Friday, September 30, 2011

Friendly's: Empty Chairs At Empty Tables

(You will live! Friendly's, you're going to live! It's too soon! Too soon to say good-bye...)

Today on Gawker, I read some truly horrifying news. Apparently, Friendly's is $225 million in debt, and on the brink of filing Chapter 11. This is the worst news ever. I love Friendly's. My one true lament about living in the city is that there are no Friendly's close by. I bring this up with friends every now and again and they all say the same thing: a Friendly's would never survive in NYC. I don't understand why! We have every other awful chain here, why not one that serves mediocre food and delicious delicious ice cream desserts? But apparently they were right and I was wrong, as the whole franchise seems to be going under.

I am not ready to say goodbye to the SuperMelts, the Fribbles, the Happy Ending Sundaes (yes, that's what they are called) the crispy chicken salads, the place mats you can color on in crayons at any age, and of course the free refills of soda. I will never be ready to let it all go. The news has brought back a flood of memories about my favorite little chain restaurant where, as the slogan says, "The Ice Cream Makes The Meal." Damn, right it does. Let me share with you a few stories...

* As a little boy out at Friendly's with my family, I decided I would not get mint-chocolate chip ice cream in my sundae as I always did. I informed my mother I would try another flavor. For some reason, she discouraged me. Perhaps she thought that as soon as it came out I would turn my nose up at it and request the MCC? But I relented and told the waitress when it was time to order dessert that I would have the mint chocolate chip. She said she was sorry but they were out of mint-chocolate chip. My mom then made some off-hand remark "that I must have ESP" and that's why I was fine with going with another flavor when my favorite wasn't an option. I spent the next several decades believing I had some low level amount of ESP, looking for signs of superior mental and believing that it was always strongest whenever I was in a Friendly's. 

* There was a time in maybe 10th grade or 11th grade when my group of friends was at Friendly's and I faced off with my friend Becky as to how much soda we could drink in one sitting. Friendly's gave free refills, which only seemed fair since the glass was filled 85% of the way with ice. So I know I had root beer, and I think Becky did too, but Becky might have had coke or diet coke. That's not really the point. The point is that I got sick off the root beers. I didn't throw up or anything. I just was not feeling good at all during the late stages of the Refill Challenge. I was not meant to be a competitive eater/drinker just a constant one. I think we both stopped tied at 5 or 6 sodas. This was with a full meal. And we probably stopped not because we were so sick, but because we both acknowledged we would need room for dessert. How I was not a fat child and never had a cavity is a mystery to me. Also, I never learned my lesson with free refills. I will drink and drink until my stomach and bladder are ready to burst. This is evidenced by two Pink Lemonade Ordeals in Disney World (each one several years apart, same on-site restaurant though. I'm SO classy on Disney vacations.) and also just recently during a heat wave when again I could not get enough Pink Lemonade here at home before I made myself physically nauseous. But that one time in Friendly's with the root beer challenge started it all.

* My absolutely favorite dessert is the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundae. I take mine with mint chocolate chip (as noted earlier). Some people find the flavor of combo of mint and peanut butter an unpleasant prospect but it's my FAVORITE, especially Friendly's peanut butter syrup and their own MCC ice cream. My friend Sandi who I met during HS also loved this combo, and if you find someone who likes the same somewhat off-beat dessert as you, I swear you've probably met a friend for life. I know I did! :)

(picture this with mint ice cream and we're good to go. If you don't it sorta looks like someone mashed up a calico cat and stuck it in a sundae dish. It doesn't look that way with mint chocolate chip ice cream!)

* In college, there was a Friendly's within driving distance of Wesleyan. I didn't have a car, so I didn't go their often with friends. Occasionally I did. I remember a sign language dinner there that was particularly fun - and actual deaf people came over to talk to us! But mostly I saved my Friendly's visits for when my Dad came to visit. He hated Friendly's. He always wanted to go to one of the nice restaurants around campus. I didn't care. I was getting my Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundae and he was picking up the tab! Now before you judge me too harshly, bear in mind that he was coming to visit on some occasion that had to do with celebrating ME. Like it was around my birthday, or he was coming to see a show I was in or something. If he came during his birthday, I might have gone  somewhere else.* I at least made reservations for the family at Tuscany Grille for when I graduated. See, sometimes I was thoughtful.
* - This is a lie. My dad's birthday is my half-birthday and I would've claimed half-birthday privileges to go to Friendly's. I know I'm a monster.

Usually my phone conversation with my dad before he came up to visit went like this:

Dad: Where do you wanna go out to eat for dinner?
Owen: Friendly's.
Dad: WHAT? NO! Not Friendly's!
Owen: Yes, FRIENDLY'S!
Dad: We always go there! I want to go somewhere else!
Dad: Aahhhh.... shit.

It's not like I chose to go to Wesleyan because there was a Friendly's nearby, but it sure didn't hurt its chances in the selection process either. Anyway, one time Dad came up and I think I was in a show, this must have been spring of my Junior year, and he took me and my girlfriend Gracie to Friendly's before seeing the show. I remember I was REALLY sick with a fever that day, but I refused to say so out loud because I had a show I had to do that night and I really wanted my sundae and would sit through dinner in order to get it. (Oh, side note: I keenly remember Friendly's having a smoking section that was not separated by ANYTHING. It was the same air. Now smoking is outlawed everywhere.) So I'm not feeling well and I open the menu to choose between the two entrees I always get and I notice there is a new item on the menu. This was amazing since the menu at Friendly's was basically the same for the last 100 million years. The new item? A Fishamajig.

