New Guinea Pigs arrive at the Dr. Phil House

March 19, 2009

Couples argue in The Dr. Phil House

Couples argue in The Dr. Phil House

Dr. Phil has often said that his guests are “teaching tools” (aka guinea pigs) for the viewing public  This week, three fighting couples enter the Dr. Phil House, a virtual Habitrail, to teach us what I learn from most of his episodes–that I am way better off than those guests!  The most notable difference between these couples and past feuding family members is that these three women are as aggressive (if not more) than their husbands and are able to stand up to Dr. Phil without looking too stupid.  Aside from the “teaching tool” motive, is the linchpin of Phil’s calling in this world: To Save the Children.  I side with him on that issue and it is one of the reasons my TiVo is still set to The Dr. Phil Show.

PJ


Lauri leaves Bravo’s O.C. {The Real Housewives of Orange County}

December 10, 2008
Lauri Waring Peterson is the newest ex-housewife

Lauri Waring Peterson is the newest ex-housewife

Lauri Waring aka,”Mrs. George Peterson,” has left The Real Housewives of Orange County in the middle of the fourth season.  Bravo TV had preempted this episode as “shocking,” but Lauri exited quietly to spend more time with her family.  From the previews, I was expecting Vicki to have a hissy fit and leave the show amid some kind of scandal, but that didn’t happen.

I think Lauri’s reasons for leaving Housewives are similar to Tammy Knickerbocker’s; she and her kids need time to deal with things privately.  She said that she hopes she doesn’t offend anybody by leaving, but why would she?  Lauri has been an easy target of criticism by fans of the show, yet any negative remarks probably stemmed from jealousy.

Vicki, Quinn (a one season housewife) and Lauri at last season's cocktail party

Vicki, Quinn (a one season housewife) and Lauri at last season's cocktail party

Even during the first season Vicki remarked that it is easy to be jealous of Lauri because Lauri is prettier, skinnier, and has bigger boobs.  But Vikki goes on to say, “I’m rooting for her..I just want her to succeed in life.”  At the opening of the first season, Lauri had been working for Vicki’s insurance company for 3 years.  Newly divorced and living outside the gates in a townhouse, Lauri said she didn’t need to work when she was married, but now she had to work to support her family.  We all could see that Lauri wasn’t happy with her change in lifestyle, especially when everyone around her seemed living on easy street.  But I had to give her credit for making the best of her situation, and striving to be a good parent to her less than perfect kids, and many viewers could relate to  Lauri’s day to day adversities.  But when Lari met her soon to be husband, real estate developer, George Peterson, the collective claws came out and Lari was labeled a “gold digger.”

This photo is from "georgeandlauri.com"

This photo is from "georgeandlauri.com"

Lauri’s wedding was beautiful, almost dreamlike in atmosphere, and George remained laid back and in love throughout.   Their married life seemed so serene…I would love to stop over to Georges unpretentiously decorated house for ice tea and prune roses with Lauri before heading out their ranch to ride horses.  I think fans were waiting for change in Lauri, and she has changed a little bit.  On the first episode of this season, while she was eating dinner with George at The St. Regis and calling him “Babe” every other breath, she said that she didn’t want to go to Dubai for their honeymoon because it was “too commercial.”  (Gag)  The titanium credit card (another gift from George) was another vapid moment.

However, Lauri has remained true to herself: honest, humble, strong, beautiful, and in my opinion, the one of the more REAL housewives in  Bravo’s  Housewives series.  I will miss her and I wish her all the best with her family.

PJ


Will Shawn Johnson be happy with Silver Medal?

