Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My First Rerun

Since I'm aspiring to be a television writer, it seems appropriate that I get around to having my own re-run. It's not a case of narcissism. At least I hope not. A friend's grandmother died today. She lived a long life and died peacefully in her sleep. But that's not really much consolation when you really love someone. His hurt was obvious, and reminded me of when Gwennie died at almost 101. It was pre-Twitter, pre-Facebook, pre-blog. I never wrote about what it was like being there with her at 2 in the morning, watching, and holding her hand as my mother and I waited for what we knew would be coming within hours. And I'm not going to do it now. But I did write about Grandma Shirley's passing this summer. And I thought I'd run that again today, just in case my friend happens to read. Once you stop hurting, remember the good stuff. Remember the fun. I'm sure that's what she'd want. What any grandmother would. I can't hug you E. but I'm thinking of you. Best wishes. Suze

Grandma Shirley

We just found out tonight that my paternal grandmother died yesterday down in Florida. Grandma Merino, or Shirley, was in her day what would be called a spitfire. Her personality was the polar opposite of my maternal grandmother, Gwen who died almost three years to the day before Shirley. Gwen would never wear slacks, drink liquor or swear (unless losing badly at cards...man did she let one fly once!). Shirley however was a California country gal who could ride with cattle, toss back a few and let the expletives fly when called for (and sometimes when not).

Maybe because of geography, but more likely because of divorce, I was never close with Shirley when I was growing up. It wasn't until I hit college that we started to bond. When I was 17 I cut classes for a few days and took a bus and two trains to go from Kutztown to her home in Long Island for a visit. She took me drinking. Yeah, I got hammered with Grandma. She made me try her favorites, all of which I hated. Grasshoppers, Melonballs...basically anything green and disgustingly sweet. Having just read Catcher in the Rye, I was inspired to switch to Holden Caufield's favorite, Scotch. Grandma switched right along with me. We spent the next day nursing hangovers and hanging out at the pool. Not your average "baking cooking with grandma" memory, but one I'll never forget and remember fondly.

Soon after that bender, Shirley moved to Florida and never looked back. She wasn't the type who looked back much. Maybe that's another reason we weren't terribly close. It dwindled down to a bi-annual letter or phone call as time went by. But when she did come north to visit, she was always the same as I remembered...a free-spirit with a great sense of adventure and no filtering of thoughts. (She could tell you she loved you, and that you looked bloated in the same breath, LOL). My kids thought she was a riot. Which, if you overlooked the "bloated" remarks, she was.

In the end, Shirley couldn't remember much. But I'll always remember her. And I may just have to have a Grasshopper this weekend in her memory. Raise some hell up there Shirley!
Love, Suzanne

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In Case You Missed It

For the very few of you who had legitimate excuses for missing it, such as a death in the family, alien abduction, or ...no those two are the only legit ones...here's the best part of Scrubs from last night. Just turn off the playlist to the left and listen to "This World Keeps Turning" by Gavin Heaney, aka "Latch Key Kid."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Do You Remember? ... Well Your Wife Does!

If you know me even slightly, either from real life or from the internet, you probably know that I’m an insomniac. Through social networking I’ve discovered a lot of fellow zombies, and every single one of them is a woman. Why is this? Maybe there’s a uterine-based explanation. Maybe the cuter you are the less sleep you need. ;-) But it’s more likely due to our inability to shut the brain down because there’s just too damned much whirling around up there. Now this is not a slight on men. It’s just a fact that we have more going on upstairs. Guys, it doesn’t matter if you’re a neurosurgeon, nuclear physicist or fry cook. Your brain holds less information than your wife’s.

