Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Laryngitis

This afternoon I went to the clinic to find out what has been wrong with me. I've been battling a rawther nasty dry cough since the first week of the month, and recently, stuff has been settling in my chest. Today it got really bad at work. I had such a bad coughing attack that I had to use my rescue inhaler--and after holding my breath for about three seconds, the room started to spin, and I nearly passed out.

I went to the clinic and brought my Internet-capable cell phone, my iPod, and my book. I was fully prepared to spend the minimum two-hour wait that I usually have when I'm forced to go to the clinic.

(Now, I prefer to go to my regular physician, but the latest appointment I could get was 2:30 PM--too early for me to leave work).

So I get to the clinic, and I'm in and out in twenty minutes--a frakkin' record.

The doctor who saw me was also asthmatic, and had the same dry cough that I did. She listened to my lungs, and concluded that, while there was some wheezing going on, it wasn't severe enough to merit a Z-pack. In other words, no antibiotics for moi.

She told me to take Mucinex twice a day, as well as two tablespoons of Robitussin twice a day. Both of which I have in my medicine chest. However, she used the lengthy chemical, pharmaceutical, technical names, which I didn't understand at first. But now I do.

The Good Doc was impressed with my Peak Flow, especially considering that I had a tight chest at the time of the visit, and because I'm barely five feet tall.

She did, however, write me a prescription for Prednizone--just in case.

Here's hoping I don't get to the "just in case." Prednizone is an AWFUL drug. Yes, I know it works miracles for some people, but the side effects are terrible.

Sooo...I'm on a diet of over the counter meds, lots of tea, and rest. Oh...and I can't talk for 24 hours. That's not per doctor's orders; that's MY decision. By the end of the work day I barely had a voice. So I'm not going to talk--not even to my cats--until Friday morning.

Yes, I am taking a sick day tomorrow.

And this silent period is killing me already.

I can't wait to talk again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The songs in my head--feel free to shoot me for this one

A few words about Ke$ha:
  • The girl can barely sing. She makes Britney Spears look like Renee Fleming--well, I'm exaggerating here, but still...
  • The dollar sign in her name is such a cheesy gimmick.
  • She is such a frakkin' Lady Gaga wannabe.
And yet..."Tik Tok" is so catchy.

Once again, kittens, feel free to shoot me for this one.



P.S. I didn't include the original music video for this. It's bad...and not in a good way.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Half New Yorker, half New Jerseyan, 100% Nutmegger

I'm a member of the New England Bloggers, and this week, they're celebrating their first anniversary. Elizabeth, our founder, has asked us to write posts that have something to do with New England.

Well, this is rawther tough for me...for I really don't identify myself as a New Englander. You see, while I grew up here in Connecticut, I wasn't born here. I spent the first four years of my life in South Salem, New York.

My family lived in a house atop a huge hill, with several hairpin turns. It was a LOT of fun to shovel in the days before snowblowers. Did I mention that the driveway was also 800 feet long?

We lived by a lake. During the summers all of the neighbors would gather round and go swimming, followed by barbecues at each others' houses. During the winters all the neighbors would gather round and go skating, followed by hot chocolates at each others' houses.

We moved March 3, 1980. My fourth birthday. My mother cried all the way to Connecticut. My father worked for Aetna, and his job got transferred to the company headquarters in Hartford.

My mother, when we moved, had never lived in any other state. She had never lived twenty minutes away from her family. My father had never lived an hour away from his. So the move was tough for both of them for that reason.

Add to this the fact that they both grew up in the New York metropolitan area. My mother lived in a small town called Millwood. She is still in touch with her best friends from elementary school. It was the kind of town where you could walk wherever you wanted to, leave your doors unlocked all the time, and not have to worry about your kids' whereabouts. Yet it was close enough to New York City that there was a lot of diversity, cultural opportunities, and public transportation.

My father grew up in Linden, New Jersey, just outside of Newark. He lived with my grandparents and my uncle in the bottom apartment of a two-family house. My grandfather owned the house and rented out the VERY small one-bedroom apartment on the top floor. The bottom floor was a two-bedroom apartment--that is, if you could consider my dad and uncle's room to be a bedroom. They slept on a fold-out couch and shared a closet.

I mention my parents' background because, when we first moved to Connecticut, the culture shock they experienced was enormous. My father, about a month after we moved here, suggested to one of our neighbors that they go to a local high school football game. My neighbor laughed; our town did not have a high school football team. They ordered a pizza, opened the box, and were shocked to see that the slices weren't cut into triangles. They still complain about the dearth of good slices in the Nutmeg State (although we have managed to find much better pizza; you just have to look very carefully).