(to this day, it's hard to look at a fishamjig without my stomach getting tied in knots.)

That's right. A thing-a-majig made out of FISH. And the name was registered name no less! So basically it was mystery fish blended up and served with melted cheese. I can't remember the rest of the description. I just know that at the time, the idea of the fishamajig made me want to puke all over my coloring book-style place mat. My Dad and Gracie are talking about all sorts of things and I'm just sitting there trying not to throw up. Finally, I pull it together, close the menu and wait for the waitress to take my order as a cold sweat from the fever runs down my brow. The waitress stops first at the booth directly behind me and what does the person sitting there order? You guessed it! A FISHAMAJIG! So not only would I have to think about a fishamjig, i was going to have to smell it all throughout my meal. Somehow I made it through. I kept my mind focused on the peanut butter cup sundae that awaited me  and held my nose and got through it. My dad and Gracie didn't know how bad off I was until I told them about it later. Such a good actor I was! And of course my performance later that evening on stage was equally sublime.

One last short tale before I wrap up. Several years ago I was on my way to New England to share a nice weekend away with some friends at their families house. His mom picked us up at a train, I think (the details are kinda fuzzy in my head) but I know it was late and we were driving through CT and we were relatively close to the Friendly's near Wesleyan and I somehow convinced everyone it was a good idea to find it and eat a late dinner there. I don't know how I did this. Maybe I just kept saying "FRIENDLY'S" really loud over and over again until everyone thought the only way to shut me up was to go there. Of course we got lost and went well out of our way from our actual destination, but I'm pretty sure my friend's mom eventually got us to a Friendly's, even after I was more than ready to give up the quest. The rest of the weekend was lovely, don't you worry.

So as you can see from this small spattering of stories, Friendly's holds a special place in my mind, in my heart and in my stomach. So many fun memories of youth and early adulthood. If this really is the end... well, please don't let this be the end. I'm not ready to sing Empty Chairs at Empty Tables at a Friendly's memorial service. Will someone at least show me how to mix a Fribble before they all close their doors for good? I don't want future generations to grow up in a more un-Friendly world... and I need that peanut butter cup sundae....

A Year Without Cookies - Week 39

 (it's that time of year again.)

Week 39. Look at that end-cap of goodness pictured above! This is what greeted me when I went grocery shopping this week. I wanted to buy every box! Unfortunately for me, it says "cookies" right on the packaging. Mallomars don't really count as cookies do they? are they baked like cookies? I'm gonna have to think long and hard about this one and at the very least buy a few boxes to store in my freezer. Don't they look amazing? And a total steal at only $4.89 a box!

This week I mentioned I was at 39 weeks to Co-worker Suki and she remarked that she was 36 weeks into her pregnancy. She has been sick nearly every day for 36 weeks an I have been hungry for cookies every day for just as long a time. Who has walked the tougher road? It's hard to say. But I am fairly certain that she only has about four weeks to go (or maybe less. that baby seems ready to arrive at the party a little bit early to me. She's so big! Is there really a whole month left of baking in the oven... like a giant delicious cookie??  mmm.... delicious baby-shaped cookies...) and then after that I will continue to soldier on for another 12 weeks. So all things considered, it's a toss up.

Next week is week 40! FORTY WEEKS! I am stunned it's gone on this long. It's the 4th quarter of the year. And with it comes the biggest test of all. Holiday Season. Oh, boy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Amazing Race 19 - Predictions and Leg 1 Recap!

(Here we go again! The world is waiting!)

Welcome back, TAR fans! It's season NINETEEN! How can this be? A decade flies by so fast... Anyway, I'm very spotty in picking winners and losers on this show, but it never really stops me from trying. Here's the run down of who we're dealing with this season and where I think they'll end up.

Andy & Tommy
The Bond: Olympic stoners! - er, snowboarders! Olympic Snowboarders!
I dub thee: Team Tricky (for SSX Tricky of course! Pure Bliss! I AM this!) 
Impressions/Predictions: Stoner teams are the hardest to predict. I think if they make a big navigational mistake while driving they might not have the hustle to get back into it. I say they finish bottom half of the pack.

Ethan & Jenna 
The Bond: Survivor Winners and long-term couple, And Ethan is also a post-Survivor cancer survivor.
I dub thee: Team Survivor! (obvious, I know, but it works on multiple levels.)
Impressions/Predictions: These two are proven fighters and winners, each with their own million from CBS to prove it. I think they'll go far in the field, but I thought that about Jeff and Jordan a couple seasons ago and that didn't work out well for me. Still I'll go with at least a Top 4 finish.

Laurence & Zac
The Bond: father and son, nautical enthusiast
I dub thee: Team Nemo
Impressions/Predictions: Fathers tend to break down physically on the race as the race draws to its conclusion. I like theit chances to get far, but maybe not to the end. I say they finish in the Top Half of the pack.

