The Agents of Zeitgeist is my latest project: a second podcast (on the MOMocrats BTR channel) devoted to all things pop culture — but mostly about television.
Podcasting is something I fell into almost by accident, through my association with the MOMocrats. And much to my surprise: I’m kind of good at it. I think my early work experience in radio was good training (because if anything, I learned how to write a script for the intro and commercial breaks). The rest is pretty easy, so long as I surround myself with smart, funny women who can make up for my own awkward public speaking habits.
This has not been a problem working with the MOMocrats, who are among the brightest people I have ever known.
And I can tell it is going to be fun working with my new partners in Zeitgeist: entertainment bloggers Elise Crane Derby and Anne Louise Bannon, who may love the television medium even more than I do.
You see, I never thought of myself as a political person. I know I seem that way now, but my interest in politics is really just a desire to keep up on what’s happening in the world around me. It’s why I studied journalism in college, and why I read a newspaper every single day until recently (but still begin the morning by perusing and sharing news reports on the Internet). And it’s why I still watch an unholy amount of entertainment programming on TV.
Television was my first, real love. It was my major in college, because the only career I wanted was to work behind the scenes in TV production. This is something I eventually did, and when that ended, I had a really hard time adjusting to living in “the real world.” (Some would argue that I still have not succeeded.)
I love comedies, mysteries, action-oriented crime and science fiction series. I am equally adore the weekly sitcom antics of the Pritchards on Modern Family as I do the brooding mysteries unveiled on Broadchurch. I look forward each summer to USA Network’s light fantasy series like “Unnecessary Roughness” and “Royal Pains.” I relish Aaron Sorkin’s wordy wit on The Newsroom (enough to overlook the show’s many flaws). I relax at night to reruns of “Friends” and “30 Rock” and wonder how I can make Tina Fey become my friend.
This is probably the kind of behavior that normal people would want to keep secret. But having admitted to it, I guess that proves I’m not normal. I don’t know about my new partners in Zeitgeist — but I do know that on our first show, we had a lot of fun. And we expect to have some more when we resume the party next week.
“Agents of Zeitgeist” airs on Thursdays at 10:00 am Pacific. Listen to next week’s show here. And be sure to follow our new Facebook page.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Fun things happened this week. A couple of days ago, a fan on the MOMocrats Facebook page sent us this screenshot, from the app associated with that Million Second Quiz game show that NBC is promoting:
As someone who enjoys playing trivia games, this just tickles me to no end. I also play with this app because the questions are so easy I had no trouble qualifying to be a contestant on the show. But if I had gotten this one, I probably would have failed to answer in the allotted five seconds, because I would have been so flabbergasted by it. Frankly, I’m surprised the person who sent this to me had the time to take the screenshot!
I’m hoping it’s a good omen. A couple of weeks ago, I applied for a job that seemed absolutely perfect for me. Last night, I received word that I did not get the job. It truly was the nicest rejection letter I had ever received. It was a long shot and I knew it, but just finding that particular opening gave me hope that I can find something that is a good fit.
So I keep looking. And who knows? Maybe I’ll get selected for the show and my penchant for remembering useless facts will finally come in handy.
I’ve spent most of today talking and reading and listening to reports about today’s 50th anniversary commemoration of the historic March on Washington. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
You’ll find an excellent roundup of material on both the historic march and today’s event over at MOMocrats, including this morning’s MOMochat podcast.
One measure of the rebounding economy is the demand for durable goods, i.e., major appliances like washers and dryers . This week, I did my share to help the economy along.
No, this dream laundry room isn’t mine — my washer and dryer are relegated to the garage. This lovely setup is in one of the Villa Metro home models I wrote about last week. Photo copyright 2013 Donna Schwartz Mills
We bought our house 17 years ago. My daughter was four months old, I was 40 — and it was the first detached house I had lived in since I was 12.
It had taken us a long time to find a home that (a) both my husband and I could agree on and (b) was priced right. We started the search when I was still in my first trimester. By the time we stumbled upon this one, I did not care that the kitchen wasn’t huge or that the bathroom fixtures hadn’t been changed since the 1960′s — or that the laundry had to be done in the garage. After years and years of apartment life, I was excited just to have counter space! Two bathrooms! And no more trips to the laundromat!