But my point is this: When you take two people who are used to growing up in urban areas, and transplant them into a tiny, quiet, rural Connecticut town, cultural differences WILL ensue. And people WILL notice.

I have very vague memories of South Salem; my sister, however, does not. She was nine months old when she moved. I was pretty much raised with New York sensibilities. I grew up rooting for the Mets when everyone else cheered for the Red Sox. I knew what it was like to have the Italian relatives who cooked endless mountains of pasta for you. My friends couldn't understand why people would have plastic slipcovers on their couches, as my grandmother did.

So basically, what I'm trying to say is this: I've never really identified myself as a pure New Englander. Growing up, especially during my high school and college years, I focused on all of the negative things about Connecticut--Hartford, especially. If some colleges are considered to be "suitcase schools" because the majority of their on-campus residents go home for the weekend, then Hartford is a "suitcase city." My sister and I went to see a Theaterworks production one Sunday afternoon, and I felt LESS safe walking through an empty Hartford downtown than we did during the busy, bustling downtown of the work week.

As a kid I grew up in a neighborhood full of people my age, and for some reason, my house was always the focal gathering point. We spent a lot of time outside. We made up our own games. We chased each other often. We all walked to school together. But these are more innocent childhood memories than they are strictly New England ones.

I now live in a mid-sized Connecticut city. I really enjoy living where I do right now. There are lots of good places to eat, Wesleyan University's nearby, and New Haven's not that far away, so I can hop on the Metro North and go to the city whenever I want.

As I have gotten older, I've found new things to appreciate about our fair state, and my hometown in particular. But even though I tell people that I'm from Connecticut, I don't consider myself a New Englander. Probably because I don't know what really constitutes one.

P.S. Even though I've lived here 30 years now, I've only been to Boston three times. One time per decade. And as much as I enjoy it, I still prefer New York.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Desiderata

The day of my high school graduation, my French teacher gave all of her seniors copies of the Desiderata. Since then I've regarded it as one of my favorite poems, if not, my absolute favorite.

I don't know why it suddenly came across my conscience tonight, but it did, and I am posting it.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

An open letter to Mr. Conan O'Brien

Kittens,

I realize that there are much, much more important things going on right now that to mourn the end of a television show. That having been said, let us not forget that it is unhealthy to be maudlin and morose 24/7. Our species provides us numerous forms of escape from reality--music, painting, reading, movies, and, of course, television. Conan's version of the
Tonight Show was one form of escape for me.

I have never written a fan letter, and I am not normally the type of person to do so. I usually reserve my gushing for celebrities in private ways. Yet this whole late-night debacle has spurred something in me to put my thoughts down in a very public fashion. Hell, I even wrote two open letters to NBC recently condemning their treatment of Mr. O'Brien in the past two weeks (which you can read here and here).

I seriously doubt anyone from Conan's staff will read this, let alone Conan himself, but these are words from the heart. I'm not going to venture into screaming-teen girl fan club mode (a la the Jonas Brothers). I'm not going to turn this into another round of Leno- or NBC-bashing. I'm going to respect Conan's wishes and not be cynical, and maintain a positive attitude throughout this epistle.

Dear Conan,

I was never able to stay up late enough all that often to catch your Late Night show. When I did I usually fell asleep around 1 AM, and I would like to point out it was not because of you. I either had class or work the following day, and it is impossible for me to operate on four hours sleep or less. (Please observe that I rise at the oh-so-lovely hour of 5:30 AM).

I remember the exact spot where I was when I heard, on WCBS 880, that you would take over the Tonight Show in 2009. I was in my car, waiting for the light to change, and quizzical thoughts started running through my mind. First of all, I thought, "Gee, didn't Johnny Carson just retire?" And then I thought, "My God, 2009 is so far away."

Well, five years passed, and soon, the news media was full of publicity about your inheritance to the throne once graced by not just Johnny Carson, but by Steve Allen and Jack Paar. Now that you were on an hour earlier, I could now watch you on a regular basis. And then I learned about Hulu. So whenever I fell asleep at 9 PM, I took comfort in the fact that I could always see your string dance on Firefox when I woke up the next morning.

And then on the eighth day, God created DVR. I never, ever worried about ever having to miss a show again. In fact, Conan, you helped me get my mornings off to a great start. I watched your monologue and your first comedy bits as I got ready for work. I'd make my coffee, grab my cereal, and have a leisurely breakfast with you, Andy, Max, LaBamba, and your entire crew. I thank you for making the mornings more bearable. This means a lot to me, for I am not a morning person.

