Starz’s Spartacus–Andy Whitfield

Starz’s production of Spartacus: Blood and Sand was the network’s first breakout hit. Andy Whitfield was a relative unknown until he landed the lead role of Spartacus, bringing faithful fans and exploding the show’s ratings. I was one of those fans, subscribing to the Starz network to watch the show everyone was talking about.

The Wales native was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma during production of the second season. Andy took a leave but was back briefly to continue with the show last summer. He had a relapse and his role was recast. Unfortunately, at age 40, Andy died of the disease on September 11th.

Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht called Whitfield “a champion on screen who was also a champion in his own life. Andy was an inspiration to all of us as he faced this very personal battle with courage, strength, and grace.”

We’ll miss Whitfield’s portrayal on screen and can only imagine the tough time for his family and friends. Andy Whitfield, RIP.

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Texters Beware: We need our thumbs!

Here it comes, another “itis.”

Twenty years ago we stuck to our desktop computers and risked eye strain, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.  Then came laptops and you’ll see users typing away in awkward and contorted positions at home, hotels, trains, airport waiting areas, parks, coffee shops and the like. Now add smartphones and tablets. The seemingly easier touch screen for typing isn’t doing us any favors; keys that move up and down provide more of a cushion for our fingers, whereas drumming fingers against screens is harsher and can lead to soreness. Don’t use a tablet for heavy typing.

So what’s next? Our thumbs are being used at a level they were never meant to provide. Thumbs have two bones instead of three, leaving them more vulnerable. Mingling work and personal life with texting  friends one minute and bosses the next , puts more stress on our bodies, and our thumbs.

A condition known as De Quervain’s tenosynovitis may become another common ailment. This is when the tendons become so inflamed that it’s painful to move your thumb, affecting the ability to hold things.

So next time you have a multiple texting situation, accomplish your information exchange and make the phone call.  Best advice we often forget to follow: take a break and separate yourself from your electronics. Give yourself a rest.

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Glen Campbell: The Goodbye Tour

Sometimes years go by and you don’t hear about an artist you’ve enjoyed in the past. Glen Campbell, the bright blue-eyed, younger-looking 75 year old, starts a lengthy tour on September 2nd, and this may be the last opportunity to hear him live. He announced in June he’s been diagnosed with the onset of Alzheimer’s. 

While Mr. Campbell is coping with some manifestations of the disease, he insists it hasn’t affected his music. Many know him from his hits in the late 60’s and 70’s, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Gentle on My Mind,” “Wichita Lineman,” and TV’s “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” But he was also an in-demand session guitarist, contributing to the Beach Boys, Merle Haggard, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, the Righteous Brothers and Frank Sinatra.

The tour will promote his newly released album “Ghost on the Canvas,” with songs from the new album integrated into the hit-filled concert set list. A strategy begun in 2008 to introduce Mr. Campbell’s talent to a younger audience featuring songs by U2, Green Day and Foo Fighters with album “Meet Glen Campbell,” appeals to pop and country fans alike.

I’ve always admired Glen’s music and talent, and I admire he’s hitting the road one last time. We’ll all miss him when he finally sets down his guitar.

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How a typo can put you on the wrong side of the dirt

Proof-reading. This might be something the Social Security Administration wants to incorporate into their data entry. Of the approx 2.8 million death reports the SSA receives per year, about 14,000 are incorrectly entered into the Death Master File. The Social’s along with names, addresses, birth dates and date of death are entered and sold to the public as well as to banks and credit bureaus. This can cause termination of benefits, financial hardship and as you can imagine, distress.

Usually the cause is due to human error while typing death information into a computer system.  The errors are corrected as soon as possible when realized, but it averages out to 38 life-altering mistakes per day.

So if it happens to you, show up at your SSA office to prove you’re quite alive, and know you’re not alone.

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Hidden talent? Anne Hathaway rapping on Conan.

Anne Hathaway isn’t just another pretty face. Stopping by Conan O’Brien’s couch this week to promote her new movie ‘One Day’ opening this weekend, Anne voiced her frustration with the paparazzi.

As the new Catwoman for ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ the photographer frenzy got a little intense around the Pittsburgh set.  So instead of getting into a knot about it, she wrote a song – Lil’ Wayne style.  “A”  for effort Anne, but don’t quit your day job! 

Anne Hathaway on Conan

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Team Coco is in – George is out

Conan is losing television viewers, but Time Warner’s TBS is sticking with its red-haired late-night host. Nielsen ratings report a 60% drop in viewers since Conan’s debut last fall, but TBS is happy with the 18-49 year-old audience and the web version revenue he draws.

And yes, many people watch “Conan” after the initial broadcast on their digital-video recorders. Good call.

“Lopez Tonight” was cancelled last week, but “Conan” will continue to provide us with entertaining late-night humor.  Life is better with “Conan” in it!

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Bravo’s Flipping Out !

Thank you BRAVO TV for bringing us another season of Flipping Out ! It’s hard not to like  Jeff Lewis, the obsessive-compulsive house-flipper turned interior designer, in this fifth season, along with his cast of characters.  Jeff, whose well-rounded knowledge of more than 20 years of design and renovation, has  brought his business to the next level with his House Beautiful 2010 Kitchen of the Year. “Jeff Lewis Designs” or JLD projects demand a dedicated staff and if you’re doing your job you’re in, but there’s little room for error!