But first, I had to buy a washer and dryer, and I had no idea what to look for. In 1996, washers and dryers pretty much all looked the same: they were big or small, and nearly always white. My sister advised me to find a washer with the largest capacity I could afford. So I walked into Best Buy, scoped out a pair of GE models that were not the most expensive (but not the cheapest, either) and plunked down a credit card to pay. Easy peasy.
They delivered and installed them just before we moved in, and I’ve used them nearly every day since.
They served us well, for the most part. But over the last several years, their performance started to suffer. There have been repairs. And there have been reunions with the laundromat while I waited for those repairs.
I know a lot more about home ownership now. I’ve lived through some exhausting renovations. I’ve replaced major appliances. And this month, I finally put that first washer and dryer out to pasture.
My dreams are as fanciful and weird as they’ve always been – except they no longer feature me in a starring role. Instead, I am a spectator, watching (and occasionally abetting) the adventures of other people. People I do not actually know, or recognize in real life.
I don’t know if this means that I watch too much TV… Or that my life has now progressed to the point where I no longer have anything of my own worth dreaming about.
Or maybe it’s a sign that I should be writing fiction.
I have always been a writer. Whether a good one or not is debatable: Last week, my parents were in town and my dad let me know that he has started reading this space.
“You’re a very good writer,” he said.
I think I’m a pretty good writer. I’m not an excellent writer.
I’m a slow writer. It takes me a very long time to churn out a little 500-word post, and I never seem to be quite finished when I realize my time is up and I have to stop — at which point, I can either hit “publish” or try to pick up where I left off tomorrow… and I usually choose to hit “publish,” because I learned a long time ago that perfection isn’t possible, so you have to let go and move on.
But as practical as that decision is, it means I don’t spend the time I should shaping my work: writing, re-writing, polishing.
My favorite literary quote is: “All drafts are shit,” purportedly said by Ernest Hemingway. And basically, everything I post here is a first draft.
My words do not soar, my thoughts do not inspire, and the cyberworld has expanded to the point where I need to look outward to be part of the blogging community, where a few years ago, the community came to me. I used to field comments. My writing on this blog was my calling card, opening doors to friendships I still enjoy.
It’s all changed.
I’ve changed. What makes me think I should still be doing all the same things?
Writing is what I’ve always done.
We did not have yearbooks in elementary school fifty years ago, but I had an autograph book, and I gave it to my teachers to sign. All of them mentioned the fact that I was always writing. My second grade teacher had some pretty lofty ambitions for me: “I hope to see your plays on Broadway some day.” Apparently, I used to exhibit some imagination.
I liked plays enough to read them for fun. I was a theater kid in high school and majored in it as a freshman in college. But by then, my real ambition was to work in movies and television. I somehow managed to do that. I sold two episodic sitcom scripts, despite the fact that the Tonight Show writers I worked with told me I wasn’t funny. Maybe they were right. Neither script was produced, which has not helped my confidence in my abilities.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt funny or seen the comedy in situations, or wanted to write anything but personal essays and non-fiction.
And yet, I keep having these wild and crazy dreams that have nothing to do with me.
Yesterday, for the first time in something like 20 years, I had an idea for a sitcom — and I sat down and started fleshing it out, even though there isn’t a chance in hell that I could sell the thing and there are a zillion other things I should be working on.
I started fleshing it out just to see if it was something I could still do.
Because I think it’s weird that I’m not even the star of my own dreams. I need to do something about that.
I am a member of the Generation Fabulous group of midlife bloggers, which runs a monthly bloghop. This month’s topic is “Songs of Summer.”
Did you catch that viral Stephen Colbert dance video to Daft Punk’s hit summer song — “Get Lucky” — a couple of weeks ago? No? Go look at it now and I’ll refrain from asking you which rock you’ve been living under …
Didn’t that make you smile? I first heard that song back in May, when my daughter had it in her head and couldn’t stop singing it. I liked it so much I actually purchased it on my iPhone, because it reminded me of the stuff I used to dance to back in the 1970′s.
