Sunday, September 30, 2012

There's A Trope For That - Week Of September 30th

This Week's Trope: Vehicle Vanish

"Alice wants Bob for something, whether because she wants to talk to him face-to-face, kill him, or she's just leaving and is looking back over her shoulder. Suddenly a bus or large truck comes out of nowhere between the two, and in the split second it takes to pass, Bob has mysteriously disappeared.

If Bob really wants to show off he'll do this with a single person walking past, rather than a vehicle.

Related to the Stealth Hi/Bye, but with large noisy wheeled props. See also Train Escape."


I would like to go on record as saying I do not like this trope. The idea of someone being there one moment, and then not being there after a bus or other vehicle has sped by, is just plain silly. Where did the person go? Did they jump down a manhole? Did they leap aboard the bus in a display of superhuman... uh, leaping? Did they disapparate? Did they quickly put on an outfit that blends them in with the local scenery? WHAT? 

Okay, every so often -- like in a movie about people who are magical or who have powers -- it's okay to have a "vehicle vanish." But any other time...  it's like No! That could NOT happen! STOP BEING DUMB, MOVIE!

Plus, the trope is overused. And you know how much I hate overused tropes.

("But Molly! A trope, by definition, is overused. Otherwise it wouldn't be a trope!")

Yeah, well... whatever.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pretty Pretty Lego

I don't like to throw the term "genius" around, but this person is a genius:


Emmys O'12

Oh, Emmys, whatever shall I do with you? You rarely nominate the shows I love. You regularly give statues to the actors I loathe. So why do I tune in? WHY, PRAY TELL ME?

Well... because there's precious little else on.

How strange that the ceremony honoring television and how apparently awesome it is happened to follow a week in which the shows I enjoy watching were all strangely absent from the schedule. Antiques Roadshow? Not on; I think PBS was doing another pledge week. Auction Kings? Not on. I don't know why. Community? Not even a rerun to be had. Downton Abbey? Oh, it was on... IN GREAT BRITAIN. Fudge, I can't even have my share of lords, ladies, butlers, and scandalous scullery maids? In conclusion, why couldn't they schedule that National TV Turnoff Week for, well... now?

But where was I? Right. The Emmys. The show that rarely gets things right. I know, I complain every year, but someone has to speak up! 

So even though I have little respect for the Emmy award, the Emmy show is still pretty... well, not entertaining, but more like... mildly un-boring.

Let's talk about this year's show and awards.


*Danny Strong winning & accepting his writing award. OMG Danny Strong! Buffy! Gilmore Girls! Those L&C promos from the summer of '96! We love you Danny! I'm sorry I haven't thought about you in eight years!

*Ricky Gervais. I'm not sure I can ever stop loving that guy. (Side note: EVERY time he presents at an award show, and I sit there giggling, my mom goes, "Who is that guy? I've never seen him before." This is like the 4th time that's happened.)

*I had no idea who Aaron Paul was, but how cute is he?

*Claire Danes presenting an award, and then winning. (Side note II: The first time she came on stage, and they made it very clear she was pregnant, I said to my mom: "Know who that is?" "Who?" "Beth from Little Women." "Wow, she's all grown up!" Twenty minutes later Claire is back, and my mom doesn't remember her from before, and asks me why on earth that lady would be wearing a gown that was so baggy on her. Which is funny, because, well, see below....)

*Them playing part of the Downton Abbey spoof from Jimmy Fallon, which I think is hilarious even after multiple viewings.

*Michael J. Fox getting a standing ovation for... I guess... being there? Being awesome? He is rather awesome.


*How a bunch of ladies were wearing dresses in approximately this shade of yellow:

Hey, it was fun counting them! And worrying that they might appear on stage together and blend into one big yellow mass -- or worse, look like a bunch of bananas. (P.S. One of these ladies was Claire Danes.)

*Martha Plimpton winning for best guest actress in a drama series for her work in The Good Wife. Okay, I've seen her on that show. I've also seen her on Raising Hope, in which she is incredible and should get a dozen Emmys. Yet she wins for the show in which she's just... okay. Sigh. I guess an Emmy is an Emmy, but I still think somebody's cracked.