I doubt any man reading this blog knows his wife’s social security number. But you bet your ass she knows yours. And your children’s. All your children’s shoe and clothing sizes, their most recent illnesses and vaccinations, and the numbers for all the family doctors. Not only the names of your coworkers and friends, but your children’s teachers, their friends, their friends’ parents names and phone numbers. When every project at school is due, and the grade the last project got. Every birthday, anniversary, phone number and address for every member of both sides of the family. When the dog needs to get its shots. Exactly how many pounds of hamburger are in the freezer. What comes out of the checking account automatically every month. Not only your checking account number, but the routing number and the three-digit security codes on the backs of all your credit cards. The balances of all the credit cards, and how far behind you are on the payments. The PIN numbers for your debit and credit cards, and the passwords for your email/Facebook/Twitter/Ebay/Paypal accounts. The names of your neighbors and some of their kids. When the next class party is and who’s supposed to bring what. Your shoe/inseam/neck sizes and your favorite tie. Who will eat what, who hates what and who’s allergic to what. When each car is due for inspection. When she’s supposed to get her period, and whether she should panic this month if it’s late.

This is the coding that swirls about in our insomniac brains as we lay there at night. While Albert was blissfully dreaming of splitting atoms and taking showers with Marie Curie, Mrs. Einstein was laying there sorting the pantry in her head and trying not to forget Albert's suit at the cleaners. Personally, I don’t think I can cram much more data up there. Every time I have to memorize a new phone number I misplace a pair of reading glasses. This is not a coincidence. I’ve reached the saturation level. If something goes in, something else has to come out. This is why I now call both my sons “Fred” and call every kid at school who yells “Hey Mrs. Stanley!” simply “Kiddo.” My husband is “Dear.” Not as a term of affection, but because his first name has been replaced by our license plate number. However, his Social Security number is 565-70-…….

And no, this isn't "Latch Key Kid" playing, it's Jack Johnson. HA! (But don't forget to listen for him at the end of Scrubs Tuesday night at 9 on ABC. It's okay if you do,guys. You're wife will remember.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!...Attaboy Clarence...I Always Wanted a Yo-Yo!...Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!

Between being sick, being away and simply being a procrastinator, this year I’ve somehow put off a lot of the Christmas things that I normally would have tackled by now.
  • Shopping: I only started yesterday and had a panic attack at Toys R Us when I realized I’m screwed.
  • Baking: Nada. Not a single cookie in the house. One year by this time I had baked 1,000. Santa will be lucky if he gets an stale Oreo. My grandmother is turning over in her urn.
  • Cards: “Merry Christmas everyone!” That’s your card this year from the Stanleys.
I have yet to even watch a single holiday special on television. I missed the Big Kahuna, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Yeah, I own it on tape, but that’s somehow not the same. So last night I went online and found all of the shows that still remain to be seen. There is a TON that is either absolute treacle or inanely stupid. But I’m making sure to catch some of these below. You should too, and I’ll tell you why.

“Frosty The Snowman,”
Friday, Dec. 18 at 8 on CBS
We showed this to our preschool class the other day as a treat. The kids loved it, but we teachers had a couple of questions: Didn’t Suzy’s parents notice that she was missing all of Christmas eve while she holed up in a boxcar with a rabbit and a snowstranger? Did they put out an Amber Alert? And why the hell did Santa drop her off on her roof and then just take off? It was a three-story house! How the heck did Suzy get down? Incredibly dangerous, Kringle.We want answers.

"Eight Crazy Nights,"
Friday, Dec. 18 at 10 p.m. on MTV
Adam Sandler’s animated Hanukkah movie. I’m recommending this because my friend Kara was the supervising producer. I can think of absolutely no other reason. None. Es tut mir bahng.

“A Very Brady Christmas,”
Tuesday, Dec 22 at 1:00 p.m. on ABC-FAM
Just because it’s so nauseatingly Brady that you have to watch it once every five years. Plus, you can make fun of the replacement Bradys. I mean, come on Susan Olsen! Like you had much else to do that month!

Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. on ABC
I know it’s not a "special." But it’s their holiday episode. And my friend Gavin Heaney, yes…here comes the plug…Latch Key Kid…is having his song “This World Keeps Turning” featured during the closing scene. This is huge. Important to me. Watch it. Friends and relatives will be tested Wednesday morning to find out which of you didn’t. Christmas presents will be adjusted accordingly~I’ve saved my receipts. Here’s a link to him rehearsing the song. Yes, this is also required viewing and will be on the test.

“The Polar Express,”
Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 10 p.m. on ABC-FAM
For Tom Hanks.

"11th Annual “A Home for the Holidays,”
Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 8:30 p.m. on CBS
A huge concert spectacular shot during my recent visit to LA and edited by my genius brother-in-law Conrad Stanley. Plus, you can find his wife and kids in the audience. (I can't get it to embed properly, but you can check it out here http://bit.ly/7G2Zst)

“Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town,”
Thursday, Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. on ABC-FAM
Because it’s the only time all year you’ll hear the word “Burgomaster.” (Yes, I spell checked it!)

“It's a Wonderful Life,”
Thursday, Dec. 24th at 8 p.m. on NBC
Now this one I’m just putting in for my husband, who loves this movie and complains that he can’t enjoy watching it anymore because he knows I hate it, and he can’t believe he married a Wonderful Life hater. Why do I hate it? Because the cynic in me can’t help but project the storyline beyond “The End.” I keep picturing the next day, when someone sobers up and gets around to asking “Hey, why did George need all that money after all?” By then the holiday spirit would have passed, someone would have gotten pissed, and Potter will have gotten away with it all. I would have preferred an ending where Potter gets hit by a trolly and they find George’s drunken uncle’s deposit slip in his pocket. But that’s just me.

“A Christmas Story,”
for a solid 24 hours beginning 8 p.m. Dec. 24 on TBS
Because this is the greatest Christmas movie of all time. If you don’t agree I don’t want to know about it because it will be the end of our friendship. Jean Shepherd for Pete’s sake. And being a complete loon for all things 40s, this one just does it for me. I can quote 80% of it. I own the radio and the chrome bowling ball decanter set and half the kitchen props. Yes, Melinda Dillon’s hair is completely inappropriate for the 40s. I’ll give you that ONE complaint. Other than that, I don’t want to hear a word. Fuuudddgge.

“Miracle on 34th Street,”
Friday, Dec. 25 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC-FAM
For Natalie Wood. And Maureen O’Hara. And John Payne. And Edmund Gwenn. And William Frawley! Come on, it has Fred Mertz in it! It’s just the most perfectly cast holiday movie ever.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Caution...Teenager Now on Premises

Today is monumental. Mommy monumental. Today my son is a teenager.

I don’t know if it feels monumental because he is now a teenager, or because I remember exactly what I was going through when I became one. Granted I was a girl and as we all well know, girls (and women) mature earlier (and more thoroughly) than boys (and men). But the day I turned 13, I had hormones pumping through my system faster and harder than water flows through my basement sump pump during a flash flood. When I turned 13, I didn’t dream of getting roller skates or my ears pierced. I dreamed of getting a hickey from Mark Hamill. Or Shawn Cassidy. Or Donny Osmond. Or all three. (Watch out for us preachers' kids.)

Luckily, I think those kinds of thoughts aren’t yet going through my 13-year-old’s head. I’m pretty sure I’d know if they were. He shares a room with his little brother. When he demands more privacy, I’ll know I’m in trouble. We do take all the teenage wasteland precautions...although he has an old computer in his room, we didn't hook it up to the internet. Certain cable channels are blocked (Chris didn't want me watching them either...but I figured out the code!) The only thing we finally caved on was that when he woke up this morning, we had finally created a Facebook page for him. Who did he friend first? Us. Then some relatives. Maybe he's just yanking our chain. Or maybe he's still pretty innocent after all.