August 15, 2008
Shawn and Nastia are happy rivals

Shawn and Nastia are happy rivals

Hopefully. She was quoted saying, “I gave my heart and soul out there. Nastia deserved the gold.” But there was sadness in her eyes; maybe not for winning silver, but probably because the All Around Finals are over. Athletic rivals couldn’t ask for a better competition; both were healthy and performed near flawless routines. But leading up to the Olympics, Shawn Johnson was the headliner on the women’s team. She was to be the next Mary Lou Retton. It’s evident the media still wants Shawn in the spotlight because the pair has been called “The Golden Girls.” Well the fact is that there is only one gold medalist, Nastia. I can’t picture both Johnson and Liukin together on the Wheaties box. Honestly, if Johnson won the gold, I really don’t think they would be calling the pair “The Golden Girls” because Johnson had such a good story, and it’s the story that connects the athlete to the audience. Johnson won the last two national and world titles; she is 16; Beijing is her first Olympics; she is from Iowa; she trains only 4 hours a day and attends public school; her coach was born in Beijing and his gym was damaged in the flood. Then there is the legacy angle: Although Carly Patterson was the last American to win the All Around gold medal in 2004, Johnson has been touted as “the next Mary Lou Retton.” Why? Well both Johnson and Retton perform “explosive” gymnastics and both have that All American Smile, and as a bonus, both Shawn and Mary Lou’s smiles are genuine.

Beautiful Nastia

Beautiful Nastia

But Nastia is different: she is not cute, she is beautiful and has beautiful long limbs. Her artistic gymnastics style will not be compared to Mary Lou’s and this is a good thing in my opinion. Mary Lou said in her Today Show interview that Nastia came in as former World Champion and Mary Lou was “an underdog.” (Meow). What Nastia brings the the post Olympic story is an expanded definition of “All American.” Her parents are former Soviet gymnasts who came to America and opened a gym. More importantly, Nastia’s win puts more distance in the Karolyi dynasty. By not being the next Mary Lou, Nastia will in no way be associated with “Bela’s Girls.” I think it is time that Nastia’s father get some credit. It was wonderful to see the individual coaches encourage all the girls on the American team. They seemed so comfortable with each other. They looked like a real team! Marta’s role was that of manager, not coach.

Nastia and Shawn are both good role models, and hopefully they will become better role models as a pair. With a rivalry, only one person can win. From watching Shawn and Nastia I’ve learned that yes, one person will win, but both can help each other do their best. Although Shawn Johnson won the silver medal, she couldn’t ask for a more perfect Olympic experience.

PJ


Artist’s achieves American Dream on Groomer Has It

June 29, 2008
Artist (top left) wins over tough competition

Artist (top left) wins over tough competition

Artist Knox became the first to win title Groomer of the Year on Animal Planet’s Groomer Has It. The final challenge was was a 10 hour marathon grooming session where Artist and Jonathan had to groom 7 dogs, one from each of the AKC’s groups: Sporting, Non-Sporting, Working, Herding, Toy, Hound, and Terrier. As usual, there was not an even playing field as the dogs were chosen for the groomers “at random” (with the exception of the first dog whom Artist got to pick). Although the final judging was set up to look like a dog show ring, Artist and Jonathan didn’t necessarily have to do “show cuts.” Judge Vinny taught me the new term “pet groom” as in, “The dog looks OK for a pet groom.” Artist and Jonathan both received help from Kathleen and Will. It was nice to see that Kathleen could be happy in a non dominatrix role, and it was fun to see Will annoy Jonathan. One of the highlights of the finale was to see Jonathan and Artist reunited with their loved ones (dogs included). I think what did Jonathan in was his dirty Labrador Retriever.

I really enjoyed the pre-view show which included a little “pop-up” Nemo who gave background info. Nemo always looked like such a well trained Yorkie, but lo and behold, Jai’s little pooch is not potty trained. Nemo also had an assistant who I hope was paid well. The never-been-seen-before scenes were funny. My instincts about the judges were right Vinny and Doc can’t stand each other. In one scene, they stopped rolling because of a noise that sounded like a helicopter, to which Vinny remarked, “There’s your broom” to Doc. Also, Jai is a scripted host, so scripted that at one point, he forgot the line “groomer of the year.”