I love your interviewing style. You just seem like a person whom anyone can relate to. Interviews with you are more like conversations with good friends: relaxed, open, and honest. Guests feel comfortable around you. And best of all, you don't suck up to anyone; you're very genuine.

Last night, Neil Young was on your show, and thanked you personally for supporting new music. Conan, if it weren't for your show, I wouldn't have Diane Birch, Lady Antebellum, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, and Julian Casablancas on my iPod. I realize that some of these artists have been around for a while, but they were new to me. You see, during my commute, and while I was at work, I would listen to either NPR or WCBS 880 and be in serious adult mode. Now I balance my serious adult mode with some playful tunes to help get me through the day: I get my information, but find time to be whimsical.

You also helped remind me that it's okay to be playful. In my circle of friends and loved ones, I'm known as the "quirky" one. The actress. The one who tries to find humor in all situations. The one who often finds herself at the expense of everyone's jokes. Often, I feel like the odd one out because of this. I have friends who have law degrees, PhDs, and are very successful in their careers as of their mid-30s. Sometimes it's hard to be around such an intelligent group of people. You help me remember to be myself--that I can be an intelligent professional and still embrace my quirkiness and goofy sense of humor. One can be witty and goofy without having to sacrifice class, honor, dignity, and respect.

Throughout this whole debacle, you have shown class, honor, dignity, and respect. I loved your "People of Earth" manifesto--it balanced your unique sense of humor with the respect for the tradition that is one of television's longest-running programs. I am including excerpts from this letter for the sake of my readers:

"In the last few days, I've been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I've been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I've been absurdly lucky...

"For 60 years, the “Tonight Show” has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the “Tonight Show” into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The “Tonight Show” at 12:05 simply isn’t the “Tonight Show.” Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the “Late Night” show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy...

"Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way."

Not only did you defend the Tonight Show tradition, you stood up for your Late Night successor, Jimmy Fallon. I thought that was one of the classiest parts of your letter; you were keeping an eye out for the new kid on the block, and that was very kind of you.

I have the last two weeks of your Tonight Show on my DVR, and I refuse to erase them. Once I figure out how to transfer them to DVD format (I need to back these recordings up somehow) I will. I will especially treasure, however, last night's episode. It was all very bittersweet. There was a lot of humor thrown in, with your montage of memorable clips from the past seven months (and there were many memorable clips in that montage), the exit interview with Steve Carell, and Tom Hanks walking out with two glasses of "scotch". (Imagine my disappointment when it turned out to be cream soda).

But your final monologue, at the end of your show, was what really got me. I actually cried at this one (sorry about the audio quality):

video

Yes, you took some very sharp jabs at NBC during your last few shows, but you didn't forget that the Peacock was the network that got you your start. Yes, NBC put you through the wringer very, very publicly, and in a very, very nasty fashion, but you still were classy enough to remember that they helped you out in the very beginning of your career, too. Yes, it is ironic what they did to you at the end of your tenure with them, especially considering that they really stuck by you when you began hosting Late Night, but through it all, you showed an enormous sense of gratitude.

If you look at my left sidebar, I have a section called "Poor Kitten's Almanac." I have listed in that section, Conan, a quote that has been attributed to you: "If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice." That is exactly what you've been doing throughout all this. I can't imagine what you're going through privately, but publicly, you have been very professional. Some have said that your recent jabs and jokes at NBC's expense have been in poor taste. Well, the fact that you have been showing up for work throughout it all, when some may call in sick, speaks volumes. The fact that you are supplementing some of your staff's severance from your own pocket speaks volumes. The fact that you reminded your viewers throughout the last days of your show to donate to the relief efforts in Haiti reminded us to keep things in perspective.

And then there are the reactions of your late-night peers. I saw the first few minutes of Jimmy Fallon's show last night, and was very lucky to see such a sweet tribute from him and his house band, the Roots:



That little baptism with the 40 oz. was awesome. So was Dr. Oz's reaction. Yet it was so weird to see Studio 6A be something so completely different.

One last thing, Conan: at the end of your show last night, you told your fans not to be cynical, and how much you hate cynicism. I have thought a lot about this remark. And then I questioned the very definition of the word. So I looked it up in my old Webster's American College Dictionary:
  • cynic: 1. a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view. 2. a person who shows or expresses a bitterly or sneeringly cynical attitude. --cynicism, n.
Thank you, Conan, for reminding us that, in spite of everything that is going on in this world, there are still a lot of good, selfless, genuine people. You are one of them. I admired you has a comedian before, but now, I admire you as a person with genuine respect, class, and compassion.