Right now, thank God, it’s still seems to be all about baseball cards, iTunes, and Nickelodeon shows. Not so much Nick cartoons like Sponge Bob anymore. It’s mostly iCarly these days. Never heard of iCarly? It’s this show about this doofy sculptor who has has custody of his kid sister. She’s a super cute 15-year-old brunette. With a really cute blond best friend….Oh crap.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Welcome to the Discovery Channel

Dear latecomers: This blog will make very little sense at one point unless you've turned off "Teenage Wasteland" on the playlist to your left. Song #2, "All Becomes One" accompanies this blog entry. Please forward playlist to song #2 NOW. Gracias!

The decade of the ‘0s is wrapping up. Un-freaking-believable. Remember the Y2K panic when nutjobs were stocking up on canned goods, cash, barrels of water, and guns…convinced the world would come to a grinding halt when its computers' programs all rolled over to the year ’00? I didn’t stock up on anything beyond beer and chips that New Years Eve, but I did have just a slight twinge of worry that the ATM machine might eat my card the next day. Which it did. But only because I was overdrawn. Too much has happened over the past decade to reflect properly in one blog entry. 9/11. Our Ben. War. Grandma Gwen making it to a feisty 100 as if by sheer will, only to will herself gone the next summer. Too much for one entry. Too much for one book. So let me just stick to 2009.

For me, 2009 could simply be described as my year of discovery. I discovered a lot about myself and about others. I discovered places, faces, talents, terrors, music and muses. Everyone makes New Years resolutions, which usually last six weeks at best then fall by the wayside. I’m no better. Let me introduce you to my museum of resolutions. The treadmills that end up large clothes racks, the knitting gear in the bottom of the hall closet, the 20 words I learned to say in Spanish. Todos ellos cayeron en el camino. (Don’t be impressed…I Google translated that…just like you’re about to do.) But I decided that 2009 was going to be different. Why? Because I was a couple of years into my @#$%ing 40s and knew that if I put off change one more year, I’d put it off forever. I was determined that when 2009 came to its close I wouldn’t be the same Suzanne. Well, it’s closing. You tell me.

I’m by no means a delicate flower, but there’s 40+ lbs. less Suzanne than there was last Christmas. And next year there’ll be even less of her. I discovered just a little more willpower and resolve. I quit the PTA. Not because I didn’t enjoy it (stop laughing) but because I knew I needed to devote more time to working on Project Suze. While I still have “people pleasing” ingrained into my soul (that backstory’s a whole other book), I discovered the ability to say “no” on occasion. You don’t see me wearing the scout uniform this time around. I do whatever I can, for whoever I can, whenever I can…but I can’t lead everything anymore. I discovered I don’t want to.

I discovered it’s never too late to make new friends. In “real life” I’ve made terrific friends through #2 son Ben (how Charlie Chan did that sound?). For example, I have a new red-headed male kindred spirit down the road who, despite having an equally warped and filthy sense of humor, somehow managed to attract a lovely wife and make three sons…all of whom I’ve seen naked. Several times. I have two lovely new mom-friends in the neighborhood…one whose son shares Ben’s first name, the other whose daughter will assuredly one day share his last. Remember, the girl’s family pays for the wedding. The rehearsal dinner will be at Applebee’s.

But most of the progress in Project Suze (a completely narcissistic title I admit), has come as result of my discovery of social networking. Screw MySpace. I’m not 17 or in a band. I’m a Facebooker. I keep it for day-to-day, face-to-face people. People I’ve actually met. Or am 100% convinced I’d like if I did. I’m also…I’m...I’m…I’m a tweeter. SHUT UP. Let he who has not updated cast the first stone. Yeah, I tweet. God it feels so good to admit that in public. I USE TWITTER. Wow. Like coming out of the blue birded, fail whaled closet. (Yes, I’m well aware some of you don’t get those references. Too bad for you. Google.) Say what you will ~ relatives, kinda-relatives, naysayers. To paraphrase Chico Escuela, “Twitter been berry, berry good to me.” If you don’t get that reference, please just click on “next blog” at the top of this page!