I started watching this show because it was entertaining, but I also ended up learning a lot, too. I’ll definetly be back for season two!

PJ


Will Hillary and Barrack really unite for change? {The Today Show}

June 28, 2008

Saturday morning I watched a segment of the Today Show when Lestor Holt interviewed (via satellite) two campaign face-people who said each camp is putting on a united front against the common enemy, John McCain. Holt’s bottom line was that these two senators have been campaigning against each other for months now, so has either one altered his or her platform? Has Hillary Clinton publicly conceded yet? From the stage in New Hampshire, Senators Obama and Clinton looked like equals on the Democratic Presidential ticket, and honestly I couldn’t tell who was running for president and who would be the running mate. I felt Hillary showed more confidence in herself and her party than with Senator Obama. It was strange because I got the vibe that Hillary felt that she could still win, or that Barack Obama could win only with her support. I guess I was hoping for a show of humility and honesty from Hillary, but from my perspective it was another exercise in the Clinton family’s self-importance in American History. I don’t think Hillary will be satisfied as Vice President, even if she would be the first woman Vice President. She wants a larger role on Capitol Hill, and if Barack Obama doesn’t realize this, he’s in for a rude awakening. I don’t think he’s that naive: offering to help Clinton pay down her campaign debt was a brilliant political move; it highlighted her enormous debt and made him look sympathetic. (I’m sure his gesture drove Hillary crazy) Senator Obama declared, “She Rocks!” in New Hampshire, but I don’t think he’d say that if their positions were reversed. There is so much at stake for the Democrats in the upcoming election and so much opportunity to make history. I will miss Hillary and Barack campaigning against each other. I only wish Jon McCain could have had the opportunity to verbally spar with a strong Republican opponent.

PJ

The following video illustrates why I question if the new “Unite for Change” rhetoric is genuine.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BARACK


First family’s ranch could be Ellen and Portia’s wedding venue

May 28, 2008

On May 10th in Crawford, TX, the the first family let Jenna have her day away from the political climate in Washington, safely ensconced at the ranch surrounded by family, friends, and the Secret Service. I thought the first family’s first wedding would be a footnote in the mainstream press, but the May 26th edition of People Magazine featured the festivities on it’s cover. Jenna’s nuptials were given all the schmaltzy reporting schmooze of a celebrity wedding.

Although Jenna chose to have her wedding at the family ranch in Crawford, her plans to offer the ranch for weddings to her celebrity friends could generate the same excitement as White House weddings did in the past.

Check out ABC’s Jack Trapper’s blog post:

Political Punch

Power, pop, and probings from ABC News Senior National Correspondent Jake Tapper

Jake Tapper is ABC News’ Senior National Correspondent based in the network’s Washington bureau. He writes about politics and popular culture and covers a range of national stories.

Jenna Bush tells Ellen She Can Use the Ranch for Her Same-Sex Wedding

May 27, 2008 10:49 AM

–>People Magazine reports that in an appearance on Ellen to air this Wednesday, First Daughter Jenna Hager (nee Bush), sitting with her mother First Lady Laura Bush, tells Ellen DeGeneres that she can use the President’s ranch in Crawford for DeGeneres’ pending same-sex wedding with actress Portia de Rossi.

“So, the ranch was a great place to get married,” DeGeneres says, “it looked like nobody could fly over and get pictures or bother you, really.”

“Yeah,” says Hager, “that was really nice.”

“So, can we borrow it for our wedding,” DeGeneres asks. “Can we get the ranch?”

“Sure,” says Hager.

“Okay, great,” says DeGeneres.

– jpt

Jenna Bush is either a Republican Repel or an American Ambassador for Equal Rights. Hopefully, W will continue to support his daughter. Jenna’s post-wedding publicity tour for her charitable causes will most likely generate more press (both mainstream and tabloid) than her actual wedding.

