June 10, 2012

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"True Blood" Fifth Season Premiere: No Respect for The Authority

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Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard and Lucy Griffiths


Switching over from the White Walkers of the "Game of Thrones" finale to the vampires and werewolves of the "True Blood" premiere has been harder than I expected.  I mean seriously, I'm fond of Sookie (Anna Paquin), Tara (Rutina Wesley) and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis), and the eye candy that is Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) sends my female pulses a pounding, but "True Blood" lost its lustre last season and with winter and the White Walkers comin', it was easy to forget the goings on in Bon Temps.

But all that changed when I got the fifth season "True Blood" premiere screeners.  After eagerly sucking them dry like a newbie at Fangtasia, I'm please to tell you the folks of Bon Temps have a host of interesting surprises coming up.

The most pressing question:  what happens to Sookie's best friend Tara, last seen lying in a pool of fatal-looking blood on Sookie's kitchen floor?  I could tell you but I'm pretty sure exceutive producer Alan Ball would come to my house and put me through some of the Vampire Authority's special torture techniques if I did.

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Nelsan Ellis and Anna Paquin

All I can say is Sookie and Lafayette have to work together to deal with the aftermath of Tara's fate.

On other plot fronts, Bill and Eric quickly get into hot water with the all powerful Vampire Authority.  And if you think Republicans and Democrats have differences, add blood sucking to the mix, and "True Blood" vampire politics are on a whole other level.

Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe) has trouble with someone from his past, Alcide (Joe Manganiello) is in trouble with his pack because he won't play nice in the werewolf dog park, we get some fascinating tidbits about Pam's (Kristin Bauer van Straten) life before Eric, and if that's not enough, Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare) has escaped from his concrete tomb and is surely ready to get some payback from Bill, Eric and Sookie.

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Alcide and his pack of werewolves continue to be underwhelming and take away valuable plot time from the main characters.  And while I long for those hot and steamy days of Sookie and Bill in the sack, we get a small sexy morsel of Eric having steamy container ship sex with Nora (Lucy Griffiths) a woman from his past.

In addition to Griffiths, the former Maid Marian of the BBC's excellent production of "Robin Hood," also new to the cast is "Law & Order's" Christopher Meloni as Roman, the well dressed leader of The Authority.

So after 10 weeks of swords and sorcery, I'm ready for some fangs.

"True Blood's" fifth season premieres tonight at 9pm on HBO.

Images Courtesy HBO

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June 05, 2012

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"Mad Men" Eliminates One of Their Own (Spoilers!!)

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Jared Harris
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC


After this week's "Mad Men," Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce is no more.

With all the excitement of the season finale of "Game of Thrones," it was almost easy to forget that "Mad Men" lost a major character.

After Don (Jon Hamm) discovers he embezzled money from the company and fires him, Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) can't stand the humiliation of being found out and hangs himself in his office.  This after unsuccessfully trying to asphyxiate himself in the brand new Jaguar his wife bought him as a gift.

Poor Lane.  I was disappointed when he stole from the company because of all the men at the firm, I thought he had the deepest streak of decency.  But once he was found out, it was inevitable that his humiliation coupled with his pride wouldn't allow for him to use the weekend to come up with an elegant way to quit as Don suggested.

In fact I was less surprised by Lane committing suicide than I was about Joan (Christina Hendricks) sleeping with that smarmy Jaguar dealer last week.  

The scene where Don cuts him down from the door was disturbing and just this side of egregiously gruesome, but I think it was less about the show being shocking and more about having the audience see Don's reaction to the ugliness for what he set in motion. 

Too bad.  RIP Lane. 

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June 04, 2012

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"Game of Thrones" Ends with a Punch-in-the-Gut Finale (Spoilers!!)

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Ser Jorah (Iain Glen)

Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke)

(Image Courtesy HBO)

The iconic shot from last season's Game of Thrones finale was of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) rising from the ashes with her baby dragons perched on her naked body. It was a punch-in-the-gut visual that would be hard for any TV show to top.

Well last night, Game of Thrones did it again. This year's punch-in-the-gut shot was a full on, extreme closeup of a White Walker on horseback. With it's hideous blue eyes and frozen facial features, we've finally gotten a full on look at the frightening enemy beyond The Wall.

