Back to ’80s TV…

The Cosby Show


Long before “The Cos” became a controversial international figure, he played Dr. Cliff Huxtable- a cheery father, loyal hubby, and successful OB/GYN (who just happened to be black).  He was also a wacky dresser!  Remember those baggy, patterned, and colorful sweaters?  Some folks didn’t like the fact that race wasn’t a BIG ‘ole deal in the (very affluent and assimilated) Cosby household.  But that’s how it is for MANY people I know- they don’t go around discussing race, culture, etc. ALL the livelong day!       


Isn’t this kitchen a BIT large for NYC?  LOL… 



Did you know that the Cosby family house (the outside) was a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights?  This is one of the priciest, prettiest, and family-oriented ‘hoods in NYC.



I liked the fact that Claire (a corporate lawyer) knew what Cliff was up to, what he was thinking, and was NEVER a pushover.  She was also (naturally) cool, elegant, and pretty!



Wasn’t Rudy adorable?  The most positive aspect of the show- Cliff was a VERY involved father.  He listened to his kids, teased them (sometimes a bit TOO much), and worked at problem-solving. 



Family Ties 



What other teen (besides Alex P. Keaton) had a poster of Reagan on his bedroom wall!?  Alex was NEVER afraid to show his smarts (rare for sitcom kids these days).  He knew what he wanted and went for it, BUT he was a likeable fellow!  Michael J. Fox brought a kind of physicality to his role that was VERY humorous, especially when contrasted with the slow, deliberate movements of his (much taller) father, played by Michael Gross.  The fact that Steven and Elise were ex-hippies made Alex’s Republicanism funny, too. 


Remember how Alex used to leap up onto the kitchen counter to answer the phone?  LOL…



Michael met his wife of many years, Tracy Pollan, while working on this comedy!  In recent years, BOTH Tracy and Michael Gross made (very memorable) guest appearances on the Law & Order shows.






Wow, can you believe Richard Dean Anderson (RDA) is over 50 now!?  With his blonde hair (making the mullet look COOL), blue eyes, and youthful face/form, RDA was a big audience draw for the ladies in the TV audience.  Who says girls don’t like science (even far-fetched stuff)?  

Okay, the big question- why didn’t Mac ever have a gf?  After all, who doesn’t like a hottie who’s unassuming (he’s from Minnesota after all), lives on a houseboat (in SoCal), and never drinks?  Because many female fans would NOT have it; they wrote letters against such a relationship.  LOL!          



Did you know that MacGyver  was a big international hit?  Some friends (who grew up in Bangladesh) said they watched this show regularly.  Back then the main baddies were Russians, unlike today.  Hmmm… what would Mac think of religious fundies? 

This was the kind of action show ALL ages could watch.  Mac was against guns, so he never used them- a good msg for young’uns!     



My HS Economics teacher, Mr. Reff, once played against Richard Dean Anderson in a charity hockey tournament in Tucson.  This was back when RDA had a role on General Hospital.  Mr. Reff commented that RDA wasn’t as good a player as he was! 


Star Trek: The Next Generation


This is one of my MOST fave TV shows of all time!!!  This show had a GREAT cast, intelligent writing, subtle humor, and said a LOT about our time (though it was set in a fictional future).  My dad said he didn’t understand it upon first glance- he called it “weird.”  We kids insisted that he watch it more closely.   You had to pay attention to discover the important issues ST:TNG explored.  Remember the #1 rule of Star Fleet?  “The Prime Directive” said that there can be no interference with the internal affairs of other civilizations.  I guess W. and his crew weren’t watching- LOL!



It’s VERY tough to decide, but my fave characters were Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Data (Brent Spiner).  Because Patrick was mature, confidant, and theatrically trained, the role of authority suited him to a tee.  And who doesn’t LOVE his voice? 

I kind of liked that fact that Picard and Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) didn’t hook up, even though they had GREAT respect for each other and FAB chemistry together!  That’s how REAL life goes sometimes…



Data, under his odd contacts and golden make-up, sought to be more like the humans.  He was an android (the first of his kind), so he was always an outsider.  As a teen, it was EASY to relate to him!  I liked the easy friendship between Data and Geordi.  And remember when a pretty blonde engineer fell in love with Data?  Fun stuff!   



Remember when Data wanted to learn to dance so he’d be prepared for O’Brien’s wedding?  He didn’t explain to Dr. Crusher that he wanted to learn social dancing, hence the tap dancing!

From Wikipedia: In response to a fan’s question at the 2008 Fan Expo in Toronto, Brent said when he was first auditioning for the role of Data on Star Trek The Next Generation, he was told he might have to read for the role of Riker. Brent’s response was he only wanted to read for the character of Lt. Cmdr. Data. He said he would not have been interested in doing the show if he had been cast as Riker.



