Wednesday, July 29, 2009

TV Review: Drop Dead Diva

The Deets:
Drop Dead Diva
Lifetime Television
Sunday Nights at 9 ET/8 CT, encore on Mondays at 8 ET/ 7 CT
also available with OnDemand the day after the premiere and at the official page at

Unlike many of the real critics out there, my response to Lifetime's newest series, "Drop Dead Diva" is negative and it's a shame. There are a few good things to say about it. The cast is excellent: Brooke Elliot and Brooke D'Orsay, who share the lead, are charming, lovely actors. April Bowlby is bringing her A game as the comic foil. Ben Feldman is dorky-sweet and if I were much younger, I'd probably find him crush-worthy. The rest of the cast is also quite good. The message on the surface is one of empowerment and acceptance. One half of the lead is not a size zero. At the very least, they're giving me an alternative to the screechy grinning neediness that has become the norm whenever anyone female and over 120 pounds appears on camera. Lifetime is throwing me a bone and I should be happy about this. Right?


Lifetime is trying to get me to accept stereotypes about who I am and what I am like and be grateful about it because there are so few big women on television who are presented in a remotely positive light. No, thank you. Yes, it's nice that Jane is kind and a sharp lawyer and pretty. She is also a bit whipped by life because she has been conditioned to disappear in the presence of her thinner cohorts. She makes what can be described as orgasmic faces over pastries. Other than Rachel Ray, who does that? Instead of finding that exercise can be fun and feel good, she whines that it's hard. She's not even that fat. There's no reason she couldn't be experiencing an endorphin high from a good workout. Oh, wait a minute. She's not model-thin, so the only thing that could possibly make her feel good is biting into an eclair. Give me a break.

I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that this show is either written by people who have never been fat or by people who are writing to accommodate women who want to see themselves represented by a bigger actress and those who think the big girl is good for a giggle at the same time. By presenting Jane as a person with intellect and feelings, a spunky hero to root for, they are trying to say the empowerment is there. By putting in the moments when the most physical gratification she gets is from eating a doughnut, they chip away at the dignity of the character with the dramatic equivalent of gaping at a fat person's grocery cart or dinner plate. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways.

After three episodes and going from hopeful that it would get better to seeing it get closer to the way I feared it would be, I'm done with this show. There have been star turns by larger actresses on television where their characters' size and beauty weren't the only things that mattered to them or to the people around them. There will be again. Lifetime, this is one favor from you I don't need or want.

copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Michael Vick Question: An Interspecies Panel Discussion

This week Michael Vick will meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his future with the league. A number of news sources have noted that it is highly likely Vick will be given provisional reinstatement and will be allowed to attend training camp if he is signed to a team.

I'll have to admit that my initial response was, "Well, that wraps it up for the NFL for me". After all, why would I want to invest time, money and emotion into following a league that would hire someone like Vick when people like Brett Queener and Alexander Ovechkin are still walking the planet as professional athletes? Being able to enjoy mad skills and almost otherworldly creativity in play shouldn't entail feeling dirty. (Okay, it can if you're with a group of women your age and older who are eyeing Tootoo and Little Ryan for all the wrong reasons, but...well, never mind.)

Maybe it was time to go beyond a gut check and get opinions from some friends of mine who love sports and could also offer some insight into human/animal relationships. Without further ado, let me introduce the panel:

Kevin has been an athlete since elementary school. His love of track and field events started when he went home from his third grade field day with a fist full of ribbons and a gift certificate from the local Krystal. His tastes have changed since then. Now he prefers White Castle, pina coladas and walks in the rain. He is Sophie's Daddy.

Sophie is a 14 year old golden retriever. Her athletic resume includes Senior Agility Camp for Fat Dogs, eating That Mean Bitch Chicken Trudy down to her demonic waist for chasing small children and marathon farting. She roots for Alabama football, Teller over Penn and everyone in the WNBA over LeBron.

Bernard is a retired Longhorn rodeo bull. He was rescued when someone found out that he was going to be barbecued due to his reluctance to get mean for rodeo audiences. He now lives on a small hobby farm with his adopted family. His favorite food is stolen cole slaw from the big church Tupperware bowl.

Maggie doesn't sweat, she glows. She will also occasionally wallow in the back yard kiddie pool. This lovely Hampshire sow adores Michael Phelps and thinks couture footwear is delicious. On cooler days she can be found in her Radio Flyer convertible, where she matches speeds with Jimmy Johnson. In her head.

Arnott and Tootoo are Beautiful Alice's sons' guard hamsters. They prefer nocturnal runs on their squeaky cage wheel, chewing and frantic relay sprints behind heavy furniture minutes before Gramma is scheduled to arrive. Their owners are still blissfully unaware that Arnott and Tootoo are female.

Me: Good morning everyone! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Is everyone up to speed about Michael Vick?

Goodell has got to be kidding! I threw my squeaky badger at the TV when I saw the crawl under the Espys last night. I mean, come the freak ON!

Me: Does anyone else want to share their initial reaction?

Bernard: I wouldn't mind seeing Goodell and Vick booted around a pen. It would be even sweeter if they were upside down in rubber barrels.

Maggie: Heathens. Michael Phelps would never be mean to a dog.

Arnott: If Vick would be cruel to a dog, how effective could he possibly be on the field?

Tootoo: Defintiely a scaredy loser. He'd turtle the first time things got a little rough.