I leave you now with the Neil Young performance from your last show. I just love the lyrics, and how they fit the occasion. That, and the performance was so very moving for me.

And I will listen to it again later.

For it's now on my iPod.

Long may you run, Conan, long may you run.

With much love,
The Bookkitten
http://thebookkitten.blogspot.com

video

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Writers Workshop: Boredom Prevention 101 with Professor Kitten

Thanks to Mama Kat for the inspiration.

This week's prompt: "Write a list of 10 things that can be done to stave off boredom."

Here we go:

1. Sleep, glorious sleep
What better way to stave off boredom than to escape the world for a little while? And what better way to escape the world than a little catnap, which can turn into one long power snooze? None of us get enough sleep, so here's a perfect reason to do so.

2. Facebook
Yes, I know it's bad to be a slave to social media, but I understand why people are addicted to Facebook. It promotes voyeurism; it lets you be the nosy neighbor that you hated as a kid but love being as an adult. And let's not get started with all of those games and apps...and for some, groups...

3. iPod
Or whatever music provider you may have. The iPod's the best, though. Put it on shuffle, and you never know what tune is gonna come up. Granted, you have to have a good number of tunes in your library to make this option worthwhile. Papa Cat has only two CDs worth of music in his one gig iPod Shuffle, so this wouldn't work for him.

4. Starbucks
I'm talking about a trip to Starbucks, and not necessarily consuming the actual coffee. Park yourself in a corner, grab a book or the New York Times, or plug in your laptop and bum off the WiFi. The people watching opportunities at Starbucks are tremendous--especially if you manage to score an outside table.

5. Borders
See #4 for more info of what I'm talking about. That, and the thousands of books that are available for your perusal will surely peak your interest--that is, if you like books. If not, may I suggest Best Buy.

6. DVR
Boredom is the perfect time to catch up on all the backlogged shows that you haven't watched on the DVR. It's also the perfect time to watch those shows you refuse to erase.

7. Driving therapy
Get in the car, and go somewhere. Anywhere. Crank the radio up as loud as it can go and see where the music takes you. Of course, with the price of gas still going up, it looks like this may not be such a great alternative...

8. Retail therapy other than Borders
I don't go to the mall as much as I used to, but I can never resist a stop at the Clinique counter. Or Estee Lauder. Or Origins. Especially at free gift bonus time. ($50 minimum purchases be damned, though! I only take this into consideration when it's a DAMN good bonus.)

9. Magazines
I prefer People, US Weekly, and TV Guide to stave off boredom. Light, fluffy reads that won't tax my brain too much, but won't cause it to melt, either.

10. Baking
It can't be something fancy like souffle or cheesecake. Muffins and cookies work best for me--granted, I often eat the dough before they go in the oven.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2010: three weeks in...

  • I can't stop thinking about the earthquake in Haiti, and its aftershocks. I know I need to stop watching CNN 24/7, but I can't. The stories are so compelling: stories of trying to find relatives, of rescuing victims, and attempts to get out of the country. The more I watch, the sadder I get, but like I said, I can't turn the TV off.
  • I have a friend whose mother just had a brain tumor removed. It was a tricky surgery; the tumor was wrapped around her optic nerve. Yesterday, the doctors thought things were okay. Today, I receive an E-mail from my friend, saying that the vision in her mom's eye is gone. They don't know if it's permanent.
  • I received a letter in the mail from my minister. She sent it to all of the members of our church. It was the announcement that she is leaving at the end of March. She really helped me through a difficult period of my life, and the feelings of loss started to creep in.
  • I'm not happy about the results of the Massachusetts senate race. And that's all I'm saying about that.
  • Friday night I'm singing at a memorial service. Even though my friend is viewing his sister's death as a blessing (she had numerous health problems during her final years), it doesn't make it any easier.
  • I have a friend whose husband totaled his truck the other day. Good news: He escaped with only cuts and bruises. Bad news: They have no health insurance. They have to pay for the emergency room, cat scan, and other fees associated with the accident. They DO, however, have auto insurance.
I'm sorry that my posts have been more or less on the downside lately. I posted in my Facebook status the other day that 2010 is shaping up to be "one of those years." Lately my friends, loved ones, and I have been facing a lot of challenges, good and bad. The first two weeks were difficult for me, both at work and at home (more at work, though), and I was prepared to hide in a tent throughout the three-day weekend.