*The Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves overture playing during the montage for drama series, and then, an hour later, Kevin Costner winning HIS award, and them NOT playing the song then. Badly done, Emmys, badly done. (Just kidding. That would have been silly. Almost as silly as playing the Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves overture during a montage of shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Talk about breaking things! My poor brain.)


*Tom Bergeron winning the Emmy for reality TV host. Now, I cry foul. First off, for the last several years, the win has gone to the darling Jeff Probst. This year, Jeff wasn't even nominated. And then Tom swoops in for the win. This would be fine except Tom Bergeron is incredibly annoying. 

*Jon Cryer winning for comedy. His show is gross and lame, his character is not only disgusting but unfunny, and he wins a comedy award? Annnnd this is why the Emmys can bite me.

And lastly, the most grievous of Emmy mistakes...

*Lack of Colin Firth.

That I can not forgive.

There's A Trope For That - Week of September 23rd (Happy Birthday, Amy!)

This week's trope: I Am Spartacus!

"The Messiah, his True Companions, and even several members of the Redshirt Army have been defeated and captured by The Empire. The Big Bad or The Dragon shows up, demanding to know who led this rebellion, presumably to drag them away for some horrific punishment. If he is given up, the rest are free to continue living.

But then brotherhood and camaraderie prevails.

Before The Messiah can give himself up to save his comrades, The Lancer suddenly stands up, claiming to be him. Then The Big Guy. Then The Obi-Wan, The Smart Guy, even the Cute Bruiser.

One by one, the entire Redshirt Army stands up. They would all rather suffer his fate than turn him over to the enemy. At this point, events usually play out in one of two ways:

Scenario 1
The villain simply decides to kill everyone, including the hero. Sure, it's more bloodshed than planned, but at least the villain's point is made.

Scenario 2
The ploy ends up distracting the villain, allowing the hero to get the upper hand or escape."


I chose this trope because it's everywherebut until last week, I didn't know its name (but thank you, Nostalgia Critic. Thank you for evvv-ryyy-thing!)

I remember the first time I saw the trope used as a kid. I thought, Wow, how cool that all these people are loyal to this other person! Standing up and claiming to be him! That takes courage! That takes true friendship!

But after the 45th time it cropped up in a film/TV show, my reaction was more: "Oh, COME ON!" than anything resembling impressed. 

In the end, this trope could be very powerful if it weren't so often used. 

Which it is.

So stop it, Hollywood!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Even More Baby Naming With Kixia!

Greetings, my friends and loved ones! I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted, but I've been very busy. First there was Draw Something, then SongPop, and now Farmville 2. It's atrocious the way those things suck up your time. As a result, some people who didn't even know they were pregnant when I did my last post are now about to give birth! Isn't life amazing? 

But let's get down to business. Here are some of the emails I've received lately!

Dear Kixia,

My wife and I are expecting. We want a name that’s sort of hip and modern, but we also want something that's not often used. Where should we look? 

One of my favorite places to look for baby names is during the credits of movies. Not only do a lot of actors and actresses have crazy names, but their characters’ monikers are sometimes out of this world! Generally speaking, audiences are hesitant to name their babies after a movie character, thinking it’s tacky, but trust me -- in a year, no one will remember what movie the name came from, and your future offspring will be just fine.

Let’s take a look at some of the names from the more popular movies of 2012!

"The Avengers"  - Loki, Thor, Selvig, or Pepper
"The Dark Knight Rises"  - Bane, Fox, Foley, Daggett, Stryver
"The Hunger Games" - Seneca, Katniss, Primrose, Peeta
"The Expendables 2" -  Gunnar, Booker, Trench, Church, Pilar
"Snow White and the Huntsman" - Ravenna, Nion, Coll, Finn

If that doesn't give you enough to think about, there are plenty more where those came from!