It’s been 37 yeas since President Nixon’s youngest daughter, Trisha, had the first outdoor wedding at the White House.Trisha was featured on the cover of Life Magazine in 1971 as well in a multi-paged feature story showing off all her wedding gifts. In July of 1985, Life Magazine also featured Caroline Kennedy on the cover. She beat out Sarah, The Duchess York (aka Fergie) who wed Prince Andrew that month as well. There was synchronicity in both weddings in the same month: America had it’s royal family, too. Life reminisced about Caroline: how she rode her pony, Macaroni, on the White House lawn and how she posed for a wedding photo beside husband Ed Schlossberg on the beach where she “summered as a child.”

You can still get those happy feelings of yesteryear by reading blogs like dallasbrides.wordpress.com and weddingbee.com, whose writers have knit together past and present histories of family celebrations and American Presidents. I found the following links to be interesting:

1) The White House Weddings site

2) Family Life at the White House page at the official White House Website

3 ) NPR weighs in with their article White House Weddings: Fuel for Capitalism

4) Take a look at pictures of past white house wedding memorabilia (Circa. 1966 bag of rice, Circa. 1886 satin covered cake box) in the Life and Death at the White House page at The American Presidency website

PJ


“They shall not grow old…” {Memorial Day}

May 25, 2008

They shall grow not old

As we that are left grow old

Age shall not weary them

Nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun.

And in the morning

We shall remember them.

By: Laurence Binyon


A Poem for Memorial Day by Walt Whitman

May 25, 2008

COME UP FROM THE FIELDS, FATHER
Walt Whitman

Come up from the fields, father, here’s a letter from our Pete,
And come to the front door, mother, here’s
a letter from thy dear son.

Lo, ’tis autumn,
Lo, where the trees, deeper green, yellower and redder,
Cool and sweeten Ohio’s villages with leaves
fluttering in the moderate wind,
Where apples ripe in the orchards hang and
grapes on the trellis’d vines,
(Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines?
Smell you the buckwheat where the bees were lately buzzing?)
Above all, lo, the sky so calm, so transparent
after the rain, and with wondrous clouds,
Below too, all calm, all vital and beautiful,

and the farm prospers well.

Down in the fields all prospers well,
But now from the fields come, father, come
at the daughter’s call,
And come to the entry, mother, to the front door come right away.

Fast as she can she hurries, something ominous,
her steps trembling,
She does not tarry to smooth her hair nor
adjust her cap.

Open the envelope quickly,
0 this is not our son’s writing, yet his name
is sign’d,
0 a strange hand writes for our dear son,
0 stricken mother’s soul!
All swims before her eyes, flashes with black,
she catches the main words only,
Sentences broken, gunshot wound in the breast,
cavalry skirmish, taken to hospital,
At present low, but will soon be better.

Ah, now the single figure to me,
Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio with all
its cities and farms,
Sickly white in the face and dull in the head,
very faint,
By the jamb of a door leans.

Grieve not so, dear mother (the just-grown
daughter speaks through her sobs,
The little sisters huddle around speechless and
dismay’d),
See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will
soon be better.

Alas, poor boy, he will never be better (nor maybe
needs to be better, that brave and simple soul),
While they stand at home at the door he is
dead already,
The only son is dead.

But the mother needs to be better,
She with thin form presently drest in black,
By day her meals untouch’d, then at night
fitfully sleeping, often waking,
In the midnight waking, weeping, longing with
one deep longing,
0 that she might withdraw unnoticed, silent
from life escape and withdraw,
To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead

son.

RETURN TO POEMS AND SONGS OF THE CIVIL WAR PAGE


Fergie’s “Baracuda” performance more suitable for Red Light District {The Today Show}

May 24, 2008

Fergie, the lead singer form The Black Eyed Peas, sang her version of Heart’s rock anthem “Barracuda” on the Today Show. Fergie is so hip, Meredith Vierira had to read her intro off an index card. Fergie performed three songs at Rockefeller Center on May 20th, but “Barracuda” should have been performed at 2:00 a.m. at Times Square, or Fergie should have substituted her stripper-pole choreography for a more appropriate routine. Kids remember this song from Shrek the Third, when it was a call to arms for Princess Fionna. The under twelve members in the front row of the Today Show stage looked dumbfounded when faced with the singer, live.