Yet...why is it that it takes events such as the ones I've listed above for me to gain perspective, and realize that I have a pretty good life as it is? I mean, I have a job, a house, insurance of all kinds, and my health. I can fulfill my basic human needs. Yet the people in Haiti were struggling well before the quake to get those needs taken care of. And far too many Americans don't have health care. (Again, do NOT get me started on the Massachusetts senate race...)

So that's where I am right now...wrestling to find perspective on various things, trying to find answers, and becoming impatient when I can't find them immediately.

Again, sorry for being a downer lately. I promise we'll be back to humorous, lighthearted Bookkitten programming soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The songs in my head: I'm Shipping Up to Boston

I am not a Red Sox fan, possess maybe a teaspoon of Gaelic blood, and have absolutely no connections to the city of Boston.

So how did I suddenly become a Dropkick Murphys fan? And a rabid one at that?

If you are a Red Sox fan, a hard-core Bostonian, so Irish that three-quarters of your blood is Guinness, or any or all of the above, then you know about Dropkick Murphys. Their song "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" is the walk-out song for Sox pitcher Jonathan Papelbon, who does a jig to this very song.

Not long ago, the Boston Pops released The Red Sox Album, which features music that is synonymous with their hometown team. Among the tracks on the album? A cover of "I'm Shipping Up to Boston."

The Boston Pops covered a Celtic punk band. OK, that was a selling point for me.

Now, Sister Kitten is a hard core Red Sox fan. So much so that she has requested Dropkick Murphys CDs for Christmas and birthday gifts. So one day, in Borders, I found their Tessie EP on sale. I bought it for her for Easter. "Tessie" was a song that was sung at Red Sox games around 1918, the last time the Sox won the series prior to 2004. During the 2004 series, Dropkick Murphys reworked "Tessie", it started getting played at games, and--well, you know what happened.

I've met various people over the years who absolutely worship Dropkick Murphys, and insist that I give them a listen. And finally, I have.

It took this year's NHL Winter Classic for me to finally get a taste of them. Granted, NBC only played 30 seconds of their live performance, but it was enough for me. I was hooked.

I downloaded their live album, recorded on Saint Patrick's Day. They perform in Boston each year on Saint Patrick's Day weekend, and their concerts are legendary--or, so I hear. I have not been to one yet. It's the perfect album to listen to when you need to get pumped for the day.

So, without further ado, here are Dropkick Murphys with "I'm Shipping Up to Boston."



P.S. Since I am a new fan, some of my facts may not be 100% straight. If you need to clarify some history for me, please let me know. You can also click here to go to their official website.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In need of some gift advice

My darling kittens--

This afternoon I received an Evite from a dear friend of mine who is throwing herself a 60th birthday party. After recovering from the shock that I had upon learning her age (I thought she was MUCH younger), I happily accepted her invitation.

And then, panic struck...the same panic that comes whenever one gets invited to a party.

THE GIFT.

I don't even remember what I got Mama Cat when she turned 60. Hell, she's gonna be 65 this year; what am I gonna get her to commemorate her Social Security eligibility, T-bills?

Now, my friend has been a very good friend to me for almost nine years. She's almost like a second mother to me. She trusts me with her pets, even after one accidentally ate a stick of butter. She always gives me little gifts and trinkets as a thank you for housesitting, but she's never given anything tres expensive.

So...I'm stuck. I don't want to spend too much money, but I don't want to come off looking like a cheapskate. She loves to travel, and anything to do with summer and Labrador retrievers. She does have a Pandora bracelet, so maybe I can get her a bead for it...

...but what if someone gifts her with the EXACT SAME BEAD?!?!?

ARRGH!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The songs in my head: Pop! Goes My Heart

In 2007, Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore starred in a film called Music and Lyrics. I have not seen the film, but I have heard this wonderful song, which is a fantastic 80s parody and is instantly catchy.

I first heard this song a couple of years back, and really liked it, but couldn't find a copy of the soundtrack anywhere. And then, last week, it popped back in my head.

And yes, that is Hugh Grant on lead vocals.

This clip is apparently the intro to the film. I had no plans to see it, and then I saw Matthew Morrison's name in the opening credits.

Matthew Morrison.

AKA Will Shuester from Glee.

Maybe I should watch this movie after all...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another open letter to the National Bullcrapping Company

Please click here to read my first letter. After reading the weekend's latest news, my anger continued to bubble up and I needed to write another correspondence.