Ernie & Cindy 
The Bond: couple; recently engaged. 
I dub thee: Team Bert & Ernie

Impressions/Predictions: I usually hate dating couples on this show. It's always the weakest bond and leads to the worst kind of whining and bickering. Even worse than siblings (which we'll get to shortly). But technically they are engaged and I thought they were kinda cute in the first leg, so I'll say Top Half finish.

Justin & Jennifer 
The Bond: Siblings who fight a lot! 
I dub thee: The Sqwabblings

Impressions/Predictions: They are gonna fight with each other the whole time. That might just be how they function though. It might be annoying to listen to, but with siblings it's not necessarily their undoing. If they can pull it together before Kilelr Fatigue sets in they could make a good run. I say they finish Bottom Half of the pack.

Bill & Cathi

The Bond: Grandparents, Farmers
I dub thee: Team Out to Pasture
Impressions/Predictions: These two are just not long for this game, I don't think. They seem nice, but they got WAY too confused in Taiwan. I don't think they have the speed or the energy to really compete. Sorry, Bill and Cathi. You seem lovely. I would love for you to prove me wrong. I say Bottom half finish for these two.
Liz & Marie
The Bond: Twin Sisters
I dub thee: The Doublemints
Impressions/Predictions: I feel like they should be stronger on paper than they were in the first leg. So now I'm confused. A relatively simple task seems to almost completely undo them. But as twins, it's not gonna be a lack of relationship strength that will undo them. So we'll see. There are 11 teams, so this one I'll leave as my Wild Card.

Jeremy & Sandy
The Bond: dating couple who've been divorced before, but not from each other.
I dub thee: That Other Dating Couple

Impressions/Predictions: I don't remember anything about them. So that must mean they didn't yell at each other. That's a plus for any dating couple on this show. But I'm not invested in them right now either. I don't get what their hook is supposed to be. So let's say Bottom Half finish and I won't be too disappointed when I forget they were ever here.

Ron & Bill
The Bond: Domestic Partners, both flight attendants
I dub thee: The Domestic Flights (or The Gay Stews. I can't decide. I like both names.)
Impressions/Predictions: They should kick ass with all the traveling experience!'s the challenges I'm a little concerned about. They seem to be in good shape, but maybe they are secretly older than I think they are? Hmm... I'm still gonna say Top Half Finish for them.

Amani & Marcus 
The Bond: Married to the NFL
I dub thee: Team Footballers Lives
Impressions/Predictions: Marcus sorta speaks for both of them in the interviews, which is a little weird, but Amani just seems like a lovely quiet person. I want to hear more from Amani. They seem like a strong, capable functional pair. If they don't get done in by a horrible taxi or something they should be strong competition. Top Half Finishers. 

Kaylani & Lisa

The Bond: ex-Vegas Showgirls
I dub thee: Team Nomi (how could they NOT be??)
Impressions/Predictions: Well, they will make one million mistakes every leg of the race, but they also seem to be the kind of people who have divine intervention continually saving their asses. They almost lost at the very beginning when they lost a passport at a gas station en route to LAX. Luckily some nice dude and social networking got it back to them at the airport in time. I hope they stick around so I can keep calling them Team Nomi, but I don't think they'll be very good racers. Bottom Half Finish, I say.

After going through everybody, I'd still say the safest bet to win is Ethan and Jenna. But you never can tell when bad luck or Killer Fatigue will unexpectedly take out a team. I've decided I'm going to do ever-so-brief recaps of the show this season. So without further ado: 

Episode One: Confucius? We hardly know us!

Starting City: Hsi Lai Temple in the foothills of Hacienda Heights,CA USA
Pit Stop City: Martyr's Shrine Taipie, Taiwan
1st Place: Team Bert and Ernie! Reward: Express Pass for later on in the race
Last Place: Team Out to Pasture (non-elimination leg)
Detour: None!!
Roadblock: 1-800-CONFUCIUS. One team member made their way to a phone that played the proverb,"In all things success depends on previous preparation, and without such previous preparation there is sure to be failure.  Then, without written notes, he or she had to repeat the proverb verbatim to a temple monk. It would have been a lot easier if there was a comma after "In all things" instead it sounded like "in all things success," so people just tried to remember the words instead of understanding the meaning of the phrase and a lot of people got MESSED UP. There was a giant  "WRONG!" graphic that filled the screen every time this happened and I laughed and laughed each time.

Also of note: At the Starting Line, teams had to search needle-in-a-haystack-style through several hundred  umbrellas for ones that had the correct set of letters (TAI) printed on them. When those three letters combined twice with six other letters they were given (WANPEI) the name of their first destination would be revealed, namely: Taipei, Taiwan. Confused yet? The task was actually not that hard and seeing the WANPEI clue, I immediately thought Taiwan, but Phil's instructions were really uncharacteristically jumbled (even worse than my description, frankly) and adrenaline must have been off the charts for these guys while waiting to start so I forgive the racers their initial confusion.  Once Phil got the correct umbrella, the teams could leave. The last team to complete the task was stuck with the Hazard, which seems to be the new name for the Speed Bump. The Hazard went to Team Nomi.

