into watching TV. A few months ago, though, she started to watch a bit more TV. While Rich and I are happy that she’s still nowhere near being a couch potato, we appreciate that with the exception of one TV show, her favorite shows are all on PBS and educational with positive messages. And even that one Nick Jr. show, Olivia, is somewhat educational in that it encourages using your imagination and being creative; it also has really positive messages about family and friendship.

Granted, Coraline is still only 20 months old, so when I say she watches TV, that amounts to 5, maybe 10 minutes of sitting and watching before running off again to go play or to choose a book she wants us to read to her. She may or may not come back to watch some more; mostly I think she just likes knowing her show is on and that she can sit down to watch more if she wants. I say this from experience — once she wanders off, I’ll change the TV to something I want to watch. No sooner does she hear the change in voices/sounds than she comes running back to ask “Elmo?” (or whoever was just on). I switch it back to her show, she smiles, then takes off to go play again.

"You do know I'm trying to watch TV, right?"

The first TV show we noticed Coraline enjoyed watching was Curious George when she was several months old. It airs early in the morning, so we would turn it on while we were getting ready for work. As she’s gotten older, she’s now more interested in brushing her teeth, following us around while we get ready, and playing in the closet (petting my high heels while lovingly whispering “shoes” under her breath). But she still loves watching that monkey get into mischief.

Added perk: The show has a lot of Latin characters and one of the better theme songs.

Coraline of course loves the classic Sesame Street. She’s a fan of Abby, the fairy in training, as well as Big Bird and Bert and Ernie (Ernie more than Bert). But it’s that little red guy, Elmo, who she adores. Actually, adores may not be strong enough a word. Worships. She worships Elmo. As do most toddlers.

Added perk: Watching Sesame Street with her is a trip down memory lane.

Watch Elmo’s Song on PBS. See more from pbs.

As a word nerd, I can’t express how much I love that Coraline loves WordWorld, a show all about — you guessed it — “building” and spelling words. This is one show where the first notes of the theme song bring her flying across the room to watch and dance to the music. She’s also gotten pretty good at saying “WordWorld.”

Added perk: It’s always impressive to see how creative the show is in building the words — the letters form the shape of whatever object they’re spelling.

I admit: At first glance, this was not one of my favorites. The characters are a bit wild looking, part of a very vivid, very atypical kids’ show aesthetic (the ones I was used to, anyway). But as I’ve watched some episodes of Sid the Science Kid with Coraline, I’ve been impressed with its approach to teaching science. Although I could’ve done without the episode about how/why we poop. Well, at least until Coraline’s ready to be potty trained.

Added perk: The show plays equally well in teaching boys and girls all about the how and why of science.

The fact that Coraline likes Dinosaur Train warms my heart. I minored in anthropology and have long fantasized about going on an archaeological dig for dinosaur bones. In reality I’ve had to settle for watching Jurassic Park 317 times. That said, Dinosaur Train does a great job of teaching about the different kinds of dinosaurs. It also has live-action segments featuring Dr. Scott the Paleontologist sharing facts about dinosaurs and teaching kids how to say the often-complex (particularly to kids) scientific names. The show also has a “blended” family in that a baby T-Rex has been adopted by a family of Pteranodons after his egg mistakenly ended up in their nest.

Added perk: I get my dinosaur fix while Coraline learns about something a bit more unique than most kids’ shows present.

I can’t believe I’d never heard of Super Why! until a friend with a daughter slightly younger than Coraline mentioned it. The show is all about books — reading them and finding answers in them to solve riddles and help the stories’ characters. A kids’ show about books! It’s perfect for Coraline. The show’s protagonists have are imbued with reading, spelling, dictionary, word, and alphabet powers, which help them work together and solve each episode’s mysteries.

Added perk: Even Rich enjoys watching this because it’s about books. (Yes, we are a family of geeks. Book-loving geeks.)

I never thought anyone could take Elmo’s place in Coraline’s heart, but lo and behold, that’s exactly what Olivia has done. An adventurous little girl, Olivia is all about using her imagination and creativity in any and every situation. She calls her younger brother Ian her “little bother” and dotes on her cat and dog. Coraline is so into this show now, that when we start it for her she throws her arms in the air and hollers “OLIIA!!!” (She somehow makes the V disappear.) It airs at 7:30 each night, so it’s a great way to get Coraline to sit still and wind down in preparation for her 8 o’clock bedtime.