Another cool thing about TNG– talented guest stars and recurring characters (like Q, played by John de Lancie).  Q was one of the FEW guys who could unsettle, annoy, and (often) totally piss off the cool, professional Capt. Picard.  Q even went on to other ST shows, b/c the fans LOVED him so much!  He gave Data the gift of laughter in one memorable ep.

What’s goin’ on… what’s goin’ on…

What I’m listening to:


Back in the ole ’90s, Rick Trevino had a few hit songs.  His voice is very clear and youthful- comtemporary country.  But I didn’t find out that he ALSO sings in Spanish and is Mexican-American!  The “n” has a tilda sign over it.  He’s based in Austin- more of an “out of the box” country music town than Nashville.

These are some of his CDs:



Songs I REALLY like of Rick Trevino’s (available on iTunes):

Running Out of Reasons to Run

Se Escapan Mis Razones (Spanish version of above song)

Learning As You Go

Just Enough Rope (Sung in Spanish AND English)

She Can’t Say I Didn’t Cry

Separate Ways (his NEW single- very touching!)



This Native American country singer (Yeah, that’s RARE!) has a pure, smooth voice.  He’s a Texan who sang in church as a kid, and recorded 3 albums in the mid-to-late ’90s. 



Below are the BEST songs from Ricky’s debut CD (only $7.99 on iTunes):

Alright Already

If I Had a Cheatin’ Heart

A Good Habit is Hard to Break

Songs from other CDs:

I Wanna Be Loved By You

Can’t Do A Thing About You (fun lyrics here!) 

Dangerously Close




I heard Jason Michael Carroll on iTunes radio last week.  He’s a 30 y.o. singer out of Raleigh, NC (where there is a good music scene) with a distinctive voice- powerful, very deep, yet somewhat raw.  The voice DOES NOT match his looks!  (Though his looks have crossover appeal.) 



Jason was discoverd in a talent competition in NC, and now has first album w/ 3 hit songs.  An interesting fact: Jason went against his religious background and upbringing to become a (secular) musician.



I Can Sleep When I’m DeadA fun, sinple, fast-paced song

Livin’ Our Love SongA very traditional ballad




This small-town gal from Alabama has been performing since age 8.  Her voice (and lyrics) are totally country, unlike many young aspiring “country” singers.  Ashton Shepherd won a competition to open for Lorrie Morgan- WOW!!!



Sounds So GoodA fun, yet sweet, song about hanging out with your love




I’ve never heard of composer Adrian Johnston until this year, but his music for Becoming Jane is TERRIFIC!

What I’m reading:


Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.  So begins D.H. Lawrence’s emotion-packed, highly descriptive novel of forbidden love between the social classes.  The time is after WWI when England has lost a generation of young men, and industry is encroaching on the “old England” (including Sir Clifford Chatterley’s family estate, Wragby).  Connie (Lady Chatterley) tries to cheerfully take care of her crippled husband.  He was hurt both physically and emotionally, we learn.  Clifford values “the life of the mind” above physical love.  He writes stories and thinks of ways to improve his coal mines. 

Clifford can’t have children, but doesn’t mind if his wife gets pregnant by another man.  He could raise the child as his own, he feels.  His wife is (naturally) shocked by this proposal, though she would love to have a baby someday.   Connie was raised among artists and free-thinkers, so she feels constricted by the rank of “landed gentry.”  We learn that there is no one around the town for her to talk to.  Little by little, Connie feels that her life is passing by her.  Then Connie meets Wragby’s gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors, a solitary and mysterious man. 



 What I’m watching:



I’m moving to the DC area soon, so why not re-watch this show?  Great acting (including guest stars and the small parts), LOTS of laughs, and political drama abounds!  My fave characters are: Josh (Bradley Whitford- can you believe that some NBC execs didn’t think he was attractive!?), President Bartlett (Martin Sheen), and Toby (Richard Schiff is VERY into his role).  This show is an idealistic view of politics, but you can learn a LOT from it!    


Emma on the (HISTORICAL) U.S. election!!!

Our New “First Family”


The new "First Family"
The new "First Family"


Wow, what a BEAUTIFUL picture!!!  Malia and Sasha are GORGEOUS!  Yes, even the (usually) pessimistic Emma felt good about the results of the election.  Indiana (my mom and lil bro’s state; he voted at IU) went Democratic- a small miracle many think.  My home state of Arizona (where lil sis and bro-in-law live) is still a BIT more Republican than not.  Virginia (my Dad’s state for past year) went blue, as MANY were hoping.  I was a little upset because I didn’t register to vote in NY on time.  My mom said that I was registered in Indiana, though.  Too bad!