Later, at the Ximending Commercial District, teams were told to "look up" for their next clue, and had to figure out that their clue was on an electronic billboard written in Chinese that directed them to Taipei Confucius Temple. This was harder to figure out than usual, because there were MANY things with the amazing race colors in the district and I don't think the Race ever used red and yellow digital balloons as a route marker before. Plus if you don't read Chinese, the message just blends in with all the other non-English writing all over the place.

At the Dajia Riverside Park, teams rode with a dragon boat team, which looked like it was going to be a Detour but then it wasn't. I wonder if there was a detour they just cut for time so we could see Team Nomi freak out about losing a passport. Hmm. One team member had to drum to keep pace, while the other person joined the rowing crew. Nobody seemed to have to go twice and it didn't seem like anyone got the opportunity to pass anyone else, so... it was kind of just filling time.

Next Week: A shocking first-ever double-elimination! I hope it doesn't work out like SYTYCD this summer where two decent teams get booted before their time by an unlucky twist of fate. Now you have to not only worry about coming in last, you have to worry about being second to last! I'm sure everyone will freak out accordingly. Onward, Racers!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Year Without Cookies - Weeks 37 & 38

(Orlando's Top Chef "Surprise" is that there's no root beer float in this root beer float.)

Well, it has been two more weeks and still no cookies or soda for O. Marathon training has picked up, and my desire for cookies has increased exponentially. We are almost at 40 weeks in the year, folks. Surely I'm not going to be giving in now just from an increase in appetite... although some "friends" on the FB never miss an opportunity to suggest that I break and indulge in a cookie. It will not happen, Underminers! You have no power over me!

The other night at dinner I was splitting a dessert with someone and as we going over the many delicious options on the menu, one was a sundae that had a cookie base at the bottom. My friend suggested I just eat until we got the bottom layer so that he could enjoy the entire cookie. Listen, I'm not that disciplined or that nice. Once I was digging into the sundae I was not going to stop. And even if I could, was he going to leave me with that much more of the other layers to compensate for him getting the full cookie layer? Unlikely. Ice cream was ordered instead.

The temperature has dropped slightly here in NYC which should be conducive to a drop in the desire for a cool refreshing soda, but the humidity this week has been horribly obnoxious, so refreshing drinks are still in demand. Speaking of soda, this week I caught an episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts where this contestant made a root beer float that had no root beer float in it. Seriously, you can take a look at it up top. This dessert was rated poorly by the judges and almost got him sent home. But MAN, it made me want a real root beer float. I mean REALLY...

Week 39 is just around the bend! The last of the weeks in the 30's. The end of the year seems to be approaching at lightning speed!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Emmys 2011 - Reflections

(And the winner of Miss Emmy Funny Lady 2011 goes to...)

It's Emmy Night! Where people on a bunch of shows I don't actually watch compete for trophies, and I turn to BFF as we sit on the couch eating cheese and crackers and I say things like, "oh, she's supposed to be really good on that show." For the record, I've never seen anything on Showtime, I've never been able to find where FX is on my cable box, I only watch True Blood and Game of Thrones on HBO and I only watch Walking Dead on AMC. So basically, it's going to be me rooting for Modern Family and Parks and Rec and Game of Thrones all night. Not bad horses to back, in my opinion, but there you have it. My predictions for who I'd want to win are as follows: There are some close races this year, so I'm only listing who I want to win and whoever is not that who will "likely win" can go eff themselves.

Best Comedy: Parks and Rec
Best Actor in a Comedy: Louie CK, Louie
Best Actress in a Comedy: Amy Poehler, Parks and Rec
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Ty Burrell or Ed O'Neil, Modern Family
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Julie Bowen, Modern Family or Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Best Drama: Game of Thrones
Best Actor in a Drama: Jon Hamm, Mad Men or Kyle Chandler, FNL
Best Actress in a Drama: Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife or Connie Britton, FNL
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama: Margo Martindale, Justified
Best Reality Program: Deadliest Catch
Best Reality Competition: So You Think You Can Dance
Best Reality Host: Cat Deely (already decided. She didn't win. Sad.)
Best Variety, Music, Comedy Show: The Daily Show

We'll see how that goes during the night!

BFF and I miss out on pretty much all the red carpet madness because Football ran long and then walking across the street to pick up our thai food somehow took a half hour. We believe they just never put our order in. LAME! Thank goodness we had already filled up on delicious Beecher's Flagship Cheese from 7-7:30!!!

I only made one status update during the show, but if I'd made more they would've gone like this:

Jane Lynch Sings! Yay!  The opening number is on the longish-side but props to all those stars who showed up to do their bits. Also? NIMOY!!!! We miss you, protesting Alec Baldwin...

The Emmy-Tones might be better in concept than execution, but I love them anyways. Hi Joel McHale,,, and the rest!

Julie Bowen wins! So excited! I hope this marks a trend for first-time winners. They are always more fun than the same old people/shows winning every year.

Juliana Marguilles is so pretty but... it kinda looks like the top of her dress is a child's princess trashcan? I'm sure it looks better in person.

Ty Burrell wins! I'm 2 for 2 on predictions!! I hope Ed O'Neil eventually wins for this show. It was a very strong year for Ty though.

Um, Modern Family has now gone 4 for 4 in the awards. If any show can find a way to sweep categories it's not even nominated in, it's this one! MF SWEEEEEP!