Added perk: Catchy music and a family-friendly show we can all appreciate. It’s also the first show at which Coraline has laughed at something she found funny.

"Ah ... there's Elmo!" (I took this picture before Olivia usurped Elmo.)

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Faves: 2011

Song Lyric of the Day:

You go down, down, down / I fall out of love with you / Come back round, round, round / You son of a gun

Oh Land / “Son of a Gun

It’s four days into 2012 and I’m just now getting around to talking about some of my favorite pop culture things from 2011. For me, that’s not too bad.


Seeing as how I didn’t read nearly as many books as I would’ve liked, I won’t bother discussing those. Except to say that I had to quit reading An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England halfway through — I hated the protagonist SO MUCH I couldn’t finish the book. But, lord, how I tried. I really did. I do, however, hope to read a lot more this year.


I saw a handful of new movies in the theater (oooh), among them Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Paranormal Activity 3, Horrible Bosses, The Muppets, and Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, all of which I really enjoyed. I even managed to catch up on some other, older movies thanks to Netflix, including The Hurt Locker (very intense); Insidious (scared. the. shit. out. of. me.); Cronos (not what I expected); Red (a hoot); Up in the Air (ultimately disappointing); Paranormal Activity 2 (bad idea to watch with a newborn sleeping nearby); Get Him to the Greek (one of the funniest comedies of the last few years); and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (a crushing disappointment — I had such high expectations).


If you read my post from yesterday, you already know how little time I have to stay up on my beloved TV shows these days. I just finished an almost two-week marathon catching up on Leverage, which I love. (And which makes me want to embark on a thrill-a-minute life as a con artist/thief/grifter. But I digress.) About the only shows I managed to stay up to date on were Happy Endings (uneven but very funny); American Horror Story (a train wreck I couldn’t ignore); Modern Family (still cracks me up); The Middle (relatable and hilarious); Desperate Housewives (yeah, yeah, I know); Ringer (entertaining soap opera); Fringe (praying Fox doesn’t kill it); and Community, which is literally the high point of my TV-watching each week. I think it’s the smartest, most hilarious show on the air right now. Which is why if NBC pulls a Britta and cancels it, I will cut a bitch.

I tried watching Up All Night, which I found cute, occasionally funny, and a bit disappointing; I can take it or leave it. I wanted to like New Girl, I really did, but it was so painfully unfunny, I cut my losses after 1 1/2 episodes. What I’ve caught of Suburgatory has been funny and interesting; I’ll have to catch up on that one online.

Now I just need to find the time to catch up on Raising Hope (LOVE), Supernatural, Justified, Burn Notice, and The Closer.


Music is the one thing I was kind of able to stay current on thanks to the Sirius XM subscription that came with my Elantra. Thanks to the magic of satellite radio, I discovered bands and artists I never would’ve heard on our local stations. Here in no particular order are some of my favorite songs of the year.

Oh Land, “Son of a Gun”*

Deadmau5, “Raise Your Weapon”

Afrojack featuring Eva Simons, “Take Over Control”

Lloyd, “Dedication to My Ex” (the CLEAN version)

Young the Giant, “My Body”

The Cab, “Bad”

Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks”

Iffy the Badman, “Do You” (which I blogged about a while back)

Of Monsters and Men, “Little Talks”

Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”

The Airborne Toxic Event, “All I Ever Wanted”**

*Released in late 2010, but it was new to me in 2011!

**Rich and I FINALLY got to see The Airborne Toxic Event in concert back in November. After 22 months of waiting to see them, it was essentially a religious experience for me (I’ll explain at another time). If you’re a fan, go — go see them now!

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Programming Note

The episode of Vanished with Beth Holloway I filmed a few weeks ago is airing tonight on the Lifetime network at 10PM EST. I play the mom Patricia in the Rivazfar story’s reenactments.

You can read all about my day on set here.

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And … Scene!