Dear Kixia,

My name is Susan Tupper, and I am the author of Naming Your Baby Without Shaming Your Family (Randall House, 2011), which was the best-selling baby name book for over two days in July of 2011 on

I take issue with your last column, in which you suggested that parents who want to give their children unique names to choose everyday objects, such as Teapot, and use those as monikers. Just because celebrities are missing enough brain cells to choose names like “Rocket” or “Pencil” doesn’t mean well-educated “regular” folks should follow suit. In fact, we should get as far away from that trend as possible!

Yes, some parents will always want to give their children unique names. However, in my professional opinion, there are better ways to go about it. My colleagues and I have invented two “baby-naming games” that I hope you will see fit to share with your readers. They are as follows:

1. Keyboard Jamboree: Four out of five experts agree there is no better way of letting a baby’s older siblings be involved in that child’s life than being an active participant in the naming process! This works especially well with children between the ages of 1 and 5. Simply place the older child in front of a computer and allow their innocent, child-like fingers to caress the keyboard. The letters that present themselves onscreen will be the newborn baby’s name. It may look strange to you at first, but the process will certainly bond your family together.

2. Scrabble Tiles Jubilee: Place “Scrabble” tiles in a bag. Each family member, starting with the oldest, should take turns pulling out a letter until six or seven have been chosen. The letters should then be spread out on a table and arranged to make something that sounds “name-like.” If no vowels were drawn, the family may decide what vowel sounds the name should have; actual letters not necessary.

My colleague Anna used this method to name all three of her children, and I can assure that Jamack, Belvia, and Feshdr are very healthy and happy, and no in-laws were shamed in the naming process.

Susan E. Tupper
Author of Naming Your Baby Without Shaming Your Family (Randall House, 2011, 332 pages)

Thanks? I guess.

Dear Kixia,
My husband and I are expecting twins in November -- two boys, to be precise -- and we want to choose two names that go together. But we don’t want one name to be better than the other, because we’d hate to be the cause of any future resentment between the boys. Yet it is so difficult to pick two names that not only sound nice, but that are equal in merit. What should we do?
-Tiana H., Clifton, Maine

Your problem is both extremely common and extremely serious. The fact of the matter is, one of your boys’ names will come before the other's in the alphabet, unless of course you give them the exact SAME name (which I would not recommend as it incites confusion). Fact: the child whose name appears first in our alphabet will have the advantage in life. He is likely to feel superior to his brother. Therefore, I suggest you give the boy whose name comes later in the alphabet the slightly better name. This will cause everything to be harmonious and bring about justice for all.

Can you please tell your readers to stop naming their kids things that rhyme with Aidan? In my son's class at school he has a Braedon, a Cayden, a Jaden, a Hayden (female), and a Zaydon. Whatever happened to Christopher? Or Michael? Or names that didn't rhyme with each other?
-Mark in Syracuse

I hear you, I do. And while having two simultaneously-popular names that happen to rhyme is not that unusual (think: Lloyd and Floyd, Chester and Lester, Jean and Dean, Greg and Craig, or Mary/Carrie/Terry/Jerry/Gary/Barry/Larry), I think parents need to get away from the -aidan trend in the same way they should step away from all names starting with "Mc." They've been done. To death. Get over it.

Hi Kixia, 
In the last couple of years, I've had several friends give their babies these super long names, that they then immediately shorten to nicknames. Lilliannabelle becomes Lilli, Allyssabeth becomes Ally, and Sebastian becomes Ian. My question is, if you're going to call your kid by a nickname anyway, why give them the long name to begin with?
-Curious in Oklahoma

Dear Curious,
It's an American thing. It's as if parents think letters (as in the ABCs) are akin to layers of blankets, that the more you have, the more secure/safe/happy your child will be. Plus they're afraid of their kids hitting age 5, declaring name-hatred, and running off to the nearest social security office to become an Isabella or a Jeremiah. If they start off by giving their child a long name with lots of syllables, then the child can keep their original name but have a slew of nicknaming options. And sure, some folks will simply name their kid Ada or Ian to begin with, but at what risk? If you ask me, none. In fact, I'm getting so tired of the "Lynne" and "Ella"s being tacked to the end of names, that I think the United States should impose a special tax on any parent who gives their child a name with more than three syllables. We'd either solve the deficit or stop the madness. A win-win, if you ask me.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

There's A Trope For That: Week of September 16th

This week's trope: Franchise Driven Retitling

"Sometimes people come up with a name that is perfectly reasonable for a work but is not reasonable for a franchise and with a new franchise being built, they have to go back and rename the work for all future promotional materials.