Not so thrilled with the Gervais bit. It's basically "Miss Lucy had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell" but by Gervais. On tape. I shrug my shoulders, sir!

Go away, Charlie Sheen. In the words of Jessica Myrtle Spano, "Face it. It's over."

Steve Carrell loses again for The Office. No more chances left for him for this show.  :( Unless he comes back later on and is nominated as a guest actor! :)

Amy Poehler is my hero. She just marched up on that stage and hoped those other funny lady nominees followed suit with the bit. And they did! I love it. Having all the nominees up there Miss America-style might be my favorite Emmy moment ever. And the moment of celebration between them all when Melissa was announced as the winner was genuine and delightful. Amy really should've won. Melissa McCarthy is a fun surprise win and it was cute she got a tiara and flowers as well and was moved by the moment. I've actually seen her show and she is very funny in it and I'm glad it didn't go to one of those Pay-Cable not-actually-a-comedy comedies. But it's weird to me that people would vote for her over Amy. Maybe she got some spillover goodwill in the industry for her hilarious work in Bridesmaids?  Oh and here's a Bridemaids DVD commercial right after she gets the award. Interesting...

Amazing Race wins again!! I love TAR, but was pulling for SYTYCD, especially with the pattern of 1st time winners we are seeing tonight. If Am.Idol couldn't win this year with all the changes, it ain't ever gonna win.

The comedy/variety writing awards always have the funniest intros. Hooray for puppies, Timberlake... and Stephen Colbert!

Daily show wins again!! Colbert is still a genius!!! Love to Colbert!!!

Zooey Deschanel. The dress and the make up is a no from me. Sorry.

Bolton comes to sing about Jack Sparrow. Maya Rudolph lets us know it's okay if it's in a three-way. Thanks for playing, Lonely Island!

FNL wins for writing??!!??? Yay for them. Is there a Best Drama upset in the works?

Margo Martindale seems like a badass on a show I don't watch. She is so excited to win. I'd probably collapse on the stairs too if I won, and I wouldn't even be wearing a dress, I don't think!!

Was there any way they would not give the directing award to Scorsese? This is not the Oscars. They won't make him wait forever.

Peter Dinklage! Game of Thrones! I'm glad the show and the actor  got some Emmy love here. Very well deserved! 

Dear Producers Of Any Show Or Movie Out There: Sadly, the presence of Katie Holmes really adds nothing to the mix. She is just not interesting! I know. We all wish it was different. But it's not. Plus, she won't dress well or do her hair, just to spite you. Trust me, I've seen it happen too many times. WAY too many times. Much Love, Owen.

Kyle Chandler wins for FNL. I'm glad he could understand that his name was called. The way the Charlie's Angels girls screamed it, I had no idea who had won. I hope Hamm and Carrell share a stiff drink after the show. Denied again!!

Miniseries Movies Hour. zzzzzzz..... Just have Downtown Abbey and Mildred Pierce split them up equally off-screen and get us out of here by 10pm!

I'm all for slimming down and eating healthy, but Turtle from Entourage now looks like he couldn't way more than 95 lbs. Eat a chesseburger, dude. This cast turned Jane Lynch gay!

*This is the one I posted - Dearest Award Shows, there's really no need to have people sing live during an in memoriam segment. They wind up competing for attention with dead people which is not classy. Neither is using a fog machine during the live singing. Yours Always, O

RIP Andy Whitflield. I didn't watch your show, but I followed your story and it makes me sad the cancer took you from your wife and two children at such a young age. :(

Kate Winslet is SO THRILLED to win an Emmy! She's hugging it out with everybody. in the audience I guess when you lose so many Oscars in a row. you figure it will take more than two chances to win an Emmy.

Mad Men wins Best Drama, but the Best Drama of the night was whether it might actually lose to FNL.It looked close there for a minute!

Modern Family wins Best Comedy. Parks and Rec is my favorite in this category, but the writing was on the wall from early in the night. The cleavage on the younger MF daughter's dress is making me really uncomfortable. Her boobs are huge and OUT THERE. How old is she in real life? Not old enough. Put those things away, young lady! Julie Bowen needs to go Bad Cop on her immediately. Do as she says, little one, not as she does.

150 tons of confetti are falling from the ceiling and bury the Modern Family team alive on stage. That's one way to prevent a repeat win in this category next year. 

No more trophies to hand out. Here are the night’s winners:
Outstanding comedy series: Modern Family
Outstanding drama series: Mad Men
Outstanding miniseries or movie:
Downton Abbey
Outstanding lead actress, miniseries or movie: Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
Outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or movie:
Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
Outstanding directing for a miniseries, movie or dramatic special: Brian Percival, Downton Abbey
Outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie:
Barry Pepper, The Kennedys
Outstanding supporting actress, miniseries or movie: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Outstanding writing for a miniseries or movie:
Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey
Outstanding lead actor, drama:
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Outstanding lead actress, drama:
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Outstanding supporting actor, drama: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Outstanding directing, drama:
Martin Scorsese, Boardwalk Empire 
Outstanding supporting actress, drama:
Margo Martindale, Justified
Outstanding writing, drama series:
Jason Katims, Friday Night Lights
Outstanding variety, music or comedy series:
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Outstanding directing for a variety, music or comedy series: Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live (host: Justin Timberlake)
Outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy series: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Outstanding reality competition: The Amazing Race
Outstanding lead actress, comedy:
Melissa McCarthy  Mike & Molly
Outstanding lead actor, comedy series: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Outstanding writing for a comedy: Steve Levitan, Jeffrey Richman (“Caught in the Act”),  Modern Family
Outstanding director, comedy:
Michael Alan Spiller (“Halloween”),  Modern Family
Outstanding supporting actor, comedy:
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Outstanding supporting actress, comedy: Julie Bowen, Modern Family