Like the Wildling Osha (Natalia Tena) has been saying all season, those battles for the iron throne will look like schoolyard tussles compared to what's coming from the north when winter descends.

For those of you who may not know, Game of Thrones is all about several factions vying to command the kingdom of Westeros.  But what makes the series so great is that it's not all swords, sorcery and dark magic.  It's grounded by the family relationships and conflicts, and masterful storytelling that never forgets the audience first has to care about the characters if they are to believe in the swords, sorcery and dark magic.

Not to mention some first class acting.  

And for a world that's purportedly run by men, this season a wide variety of women characters came into their own and took charge. 

Continue reading ""Game of Thrones" Ends with a Punch-in-the-Gut Finale (Spoilers!!)" »

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June 02, 2012

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Megan's Minute Has Returned!

Graduation sunflower
Knock, knock, knock..."Is this thing on?"

I know the few readers I have left may be scratching their heads and saying, "Where the hell is she?"

Well no, I didn't drop off the edge of the earth.  I didn't join the French Foreign Legion.  I didn't sell all my things and run off and join the circus.

Nope.  I went to graduate school.  For the past three years I've been reading, studying, researching, interviewing and testing.  But as of a couple of weeks ago that's all behind me. 

I've graduated with a Master's Degree in journalism, an accomplishment I can barely believe I was able to complete.  The photo above is of a bloom from a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers I got as a graduation present.  I look at that photo and all the golden optimism it seems to represent makes me smile.  Somehow it perfectly captures my re-energized frame of mind.

I'll write more about my school experiences in the coming weeks, but right now, I'm ready to launch back into the blogging world, breaking some boundaries with my ideas and my writing.

What does that mean for Megan's Minute?  

Damned if I know.  

Kind of like when I started this blog five years ago, I'm playing it by ear.  I may come up with some new features, I may have some guest bloggers, I may also tinker with the design.  But those changes will be gradual and as the spirit moves me. 

In the meantime:

  • There's a presidential election going on and I'll have a lot to say about that.  
  • I've been watching some amazing TV shows and I'll have a lot to say about that. ("Game of Thrones, anyone?" I'll have a review of the finale on Monday)
  • I'm way behind on my non-school reading, so I'll throw in some book reviews.
  • I'm still a huge tennis fan, so I'm sure I'll mention that as well.

So, I'm back.  Tell your friends, and don't be a stranger. 

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February 25, 2012

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Oscar Movies That Would Have Been Better with Female Leads

The Academy Awards are on Sunday and while we’re all wondering if Viola Davis and The Help or George Clooney and The Descendants will take home big prizes, the approach of Oscar night got me to thinking about the need for more leading roles for women in big movies.

And I don’t mean where they just play the wife of the girlfriend or the hooker. I mean where they are the star in a quality movie and where the whole movie lives and dies with them.

So here's my list of five previous Oscar winning movies, and how they might have been even better with female leads:

NEW YORK, Feb. 24, 2012 People look at the Oscar statuettes displayed at an exhibition held at Grand Central Station in New York, the United States, Feb. 23, 2012.

True Grit: Not that Oscar winner Jeff Bridges wasn't great playing Rooster Cogburn. And how wonderful was the adorably steely Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, the young woman who hired Cogburn to avenge the murder of her father?

But think about this: how about Susan Sarandon as the only woman marshal in the old west? She's hired by a young man to avenge the murder of his father. Why doesn't he hire a man in the male dominated old west?  Because none of the male marshalls will take him seriously. Just think about the fabulous dramatic tension as the kid wants to hire a man but Sarandon convinces him to hire her because she's after the bad guy for her own reasons. Her name: Henny Cogburn.

 

Continue reading "Oscar Movies That Would Have Been Better with Female Leads" »

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January 10, 2012

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From HBO to PBS: What's Coming Up On TV This Spring

0005_katherinmThe holidays are over and that means so are the doldrums of television.  Finally, we TV addicts will get new episodes of favorite shows and premieres of a whole crop of new shows.  And as your intrepid TV watcher, I'm here to tell you about the shows I'll be excited to see debut on my flat screen.