Fergie on Today Show: ‘Barracuda’ Performance 5/20/08

As an artist, Fergie had every right to interpret the song as she saw fit, but I think she could have shown a little more class. Madonna often had similar criticism in the 1980’s and early ’90’s, but she always responded that she was attempting to be “ironic” and “provocative.” Will kids stop listening to Fergie? I doubt it, but hopefully they won’t make her too-tight leather pants the latest fad, either.

PJ


Will Wii Fit get me into the Mii Generation?

May 23, 2008

This morning I checked out the Wii Website, and found an answer to the question I had been looking for:

Why do I need Wii?

Wii is not just a gaming console, it’s a reason to get together with your friends and family and play today’s hottest games. Wii offers legendary Nintendo franchises like Mario, Zelda and Metroid, as well as all new classics like Wii Sports and Wii Play. Create your own Mii character to star in Wii games. Play friends online over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection or use the Internet Channel to surf the net from your sofa. You can even download classic Nintendo games using the Wii Shop Channel. Take a look around and see why your TV is not complete without Wii.

The people at Wii know that keeping up with technology can be overwhelming; the atmosphere of their website minimalistic, uncluttered, and spa-like (the polar opposite of MySpace). I feel like I’m at IKEA with Feng Shui. The demonstration videos for the Wii Fit remind me of the scene in The Matrix where Morpheus trains Neo to live in the grid. However, Wii is not asking me to live in their world, but to reinvent my world with the Wii brand. Apparently, the future is now.

This change is not new. I remember eating my first TV Dinner in the early 70’s (a ready made dinner in an aluminum tray that was shaped like a TV set). Our family moved out of the dining room and into the living room to eat dinner in front of the TV Set. You were supposed to eat TV Dinners on a TV Tray. TV Trays were sold in sets of four and each tray folded out in front of you on a little stand. Thanks in part to the invention of the TV Dinner, I literally grew up in front of television. My grandmother liked to cook big Sunday dinners for us at her house and she never understood why we didn’t enjoy “dinner conversation.” In her day, family members looked forward to the eventing meal to catch up on each others’ lives and share town gossip. I remember my grandfather loved Soul Train and my grandmother had a hard time getting him to turn off the TV and come to dinner. Despite owning a big RCA Television Console, She held on to family dinner by never buying a TV Dinner or a set of TV Trays.

Now the Nintendo Corporation is asking families to leave their individual TV sets and video consoles and congregate together in front of the ole’ Family TV. Their motives are admirable, but do I need a Wii to have “quality family time?” Of course, sitting for hours in front of the TV is not good for you, so the makers of Wii have come up with the Wii Fit, so we all can stay active and remain together. I’m skeptical about the Wii Fit. Take a look at the Wii Fit Promo video vs. the Parody, and you’ll see why.

When I was little, we always had a bunch of neighborhood kids over at our house. Our backyard was small, but we had a sand box, a tree house, and something called a “whirli-gig.” We also shared a driveway with our next door neighbors so we could make a bike track out of chalk and ride around. We also had a kiddie pool which we set up as a bike wash. It seems that in order to have a house that kids want to come to, I need to own a Wii. A nearby park isn’t a gathering place anymore, and that makes me sad. My big Orwellian fear is that the outside world will become so undesirable, that Wii Fit is a necessity. I wonder if by purchasing a Wii, am I giving in to the possibility that I can’t think of anything else to do. Hopefully, there is a balanced middle ground. If I join the Wii/Mii Generation, I want it to be a positive change, and I welcome any of your stories and/or comments.

PJ


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