Now, I am not the type of person to write to a television network about something that they did that angered me, such as canceling a show, but what NBC has done to Conan O'Brien and his staff is just plain...well, low is an understatement. Even members of Team Leno are admitting that NBC went too far this time.

I'm not even going to be articulate here. I'm just saying what is coming from my gut, and it ain't pretty.

Read on.

Dear NBC,

Since when did you become the JLN--that is, the Jay Leno Network? I can't believe that you are re-arranging your late-night schedule to cater to someone whom many believed was going to retire once his contract with the Tonight Show was up. What's worse, you're catering your entire late-night schedule just for the benefit of one person. ONE PERSON!!!

Even when Jay Leno was shifted to the 10 PM slot, he got as much--if not, more--promotion as he did when he hosted the Tonight Show! The Tonight Show is--or rather, after your current handling of the franchise, was--the gold standard in late-night entertainment. You pushed and pushed and pushed Leno's show as if it were the greatest thing in the digital age. As for Conan, the newest successor to the so-called late night gold standard? Hardly any promotion, compared to the bombardment and overexposure we have received for The Jay Leno Show.

As I wrote in my previous letter, Johnny Carson wanted David Letterman to be his successor. And how do you think Johnny Carson--Johnny Carson!!--felt when his wishes weren't honored? You dissed the most legendary host of late night TV, ever. Way to show your respect, NBC. Mr. Carson had a lot of class, unlike Mr. Leno, who has publicly whined--both in subtle and not-so-subtle ways--about how he was "pushed out" of his 11:35 time slot. Yeah, way to bow out gracefully.

And then there's Jeff Zucker, the man who got you into this whole mess. Does Jay Leno have him wrapped around his whole finger so tightly that he can get Zucker to provide him with someone to hold the tissue while he blows his nose? How is it that Leno's getting whatever the hell he wants?

And what's Zucker's beef with Conan? What the hell did Conan ever do to him? Many are recalling that Leno's ratings after he took over for Carson weren't so great either, at least in the beginning. And of course, there's Conan's story. Yes, he once worked, literally, from week to week, but you stuck with him, NBC, and he did a lot for you. And this latest treatment of him--this is the reward he gets for nearly seventeen years of loyalty?!?!

The logic here is ass-backwards, NBC. Let me get this straight: You're moving Leno back to 11:35 because his prime-time ratings were tanking. You feel this will make your affiliates happy, since the ratings for their 11 PM newscasts were sharply down--a result of the so-called "Leno Effect." So by moving a show that bombed in prime-time an hour and a half later, and half an hour before your esteemed Tonight Show, you feel that this will help? Yes, it may help the 11 PM affiliate newscasts, but how is it going to help Conan? You're setting Mr. O'Brien up to fail, NBC, and that is not fair. You're doing all that you can in your power to get Conan off the air and Leno back into the Tonight Show chair--but seriously, how many people are going to watch Mr. Leno after this fracas? Even his most die-hard fans are rapidly losing respect for him.

You've left me with no choice, NBC. I know this sounds a wee bit dramatic, but a lot of members of Team Conan--and there are a LOT of them--are planning to boycott your network, save for Conan's show. This is not an easy thing for me to do. While most of your schedule--well, I'm using the word "sucks" here because I can't think of a polite way to put it and still articulate my feelings--I get my news from Brian Williams, enjoy the programming offered on the Today Show, and love to watch my girl Tina Fey on 30 Rock.

Speaking of Tina Fey, do you recall what she said in her speech when she accepted the Best Comedy Emmy at the Prime-Time Emmy Awards last year? Allow me to remind you that she thanked you, NBC, for "keeping us on the air even though we're so much more expensive than a talk show."

Ouch.

Tina Fey and the crew at 30 Rock love to mock you. I can't wait to see what they do with this one--oh wait, I won't be watching! I'm boycotting your network! I forgot!

So NBC, let us now sit back and watch you become the first broadcast network to go under. You're already in the toilet; allow me to be one of millions to stand in line and take turns flushing.

The Bookkitten
http://thebookkitten.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 7, 2010

An open letter to the National Bullcrapping Company

ATTENTION BLOGGERS, COMMENTERS, AND WEB SURFERS: I realize that there are a lot of strong feelings about the whole Leno-Conan debacle. If you haven't heard about what I am talking about, click here for the news.

If you read this blog frequently, you know that I am a huge Conan fan. What NBC is contemplating doing to him right now spurred me to write the following post.

Regardless if you play for Team Leno or Team Conan, and which brand of comedy you prefer, I welcome your comments. Those who fall in either camp are steadfastly supportive of their heroes. All I can say is: BRING. IT. ON.