The show ends on time! I thought Jane was a lovely and enthusiastic host. I'm excited so many 1st time winners won this year. Thank you Beecher's Cheese for the delicious snacking food throughout the night Next year: Amy Poehler wins!!! Thank you and good night!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

United States of Rafa 2011 - The Finals

(Positive spin... hmm... 1st is the worst, 2nd is the best?)

 Ooof.  I hate that Novak Djokovic!

No, but seriously. What can you say? Our Hero, Rafael Nadal tried his best. He tried to find solutions to weaken Djokovic throughout the match. Nothing worked. He tried moving back when Djok was painting the lines. Didn’t help. He tried moving in to crowd him and break down his volley. Didn’t help. Novak is just playing fearless tennis right now. Everything is working for him. Despite some momentary bouts of tiredness (which mostly come from not losing ever and having to play every tournament to its end) his game right now has no flaws. He is brimming with confidence and positive energy. There are no solutions to be found when facing that kind of opponent. Rafa fought hard, but Novak just couldn’t be beaten. It won’t always be that way, but this year that’s definitely the story for these two. Right now, Novak’s got his number.

The match itself was frustrating as a Rafa fan. He went up 2-0 and the start of the 1st set and then lost the following six games to lose the set 6-2. He was up 2-0 in the second set and went on to lose the set 6-4. They would play these exceedingly long games with multiple deuce points and Rafa had many chances to capitalize, but Novak always came up with something amazing to rip the game away from Rafa in the end.  The third set tiebreaker was amazing and the one real triumph of the match for Rafa. Each player was firing and returning retrieving these unbelievable shots. The spectators at Arthur Ashe were gasping, the people watching with me at Midtown Tennis Center were shouting (it was a pro-Nadal crowd). It seemed impossible that Nadal had to work so hard to win a point. He was winning them, Novak seemed to momentarily slow down just a hair and Nadal took the third set. I was excited for him to take the set, but it felt a little like their match at Wimby this year, where Rafa lost lopsided first and second sets and the got the third but faltered again in the fourth. I was on the subway coming home for most of the fourth set and when I got above ground and saw the score was 5-1 favoring Djokovic my heart sank. I know he tried his hardest. It just wasn’t in the cards this time. I felt bad for him, because I saw how hard he was playing, I see how hard he plays every match.  

The situation reminds me of a Buffy quote from the end of Season 3: As justice goes, it’s not unpoetic, don’t ya think?  I mean, I can apreciate the irony. For years Federer could beat anyone on the planet except Nadal, and right now Nadal can find a way to beat anyone… except Djokovic. How many of Nadal’s  Grand Slam Finals came at Fed’s expense? More then half of them – SIX! (4 French, 1 Wimby, 1 Aussie.) It’s a sucky situation, but Nadal has been on the better side of that equation a lot. Now he’s on the worse side. He’ll be back on the good side again. That’s what makes it a rivalry for the ages. :)

Novak’s win doesn’t diminish all the amazing success that Rafa has enjoyed for the past several years. Rafa may only have three titles so far for the year which is less than usual, but it’s still a great showing and he did compete in the championship match for six other titles, which means he is playing very well overall. And the year’s not over because it’s the longest effing season in sports, so there's still time for more success! Rafa will fight and win another day! Vamos!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

United States of Rafa 2011 - Semifinals

(Back in the finals again!)

Our Hero, Rafael Nadal will get the chance to defend his 2010 US Open title tomorrow, after defeating no. 4-seed Andy Murray in the semifinals on Saturday 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. It was a very solid performance from Rafa. I think I only saw a couple points of it while it was unfolding, as I had a lovely wedding to attend just that evening. But I was happy to check the score on my phone once the reception was in full swing and saw that Rafa had one. After that shaky first round match, he's really played a fantastic tournament.

So the final will be a rematch of last year's final. Djokovic against Nadal. Ugh. It amazes me that only a year ago I felt GOOD about this match up. Nadal has lost 5 finals to Novak this year, including the Wimby Final. I really hope Nadal can take it to him tomorrow afternoon, but recent history and Novak's unbelievable success throughout the year would suggest that at the very least Nadal is not the favorite to win. That's kinda okay though, Rafa feeds off struggle and feeling like the underdog. I know my guy has it in him. I just hope it translates on the court tomorrow.