New Shows
 
Smash is NBC attempt at reproducing the success of Glee, and they've recruited American Idol alum, Katherine McPhee to star.  It's about producers mounting a new Broadway show.  It's from the producer's of the film Chicago and also stars Debra Messing and Anjelica Houston. This has the potential to be a fabulous show, and if the writing lives up to the premise, NBC may finally have a hit on its hands.

Keifer Sutherland returns to Fox with a role that's very different from 24's Jack Bauer.  That of a father whose 11-year-old son is emotionally challenged and communicates with the world in a very unusual way in Touch.  The whole premise of the show and how the kid communicates through numbers and shows how people are interconnected all over the world is a little hard to describe, but I'm willing to give it a chance.  It co-stars Danny Glover.

Also on Fox is Alcatraz, the latest show from J.J. Abrams about a police detective who tracks a grisly modern day murder to an Alcatraz prisoner that died 30 years ago.  I said it was J.J. Abrams, didn't I?  And where J.J. goes, I follow.  The show stars Sarah Jones (pictured below), Sam Neill and Jorge Garcia.

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The march of film stars turning to television in search of edgy drama and quality writing continues as the versatile Don Cheadle stars in Showtime's House of Lies, about less than ethical corporate consultants and their clients. Showtime is still basking in the glow of its masterful thriller, Homeland, which just concluded, and if House of Lies, which premiered this week, comes even close to that kind of quality, it'll be a grand show indeed.

Continue reading "From HBO to PBS: What's Coming Up On TV This Spring" »

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November 24, 2011

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A Pre-Thanksgiving Day Treat: Macy's Parade Balloons Up Close

 

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Kermit the Frog

 
Last night I did something I’ve always wanted to do. That’s head over to Central Park West around 79th street, the night before Thanksgiving and watch as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are inflated.  I’d never done it before so when I got the opportunity to go behind the scenes with a group of fellow bloggers, courtesy of Macy’s, I jumped at the chance.

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B. Boy in Progress

Our small group met on Columbus Avenue and 75th street around 4 o’clock and were greeted with a steady drizzle but excited tourists and New Yorkers, eager to get a preview of the big parade.  As with any big event in New York, there are glitches and even though we had bona fide press passes firmly around out necks, the NYPD didn’t want to let us into the restricted area where all the balloon goodies waiting.  But our contact Lauren Roseman did some fast talking and got us through.  

Safely behind the police barricades, we were able to get a closeup look at some of the hard work that goes into getting the 15 giant balloons and 44 mid-size balloons ready for their Thanksgiving Day close-ups.  There were spotlights along the street so workers and spectators could see the balloons more clearly and large speakers piped out jaunty Christmas music.

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Julius the Monkey

First we hit 79th street where the balloons at the head of the parade are located.  They’re lined up on the street in the order they will appear in the parade.  Earlier this week, they were transported through the Lincoln Tunnel from their new studio home in Moonachie, New Jersey, to the streets of Central Park West.

Continue reading "A Pre-Thanksgiving Day Treat: Macy's Parade Balloons Up Close" »

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November 11, 2011

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Billy Crystal will Host the 2012 Oscars

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No sooner did I tell you guys that Eddie Murphy was out as Oscar host, than Billy Crystal announced via Twitter that he will indeed be back to host the Oscars in 2012.

That sound you hear is the Academy breathing a huge sigh of relief.

It'll be Billy's 9th go 'round as host and what do you want to bet there'll be an Eddie Murphy cameo as well?

The 2012 Academy Awards will air on February 26th on ABC.

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November 10, 2011

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Eddie Murphy Drops Oscar Hosting Gig

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Eddie Murphy (l.) stars in director Brett Ratner's new film, 'Tower Heist.'

Image courtesy: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Like many movie fans, I was pretty jazzed when the Academy announced that Eddie Murphy was going to host the 84th annual Oscar telecast in 2012.  Let's face it Eddie deserved the gig 'cause:

  1. He's made Hollywood a fortune with movies like, "Beverly Hills Cop," "48 Hours," and "Shrek."
  2. He was robbed, cheated, and rooked with a capital "R" out of that Best Supporting Actor statue for his first class turn in the film "Dreamgirls."
  3. He can be incredibly funny.

But what happened next reads better than most scripts Hollywood is producing these days, and gave the people who run the Academy all kinds of headaches.