Dear NBC,

You have been the bastion of many jokes for quite some time now. Lots of media outlets proclaim you the "fourth place network". This is true regardless of whether you consider the CW and MyTV to be actual networks--which they aren't, in my humble opinion.

Lots has been written, tweeted, and blogged about your prime time programming, especially with the addition of The Jay Leno Show to your lineup. When it was announced that the former Tonight Show host was now getting a 10 PM slot, there was lots of speculation as to why you had moved to that slot. Some said that they kept him at 10:00 to "protect Conan"; they were afraid he'd jump ship and kill Conan's ratings once he moved to the Tonight Show. Others, like me, felt it was a vast conspiracy: If Conan majorly bombed, and didn't bring the ratings the Peacock wanted, they had Leno as a backup.

Well, it looks like the latter theory has come to fruition, and it upsets me not just as a Conan fan, but also really saddens me as a human being.

I was a high school junior back in 1993 when it was announced that Jay Leno would succeed Johnny Carson as the host of the Tonight Show. Remember the firestorm that caused, NBC? Mr. Carson wanted his good friend David Letterman to be his successor, and then Letterman was so distraught that he up and left your network? And to think of the relationship that Carson and Letterman had; Carson was a true mentor to him. And when Carson died, was it Leno who did an entire tribute show to him upon his passing? No, NBC, it was Mr. Letterman, who did a beautiful tribute on his Late Show on CBS, complete with the following:
  • Carson-era Tonight Show bumpers that appeared before and after commercials;
  • former Tonight Show executive producer Peter Lassally as guest (yes, I know he also worked for Letterman, but still...);
  • Carson's band leader, Doc Severinsen appeared as musical guest, playing his trumpet alongside Paul Shaffer in a loving tribute;
  • an opening monologue full of jokes that Johnny Carson told throughout his years as Tonight Show host.
I was in the hospital when I saw Mr. Letterman's tribute to his beloved mentor, and I thought it was a classy, respectful, genuine way to say farewell to someone who meant a lot to him, professionally and personally. Jay Leno did not a tribute in as grand a scale on Johnny Carson's own TV show!!!

Speaking of David Letterman, say what you will about him and the sex scandal from a few months back, but let's give him some credit here, too. When Conan O'Brien succeeded him as the host of Late Night, there was a lot of doubt that he would succeed. David Letterman served as a mentor to him in his formative years, appearing on his show, and even sending his standby audience to 30 Rock to help him fill the seats.

Well, Mr. O'Brien did succeed, so much so that, back in 2004, he was named Jay Leno's successor to the Tonight Show. According to the press that I read at the time, NBC's wish was to avoid another Leno/Letterman succession fiasco.

Well guess what, NBC--that backfired. Big time.

It's bad enough that you had to do this to David Letterman. But to do it twice?!?! Conan moved across the country, not just with his writers and staff, but with his family (with two very young children, by the way) and their families. They've been out in Los Angeles for seven months now. You built a brand new studio for him on the Universal Studios lot. And now all of a sudden, you ring the bell and proclaim that recess is over?!?!

Consider Conan's backstory, NBC: here's a guy who once worked with you on a week-by-week contract. He once was a television writer who suddenly got his own show, succeeding a late-night legend. There are many who vehemently dislike Conan's humor, but even those who do have got to admire what it took him to get to where he is now. Everyone loves a success story such as Conan's.

Since I started writing this post half an hour ago, I cannot tell you how many tweets, Facebook groups, and blog postings have emerged in support of Conan. And the longer I'm on my Twitter account, reading the tweets that pop up since my initial search, hundreds more enter the feed. Ninety-five percent of said tweets have a favorable opinion of Mr. O'Brien.

I've been spending the last twenty minutes trying to think of a suitable conclusion to my angry letter, and all I can come up with is this: TEAM CONAN. Two words that so nicely summarize my feelings.

Conan, his family, and all those affiliated with the Tonight Show, deserve a helluva lot better.

The Bookkitten
http://thebookkitten.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The songs in my head: Nothing But a Miracle

Last week, when I had some time off, I caught up on all of the episodes of Conan I was behind on. On one of those episodes, this lovely young woman closed out the show with an AH-mazing performance.

Kittens, meet Diane Birch.

When Conan first announced that she was the opening act for Nick Jonas and the Administration on their sold out tour, I thought, "Ugh. Another teeny bopper." But I had seen her name all over iTunes, and saw that she had received raves for her first album, so I thought I'd check her out.

Oh. My. God.

