Posts tagged ‘television’

On Reading Aloud

I had the opportunity to return to View from the Bay last week to speak about the importance of reading aloud, and also to share some children’s books chosen by my son’s school librarians. It was hard to stick to my allotted five minutes! Here’s the clip:

The Day I Didn’t Meet Florence Henderson

So I was on television today, and I have to say it was a lot of fun, though it all got off to kind of an inauspicious start. I arrived at the studio promptly at 2:20, as requested, accompanied by my supportive friend, only to find I wasn’t on the security guard’s List. I wasn’t listed under my name, or my website, or my segment name. The security guard at the desk called the producer while my friend and I watched the 4 televisions in the lobby, hoping we wouldn’t be there long enough to watch the show on which I was scheduled to appear. Time passed. I began cracking jokes about my life on the D-list. Guests arrived and were ushered in through the locked door by a production assistant with a walkie-talkie and an ear piece, and I began to wonder if I should sneak in with another group of guests.

2:30 came and went. I checked in again with the security guard, who had forgotten my name. I called and left a message for the segment producer, knowing he was likely in the studio, far from his office. I overheard the security guard say to someone, “Oh, that person must have slipped in while I was distracted.” Um, security guard? I think it’s your job not to be distracted! But that’s okay, there’s no reason anybody would ever want to slip unnoticed in to a television studio. I mean, I did, but I wasn’t planning to hijack the news like the other guy probably was.

Eventually I got in. The producer was “looking all over” for me – except, you know, in the locked lobby. I was given a quick tour of the stage, shown where I would sit (grateful that I wouldn’t be sitting between the two hosts, like a friend was during her TV gig, who then felt like she was watching a tennis match, unsure where to look). They took my pile of books, concerned that they might put them in the wrong order. “It’s ok if they get mixed up, ” I said, “I can talk about them in any order.” The producer and stage manager looked at me, amazed. I can walk and chew gum, too, but I didn’t offer to do that on the show.

The green room wasn’t green, but mostly my friend and I hung out in the make-up room (thank you, kind make-up person, who did such a nice job of making me look like a better version of me!), chatting with Amy Tiemann and Jamie Woolf (who were on the show talking about their new project) and watching Florence Henderson talk about her new stage show and the tell-all books the Brady kids have written (and no, she never had an affair with Greg). At this point, understand, I wasn’t yet sure I would actually appear on the show, because although I was listed on the show’s website yesterday, I wasn’t on the security guard’s list, nor the producer’s list, and while it was all kind of pleasant to hang out, I was going to be a little sad if I’d prepped and rescheduled the day and bought a new dress only to be asked to go home (well, I wouldn’t really mind too much about the dress).

At 3:20, the production assistant came and said, “OK, you’re on the schedule for 3:30!” So I had a moment to consider getting nervous but seemed to be done with that, and then spent some time cooling my heels (literally! it was freezing) in the back stage area while the stage manager tried to figure out how to clip the microphone onto me (my TV-veteran friends, having given me so much great advice about how to dress and sit, didn’t mention microphone-friendly clothes, but there’s only so much you can do, right?). It involved quantities of tape and me holding the device and trying not to turn it off until I got settled on my stool. I remembered not to cross my legs (thank you, Vicki), to look at the hosts, not the camera (thank you, Ericka, Sophia and Sybil), and I remembered what I wanted to say. That seemed the least of my worries, really, especially once I met the hosts, who could probably get rocks to say interesting things. They are very, very good at their jobs.

And then, four and a half minutes after it started, the segment was all over, and while I could have said lots (and lots!) more about each of these terrific picture books, at least I got to say one good thing about each of them. And then, at the production assistant’s urging, I rummaged through the basket of green room snacks (Goldfish! Lorna Doones! Chocolates!) to bring treats home to my boys. I didn’t meet Florence Henderson, but still: a pretty good afternoon.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the picture books, because they are lovely, and visit Literary Mama for new reading lists every month!

Appetizer, Dinner, Dessert

The new season of Top Chef has begun, and Tony and I are once again glued to the couch on Wednesday nights. It took me a little while to get in to the show; the original host was fairly insipid, and the fact that you could only see, but not taste nor smell, the dishes seemed a fatal flaw. Still, we watched, because we do love to watch people cook, and seeing chefs handle challenges like assembling delicious-looking dishes out of vending machine purchases slowly won me over. I’ve even come around to the new host, Padma Lakshmi, who doesn’t trumpet her cooking abilities but is more than just a pretty face — she knows her stuff.

This week’s challenge — a pretty straightforward appetizer, dinner, dessert; no unusual requirements or last-minute restrictions– had me shouting at the contestants. They’re only two weeks into the show, sure, but this is the fifth season: surely they’ve watched it before? They should know better than to attempt a dish with an unfamiliar ingredient (ostrich egg quiche, anybody? You didn’t have to taste it to know it was not a success.) They should know to ditch something and start over when they — and all their fellow contestants — think it’s too sweet. I’ve never seen Padma spit something out into her napkin before, but she couldn’t even swallow a bite of her lemon meringue martini with cherry surprise. Who can blame her, really? I’m not sure I would put anything called “surprise” in to my mouth.

Now I’m no Top Chef and have no aspirations to be, but I can find my way around the kitchen, and so can my Lisa, my coeditor over at Learning to Eat; recently we both happened to write about appetizer, dinner and dessert, so head on over there for some recipes. And in the meantime, I’ll keep watching what those Top Chef contestants are up to.


(no spoilers here…)

I never would have gotten hooked on The Sopranos if it had started after I became a mother; my ability to stomach violent television is virtually non-existent now. But I got hooked, and then even after Ben came along changing everything, I kept watching because the characters were compelling, it was well-written and funny, these screwed-up families held my interest.

And, you know, just when it got too hard, the show would go on hiatus for a year or two.

Still, I’d been sort of anticipating these last few episodes with a mix of relief and dread. I’m done with the show. I can’t watch it anymore. I’m glad it’s over. But I didn’t want to see all these great characters go out in a terrible blood bath.

There were some moments that were pretty hard to watch (so in fact I didn’t; I’ve gotten really adept at using a throw pillow to cover my eyes while I plug my ears, because often the soundtrack is worse than the visual). But the last five minutes of the last show tonight captured everything I loved about the show: a normal-looking family gathering for a meal, talking about their days, heart-pounding tension building as you’re led to believe something terrible’s going to happen, nothing resolved, all of it set to the perfect song.

Now I can exhale and move on with my life.