First Brett Ratner who was hired to co-produce the Oscars, and who brought Eddie on board as host, shot off his mouth last weekend about "rehearsals being for **insert gay slur here**."  But that wasn't bad enough. He followed that up with a stint on Howard Stern's radio show talking in great detail about his sexual exploits. 

Well the suits over at the Academy were understandably perturbed, and before you could say, "...And the Oscar goes to..." good ol' Brett had resigned amidst the critical heat.  Though he did apologize first.

Continue reading "Eddie Murphy Drops Oscar Hosting Gig" »

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November 04, 2011

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Tarra and Bella: An Animal Love Story (Video)

Tarraandbella_1_540x405Image Courtesy CBS News

 

You may have heard the story about the bond between an elephant, Tarra and a stray dog, Bella who lived together as friends in a Tennessee animal sanctuary.

The original story was reported by Steve Hartman on CBS's Sunday Morning:

They were so close, in fact, that when Bella got injured a few years ago and had to spend three weeks recuperating in the sanctuary office, guess who held vigil the entire time? Twenty-two hundred acres to roam free, and Tarra just stood in the corner waiting. Home video of their reunion shows how inseparable they'd become and remained, right to the end.

Unfortunately the end of the relationship came last week.  Fair warning, keep the tissues handy.

Here's the original story about the pair.

Y'all know I'm a sucker for doggies, but now I think I'm a sucker for elephants too.

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October 31, 2011

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Matthew Morrison's Halloween Party

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Colton Haynes, Matthew Morrison, Bryan Fisher and a party guest

 

"Glee" may be off my TV radar this season but that doesn't mean that Matthew Morrison isn't still cute as a button, Or rather, bunny.  Here he is celebrating Halloween at his 2nd annual Halloween party presented by Bing. 

Happy Halloween!

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October 25, 2011

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"Revenge" and "Ringer:" Similar Shows, Solid Entertainment

Two new fall TV dramas, Revenge and Ringer, have become regular fixtures in my TV viewing calendar. And since both have been landing solid ratings each week, I was glad to hear they've each been picked up for full seasons.

Sarah Michelle Gellar in "Ringer," Image Courtesy: CW

Here's the lowdown on both shows:

They both have one world titles that start with the letter "R." 
They both star talented, blond actresses
They're both set in and around New York, including the ritzy Hamptons
They both have good guys, bad guys, blackmail, murder, betrayal and payback that rhymes with witch. 

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Emily VanCamp in "Revenge," Image Courtesy ABC

Ringer marks the return of  Buffy Summers, er Sarah Michelle Gellar, to the CW.  The show takes the classic soap convention of the good twin and the evil twin, updates it, adds lots of money, and runs with it.

Continue reading ""Revenge" and "Ringer:" Similar Shows, Solid Entertainment" »

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October 23, 2011

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A Dead Qaddafi and the Media: Some Modest Thoughts

If you've been anywhere near a TV, newspaper or magazine this week, odds are you got a glimpse or more than that of Muammar Qaddafi's dead body, face or bloody wounds up close.  Personally, I'm happy for the Libyan people and won't lose any sleep because Qaddafi is dead, but I do question the broad dissemination of the images of Qaddafi's bloody face all over network and local news. 

First there was the shaky camera phone footage of Qaddafi when he was captured, alive but bloody.  Then there was the footage of his body being dragged through the streets after he was dead.  Then finally, the shots of his dead body in a meat locker where some Libyans understandably lined up to get a glimpse to prove that indeed Qaddafi was dead.

I'm surprised there wasn't more debate in American media circles about whether or not so much gruesome footage of Qaddafi should have been used.  During the first couple of days of coverage, there were warnings from news anchors before showing the footage, but by the end of the week, the shots just showed up out of nowhere.

Is it okay because he was universally considered a bad guy and deserving of whatever punishment the Libyans decided he should have?  Is it because once the footage was out there on the internet the networks and local stations didn't want to feel left behind?

Call me old fashioned and maybe the least bit squeamish, but I wish more restraint had been shown, because the almost casual broadcasting of the images has only added to our already high desensitization to that kind of violence.

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October 06, 2011

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RIP Steve Jobs

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I'm not a Mac fanatic, never have been, but I have iTunes, an iPod, and a Droid X, none of which would exist without the visionary genius of the late Steve Jobs.  His impact in the technological and entertainment world will live for years to come.