I can't believe Novak even made it to the final this year. Somehow, his semifinal with Federer turned out to be a crazy repeat of last year when Federer had match point against Djokovic on his serve and somehow Novak came up with these total go for broke insane shots that landed in and wound up shifting the whole momentum of the match right at the end. I felt so bad for Fed. I wanted him to win!! Hopefully history from last year will continue to repeat itself and Rafa can take another Slam title. I just want him to be able to play his absolute best and if Djokovic still beats him, then there's nothing else that can be done. You just have to say "too good." But despite my pre-match fretting, there's no reason to believe Rafa can't win again. He's a champion. He's playing amazing. Only one match to go. He can get it done. VAMOS!!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

United States of Rafa 2011 - Quarter Finals

(Rafa is all freakish intensity as he destroys Andy Roddick in the quarters.)

The US Open continues to zip along now with clear skies as we try to cram all the later rounds of play into the next three days. Luckily, all the extra matches in a short amount of time does not seem to be having an ill-effect on Our Hero, Rafael Nadal. He completely pummeled Andy Roddick in their quarter final meeting yesterday, taking it in straight sets 6-2, 6-1, 6-3. It was a shame for Andy, who could not shake off the fatigue from an intense battle with David Ferrer the day before in the Round of 16 to put up any sort of fight against Nadal. I was actually surprised Roddick managed to get passed Ferrer, who has been playing really well this year and is currently no, 5 in the world. Roddick gave that match his all, and it was not enough recovery time for him to be at his best again. He just had no weapons against Nadal who was in rare form, even by his high standards. One telling stat: Nadal finished with 22 forehand winners compared to ZERO for Roddick. Zero? That's unbelievable! Not typical Roddick at all. Rafa took the opportunity of facing a hampered Roddick to secure the match in under 2 hours. That means he comes in the fresher man against Andy Murray (who had a hard fought win over John Isner yesterday) when they play their semifinal match... this afternoon. Stay healthy, guys! Whichever one of you meets Federer or Djokovic in the Final on Monday is gonna have a tough mountain to climb!

Fun facts: it's the second time this year the top four men have advanced to the semifinals at a Grand Slam. It also happened at the French Open. Also it's the third straight major, Nadal and Murray will face off in the semis. Rafa beat Murray in 3 sets at the French Open and in 4 sets at Wimbledon..We liked the results at this year's French! Let's see that happen again! We want Rafa over Murray in 3 quick sets! Vamos!

A Year Without Cookies - Week 36

(get this boy some cookies!)

Another week down and no cookies and no soda. This week seemed to breeze by with the Labor Day weekend mixed in. I didn't face too much horrible temptation this week. Except once when it was really humid out and I walked into a little deli and there was a delicious looking cold bottle of root beer staring at me through a freezer door. IT was a tough 10 seconds of longing before I broke away.

This week's exciting discovery was that I'm thinner than I thought I was! Oh, not by a lot. It's not like I'm in line to star in The Machinist 2: A Year Without Cookies, or something (but seriously, what a great title!). I was trying on my suits yesterday, though, for my friend Jessie's wedding which is happening TONIGHT (so excited to see her and party with some of my oldest friends!) and I was ready for the suit pants to maybe be a little tight since I haven't been doing my usual running regimen all summer but nooooo, oh, they all fit so nice! It was a lovely moment. I mentioned my good news on the FB and my friend T, suggested it might have something to do with my no cookies and soda crusade. I'm gonna to go with that theory. Thank you, Year Without Cookies, for giving me some breathing room in my dress-up duds! I will try to post photographic evidence of me looking smooth upon my return from the ceremony in Philly!

Friday, September 9, 2011

United States of Rafa 2011 - Round of 16

(Rafa loves the US Open so tenderly...)

After what was pretty much 48 hours of constant rain in NYC, Our Hero, Rafael Nadal, advanced to the quarter finals with a straight sets victory over Gilles Muller on Thursday 7-6(1) 6-1 6-2. Because of the crazy rain, Rafa's bottom half of the draw is in a race to play catch up, and the tourney will still have to end on Monday instead of Sunday. That means in 5 days (Thursday through Monday) the players in Rafa's half will have to play 4 best-of-fives matches. That's a lot of hardcourt tennis and it puts whoever gets through in the top half of the drawer at a definite advantage heading into the Championship Match. We can only hope that Rafa has some easy matches against tough players so he has enough left in the tank to face either (hopefully!) Federer or (regrettably, probably) Djokovic on Monday.

So far so good. Rafa had a kinda tough first set, but that was mostly because he fell behind 0-3 back on Tuesday morning when the tournament tried to make them play in the rain. Nadal was NOT pleased with that decision. Upon resuming the match two days later when it was not raining, Rafa quickly climbed back into the driver's seat and then Muller was kinda like "whatevs. it's over." and the next two sets just breezed by. 

Up next is Andy Roddick, and this is not a match up I like. I'm not particularly worried for Nadal, I just take no pleasure in seeing Roddick lose. I want Roddick to do well also. But if I can choose only one, of course I choose Nadal. Hopefully it will be a non-taxing three-set victory! Vamos!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Run For Your Life If You Can, Little Boy - Take 4

(In 18 weeks, my next Finisher's Pic will feature Mouse Ears!)

This week started my 18-week training period for the 2012 Disney World Marathon. That's right, lovelies. 2012 is less than 18 weeks away! So yeah, if you are sitting on some New Year's resolutions or accomplishments for 2011, it's really time to get on it!!