This can often come about because the title of the first work depends heavily on an element in that work but not in the others. Possibly, the executives have chosen a theme to market and name the series (such as the lead character's name) and the early installment is the odd man out.

Naturally this can be happening when you have a first work that nobody was sure was going to be popular and so they didn't think of a franchise when naming it. It can also happen during an adaptation process- book series often also only pick up a series name much further down the line, often unofficially, and often don't bother with this process. When they come to being adapted to another medium, somebody will have plans for a franchise but not a name."


I don't care if studios want to re-title their movies and franchises, but here's the thing... I will never be able to call an established movie by its "new" name. My brain just doesn't work that way. It's bad enough I have to get used to my friends having new last names when they marry. Half the time I write their maiden name on Christmas cards by mistake. I don't need any of this "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" stuff. How many words are in that title? TOO MANY! As far as I'm concerned, the Indiana Jones movie titles are as follows:

1. Raiders
2. Temple
3. Last Crusade
4. The one with the refrigerator

True Indy fans will know what you're referring to. And really, that's all that matters.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Top 14: Gerard Butler Movies

So you want to watch a Gerard Butler movie.

And why wouldn't you? The man is a feast for the eyes!

But there's one little problem... ol' Gerry has a lot of movies to his credit. And some of them aren't worth your time. They're not even worth the time for the folks at Netflix to ship them to you. Or for the mailman to open the door of your mailbox. Really, not even that.

So here is a guide to help you decide which Gerard Butler movies are worth a viewing, and which are best swept under the rug. I've chosen my 14 favorite. 

And here we go.

Reign Of Fire 

Reign Of Fire stars a young, mopsy-haired, Scottish-drawling Gerard alongside Christian Bale (pre-Batman, but still made of awesome) and Matthew McConaughey (who kind of looks like he's made out of of play-dough). They're in a post-apocalyptic drama about the eternal struggle against the world's most ferocious of beasts: dragons. Yeah. Dragons. Those fire-breathing reptilian things. And while certain things about this movie are cool -- the action scenes, Christian Bale's acting -- even more things are just a bit crazy. It's certainly good enough for one viewing, just don't expect anything great. Unless you happen to especially enjoy post-apocalyptic dramas about dragons. Then -- yeah, okay.

The Ugly Truth

There's something a bit disconcerting about Gerard playing an American. I mean, he may be a crackerjack actor, but when it comes to accents, he can do Scottish, Irish, and a sort of neutral, well-this-might-be-what-the-Huns-sounded-like lilt fairly convincingly. However, his American accent just sounds a bit... strange... like broken Scottish. And broken Scottish is no good. Anyway, this film is your average, love/hate-relationship-leads-to-something-more romcom -- but as it is miles, miles better than Gerard's other semi-famous romantic comedy (that being The Bounty Hunter) it makes this list on pure principle. It's a bit raunchy (so don't watch it with your grandmother -- although why you would...) and don't anticipate dying of laughter, or even coming close to laughing more than about three times.


This... is... the film that really put Gerard in the public eye. He was the star, the guy who got to kick a guy into a pit and yell: "This! Is! Sparta!" (a complete breakfast!) Not only that, but he got to rock a badass beard throughout. So the whole thing's kind of violent -- heads getting lobbed off here, there & everywhere -- but at least the blood looks somewhat cartoony. You'll probably walk away from a first viewing pumping your fist and going "Yeah!" with a kind of carnal grunt. Second viewing... it loses something. Third... this movie's kind of a bore. And (spoiler alert), 299 of the 300 soldiers die. So you can guess Gerard's odds of survival. They ain't good.


