Monday, February 05, 2018

New-ish Network Television Shows I'm Loving

Did you miss me? I got stuck in some January doldrums. I was also reviewing my Spanish language lessons, trying to get up to speed for Conversational Spanish 3 classes. Necesito estudiar mucho.

Here are new-ish network television shows I'm watching and enjoying. All six are either in the first or second seasons. I hope they all get renewed. (Or in the case of The Mayor, picked up by another outlet for another season.)

1. The Good Place on NBC

The Good Place makes me feel hopeful, without being preachy or self-righteous. I love the twists, turns and somersaults this wacky story takes. There are a few episodes that feel a bit slow, but stick with it. You'll be glad when the revelations roll in!

2. The Mayor, was on ABC, currently on Hulu

I'd vote for Courtney Rose for mayor. What a breath of fresh air this young man brings to city politics! Mayor Rose's heart guides him through a steep learning curve, as does his intelligent and driven advisor, Valentina Barella. I love this show! I can't believe ABC pulled it from the lineup so unceremoniously. Maybe some scandal involving one of the main actors or showrunners has yet to break and shed light on the situation, but I hope not. I hope Hulu makes a second season of this delightful show.

3. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World on ABC

I like Jason Ritter's face. He portrays a flawed, likeable, bumbling guy trying to become a better person, and maybe save the world, one good deed at a time. I really want to see how this plays out. Yvette, his spiritual guide, is super-fun while providing a grounding force. She's figuring it out as she goes, wearing really great outfits along the way.

4. Superior Donuts on CBS

The cast of this show is awesome: Jermaine Fowler, Judd Hirsch, Katey Sagal, Maz Jobrani, David Koechner, Diane Guererro, Rell Battle. Each episode feels like a gentle social studies lesson in being a good human with plenty of laughs.

Chad and I got to see a live comedy set by Jermaine Fowler, and he is hilarious. Jermaine picked on Chad a bit for one of the jokes, and (of course) it made us love the set even more.

5. Young Sheldon on CBS

If you already like Big Bang Theory, then this show about the young, precocious Dr. Sheldon Cooper is a solid bet. Although I wasn't as smart as little Sheldon, I was definitely the odd duck in my family growing up, and I can so relate. All the actors on this show are fabulous, and I especially love Annie Potts as the sassy, meddling Meemaw. (Meemaw translates to grandmother for those of you unfamiliar with Southern vernacular.)

6. Riverdale on The CW

I feel ridiculous for watching this show, because it is so over the top melodramatic, and aimed at kids half my age. I love the lush, moody visuals of Riverdale. This darkly reimagined Archie comics world brought to life delivers sudsy soap opera style story lines. Everyone on the show is gorgeous. I might catch up on a few missed episodes later. It's a guilty-pleasure, for sure.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Manic Hobgoblin: Christmas Edition

I often have an inner monologue running. Most of the time that quiet voice exudes kindness and acceptance. Sometimes that gentle voice helps me focus on a project, or urges me to finish a necessary task. Sometimes that voice reminds me to take a breath before responding. I'm at peace when this voice speaks. My usual inner monologue voice reinforces a highly-curated collection of my best qualities.

Every once in a while, a different voice interrupts. I call this voice Manic Hobgoblin, or MH for short. MH exudes insecurity, never feeling as if anything I do is enough. MH, always wanting more, blows budgets and overextends time commitments and shows zero concern for my personal well-being. MH seemed to be in hibernation for a long time. Today, December 23, MH awoke. MH thinks that one Christmas tree in the house is not enough. MH says I should dig out the second (faux) Christmas tree from the shed and decorate it as a fun Christmas Eve project. MH says it's not enough that Chad and I went to Austin's Trail of Lights at Zilker Park. We MUST also go to Winter Wonderland at Circuit of the Americas. MH thinks I should stay up all night doing the 1000 piece Christmas Santa jigsaw puzzle. MH wants me to get up early and make one last mad-dash to the grocery store tomorrow on Christmas Eve, despite the overstuffed kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. MH also thinks I should hit some post-Christmas sales on December 26. In short, MH has no chill, and Christmas is his time to shine, shine, SHINE!

Manic Hobgoblin, you are crazy, and not at all in a fun way. Stop watching those cruddy commercials during the saccharine-syrup Hallmark movies. Step away from the Pinterest board, MH. Here, look at these pretty pictures from the Trail of Lights. Have a store-bought cookie. Pop open a diet ginger ale. Put your feet up. You're feeling vvvveeeerrrrryyyyy sssssllllllleeeeeepppppyyyyy.