A little background: The kid's 26 years old, and sounds like one of those classic 70s singer-songwriters like Carole King or Laura Nyro. She's the daughter of a preacher, and grew up all over the world. She lists church hymns and Beethoven as some of her biggest influences. She wasn't allowed to listen to pop music when she was a kid, which really surprises me, considering that her music and lyrics are well beyond her years.

You can find out more about Diane and her music by clicking here. This will take you to her official website.

Diane's performance from The Tonight Show isn't on YouTube, but here's her performance from The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson back in June of '09! (I just had to write that!) In fact, this is her television debut.

Please sit back and enjoy, kittens. I guarantee that you'll love this clip. In fact, afterwards, do yourself a favor and do what I did after listening to one song: buy the whole damn album. You won't regret it!

P.S. She needs to headline her own tour--RIGHT NOW. Sorry, kittens, but I'm not paying to see a Jonas brother.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The songs in my head: What up with that?

Lately, kittens, there have been MANY songs in my head. MANY. So many that I have to break up my regular SIMH posts into several. (And so many that I had to use an acronym...and y'all know how I loathe textspeak).

Anyhoo, this first one comes from one of the funnier sketches from Saturday Night Live this season. Kenan Thompson stars as the host of a fake BET talk show, What Up With That? There are so many funny elements to this sketch: the singing, the dancing, the juxtaposition of guests...it really defies description. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

So rawther than me babble on about it, here's a sample of what you can find:



Enjoy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Queen's Meme: The Band Meme

I haven't done one of Mimi's memes in a rawther long time, but this one was quick and too good to pass up:

It's a musical meme0-matic! Here's how it goes. You are about to have your own band's CD cover. Follow these directions to the letter. My tagee list is at the bottom of this post. It's fun and requires no thought at all. Go to......

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first article title on the page is the name of your band.
Go to the bottom of the page and find the NEW RANDOM QUOTATIONS button. Click it. The last four words of the very last quote that appears on the page is the title of your album.

The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4. Use your graphics program of choice to throw them together, and post the result.

Well, I managed to figure out everything, and here's the final result:

My band, The Algebra of Ice, will start its world tour March 20th--the day of the spring equinox.

Now that I've figured out graphics, I can finally make a Peace Globe!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Bookkitten's iPod playlist: New Year's 2010 edition

It's nearly 2:20 AM and I have to be at church in less than seven hours, but I figure the early rising time will help me prepare for my return to work on Monday. I really shouldn't be writing a post, but I needed to share my New Year's 2010 playlist with y'all. So here goes:

(And yes, there are stories behind my choices, but I don't want to stay up too late articulating the reasons behind my selections).

1. "The Story," Brandi Carlile
2. "A Long December," Counting Crows
3. "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," Dropkick Murphys
4. "Pop! Goes My Heart," Hugh Grant
5. "Nothing But a Miracle," Diane Birch
6. "Going Up the Country," Kitty, Daisy, and Lewis
7. "Rehab," the cast of Glee
8. "Polly Put the Kettle On," Kitty, Daisy, and Lewis
9. "The State of Massachusetts," Dropkick Murphys
10. "Free Me," Joss Stone
11. "Better Together," Jack Johnson
12. "Fame," Irene Cara
13. "If You're Into It," Flight of the Conchords
14. "Valentino," Diane Birch
15. "Beautiful as You," Overseas
16. "I Say a Little Prayer," the cast of Glee
17. "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)", the Chipettes
18. "Hair/Crazy In Love," the cast of Glee
19. "Sweet Caroline," the Boston Pops (From The Red Sox Album, a tribute to all of the songs that the Red Sox play during their games at Fenway)
20. "Fire Escape," Diane Birch
21. "Song For Megan," Talking to Walls
22. "Banana Pancakes," Jack Johnson
23. "Gold Digger," the cast of Glee
24. "11th Dimension," Julian Casablancas
25. "Take a Bow," the cast of Glee
26. "Taking Chances," the cast of Glee
27. "Alone," the cast of Glee
28. "You Keep Me Hangin' On," the cast of Glee
29. "It's My Life/Confessions Pt. II," the cast of Glee
30. "Too Many Dicks (On the Dance Floor)," Flight of the Conchords
31. "Mercy," the cast of Glee
32. "Staple It Together," Jack Johnson
33. "Belle," Jack Johnson
34. "Carol Brown," Flight of the Conchords
35. "I Wish It Was Christmas Today," Julian Casablancas
36. "Don't Stop Believin'," the cast of Glee

OK...2:30 AM...good night, kittens!