Haha, "Braveheart with a 21st Century Twist." What? WHAT? That's a joke, right? They didn't mean to type Braveheart. Maybe the Brave Little Toaster? The movie, I'm sorry to say, is a bit of a mess. It's got a promising premise -- time travel! the middle ages! -- but there's just too much going on and the movie's a series of one bad thing happening after another. HOWEVER, Gerard gets to use his Scottish accent, and his scenes make me melt. So really, parts of it are redeemable. Grab your remote and speed through the boring parts to get to his scenes and you'll get your rental's worth out of it. Oh, and I guess the time travel stuff is kinda cool.

Beowulf & Grendel 

Two movies about Beowulf were made around the same time. There was the Robert Zemeckis one where everything was done with motion-capture and had Angelina Jolie running around in there somewhere, and then there was the Gerard Butler movie. Take your pick. I know! I know! DUH. Okay, I used to be a HUGE Robert Z. fan, but when you put those two movies together, this one takes the cake. It's not phenomenal, but at least it's better. As a bonus, it also features Sarah Polley, who ought to be (in a perfect world) ten times more famous than Angelina Jolie, but whatever. If you just HAVE to see a Beowulf movie (you know, to avoid actually reading it) go with the Gerry one. Watch out for people's arms getting hacked off, though. That's just Beowulf for you.

Law Abiding Citizen 

So the first thing I need to mention about Law Abiding Citizen is this: in the past year, I have randomly overheard two separate conversations among middle-aged women regarding Gerard Butler. And in both convos, I heard a variation of: "Gerard Butler! I love him! Law Abiding Citizen, oooh lala!" And I was surprised because, really? Why this movie? But I guess it holds some appeal to certain folk. Me? Well, it's definitely put together well. It's a fun, action-packed, cat & mouse-type romp, sort of akin to The Fugitive... if, you know, The Fugitive had Harrison Ford deciding to stop trying to find his wife's killer and instead go utterly psycho and brutally murder a bunch of people. You can perhaps understand how it might be difficult to root for the guy. Here it is the same. And there are a couple of really disturbing scenes. But... still... I can see why the ladies like it. Gerard is pretty awesome. Gross... but awesome.

P.S. I Love You

This is the story of a woman (played by Hilary Swank) who loses her husband (guess who) and is very sad, but fortunately, said husband knew he was going to die and had arranged to send Hilary all kinds of letters and surprises post-mortem. P.S. requires a bit of viewer patience -- and don't forget the Kleenex, because it's a bit of a tearjerker, too. Still, just when the film begins to teeter on the edge of "ugh, stop" you get Gerry, in Ireland, singing his precious heart out. And it's adorable. So I dig it. 


I really never expected to like a movie about sex, drugs, rock & roll, and crime. But this dark comedy is a fun, wild ride. Gerard's character, One-Two, is funny, handsome, clueless, and brilliant. I really enjoyed the way the story was told, too. Sometimes things would play out in the present tense, where the characters might be doing something on Monday. Next thing we know, it's Wednesday, and the characters get into a conversation and suddenly we're flashing back to Tuesday. And while parts may be kind of kooky and uncomfortable, it's rarely boring. Plus it has the hot middle brother from Prince Of Persia in it. So yeah. Bonus.

The Phantom Of The Opera

Every Gerry fan should see this movie, if only for one reason: he sings! A lot! He's also quite badass and evil (or is tormented? A victim? You decide!) The one major flaw? You only ever get to see half of his face! Shyeah... even when Christine (spoiler alert!) pulls off his mask, all you see is his deformed-ness. So... you get the singing, but you don't get the hotness. And tormented victim or no, the Phantom is kind of a jerk.

Mrs. Brown

So. The reasons I think Mrs. Brown should be on the must-see Gerard Butler film list are as follows:

1. It was one of the first, if not the first, movie he ever did, so he's super young.
2. His role is huge! He plays the brother of the main guy.
3. Scottish accent.
4. Seabathing scene. (If you don't mind also having to look at a 55-year-old Billy Connolly).
5. It's actually a good movie!

Yeah, it's a historical dramance. It's about Queen Victoria. It's not everyone's cup of tea. But even if you can't get into it, you can totally get into the Gerry scenes, which, I am pleased to report, are some of the best, acting-wise, of his career. What a way to start out, huh?