Sssshhhhh. Manic Hobgoblin sleeps again. Let's keep that creature from stirring. Merry Christmas. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Shopping & Shipping: Done!

When shopping for Christmas: I have ten nieces and nephews, one parent still living, one grandparent still living, a mother-in-law and a father-in-law. They all live halfway across the country. I feel such a sense of relief when the last package of Christmas presents is wrapped, packed and shipped each year. As of Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 4:07 PM Central/Standard time, I am done!


That's a wrap!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Five Songs I Have on Repeat

Here are my five fave song obsessions at this moment. You're welcome.

1. The Gold by Manchester Orchestra

So deliciously moody and perfect.

2. Learn to Let Go by Kesha

Lady, I wish I could. This song provides many feels.

3. May I Have This Dance by Francis and the Lights, featuring Chance the Rapper

Someone needs to hold a boombox over their head and play this song real loud outside their crush's window.

4. The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness by The National

Total nonsense, and I can't stop singing along.

5. Let 'Em Say by Lizzo and Caroline Smith

I've been pretty obsessed with Lizzo since I saw her at SXSW this year. I think she's positively amazing. I'm so excited to see her perform next week live in Austin!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Chad feels much better. So do I.

I'm happy and grateful to report that Chad feels much better. After the alarming swelling of his face due to an infection, his nice face is now back to normal. The antibiotics did their job defeating the infection in his jaw. I'm thankful for modern medicine. I'm thankful that we have the resources to deal with health issues when they arise. I'm mindful that many people are not so fortunate. 

I'm also thankful that the overwhelming sense of helplessness and worry I felt as a result of Chad's infection is gone. We are both sleeping (mostly) soundly again. 


Thursday, October 12, 2017

I had a birthday. Chad needs a root canal.

The Wednesday before my birthday featured a tough session at the gym with my sweet, pretty, perky trainer (who is trying to kill me with lunges, squats, planks and push-ups), lots of household chores and a trip to the grocery store to prepare for the celebrations (and laziness) to come. Thursday morning Chad and I hit the road at the crack of 9:00 AM. (That's early for me. #ChronoDelayed) Destination: Dallas, first stop: lunch at Unleavened Fresh Kitchen. Being a vegetarian on the road in unfamiliar places presents a challenge. While a few chain restaurants offer veggie options, I don't always (as in hardly ever) want to eat at Subway or Chipotle. I research online ahead of time for viable veggie food. Unleavened Fresh Kitchen hit the spot with the Gardener Wrap -- yum! Bonus points for location near our next stop: Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden. I was so looking forward to seeing the eleventy-billion pumpkins and gourds. The displays were amazing. But I won't lie, the hot weather and blinding sun were a major fall weather fail. Chad and I skulked from shady spot to shady spot, cutting our time at the gardens short due to sunburn risk and heat exhaustion. Enjoy the photos. Know that I was sweaty and growing increasingly irritable when I took them.

This year's pumpkin village theme: The Wizard of Oz

Is that Dorothy in the background? Nope.
Just some little girl standing on the pumpkins.
Like one does.

We traded the blinding sun and sweat-inducing heat of Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden for the sweet shade and air-conditioning of the Dallas Museum of Art. We specifically visited the museum to experience the Kusama installation art piece entitled All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins Call me skeptical about standing in a mirrored box with polka-dotted pumpkin sculptures for 45 seconds, but it turned out to be emotionally affecting to see these joyful pumpkins reflected forever and ever and ever. The optical illusion of eternal pumpkins also left me feeling a bit wobbly physically. I think the artist knew what she was doing by limiting exposure to 45 seconds. If you go, I strongly encourage you to buy tickets to this special exhibit ahead of time. Chad and I wandered the museum for hours. I do love Dallas Museum of Art.

Lovely glass art with a nice view at Dallas Museum of Art

As I shamefully admitted on this very blog several months ago, Chad and I fell off the vegan wagon. We're just vegetarian with vegan tendencies now. With that out of the way, our last stop in Dallas: dinner at Cane Rosso in Deep Ellum. We shared salad, focaccia and an outstanding Margherita pizza. There was cheese and it was delicious. I'm sorry, cows. Thank you, cows.