I only recently learned that the “Song of Summer” is a thing now, with newspapers, radio and TV shows weighing in on whether this year’s title belongs to “Get Lucky” or Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” — which I guess means the real winner is Pharrell Williams, who had a hand in both those hits.
And to be honest, I don’t really care for the exercise of picking one tune and designating it THE song of the summer (or any season, for that matter) — not when there are so many wonderful recordings to enjoy at any time. How do you pick just one? I can’t — and so I won’t.
This year’s “Get Lucky’s” disco-tastic guitar riff was performed by Nile Rodgers, who practically invented that sound in the 1970s.
Mind you, I was a KMET listener back then — and if you are an Angeleno of a certain age, you know that means that I was not a fan of Nile Rodgers or his band, Chic. You would not find anything by the Bee Gees or KC and the Sunshine Band in my record collection. But if you were looking for a steady stream of Led Zeppelin, The Who, Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen, I was your woman. (I also spent a lot of time listening to Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan and anything Motown.)
Dance tunes were hot summer songs in 1979.
In the summer of 1979, I landed a job at Los Angeles radio station KHJ-AM.
Ten years earlier, KHJ had been THE place you dialed to hear the hits — but by the time I got there, the superior quality of the FM signal had spurred a nearly total migration of music programming over to the other band, where a new hard rock “album oriented” format (AOR) took hold. I should know: from the age of 12 until I graduated from high school, KHJ was the only station I listened to. Then I switched over to FM and never looked back… until KHJ hired me to work in their research department.
KHJ was still trying to be relevant with its one-size-fits-all slate of Top 40 hits, as popular music began a rapid fracture into the different micro-formats we see today. It was democratic: Top 40 stations played disco, rock, country, and easy listening — all back to back. The only criteria was that the songs had to make it into the top half of the Billboard Hot 100.
I was part of a team that conducted listener surveys to measure the popularity of the songs we were playing (and some we were thinking of playing). Personal computers were not commonplace yet. Each day that summer, I was given a printout of random telephone numbers to call. If the person on the other end of the call fit our target demographic and was willing to participate, I would play a tape featuring a snippet (usually the hook) from each of about a dozen tunes.
So I spent that summer tethered to a telephone headset and reel-to-reel tape player along with three other individuals, making phone calls and listening to little snippets of hit songs. We conducted those surveys every day, Monday through Friday, for five hours a day, which meant I listened to those tapes a good 30 times or more each shift. It wasn’t a wonderful job in terms of creative challenge or salary — but it was fun, mainly because of the people I worked with. We supported each other. We hung out together. We became friends.
Popular music was going through an interesting phase that year. The charts were still heavy with the wave of dance music in the wake of the “Saturday Night Fever” phenomenon, but there was a backlash popularized by AOR disc jockeys like Chicago’s Steve Dahl. “Disco sucks” was their rallying cry, and I agreed.
But it was already too late. The taste of the music buying public was morphing. The punk rock aesthetic of high energy, less technically perfect production was coming into its own, commercially. The airwaves still carried a lot of dance music, but there was suddenly room for new sounds, too — from acts like Blondie, the Clash, the Pretenders and the Police — as well as a revolutionary little ditty from an act that called itself The Sugarhill Gang. Little did we know when we heard “Rappers Delight” that it would mark the beginning of an entirely new direction in popular music — which is still morphing today.
Hearing these songs makes me smile and you know what? It’s good to hear Nile Rodgers again.
This is a Blog Hop! Read other Summer Song posts by members of Generation Fabulous:
View of the Great Room in one model at Villa Metro, Valencia. Photo copyright 2013 Donna Schwartz Mills
The last time I went house hunting was 17 years ago, when our daughter was an infant. I fell madly in lust with several lovely models in brand new communities in Valencia, just north of here in the Santa Clarita Valley.
But I worked just outside downtown Los Angeles back then, in the Wilshire district — and the traffic between there and our Sherman Oaks apartment was making me want to pull out my hair. Commuting from Santa Clarita and back each night sounded like something that would downright kill me. We lowered our expectations and focused on older homes in established communities in the San Fernando Valley, and ended up in the house we live in now.