Saturday night I had this incredible dream about running. It involved dodgeball, sleepwalking track teammates and me Latin-ballroom dancing with Angelina Jolie to a song called "Heaven" which doesn't exist in real life. Trust me that it had these amazing brass section "Pow! Pow!" moments where we hits these awesome poses. As great as all the window dressing of the dream was, the best part was really how much I enjoyed the running. I was running around on this track at night and just loved it. I wonder for how long in real time I was running around that track. In the dream it felt like I kept going and going, but it probably was just a matter of minutes or seconds in my head. If only I could zip through the actual marathon that quickly, 18-weeks of training would not be required!

I've begun a new intermediate marathon training schedule (that downloaded so easily into my outlook calendar! I was impressed! In previous years I had to add all my daily runs manually.), and while I will miss the NYC Marathon in November, it was definitely the right choice to give myself the summer off from training and take a longer hiatus from running. Running a different race and training at a different time of year, along with taking tennis lessons in the meantime, was just the mental and physical change-up I needed to keep things fresh. Plus, running through all 4 Disney Theme Parks is gonna be awesome!! We'll see how awesome I think it is when I have a 20-mile run to complete in mid-December, but for now it's all good. "Run, Owen Run!" is back up and... well, running!

Monday, September 5, 2011

United States of Rafa 2011 - Round 3

(Rafa is a fierce competitor! No cramping his style!)

So Our Hero, Rafa Nadal, won his third round victory over David Nalbandian on Sunday, taking it in three sets - 7-6(5), 6-1, 7-5. The first set is a great example of why I love Rafa so much. He was down 5-3 serving at 0-30, and it seemed like he should lose the set. He was not playing his absolute best. Nalbandian was playing his absolute best. Yet somehow, with his back against the wall, Rafa found another gear! Against the odds, he won the game, broke in the next game, won the following game and then took the set in a tie break! Nalbandian must have been so pissed! To play a set so well and somehow still lose??? That's the brilliance of Nadal. Until it is literally game, set, match against him, you have to still give him a better chance than pretty much anybody to turn his fortunes around.

So he wins the match, but all anyone can talk about it is the leg cramps he suffered during his press conference. It was unfortunate timing but not all that shocking that his legs would cramp after the match. It was incredibly humid on Sunday and he was sweating a ton during the match. But the cramping in the presser was kind of an intense moment. If you haven't seen it, you can see it here. Watch as no one moves to help him for over two and half minutes!

Rafa is fine. It was a momentary thing. I saw him on the practice courts today and he was not suffering at all. :) Here's hoping he has an easy uneventful win over Gilles Muller in the Round of 16. Vamos!

A Year Without Cookies - Week 35

(Pick you poison.)

Another week successfully avoiding cookies! But I came across the craziest soda fountain you ever did see. On my trip to see Spy Kids 4, I noticed that the good people at Loews E-Walk 42nd Street have brought their soda dispensary technology into the 21st century. Instead of filling your cup with 85% ice and 15% soda behind the counter, they now give you a cup and send you over to this giant dispensary station which holds every kind of soda known to man (or perhaps just owned by Coca-Cola Company. I did not notice if Pepsi products were also available. I did not get soda, but there was a lemonade option. So i pressed that button on the screen. Yes a screen! And then a sub-screen of 5 additional flavors of lemonade I could have. Grape Lemonade? Tempting, but I stuck with regular old fashioned lemonade. I got Migu a Sprite and that also had an additional sub-screen of flavors to choose from. Grape-flavored Sprite? I might be back to try that one in 2012.

It's a veritable wall of soda. So many delicious possibilities! I would not want the unenviable task of going into the guts of that machinery whenever a certain flavor ran out. It must be an endless maze of tubes and vats of soda in there. But at least we the consuming public can reap the benefits. It's not Star Trek-level replicator technology, but we're getting there. In the meantime, we can control the ice to soda per cup serving ratio. That's progress!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

United States of Rafa 2011 - Round 2

(Rafa swings into action in the Second Round!)

On Friday, Our Hero, Rafael Nadal, reached the third round of the U.S. Open when Nicolas Mahut retired from the match with an abdominal muscle injury trailing Rafa 6-2, 6-2. Nadal's form was much much better in the second round than it was in his very long 3-set win in the first round. That's a good sign! Unfortunately, because the match was abbreviated, there's not a lot more to take from the match, other than to say I like Nadal's blue shirt that he wore for Round 2 a lot better than the yellow one he wore in Round 1. Stick with the blue, Rafa!

There have already been a record 14 players who quit during singles matches through three rounds of this year’s U.S. Open. That's crazy! The previous record for an entire Grand Slam tournament was 12 at Wimby in 2008. I don't know what the issue is, but it's hard for me to believe ALL of these players couldn't continue. What kind of conditioning are they doing throughout the year that they can't stick it out for 3 sets at the final Grand Slam of 2011? I mean, we're talking less than a week of play. I'm sure there are several legitimate injuries and I'm not a physician to make the call on personal health issues, but FOURTEEN? I think some people need to show a little more heart when they are down in the score and just finish it out.

Luckily Rafa doesn't seem hampered by injury. You know he's gonna give it his all every time he's on the court. He next plays David Nalbandian in the 3rd Round, who can often times prove to be a tricky opponent. I know Nadal can make it to the second week, so I can see him on the practice courts at the Open on Monday! Vamos!