We managed to wait out most of the rush hour traffic before hitting the road back to Austin. After some bothersome lane closures due to roadwork, we were home safe & sound by 10:30 PM.

Friday morning I awoke to donuts from Bougie's delivered by a handsome, hunky man. (It was Chad.) Wow. (The donuts and the Chad.) We went halfsies on a lavender donut and a cinnamon donut. Both cake style donuts were exemplary. I highly recommend. 

After some relaxed Internet time and lolling about, we stepped out for lunch not too far from home at El Mercado (a.k.a. Old Reliable). Veggie fajitas and a daytime margarita were all I hoped they would be. Many times while dining at El Mercado on Burnet Road, I've looked across the street and spied the sign for Chocolaterie Tessa. With birthday-weekend momentum building we finally visited Chocolaterie Tessa for the first time. The smell of chocolate gently beckoned us inside while the spare, tasteful displays offer glimpses of chocolatey goodness. We procured six truffles to share, each more heavenly than the next.  

In the spirit of trying new things we also popped in to a store in our neighborhood that we'd not yet visited. Magic Caravan at 5003 Burnet Road lives up to its name. Gorgeous rugs, fancy pillow covers, intricately painted ceramics, exotic jewelry, Turkish towels, robes and colorful light fixtures delighted us. Plus I got to meet the shop dogs who were sweet and beautiful, so major bonus points there. I exercised great restraint, buying only three colorful handmade ceramic bowls. Great restraint. 

Chad and I went to see a movie in the middle of a weekday. So decadent. We saw Flatliners (the 2017 re-do). Meh. Then we hit Trader Joes's where I bought everything that looked good. The bill came in under $59. What?! I should go to Trader Joe's more, but it's a bit of a trek from our house. 

Saturday morning I spied with my little eye this lovely birthday tablescape. (Even though my birthday wasn't until Sunday, Chad set the scene early.) Chad made yummy brunch for us which included killer French toast. We did our best imitations of sloths all day. We had leftover veggie fajitas for linner. (Linner = lunch + dinner.) We had birthday cake a little early. We're so crazy! (Note the sarcasm. We are fairly mild-mannered and polite folk.)

Sunday, officially my birthday, we brunched at Blue Star Cafeteria: the only place in town to get good grits. After brunch the weather was brutally hot and sunny for what was supposed to be a fall day. And Austin City Limits music festival made most of Central Austin a no-go-zone. So we scurried home to hide from the elements and crowds. I opened presents. I am now the proud owner of a Kenzo sweatshirt. I try to be all "live simply so that others may simply live", but in my heart of hearts, I lusted for that colorful Kenzo sweatshirt something fierce. My precious.

Sunday afternoon, Chad took his usual weekend day siesta. He seemed distracted. After some gentle questioning, he admitted to a toothache. We thought it was sinus pressure from seasonal allergies making his tooth hurt as it was sinus-adjacent. After three and a half days of birthday debauchery (kidding), things kind of fizzled out by Sunday evening (not kidding). We ate Trader Joe's salads for dinner. Chad went to bed way early. 

Monday Chad's tooth was hurting even more. He googled and self-diagnosed that he probably bruised a ligament in his jaw due to sinus pressure. (Public Service Announcement: do not google and self-diagnose. You'll be wrong.) I went to my workout Monday morning and to Spanish class Monday evening. Chad did not sleep well Monday night.

Tuesday Chad's upper jaw and tooth were still in a real bad state. I rubbed his shoulders between doing loads of laundry to try and distract him from the pain. We met up with Chad's brother, who happened to be in town for his work, for dinner. Chad put on a brave face for his brother, but agreed to see a dentist Wednesday, so I know the pain must have been terrible. Chad did not sleep much Tuesday night.

Wednesday morning Chad awoke to a swollen upper lip. At his 8:00 AM dentist appointment, the doctor diagnosed a serious infection and a need for a root canal. After an initial treatment, and a prescription for good pain meds and antibiotics, Chad should be on the mend. Only, he's not. If anything, the swelling is worse and has spread up to his nose and cheeks. I'm so worried about him. He looks miserable and awful. I offered to take him to an urgent care clinic, but he declined.