Song Lyric of the Day:

I could stick around and get along with you, hello / It doesn’t really mean that i’m into you, hello / You’re alright but I’m here, darling, to enjoy the party / Don’t get too excited ’cause thats all you get from me, hey

Martin Solveig (featuring Dragonette) / “Hello

Monday afternoon I got a call from my talent agency about an acting job. You forgot I’m with an agency, didn’t you? It’s OK. I’d almost forgotten myself; the last job I had was a Ruby Tuesday commercial a couple of years ago. I’m also pretty sure my headshot is about four years old now (gotta get that updated). The job was for the Lifetime show Vanished With Beth Holloway and I’d be playing the mother of a couple of girls who get abducted. I ran into my boss’ office and excitedly told her about the gig; she agreed I could take the next day off to take the role (my boss is AWESOME). The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur since I was so excited and nervous about the job — the commercial was fairly recent, but the last time I did a docudrama was years ago. I spent Monday night packing what amounted to half my closet so I’d have more than enough outfits to choose from on set; I figured it was better to take too much clothes than not enough, because then I might end up having to wear something all wrong for a given scene.

After a last-minute cancellation for a late-night shoot Monday, I reported to UT Hospital at 8AM yesterday for my first scene of the day.

(I apologize for the photo quality — I only had my cell phone with me, not my camera. Added bonus: I sent these to Twitpic yesterday and it turns out they didn’t go through.)

Hospital Scene

Hospital scene setup

For the scene, I had to sit by my daughter’s hospital bedside, upset about what happened to her. A detective comes in the room and asks me to step into the hall to ask me some questions. That’s when the fun started. See, with docudramas like this where there’s narration playing over the re-creation scenes, you make up dialogue or just talk about whatever since what you say won’t actually be used on air. For some takes, we made up dialogue to go with the scene. Then there were the other scenes where Nick, the actor/producer playing the lead detective, was trying to make me laugh. He flashed his badge and introduced himself as “Detective Dirtbag.” He asked me if I realized he was missing The Price Is Right because of me, and that it only comes on once a day. The kicker was when he asked me if I knew why my boyfriend was wearing women’s underwear when he was arrested; I almost cracked up during that take, so I covered by pretending to cry even harder.

Tired mom makeup

Me post-scene in my tired/crying mom makeup

Next we headed to a house in Oak Ridge to film the other scenes. There I was introduced to not only my evil ex-boyfriend (the one who kidnapped the girls), but three other boyfriends. Apparently that wasn’t enough, because later on our awesome makeup artist, Jason, was recruited to play a fourth boyfriend.  Oh, and I was introduced to my son. That’s right: four boyfriends, three kids, and one ex. Busy day.

I got made up in heavy, smudgy makeup since I was supposed to have been out barhopping/clubbing. My first scene at the house involved me stumbling into my bedroom drunk, crawling into bed fully clothed, and passing out. Next to the first of my many fake boyfriends. Can you say awkward? Actually, it was more surreal than anything. It was all I could do not to laugh during one take when I was pretending to be passed out and Xander turned over while he was “sleeping.” Too weird.

Then it was on to a scene where me and my second boyfriend had an encounter in the hallway and failed to notice my daughter standing nearby. My third boyfriend and I didn’t ever have a scene together. Then my fourth boyfriend (Jason) and I watched TV with all three of the kids. He was given a beer while I was given watered-down Gatorade that passed for White Zinfandel. I took a few sips of it during our takes; I’d be lying if I said it tasted good.

Made up

Me in my "clubbing" makeup between scenes

In between takes, I hung out with the kids’ moms (the kids enjoyed running around between takes) and had a nice chat with one of the production assistants. I also enjoyed talking with all my fake boyfriends — they were a really nice bunch of guys. It turns out that my evil ex is actually married to one of my coworkers. Small world and all. We all had fun talking about what TV shows we’re currently enjoying (Game of Thrones was at the top of the list), and how we’d all pretty much give anything to get a call to be a zombie on The Walking Dead.

After my scenes wrapped, I headed out to pick up Coraline from my parents’ house and headed home to try to nap. I never did manage to fall asleep, but I enjoyed the much-needed downtime after getting home at almost 1AM that morning, sleeping terribly, and then shooting all day.

At 10PM, I headed back out to meet the crew downtown, from where we’d caravan out to Ijams Nature Center to film my DUI arrest scene (mother of the year, I know). I grabbed Rich’s camera so I could get pics of everyone. It turned out to just be Jeff, the director, Nick, and myself. On the way to Ijams, I asked Jeff all about what it was like to be a director, how long he’s been in the business, etc.; he’s worked on some really neat projects and traveled the world, even going to Venice recently.

