Hi Again: A Very Random Pop Culture Update

I owe you an apology, again. Every intention of updating this site on a much more frequent basis has fallen victim to time, travel and Lost over the last several weeks. But this site is my real baby; my original blog of almost 5 years, and what will continue to be home base once Lost ends forever in May. 

Because I have been negligent for far too long, I thought I would briefly address what has been going on in my pop culture world and provide appropriate links if you’re interested in additional details. 
  • I just returned from a weekend in Buenos Aires and week in Santiago, Chile (visiting family; see video at bottom of post). To escape thunderstorms one afternoon, we went to see An Education. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, particularly the performance of Carey Mulligan. While I believe that she completely deserves her Best Actress nod, I don’t think that she stands a chance against Meryl and Sandra this year. And to be honest, I do not agree with the film’s inclusion as a Best Picture nominee. But don’t get me started about the fact there are now 10 in that category…

  • While on the red carpet, I had the opportunity to interview Michael Emerson’s wife, actress Carrie Preston. Stay tuned for audio from that conversation, as we discuss her role as Arlene in the third season of True Blood!
  • I am currently hosting a Haiti relief fundraiser on my Lost site, giving away memorabilia to those who donate $10 or more to Partners in Health (in conjunction with Mo Ryan from the Chicago Tribune, who is also auctioning off various TV items for the cause via eBay). 
  • In anticipation of new episodes of the stellar series Southland (beginning March 2 on its new network: TNT), here is a look behind the scenes of the show. I will be receiving a screener shortly and plan to preview it here for you before it airs. 

  • To celebrate the new movie The Crazies, a reinvention of the George Romero horror classic starring Timothy Olyphant (opening on February 26 in theaters), I will be giving away a set of limited-edition The Crazies comic books very soon!
  • One of my favorite new shows of the last several years, Nurse Jackie, returns for a second season on March 22. Here is the trailer. Jump on board; I guarantee you won’t regret it. Twilight fans, you will love Peter Facinelli in this series – check out Dr. Coop’s Video Diary.

  • And here is your first look at the sophomore season of my other favorite new show in recent memory, United States of Tara. Joey Lauren Adams joins the cast, and the series also returns on March 22.
Thank you for your patience, whether you are fairly new to this site or have been visiting for several years. I look forward to hearing from YOU; feel free to leave comments and/or feedback below!

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A Room (Of One’s Own) to Write

I am sitting in a new world, my very first fully functional home office.

Of the many things I’ve been labeled, ‘handy’ is not one of them. But I was recently inspired to undertake the daunting task of transforming our junk room into a more practical space. It was a very cathartic experience. Not only did I have 12 banker boxes full of paperwork from the last 12 years of our life shredded, I actually built a desk and lamp (and by built I mean…followed instructions to put the pieces together using actual tools!). The entire room makeover took 3 weeks and cost a whopping $135. And I did it all quite stealthily while my better half was out of town. Given that I haven’t been able to do much for months because of my back surgery, it was a pleasant surprise and very well received.

On top of being a pack rat, I am a collector of entertainment and sports memorabilia. So the dusty bobblehead boxes and movie figurines safely encased in plastic are now stashed away on the shelves in the closet. There is far less clutter in here now. 

I’ve always had one wall in here with framed press kit and autographed photos. The black and white pictures are a nice contrast against the stormy blue gray paint.  But after I finished framing and hanging everything, I was very surprised to notice a glaring omission from my collection…not one photo or poster from Lost. How is that possible?

It was a lightbulb more than a fire that motivated me to set this room up. As cheesy and/or cliché as it may sound, it was influenced primarily by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.

In the early 90′s, I was fortunate to spend a semester of college studying abroad in London. I took the following Woolf anecdote to heart during my stay there; it encouraged my daily strolls and weekends:

London itself perpetually attracts, stimulates, gives me a play & a
story & a poem, without any trouble, save that of moving my legs
through the streets… To walk alone in London is the greatest rest.

And now I sit in a room of my own, across from a framed poster of The Hours, with Nicole Kidman’s Oscar-winning nose and Woolf’s spirit gazing back at me in an almost challenging manner. It might seem strange but it feels right.

I have no idea what effect this room may have on me or my blogs or my life, but it feels like a fresh start and a new opportunity.

But don’t worry, I won’t sit and stare longingly out the window like Woolf’s cover girl. Not only is my new desk positioned facing the door (I Googled ‘feng shui home office’), I plan to be far more productive than reflective from now on.