Nim's Island

Okay, so what we've got here is a movie that's mostly about Abigail Breslin's character (Nim) defending her territory, and Jodie Foster's character (she-Alex) overcoming her OCD-driven fears. Then there's Gerry, who plays Nim's dad and Alex's alter ego (he-Alex). So you get to see 2x the Gerard fun; you get to witness him acting all fatherly and nerdy, and then see him as an action hero in she-Alex's wildest fantasies. SO. Add it all together and it makes for a pretty good amount of eye candy, and the movie's not half bad either. Plus, this is one of the few you can safely watch with kids. 

How To Train Your Dragon 

This movie's nuts because Gerry does the voice of this huge, beefy, red-headed viking who for some reason has a Scottish accent. His character is kind of a jerk at first but turns out all right in the end. The reason this film makes #3 is because it's actually really well-animated, well-written, and... shoot, just well-made! Plus it's funny without having to rely on bathroom humor or a bunch of whizzing-over-the-kids'-heads adult jokes. And for a non-Pixar movie, in this day and age, that's mighty impressive. So way to go, movie! 


Attila earns two distinctions on this list. One, it's the first Gerry movie I ever saw. Second, it's probably the one I've seen the most times. I kept renting it from Netflix, accidentally cracked the DVD, had to pay for that... then just went out and bought my own copy. Attila was actually a TV miniseries back in 2001, and it's pretty dang epic. Gerard plays Attila the Hun, and he's just about the most badass thing since... well... Indiana Jones? Jason Bourne? I was going to say Russell Crowe, but no, Russell's never quite achieved ultimate badassery. Keep trying, amigo. Naw, but Gerard is just fantastic in this. Press your finger over the fastforward button whenever Tim Curry comes on the screen and you should be fine.

Dear Frankie

And so we come to the best of all the Gerard Butler movies. It's not an action flick, it's not a romcom, and it's not a kids' movie, so what is it? It's a love story. And a drama. And it's funny and charming and sweet and sad and just really cool. Gerry doesn't show up till quite a ways in, but don't skip any scenes. If this movie doesn't make you feel something, then I don't know what to say except work your way back up to the top of the list, watch 300 three hundred times, and call me in the morning. At which point I kick you in the face. Over the phone.

I would explain the plot, but I don't want to ruin it, so just go rent it. Now.

* * *

So that's the top 14. But he's made a lot more movies than fourteen! you say. Yes, yes. Well, I've already mentioned The Bounty Hunter (terrible). There's also The Cherry Orchard (a major drag), Dracula 2000 (sooo cheesy... but lots of Gerry!), The Game Of Their Lives/The Miracle Match (tolerable, but he's barely in it), Harrison's Flowers (ditto), Lara Craft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life (more like CRADLE OF DEATH, ya jerks), Machine Gun Preacher (one of the only ones I have not seen -- too violent), Coriolanus (couldn't get through it), One More Kiss (dreadful), and Tomorrow Never Dies (never seen it.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blogtastic Update!

So I'm going to start doing lists. I'm thinking... Top 14's. I know most people do Top 10's, but whenever I try to do just 10 I end up having to tack more on later because I realize, ugh, I missed one... or two... or four. So I think 14 is a safe number. The lists will be of all sorts -- movies, shows, people, songs, soundtracks, places, carnivorous beasts, you name it.

So stay tuned... there's one coming! Because tomorrow is September 14th and that is just perfect!

I'm also planning to start doing the weekly Tropes thing again. Look for those Sunday nights or Monday mornings (or Tuesdays... or Wednesdays.)

In conclusion, I'll leave you with three random photos off my hard drive:

You're welcome.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Where Are They Now: Minor Sitcom Stars Edition

You know those "Where Are They Now?" specials, often brought to you by the likes of VH1 or Entertainment Tonight? They're fun, of course... a way to "look back" and "get nostalgic" about the olden times (you know, the 80's). But the one thing that bugs me about them is they spend most screen time on the one who made it big (Growing Pains' Leonardo DiCaprio) or the "controversial" cast member (read: Lisa Bonet). But what about everybody else? What about the people who only appeared in a handful of episodes, but mattered? What about the stars of sitcoms that nobody watched and got canceled almost immediately? Why don't they ever get their five minutes on VH1? WHYYYYY?