Once at Ijams, we met up with Bill, a cop who lives there for security (news to me), so Nick could get prepped for the scene, including receiving instruction on the proper way to cuff me.

While Nick was getting ready, Jeff and I sat in the living room talking with Bill. That’s when I remembered I had a camera with me this time, and I asked if they’d mind if I took some pictures since I blog everything.


Jeff, our intrepid director

Bill the cop

Bill the cop

Scene prep

Bill makes sure Nick's uniform is up to par

Once Nick was ready, we headed outside to film the scene. It was a quick scene, where I got handcuffed and put in the back of the cop car. I have to say, the handcuffs were really uncomfortable, and having to get in the car while cuffed was not easy. Nick apologized every time he had to put me in the car; I think he was worried I was going to bonk my head. Which, me being me, was a very real possibility. Being cuffed and put in a cop car — even though it was all pretend — is all the motivation I need to avoid a life of crime. That and the bruise one of the cuffs left of my right wrist (to be fair, I bruise easily).


Nick, my arresting officer

Once we finished the scene, Jeff and Nick joked that the key for the handcuffs was broken. I hardy-har-harred and was then released on my own recognizance. We headed back to Bill’s, said our thanks and goodnights, and Nick drove me back to my car downtown; we talked about movies, actors, and directors on the drive back. I ended up getting home at almost midnight, and today it was back to my usual daily grind.

Nick and Jeff

Nick and Jeff (who I think look like Bradley Cooper and Billy Squier, respectively)

And now you know what my day on set was like.

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TV Worship

Song Lyric of the Day:

I can’t remember anything / Can’t tell if this is true or dream / Deep down inside I feel to scream

Metallica / “One”

Lost” Recap Haiku:

Charlie and Claire gone

All are looking for Ethan

Charlie dead alive

I can’t believe we have to wait until January to see another new episode of Lost! Actually, I can, because I’m fully aware of how TV networks program after November sweeps and around the holidays. It’s just that last night’s episode, “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues,” was so good and it left us with a couple of cliffhangers—one small, one big. I don’t remember the last time I was this addicted to a TV show. And it’s astonishing to see how involved Rich is, since watching TV is not one of his favorite things to do. At least when Lost returns in January it will now be followed by Alias. Which means Rich and I will be glued to the TV every Wednesday night for the rest of this year’s TV season.

While I love, love, love movies as well, I guess I love TV a bit more. Why? Probably because a great TV show is like a great book. You get these wonderfully involving, multi-layered plots that unfold over the course of several episodes or a series’ entire run. You can have myriad characters, both minor and major, who can flit in and out without causing a ripple or who can turn everything on its head. You get to really know characters, see them evolve, and watch them grow, sometimes in genuinely surprising ways. And every now and then there is a reference to an earlier event/joke/episode that feels like a reward for being loyal.

Tonight I’ll be watching my two favorite dramas-which don’t quite fit the formula in that they’re not serialized-“CSI” and “Without a Trace.” While we continue to get to know and see these shows’ characters evolving, it’s not necessary to watch every episode to know what’s going on. And I think that’s why they’re so successful. Some viewers gripe about how unrealistic it is that a criminal is caught and a lost person found in one episode. While I understand where they’re coming from, it is TV. And in TV land, normal rules do not apply. Even these two shows do not always have happy endings. From the TV industry perspective of things, this non-serialized format is sheer genius. Repeats do almost as well as first-run episodes precisely because someone who hasn’t watched the show before can jump right in and know exactly what’s going on. That’s why shows like “ER” and “NYPD Blue” do badly in repeats—a new viewer is not going to have any clue as to what’s going on, since episodes start in the middle of the very long stories they’re telling. Also, in “ER”’s case, I think the continually depressing story lines have something to do with that. And why, oh, why won’t the writers let any character be happy anymore? Those are but a couple of the reasons why “WAT” is stomping “ER” in the ratings lately.

Before I get to my appointment TV viewing tonight, I have to tidy the house up some. While it’s very festively decorated for the holidays, we have yet to put away the ornament boxes and various other items involved in decorating. I need to restore order before I can kick back and relax. And relax I will.


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