We have some beautiful memories here, but as you would expect from a house that’s 52 years old, it needs things. Expensive things. And so my fantasies center on winning the lottery to pay for a complete renovation… while we all move into a spanking new house in another neighborhood.
Decorator details at Villa Metro, Valencia. Photo copyright 2013 Donna Schwartz Mills
I wonder if we would have settled here if Villa Metro had been built back then. For one thing, it is practically across the street from the Santa Clarita Metrolink station, so there would be no teeth-gnashing crawl along the 101 and 405 two times a day. The development has design touches that are reminiscent of Europe — and that’s no accident, according to Joan Marcus-Colvin, who oversees sales, marketing and design at builders, The New Home Company.
“We wanted the community to have a village feel,” she says.
That is one way to describe the proximity of the homes to one another, and it was interesting to learn that the land was originally slated for a 470-home condo development. The New Home Company actually reduced the number of homes to a manageable 315 — with the three different neighborhoods opening this weekend consisting of all single family, detached houses.
A greenbelt at Villa Metro in Valencia. Photo copyright 2013 Donna Schwartz Mills
I was part of a blogger group invited to preview the models before they open to the public. Everywhere we turned, there were workers frantically putting in the finishing touches on the landscaping, and cleaning crews polishing counters and floors to a pristine shine. It was like being on the set for a glossy magazine shoot; Pinterest-friendly decorator porn in-real-life. And it was beautiful.
Square footage ranges from 1,081 to 1,998 and all feel remarkably roomy — even the smaller models. That can be attributed to the designers’ decision to build in high ceilings and plenty of windows for natural light, with awesome views of the nearby mountains. Throw in the lovely interior design and spacious kitchens, and you’ve got a half dozen bloggy women ooh-ing and aah-ing and wishing they could move in right now.
Kitchen at Villa Metro, Valencia. Photo copyright 2013 Donna Schwartz Mills #ad
The landscaping is one of the ways the developers hope to turn the three Villa Metro sections into a village. None of these homes will have an expansive backyard, but all will share common green areas, a good sized recreation room that residents will be able to reserve for parties, what looks like an Olympic sized pool plus kiddie pool and spa and even space for a community garden. The final piece of the Villa Metro puzzle will be its Main Street: 22 “live-work” lofts that will line the entrance to the development, which will allow residents to live above their own light professional personal office or retail space.
Villa Metro is opening Saturday with a street festival, live music, food and prizes. If you’re in the area, the folks at The New Home Company hope you’ll stop by and see their Mediterranean inspired homes.
Royce Hall (Photo credit: wmnoe)
Tuesday night, our daughter asked us what we thought of a particular college she wanted to apply to — because if she wanted letters of recommendations from one of her teachers, she had to get the request in the following day.
Remember, Tuesday was the FIRST DAY of school.
I know the online Common Application went live on August 1, but I did not think it had to be submitted until at least November — and that’s the approximate deadline for early decision. and we’re not able to commit to any private university without some kind of financial package and that can’t be determined until after the FAFSA has been submitted as soon as possible after January 1, which means we have to get our taxes done super early this year, although they will accept an estimate, which is good because I won’t have final numbers until we receive our W-9′s and 1099′s at the end of the month.
This is going to be a stressful year. An exciting one — but agonizing, too.
I was on the phone last night with a friend who has already been through this with one child and is now doing it again with another. She’s only a little bit less stressed than I am, and I don’t know if I should be comforted by that or frightened.
We’ve contacted one of the consultants who were featured at the essay writing boot camp the school held last month. My daughter insists she doesn’t need it. I keep telling her it isn’t for her as much as it is for us. The onslaught of marketing to her by universities, the number of options, the extreme expense of attending college in 2013 (even at our public universities) , the promise of grants and scholarships at private institutions, the expectation by the universities that we should refinance our home to pay their tuition (does that even make sense at my age?), and on and on…
…makes me want to crawl under a rock and wait for it all to be over. Which is not the way to tackle the most important decision we’ll ever make as a family.
Page 4 of 15« First«...23456...10...»Last »