The kids were going wild in NYC- the future US president looks like them!!!  Forget boys, gossip, and shoes- it was all about Obama this past week!  The teachers/principals/etc. are VERY happy too; as educators in a big city they deal with issues of poverty, inequality, racism, etc. all the time.  In a small middle school in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn the principal told her (diverse- racially and economically) kids that she was “more hopeful now that Obama was elected.”  She was a child when JFK was elected president and lived though the Vietman War.  “There is not one of us that can’t contribute to this world,” she said.  The kids cheered (VERY loudly) after she played Obama’s acceptance speech from last Tuesday. 


Because NONE of us makes it alone, I’d like to discuss the main people in Obama’s life.   


Obama’s Mother: A Trailblazer… In Her Own Way

Obama Mama
"Obama Mama"


Here is baby Barack with his lovely mom, Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro.  This pic can be found in Obama’s first book, Dreams from My Father.  Barry (Obama’s nickname w/ family and old friends) grew up without a father, and Ann was absent for periods of his life; she instilled in him her curiosity about the world.  Obama described her as non-religious, but interested in many belief systems, cultures, etc.  She eventually got a PhD in Anthropology, and worked as a cultural anthropologist in Indonesia.  Ann died (much too young- age 52) of ovarian cancer.  





She had an unswerving instinct for kindness, charity, and love, and spent much of her life acting on that instinct, sometimes to her detriment. Without the help of religious texts or outside authorities, she worked mightily to instill in me the values that many Americans learn in Sunday school: honesty, empathy, discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work. She raged at poverty and injustice.

Most of all, she possessed an abiding sense of wonder, a reverence for life and its precious, transitory nature that could properly be described as devotional. Sometimes, as I was growing up, she would wake me up in the middle of the night to have me gaze at a particularly spectacular moon, or she would have me close my eyes as we walked together at twilight to listen to the rustle of leaves.

-Obama describes Ann in The Audacity of Hope


When reporters asked Obama what he thought about Sarah Palin’s 17 y.o. daughter (Bristol) being pregnant, he calmly stated: “My mother was 18 when she had me.”  What a classy guy!


All-American Obama 







Here is a cute pic from Obama’s private school in Hawaii.  Without scholarships and his grandmother’s income, young Barry wouldn’t have been able to attend Punahou.  As you can see, it was a diverse school but there were FEW black students.  Obama had a close friendship with an African-American boy at this school.  You can read about it in his first book.



Here is a pic from Obama’s Harvard days.


Obama’s Grandparents: The Quiet Heroes


Lil Barry & grandpa
Lil Barry & grandpa


Obama w/ grandparents
Obama w/ grandparents- Madelyn and Stanley Dunham


I can no more disown him [Jeremiah Wright] than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial and ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. 

Obama in his speech re: race relations


Eighty-seven years old. She can’t travel. She has terrible osteoporosis so she can’t fly, but, you know, she has been the rock of our family and she is sharp as a tack. I mean, she’s just – she follows everything, but she has a very subdued, sort of Midwestern attitude about these things. So when I got nominated, she called and said, “That’s nice, Barry, that’s nice.”

-Obama describes his grandmother on The Late Show with David Letterman 


Unfortunately, both Obama’s grandparents (who raised him since age 10) are now deceased.  Madelyn died just before Election Day (November 2) at the age of 87 of cancer.  She served as the first female vice-president of a Hawaiian bank.  Stanley, who Obama described as boisterous and full of stories, was diatantly related to President Truman and the current VP Cheney.  He served in the army during WWII.
She was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America. They’re not famous. Their names are not in the newspapers, but each and every day they work hard. They aren’t seeking the limelight. All they try to do is just do the right thing.

Obama at a November 3 rally
She Teaches History- Her Big Brother Makes History!
With lil half-sis Maya
With lil half-sis Maya



Maya and fam
Maya is the daughter of Ann and Indonesian businessman Lolo Soutero.  She is married to an Assistant Professor (Canadian-Malaysian-Vietnamese Konrad Ng) and has one little daughter.  She went to Barnard and then got a PhD from the University of Hawaii.  She teaches history at a girls’ HS, and also teaches evenings at her alma mater.  Maya took 2 months off work to campaign for Obama, giving a face to the small Asian-American population in the US.
And They Think Condi Rice has Great Legs!


We have lost the understanding that in a democracy, we have a mutual obligation to one another — that we cannot measure the greatness of our society by the strongest and richest of us, but we have to measure our greatness by the least of these.

– Michelle Obama


Michelle Robinson was assigned to mentor Barack Obama at their law firm when he was an intern.  She thought his name was “kinda funny” at first.  He kept asking her out, and finally she accepted.  While listening to him speak at a community center, she fell in love with him. 

I didn’t even know then what a community organizer was!