I’ve met lots of great people through Twitter. Met online, then actually met in the flesh. John from Vieques, Puerto Rico, a telecommuting techie who shared tidbits on his beloved island, then eventually a few drinks at sunset. Flo from Burbank, a writer-turned-lawyer who shared advice on sitcom writing and life in LA, then eventually a great sushi lunch near Sunset and Vine. Steve from LA, an television writer/series creator/all-around great guy who bought Boy Scout raffle tickets from me before he even met me, then let me parade a friend’s Flat Stanley around his show’s set. Sarah from London, a techno-wizard who’s me circa 1990, and will be sharing a pint with me in a few weeks during her visit to New York. But I wouldn’t be toiling on scripts and planning my next visit to LA if it weren’t for two particular tweeters…Kara and Gavin. I’ve never really been able to toot my own horn. But I have no problem tooting theirs. Like it or not, here it comes kids.

Kara. (I’ll omit her last name for her privacy…but give the okay and it’s in kiddo). A Philly gal moved west. Phillies fan to rival any man. Hardest working woman in her field. Not an exaggeration. Works for and with an industry icon. Pure happenstance how we met online. It involved international travel, the BBC and a midget. But we clicked, connected and eventually met on the east coast a couple of times, then out west. Verizon owes us both a huge “thank you” for our rabid texting during the World Series (Wahoo!...@#$% Lidge!) Despite her frantic pace and weary workload, Kara has always taken time to help a friend. A lot of people in her position would have blown off the world’s oldest newbie. But Kara’s an incredibly supportive person who I consider a mentor, and more importantly a true friend. You’ve been helping me work on me and my goals. Now…let me help you with your frozen yogurt dependency.

Gavin. Gavin Heaney (I don’t care if he wants privacy, he’s not getting it). As Cali as they come ~ from the too-long blond locks to the board wax and guitar picks in his pocket. Hardest working man in his field. Not an exaggeration. Works for and by himself; not yet an icon. Again, pure happenstance how we met online. It involved the “I Love You, Man” movie soundtrack, east coast insomnia, west coast PR…and a midget. But like Kara, and at exactly the same time, we clicked and became friends. Despite booking gigs and promoting his newest Latch Key Kid album “All Becomes One” (available on iTunes, Amazon or through www.latchkeykid.org …yeah, I can promote with the best of them), Gavin took an actual interest in what I was doing, helped flesh out a story idea, critiqued it along the way, and put me in touch with someone who could offer more expert advice; someone who has since also become a very good friend. I’ve blogged with his songs in the background before, and you’ve probably wondered who the hell he is. Well he’s a renaissance man. Correction: a renaissance dude. Whatever LKK song you’ve involuntarily heard on this blog…every word sung, note penned or instrument played was done solely by Gavin. If you want to “meet” him, check out what some kids from his old high school just created (but be sure to first turn off his song that's on the playlist to your left):

So 2009 was my year of discovery. I discovered I’m not as old as I actually sometimes feel, that I can still become something/somebody new. I discovered I’m not completely without talents. Although I can’t animate/produce/compose/sing/strum…I can cook like a demon, write decently, make people laugh and still iron the crap out of a pleated shirt. I’ve discovered I’m not too proud to ask for help from friends when needed. And when you discover friends who can create something from nothing, and still take the time to help you along your way, you’ve got to toot their horns. So “toot” to all of you. Here’s hoping by this time next year, we’re all in the places we’d love to be, doing the things we’d love to do, with the people we love by our side.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Frosty Funnies

I'd love to take credit, but it's Christmas and Santa's watching. Thanks Liz!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time for Christmas

As I sit here wearing two sweaters because I’m freezing despite having a fever, with a nose that could rival Rudolph’s and a cough like a Winston-Salem executive, I’m looking for any excuse to put off a national pre-Christmas tradition…the sorting of the bills. All moms know of which I speak. Trying to figure out exactly how much Santa can pony up. Keep in mind, I’ve also got a son turning 13 in four days. Thank God we don’t have to do a bar mitzvah.
I have done absolutely NOTHING Christmas-wise yet, which is so not me. No cookies. No music. No shopping. No cards. I haven’t a clue what to get anyone. But I do know what I’d like for myself. Time.