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October 02, 2011

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Melissa McCarthy on SNL: Laughs A Plenty (Video)

There's almost no one hotter in entertainment right now than Melissa McCarthy.

She stole the show in the hit movie, "Bridesmaids," she won an Emmy last month as Best Lead Actress in a Comedy for her sitcom "Mike and Molly," and last night she hosted "Saturday Night Live."

Just about every sketch she did was a hit, but my favorite was the following.  Enjoy!

 

 

And as a special bonus, here's a sketch about NetFlix and their recent cochamamie changes in service. McCarthy's not in it, but I just think it's a hoot.

 

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September 27, 2011

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Life in ABC's "Suburgatory"

Suburgatory_Still9"Suburgatory" is about a teen, Tessa Altman (Jane Levy) and her single Dad, George (Jeremy Sisto) who move to the suburbs from Manhattan because Dad thinks there's too much trouble for Tessa to get into in the big city.

Next thing you know, as Tessa narrates, Dad has "bubble wrapped my life" and moved them to the land of overly friendly neighbors and oversized SUVs.

This doesn't sit well with Tessa, and the show revolves around her trying to adjust to her unfamiliar new home and her hostile new classmates.

"Suburgatory" has the mild sensibility of something you'd find on the Disney Channel and it may actually do well with the teen and tween set, but when it comes to viewing for adults, more laughs may be required.

Jane Levy is adorably likeable as Tessa and Jeremy Sisto is surprisingly sweet as her Dad.  I say surprising 'cause the last time I saw him, he was the off the chain, nut job, Billy Chenowith on "Six Feet Under." 

"Suburgatory" premieres Wednesday, September 8:30/7:30c on ABC but if you'd like a preview visit www.abc.com/suburgatoryscreening and enter code: DAGcrc5K6 to try out the show for yourself.

Image Courtesy: ABC/Karen Neal

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September 23, 2011

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NBC's "The Playboy Club:" Save Your Outrage

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Image Courtesy NBC

Before it even premiered, the buzz about NBC's The Playboy Club was deafening. Gloria Steinem called for a boycott, the Parents Television Council urged affiliates to drop it, while at the upfronts, executives from the show claimed it would be all about female empowerment.

Well, the show premiered Monday night, and here's the scoop. The Playboy Club is a belated attempt to capitalize on AMC's excellent Mad Men. It's set at Chicago's Playboy Club in the early 60s and revolves around new Playboy bunny, Maureen (Amber Heard).

Within the first ten minutes of the episode, Maureen is nearly raped by a lecherous mobster in the backroom. Coming to her rescue is Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian), a crusading lawyer with a shady past.  But before Nick can do his hero thing Maureen gets the mobster in the neck with one of her killer stilettos.

Now because the mobster is a pretty dangerous character, Melanie and Nick get rid of the body and pretend nothing happened except that they went back to his apartment for a little pre-sexual revolution sex.

Continue reading "NBC's "The Playboy Club:" Save Your Outrage" »

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September 22, 2011

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"Big Bang Theory Returns:" Penny and Raj Sittin' in a Tree (Video)

If you were as rivted by the "Big Bang Theory" cliffhanger as I was--Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Raj Kunal Nayyar) waking up in bed together--you'll be itching for tonight's season premiere.  Here's a clip.

Dun, dun, dunnnnnnn!!!

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September 20, 2011

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I've Been On A Blogging Walkabout

Y'all may have noticed I've been a on blogging walkabout lately.

I didn't even realize I was going until I was gone:  loving the freedom of not posting, not writing, not thinking too hard.

It's been a tough year 'cause I'm still in school, still trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life and still trying to earn a living while doing it.

But I'm back from my walkabout and ready to once again see where my words take me.

 

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September 11, 2011

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September 11, 2011: I Wear Pink Now, I Wore Pink Then

Ten years ago today, the world changed.  As a New Yorker, I remember feeling like someone had broken into my house and destroyed everything I loved.

I didn't lose anyone close to me, thank God, but two acquaintances died that day along with the nearly three thousand others.

So I wear pink now because I wore pink then and I remember along with the rest of New York and the rest of the nation.

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