Campaign trail kiss
Campaign trail kiss


I need to be prepared to do what the country needs me to do at the time. Whether that’s baking cookies or serving as a wonderful hostess, that’s my job. I have to be prepared to do what’s necessary. And we won’t know what that’s going to be until we get there. I will be staunchly invested. It is a joint project.


Though she attended Princeton, then Harvard, and worked in corporate law, etc., Michelle is happy to be a wife and mother these days.  She describes her own childhood as very happy and stable; she had two hard-working, loving parents and a protective big brother (Craig, a basketball coach at Oregon State).   Who can forget the touching story she told of her father’s great work ethic?  Michelle has already been compared to two of America’s most-loved first ladies- Jackie Kennedy (note her style of clothing) and Eleanor Roosevelt (she’s intelligent, passionate, and not afraid of a little controversy).   


Fitting right in w/ high-profile ladies!
Michelle fits right in with these high-profile ladies!


Thank God (even if you’re an atheist or agnostic) that W will be out soon!!!

Movies I REALLY Want to See!!!


Australia – a big, sweeping drama directed/co-written by the quirky Baz Luhrmann; starring gorgeous Kiwi (person from New Zealand) Nicole Kidman, handsome Aussie Hugh Jackman, and up-and-coming Aussie David Wenham (of LOTR fame).



In northern Australia prior to World War II, an English aristocrat inherits a cattle station the size of Maryland. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn stock-man to drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country’s most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier.  -IMDB synopsis




Defiance – a WWII drama directed/co-written by thoughtful Ed Zwick; starring 007 (Daniel Craig), low-key American w/ BIG talent (Liev Shreiber), and all grown up from Billy Eliott (Jamie Bell)!



I LOVE watching Liev!!!


Three Jewish brothers escape from Nazi-occupied Poland into the Belarussian forest, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and others in danger. -IMDB synopsis 



What an adorable young man he’s become!


Milk – a drama directed by innovative Gus Van Sant based on the life of politician Harvey Milk (Sean Penn); the multi-layered Penn is joined by Josh Brolin (having a great year!), the gorgeous James Franco, Mexican crossover star Diego Luna, Broadway’s Victor Garber, and many, many others!



After moving to San Francisco, the middle-aged New Yorker, Harvey Milk, became a Gay Rights activist and city politician. On his third attempt, he was elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1977, making him the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the USA.  -IMDB synopsis



NEW Movie Review: Oliver Stone’s “W”


Josh Brolin stars as George W. Bush in this Oliver Stone biopic that traces the head of state’s rise to power from a privileged alcoholic to a born-again Christian whose belief in religious destiny helped move him to the top ranks of political power.  -IMDB synopsis


Before I saw Josh Brolin’s (quite respectable) performances in American Gangster and No Country for Old Men, I thought the best thing about him was his wife (the fabulous Diane Lane)!  In W, he gets to stretch his acting repertoire (with help from several veteran actors).  The accent, mannerisms, and mistakes of W are on display here.  But Oliver Stone doesn’t create a (overly) negative picture of the president.  My mom commented that the film made her feel “a little sorry for Bush.”


The heart of this film is the father-son relationship; W never feels like he measures up to H.W. (played with great ease/conviction by James Cromwell).  The grande dame of the Bush family, Barbara (Ellen Burstyn), gets a couple of good moments in the film.  She’s great- I wanted to see more Barbara!  Jeb and other family members are barely there; I wanted to know more about the siblings.


Believe it or not, W was called “elitist” and “Eastern” when he first ran for office in Midland, TX (his family’s adopted hometown)!  Laura Welch (Elizabeth Banks; she did a fine job in Seabiscuit) was a registered Democrat when she was introduced to Bush at a barbecue.  Laura is as we’d imagine her to be, but her character is not deeply explored.  She’s your typical sweet, supportive, pretty Southern girl.


Once Bush enters national politics, he’s supported by “Vice” Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss), Condi Rice (Thandie Newton), Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright), Donald Rumsfeld (Scott Glenn), and “genius boy” Karl Rove (Toby Jones).  My mom wanted to see more of Condi.  I wanted to see more of Dreyfuss and Glenn; they are solid veteran actors, but under-used here.  That’s just sad!  Dimunitive Brit actor, Toby Jones, gets a few interesting moments with Brolin.  Jones has played sneaky political types many times in his acting career.


I was surprised that the first 20 minutes of the film were so dull.  It showed Bush as a young man acting the fool.  He drinks too much, can’t keep a job, and so forth.  My mind wandered off to other things.  I really liked the two long-ish scenes Brolin had with Stacy Keach (who played an Evangelical pastor from Midland).  Brolin commented in an interview that quitting drinking was one of the things he admired about W.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much to admire about this film.  We already know a lot of the things this film covers!  This is a different Oliver Stone than the one who made Born on the Fourth of July and JFK.  Those movie stays in your mind, unlike this one.