Arnott: Yeah. Is there an NFL team with pink jerseys?

Sophie: And ruffles.

Tootoo: And they could put "Turtle Vick" on the back.

(At this point lots of giggling ensued and I had to wait for everyone to calm down.)

Maggie: I know a turtle who would be better on the field. He's a pretty aggressive snapper.

Me: Kevin, what was your reaction?

Kevin: Well, I was disappointed.

Sophie: And?

Kevin: Very disappointed.

Tootoo: That's it?

Arnott: He's such a girl.

Sophie and Maggie: Hey!

Bernard: Of course I'm angry. I think that is the general reaction, but beyond that how does one respond? A decent person would understand his return to the sport would be problematic and consider other options. That he would do this, thus putting the onus on the league and the fans to forgive and forget, shows that he's still pretty self-centered. He needs to rethink this.

Arnott: He needs a swift kick in the harbles.

Tootoo: Yeah!

Me: Girls...

Sophie and Maggie: What?

Me: (sighing) Tootoo, Arnott...

Arnott: I'm just saying...

Kevin: Are you saying he should just go away?

Bernard: Maybe not that. There are other things he could do and still be involved in the NFL.

Maggie: That's a good point. Legally, he has paid his debt. He has a right to live his life and pursue what he wants. However, this doesn't mean he has a right to play pro ball. Something like that seems more like a privilege, especially given the nature of funding for pro sports, which more often than not are heavily subsidized by local taxpayers. Should the citizens of whatever city holds the franchise where he'd play be required to pay him to play ball? That's what it would amount to and I would be pretty resentful of my tax dollars going towards Vick's paycheck.

Kevin: That kind of cruelty is pretty off the charts in terms of bad behavior. I mean, people have been banned from sports for gambling, juicing and even talking trash about ex girlfriends. This guy tortured and killed dogs. Does he deserve another shot at pro ball just because he's dotted the i's and crossed the t's in a legal sense?

Me: People can change.

Bernard: Maybe he has. You know? I kind of doubt it.

Sophie: Me, too. And there's something about wanting to go back to the NFL that seems like he feels entitled. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Tootoo: Strong words from someone who eats poop.

Sophie: So do you.

Tootoo: Nuh uh. That's Arnott.

Arnott: I do not.

Sophie: Which of you is which? I can't even tell you two apart.

Tootoo: Oh nice. Poop eater.

Sophie: Oh, go lick your own harbles.

Arnott: That shows how much you know, smart girl. Hampsters don't have harbles!

Me: Okay, that's all the time we have for today. I would like to thank my guests, Kevin, Maggie, Bernard, Sophie, Arnott and Tootoo for joining me. Thank you, readers for clicking in. Until next time, this is Jas Faulkner hoping you have a good day.

copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Who Are Those Children On The Ice At Centennial Sportsplex And What Have You Done With Vern Fiddler?

We're two weeks past the NHL UFA feeding frenzy and I have managed to not reach the level where all hope for future happiness is lost and donating all of my Predators shirts to Goodwill and bitterly vowing to only follow MLL for the rest of my days seem like good ideas. Seeing the new recruits on the ice was a tonic. That Poile boy did a good job this year. What I'm not so happy about is knowing that Vern Fiddler will be wearing Phoenix laundry. Yes, I'll get over it, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

Big Gay Kevin, his wonderful new boyfriend, Bilbo and I have been looking over the schedule for 2009/2010 and our feelings, they are mixed. Neither of our favorite Russians will be visiting this year. If we want to see Malkin being all Gary Cooper on the ice, we'll have to go to Peetsborg, tovarishes. Seeing Stitch, er, Ovechkin play our boys will entail some travel as well.

That doesn't mean Sommet is going to be innocent of thrills this coming season. My Pink-Eyed Slovakian Hockey Husband (HI MOM!) will be making multiple visits with his newest BeeEffEffs for the next twelve years.

"Why do you not love me, Jas' Mum? Marian sad."

We will also get a visit from Olli "Crazy Eyes" Jokinen and multiple visits from Big Joe and the Bitey Fish. Sounds like fun. Will this be the year the Predators become contenders for the cup? As much as I want daft Alex to get to cuddle it at least once in his career, I think it would be even sweeter to see Arnott, Dumont and the crew hoisting 35 pounds of awesome next June.

copyright 2009 jas faulkner

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Air Up There...

What to write about Steve McNair?

Like many Nashvillians and sports fans across the country, I am saddened by the events of this past week. What needs to be stressed is that the way he died was not the sum of who Steve McNair was as a person.

Please don't forget that that his was a life puctuated by instances of greatness that were tranformative enough to move an entire city. His legacy should be his football career, which was extraordinary. It can be found in the four beautiful sons who carry his name maybe even some of his talent. The love his fans, friends, family and the people who were part of the Titans organization have expressed for him is also a testament to who he was.

His efforts towards making life better for young people in Middle Tennesee and beyond has been part of the landscape for those who work in intervention for at-risk kids for quite some time. He was one of those rare celebrities who didn't require the presence of PR wonks and cameras when he reached out to kids who looked to him for inspiration.

There are a lot of people here and elsewhere who have expressed a desire to pay tribute. One of the best ways would be to support the foundation that bears his name so they can continue to do good. You can find them here: The Steve McNair Foundation

Rest in peace, Number 9. I hope they're taking good care of you where ever you are.