Once again I find myself sharing without purpose. I have marketed this site as a pop culture blog, but sometimes I have tangents. This was one of them.

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Milestones, Music & Meditation

I was happy to discover that this particular post happens to be my 400th. In just under 3 years, that is far more than I ever thought I would write or share.

At this very moment I am on a writing retreat, sitting in front of the ocean on a foggy Saturday morning. The setting and environment are picture perfect, along with the weather and tranquility.

Fresh air is something I tend to overlook and ignore, but it certainly awakens introspection and inspiration. Every few years I remove myself from work, home and life for a few days. It is a healthy and necessary mental break. Perspective is essential in order to embrace change, at least for me.

What is my point?

This morning I took a walk along the beach, and my iPod was clearly in sync with my spirit. Although on random shuffle, the songs could not have been more appropriate for exactly where I am right now, location-wise and emotionally.

So I had to share. Here are some suggestions for your own contemplative road trip or hike:

  1. The Blower’s Daughter – Damien Rice (O)
  2. City of Blinding Lights – U2 (How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb)
  3. Chocolate – Snow Patrol (The Last Kiss: Original Soundtrack)
  4. Cold Wind – Arcade Fire (Six Feet Under: Everything Ends, Vol. 2)
  5. Heartbreak World – Matt Nathanson (Some Mad Hope)
  6. I Will Possess Your Heart – Death Cab for Cutie (Narrow Stairs)
  7. Private Universe – Crowded House (Afterglow)
  8. Read My Mind [Like Rebel Diamonds Mix] – The Killers (Read My Mind – EP)
  9. Remember Me As a Time of Day – Explosions in the Sky (How Strange, Innocence)
  10. Scared – Liz Phair (Liz Phair)
  11. Walking After You – Foo Fighters (The X-Files: The Album)
  12. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi – Radiohead (In Rainbows)
  13. When Your Mind’s Made Up – Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova (Once soundtrack)

See you next week. Time to pack up the laptop (a cold mist is moving in quickly) and enjoy the scenery instead.

p.s. I will be taking my very first yoga class this week. wish me luck; I am not the most flexible or fit kid on the block or in the office.

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We just experienced a rolling 5.6 earthquake. The chandelier is still swaying slightly, and the cats are less than thrilled. All of the updated safety training I helped to present last week at work? Gone. Hi, my name is panic. I can be the most prepared adult girl scout in the world, but the minute the ground beneath me begins to shake, my legs become weak and so do I.

So of course I grabbed my laptop, because blogging is comforting and familiar. And I had to share with my virtual friends.

I am going to pretend that there isn’t a 5-10% chance of a larger aftershock now.

Good night.

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I was going to post a review of Michael Clayton today, but my mind is elsewhere. Like most others in California and beyond, I am glued to the TV watching news about the insane fires burning up the southern part of the state. We have family in the San Diego area, and are awaiting updates about their homes and current whereabouts.   

My thoughts are with those who have had to evacuate and the firefighters bravely battling the blazes.  Pop culture can wait.  See you soon.

- Jo

UPDATE: Apparently my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their families are gathered together in San Diego and both houses are safe.

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File under: random. Last night I stopped to get gas at a Shell station. Normally I head for the cheap stuff but right now they’re all competing within $.01 per gallon higher or lower in my neighborhood. Anyway, I froze while removing the gas cap, because I thought my car became possessed or secretly transformed into Kit’s ugly cousin on Knight Rider. All of a sudden I heard, “next on Access Hollywood…” I turned around and saw that there was a very nice flat panel HD TV above the gas pump, running promos for NBC shows. Like a vidiot, I stood there staring up at the TV, mouth agape, filling up my tank.

Have I reached a new low because I enjoyed the small screen while inhaling fuel fumes? No. That will happen when said highlights play in individual bathroom stalls in every theater, stadium, restaurant and mall across the country.

God forbid we spend two minutes thinking quietly while pumping gas. Add this to the growing list of modern technologies designed specifically to keep us constantly entertained. Were these gas station televisions put in place to distract us from the ridiculous prices at the pumps? If so, mission not accomplished.

File under: not fair. The TV at the gas pump is better than my own. By a long shot. The screen is smaller but the resolution is better. My 12 year old television is dying a slow death, and I can’t wait to upgrade that and my TiVO (hello, I need far more hours than the archaic version currently holds). Dear Santa…

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