Jeff’s quirkiness and sense of humor soften his perfectionist work ethic. He finally let his assistant Sarah go, after countless mistakes because she’s his sister-in-law but like the others, he considers his staff part of his family. Since the group works out of his house, you are privy to his pets and housekeeper Zoila. Jeff recently gave Zoila plastic surgery for her birthday and he was nervously watching over her.  During recovery, he even did her laundry, with the expected TMI about her panties!  Jeff’s practical jokes make him a likable guy under that tough exterior.

Gage Edwards is leading JLD’s Business Development team. Gage wants to turn Jeff’s small design firm into a much larger brand and has his hands full. Jeff and Gage are currently dating but Gage sticks to his guns where business is concerned.

The cast of characters each bring something to the table but it’s their relationship with Jeff that sets this show apart from other design TV shows.  Tuesday nights on Bravo TV. Design, drama and comedy with Flipping Out !

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AMC’s Mad Men: We’re captivated!

Gosh darn…when will the next season start? Our show has won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama three years in a row (2008, 2009, 2010) and is the most recognized series on television. So what happens when you’re going through withdrawal?

Great news to satisfy Mad Men cravings:

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awarded the series with 19 Emmy nominations in July.

August 11th: Teaming up with AMC’s Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant and creative director Simon Kneen, Banana Republic is launching a 65-piece capsule collection for men and women in stores and on-line, blending the cool polished Mad Men looks of the 1960’s era with Banana Republic’s  modern American style. We’ll be all over the Mad Men 1960’s –era chic!

Mad Men now on Netflix instant. Get all four seasons for Mad Men marathon to prep for Season Five in early 2012.

The Emmy Award Show….September 18th on FOX. Cameramen be kind and give us lots of shots of dreamy Don Draper! With 19 nominations, we hope for lots of camera time!

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The Real Housewives of New York: Thank goodness it’s over!

New York is my favorite Real Housewives…until this season. Somehow watching TV reality drama is less threatening to viewers than real-life drama, but this last season was enough to push the Housewives’ drama too close to our own.

Jill is still my favorite because you know who you’re dealing with.  Cindy has yet to find her place in the group but she’s likable. Sonja can be a devil but seems to have a soft heart under her pretentious façade.  LuAnn is well….she’s the Countess but tolerable. Kelly is quirky but seemed to be the glue this season.  Alex and Simon (always a couple…he needs his camera time too!) could go on a world-wide trip and I wouldn’t miss them. But Ramona…she has to go! Her wide-eyed unpredictability has turned into being a predictable mess that we don’t want to believe. I could never like her and how many times can one listen to her excuses before they just don’t care anymore.

The season finale was enough to make Andy age faster than a US President.  WWHL gave us a behind-the-scenes when all hell broke loose and he had to struggle to the top for control with a “Shut the f*ck up!”

So we watched the season to tie ends together. The Finale offered further excuses and explanations for situations and behavior, if you could understand when they continually talked over each other.  There’s just too much drama in the Drama and this might have been my last season watching Real Housewives of New York. 

Andy, you’ve got some cleaning to do…..get the house in order!

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Apartment living and the fire alarm. The new social meet-and-greet?

Bastille Days – a four day party expanding 4 city blocks with 4 stages of  live music 12 hours a day, food, drink, street performers and roaming minstrels, plenty of tents of wares to sell, and assorted activities in several venues every hour. There was no way of escaping it: it is right out my front door.

Into the third day, after attending the Pooch Parade then sidewalk lunch with drink – then again with visitors with sidewalk dinner and drink, at 7:30 pm I looked forward to closing the windows and blinds, turning up the A/C for comfort and to drown out the noise, to catch up on my reading and mindless entertaining of DVR’d shows.  While there was little way of escaping it, the revelry below brought me to the windows to periodically check on the activity and the beautiful summer night with a full moon.

Then it happened: at midnight, drowsily horizontal toying with the idea of transferring from sofa to bed, the building’s fire alarm sounded. Damn…we’d had two false alarms in the last 7 months…is this for real or another false alarm? Looking out for billowing smoke and activity below, I waited a few minutes to see if the alarm would turn off.  Then came the sirens and two fire engines…okay time to take action. I threw on a light coat, grabbed my wallet, phone and charger (do I grab baby pictures?) and a bottled water and made my way down 15 flights of stairs to join the displaced tenants and overflow of the now inebriated crowd from the festival.

The uniformed firefighters were in action…scurrying about…some with axes and radios…doing what they do. People of all ages, glued to their phones or continuing with their party plans now on the sidewalk, playing with the resident dogs, conversing or just keeping to themselves. After 10 minutes of milling through the crowd, checking above for any flames of fire or smoke, I was curious as to what people would grab to escape a potential fire that could consume their personal belongings? Pets-check. Phones-check. A beverage-check. One group of young people had 10 bags from what must have been a  shopping outing that day. But it was evident…most expected another false alarm. Most took the opportunity for casual visiting. Most, although neighbors, I had never seen before.

A 70’s old woman, fully PJ and robed up to the neck, was berating one of the apartment staff. “The firemen need to find out who tripped the alarm. Why does this happen? We had this a few months ago” and on and on. I’m sure management will hear from her tomorrow.

After we were cleared for re-entry, most took to the lobby for a long wait for elevator delivery to their floor. Many of us decided the trek up the stairs would be the expedient way, even an obviously pregnant young lady. I tagged along with them to be sure she took it slow and a little rest between flights. “Go put your feet up,” I instructed as they exited on the 8th floor.  A mom is always a mom.

So thankfully it was a false alarm and no one was hurt and no damage. Thankfully it was a beautiful night to be outside. Thankfully most were in good moods and would continue to party after returning to their personal spaces.

As for me, after climbing 15 flights of stairs, going back to the sofa was out of the question. It was time for bed.

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