Why? Because nobody cares about them.


And so today I would like to delve into the whereabouts and whatnots of some of the TV show folks who I remember fondly. Have the actors gone on to do great things...? Or have they fallen off the face of the earth? Let's find out!

- - - - - - - - - - -

Mitch Mullany, Nick Freno on Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher (1996-1998)


So it wasn't the greatest show... but oh, was Nick Freno adorable. He played this laid-back guy in his late 20's who goes to teach at a middle school and is able to tame and charm all the little cretins.


Dead, apparently.

 Wait, what? Why what where when? I had no idea. I don't like how this list is starting out. The other people on here better not be dead, too, or this is going to get majorly depressing.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Karen Malina White, Charmaine on The Cosby Show (1990-1992)


So I imagine some Cosby viewers weren't thrilled when, in the later seasons, they added a bunch of new secondary characters. But I was. I loved watching the adventures of Cousin Pam, her friend Charmaine, and Charmaine's boyfriend Lance. They were a lively bunch, and Charmaine, especially, made me laugh.


Whew, we've got a live one! Now 47, Karen still acts and does voiceover work. After Cosby, she was a regular on a handful of other shows, and has appeared in a string of movies of which I have never heard. But she's been pretty busy: check it out.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Whitby Hertford, Walter, aka "Duckface," on Full House (1989-1990)


So he was only in three episodes, but what FH viewer could forget Walter, the pursed-lipped kid who had a crush on little Stephanie?


Age 34. Well, we'll always have the memories.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Jasmine Guy, Whitley Gilbert on A Different World (1987-1993)


Jasmine was Whitley, the funny, spoiled southern diva who stole the limelight right out from underneath Lisa Bonet and wound up the star of the show. Her on again-off again relationship with Dwayne Wayne couldn't be rivaled. And while she may not be quite as "minor" as some of the other folks on this list... I'm including her anyway. Because I can.


Jasmine's been working steadily since Different World ended. She co-starred on Dead Like Me as the hilarious, don't-mess-with-me Roxy. She gave birth to a daughter, Imani, in 1999.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Marla Sokoloff, Gia on Full House


Marla played bully- turned best friend of Stephanie Tanner in the latter years of the series. And this one time, they tried to start a band. It was awkward.


Marla earned minor fame in the 90's with a stint on The Practice and has guest-starred on a plethora of other shows. Now 31, she is married and the mother of a daughter, Elliotte.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Nate Richert, Harvey on Sabrina The Teenage Witch (1996-2003)


Nate played Harvey, the cute, easy-going, oft-clueless love interest of Sabrina.


At 34, he's evidently now a singer in bars and such. Rock on, my friend, rock on.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Kaitlin Cullum, Libby on Grace Under Fire (1993-1998)


As a little curly-haired cutiepie, Kaitlin played the obligatory middle child. (Pretty much every sitcom in that era had exactly three children. Strange, that.)


After surviving her teenage years, Kaitlin has made a move back toward acting. She's now 26 and heaven's sakes, that can not be the same person in those two photos.

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Penn Badgley, Joel Larsen on Do Over (2002)


Penn's character was a middle-aged guy who was sent back in time to age 14 and had to experience his high school years over again. Though it was a fun show, it lasted less than a year.


After Do Over, Penn was a regular on two other shows, The Bedford Diaries and The Mountain. Neither thrived, but they paved the way for him to land a role on Gossip Girl, where he rose to much fame. He's now making GQ and all the important hotness lists. 

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Emily Schulman, Harriet Brindle on Small Wonder (1985-1989)


Harriet played the feisty, obnoxious neighbor girl on the show about Vicki the robot. The show was crap, but Harriet was my favorite.


After Small Wonder, Emily was a regular on the TV series Christy and played the title character in the WonderWorks version of Caddie Woodlawn. She later became a literary agent and is now an acting coach and the mother of three.