If I had an extra hour each day, my house would be a little cleaner.

If I had an extra day each week, I’d be a lot more organized, play more with the kids and maybe go on a date (with my husband).

If I had an extra week each month, I’d read a book, write a story, tackle projects, make some money…get ahead.

If I had an extra month each year…I’d explore.

But the time we have is the time we have. And we’ve got to make the most of it. So from now until Christmas…a little less time on the computer and little more shopping. A little less time with the laundry and a little more baking. A little less time contemplating time and a little more enjoying what’s left of the season…before it’s gone.

"Christmas Everyday" by Latch Key Kid (Gavin Heaney)

John Stewart for President

Well no, not really, but damn if that man isn't near-perfect. Watch from start to finish. Yes, even YOU Mr. Farmville. I guartantee that at least 109% of you will find it spot on.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Gretchen Carlson Dumbs Down
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Friday, December 4, 2009

Surviving Suburbia

I live in a very small suburb of Philadelphia. It’s not rural by any means. I mean, we don’t cow tip on Friday nights…although I do have ready access to a cow, goats and evil hens through the kids' 4-H. No, this is your typical east coast bedroom community: a pharmacy and/or bank on every corner, dueling over-priced ice cream parlors, roaming teens with nothing better to do than practice their angst in the park, and the world’s worst library (I think their flag has 48 stars). A good part of our Main Street could be the set for a “Leave It to Beaver” sequel. And despite my bitching about being stuck in suburbia from time to time (translation: constantly), our family is actually a fixture at borough events. The benefit (curse?) of working for the local newspaper.

As much as I hope to be paroled and head west, I do have to admit that this little burg has its appeal. We have concerts in the parks every summer. We have a kick-ass holiday parade. Our high school, while ridiculously enormous, has a great rep, sports teams and marching band. Santa Claus actually drives down each and every street throwing candy from a fire engine on Christmas eve. And then there’s tonight.

The annual Christmas tree lighting in Lansdale. People pack the “downtown” (HA!) park to listen to carolers, eat free hot dogs, and mingle with locals they haven’t seen since the last summer concert. “Little Miss Lansdale” (a friend’s daughter this year) and Santa arrive on a towed sleigh, flip the switch lighting the tree, and shake hands with scores of eager rosy-cheeked townfolk. My boys get our traditional holiday photo with the mayor. Everyone then walks over to the library, which upon reflection may not be that horrible, to give their letters to Santa and watch the animated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

So we have a Starbucks. We have a Salvation Army. We have a SuperFresh. And we have a soul. Suburbia. Bloom where you’re planted.
But have an exit strategy.

"Suburbia" by Pet Shop Boys. Only because Latch Key Kid didn't have a suburban anthem (Get to work on that, Gavin).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

North Penn High School Football Highlights


(Note: Blogger Redwolf7782 wrote about this blog entry recently, wondering why I posted the video. Clue #1, Redwolf: I know the musician. Clue #2: I'm married to the video editor.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blogger Block

Can't think of a #$%^ing thing to write. So just go insane looking at the optical illusion below while listening some cool music and stop checking the blog until I tell you there's something worth reading!.....Oh, and if you live in Southern California, go to the O.C. Tavern, 2369 El Camino Real in San Clemente on Friday night at 9 p.m. to see Gavin Heaney (Latch Key Kid). And do me a favor, leave a comment below on which you like better, going by Gavin Heaney or "Latch Key Kid."