I'm marching him back to the dentist tomorrow if things don't look better in the morning. Send prayers and happy, healing thoughts. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Five Favorite Live Theatre Shows I've Seen

I'm really proud to call such a creative and talented person as Max Langert my friend. Friday evening Chad and I saw Max Langert's new play Gibberish Mostly at the newly reopened Ground Floor Theatre. Gibberish Mostly presents a thought-provoking, clever speculation of what goes on in the mind and consciousness of an autistic woman unable to speak intelligibly to her parents. Or is it that her parents are unable to speak intelligibly to her? The set design features an inventive forced perspective of slanted wall lines and door frames making the small set seem much larger. The mirror-image room set design employs no physical wall, instead using different floor color and backdrop color on each side to visually separate the space. This mirroring theme is a thread throughout the play.

You can still get tickets to see Gibberish Mostly through September 30 by clicking here.

I'm grateful that the Ground Floor Theatre reopened after a 20 month absence. Austin is losing far too many of the performance spaces and businesses that made our fair city quirky and charming. I'm proud to support local theatre, especially Ground Floor Theatre.

Chad and I talked about other favorite live theatre shows we've seen over the years. To the best of my recollection here are my five favorite live theatre shows I've seen. (btw: I've seen lots of shows in Manhattan, but only one Broadway show made my list.)

1. Co*Star: The Record Acting Game with Vincent Price

Conceptualized and performed by Lee Eddy for the 2016 Fronterafest Short Fringe in Austin, this play rightly won "best of fest". I laughed. I cried. I saw this play three different times, and still loved it each time. Lee Eddy embodies a character like no one else I know. She brings pathos to even the silliest moments. I really did cry when her character knocked over a beloved houseplant in the midst of "co-starring" with Vincent Price. Genius.

Here is the description from the Fronterafest website:  
YOU act scenes opposite your favorite actor. Directions: 1) Remove script from LP envelope. 2) Turn to any scene you want to play. 3) Place the phonograph needle on the corresponding scene that is on the record. 4) Listen carefully as the narrator sets the scene and the star on this record acts out his part and gives you your cue. 5) When your cue is given, read your lines at the proper pace so that the flow of the scene is natural and realistic. 6) Follow the script but you may add, change or improvise your lines as you wish. REMEMBER! Practice makes perfect.

2. The 39 Steps

Chad and I saw The 39 Steps in Manhattan on Broadway. By some unknown magic, we scored front row, center seats. Four hardworking actors played about a hundred different characters in this hilarious tale of spy craft with lightning fast pacing, imaginative sets and crazy costume changes. My face hurt after the show from laughing, smiling and gasping so much. Branded as "Hitchcock made hilarious", 39 Steps is anticipated to return to Broadway in 2018 - 2019. This is the show to see!

3. Circus 1903

Chad and I loved this touring show. We saw Circus 1903 in Austin at the Long Center.

Read my original blog post by clicking here.

Check out the tour calendar for Circus 1903 by clicking here.

4. Santaland Diaries 

Santaland Diaries (the stage show) is based on the essay of the same title by David Sedaris chronicling his time working at Macy's as a holiday elf. The stage show adds some holiday tunes performed cabaret style for good measure. Chad and I have seen this show many times over the years. I personally prefer Santaland Diaries performed by perennial Austin actors Martin Burke and Meredith McCall at Zachary Scott Theatre. That said, I've seen other actors perform the role of Crumpet from Santaland Diaries, and the show is still laugh-til-you-cry funny and snarky. Definitely catch a local performance of Santaland Diaries wherever/whenever you can. Please be warned that this show is decidedly not family friendly.

5. Annie

When I lived in Birmingham, Alabama during my elementary school years, my parents took me to see a touring production of the musical Annie. The first, and quite possibly the last, musical I ever loved. (As an adult, I'm not a big fan of musicals. Really? You're going to burst into song? No thanks.) I bought a long-playing record of the show. I learned every word to every song.  I retroactively pity my poor parents having to listen to that noise as I readied myself for the imaginary audition when I might win the role of Pepper. I didn't want to be that goodie-two-shoes Annie. I wanted to portray the bad-girl Pepper.

btw: I'm dragging Chad to a movie-party of Annie (the version from 1982) at the Alamo Drafthouse. Send Chad happy thoughts during this difficult time for him.

Get out and support live theatre! I acknowledge that live shows can be expensive. Many venues host pay-what-you-wish performances or offer reduced ticket prices for students, members of the military or senior citizens. Check with the venue, you might be able to volunteer as an usher (or in some other capacity) to see a show for free.