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Jason Marsden, Gregory on Almost Home (1993), Nelson on Full House (1994-1995), Rich on Step by Step (1995-1998), et al.


In the 90's Jason was like the Richard Belzer of teenage actors, appearing as a series regular on a bunch of TV series, sometimes even at the same time.


Jason is now 37, married with one son. And I just have to say -- this guy has got to have the coolest, geekiest resume of any actor working today. I mean, check it out: TV shows, video games, cartoons... Batman, Star Wars, Thundercats, Ninja Turtles. Does he do ComicCons? Because if he isn't getting invited to every single ComicCon, there is something seriously wrong with the system. 

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Well, that's it for this edition. Join us next time when we dig up the dirt on former TV-drama stars. Ooh, it'll be grand!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Fifth Wall

There are times when I suddenly become preoccupied with the fact that I live in close proximity to a bunch of strangers.

If all the walls on all the houses in my neighborhood were to suddenly disappear, or shrink down to six inches the way they do in The Sims, I'd suddenly be exposed to an entire neighborhoodful of people. Right now I can see, oh, maybe two dozen houses from the end of my driveway. If each of those contains an average of three people, that's around 70 humans who I could see and who could see me if such an event were to happen. If it weren't for our walls and doors, we might as well be living in a big ol' hippie commune. Power to the people!

Does it bother me that my neighbors are strangers to me? Not that much. I mean, I'm not tempted to get to know them... throw a block party and get acquainted with all the 'bors. I guess I'm not very outgoing. Truth is, I know the names of the people in the three houses just across and the two houses next to ours. That's it. And I've lived here since I was three. I'm not sure I ever want to get to know all the rest of people on my street. Some of them could be murderers! "Oh, but if you got to know them, you'd see they were nice people!" you say. Right. Even if I were to throw a block party and introduce myself and befriend everyone, they could still be dangerous people. It's not like I would know. It's not like anyone would be like, "Hey, I'm Sheryl! I live in 20651... the yellow one with the cow mailbox, yeah! And I am a murderer." Because who says that?

Which is not to say I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about murderers. But if the walls were to suddenly come down, I'd be really, really freaked out. Because my neighbors constantly, unabashedly dwell -- that is, eat, sleep, shower, pee, and a lot of things I never want to know about -- 20 to 30 feet away from me -- all the time. 

Thank goodness for walls. Or as I like to call them, enablers of blissful ignorance.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Useless Bits Of Trivia

Tomorrow is the first day of school. It's also my birthday. I dread the early rising, the screeching alarm clock, the dragging-of-self-to-work-to-face-the-children routine. I mean, I like the children... but honestly... what a lame birthday present!

So I was thinking... this has happened before. I mean, school always almost starts the Tuesday after Labor Day. And with 32 years under my belt, the 4th is bound to have to have fallen on said Tuesday a half-dozen times before. But when?

Thanks to Windows' calendar, I've figured it out:

The last time my birthday fell on the first day of school, in which I had to get up and go to that school? 

'Twas The year of our Lord 1990.

Awkward childhood picture time!

This is me in 1990. I look like such a little drip in this photo, I can't even... and oy, my hair. This was taken around Halloween but I got the haircut over the summer so you can imagine how short it was on the first day of school. I hated that haircut. I looked like a boy and other people thought I was one. Shortly afterwards I got my ears pierced thinking that might improve the situation, but around that time, a lot of boys were getting their ears pierced too... so in conclusion, 1990 was kind of a major bummer, dude.

But what about all those other birthday Tuesdays?

There was one in 1984, when I was too young for school.

The next one after 1990 was 2001. I was in college, but I went to a school that didn't begin until late September, so on that day I probably slept super-late and made fun of my mom (a teacher) for having to go back to work.

And even though I began teaching in 2003, I somehow managed to avoid the one that came around in 2007, because at that time I was doing a three-month nanny gig, not teaching.

But now we're back. And I get to rise at the crack of dawn and celebrate making it another time around the sun by greeting a couple hundred children and procuring a headache the size of Chile!