Where Are They Now: Kids Incorporated (Part 1)

In the early 90s, there was a hot debate among those stupid rich kids who were lucky to have the Disney Channel: Kids Incorporated or Mickey Mouse Club? It was like Beatles vs Stones all over again. Or, maybe more like The Monkees vs. The Turtles, because let’s be real, these shows weren’t known for their greatness and innovation.

I think history has spoken on this one. Overall, the 80s-90s update of MMC had a better future star to future nobody ratio. Sure, there were a few Jennifer McGills and Thomanita Booths in there (who are probably lovely, lovely people). However, the later seasons produced Keri Russell, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Ryan Gosling. All Kids Incorporated has to show for itself is Fergie, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Mario Lopez, and Eric Balfour. Okay, I suppose that’s pretty good. But what about all of the others? Where are THEY now? A few websites had updates on the successful few, but I wondered about everyone else.

Eric Balfour  ( 1991)

I just… you know, thought we’d start off strong here. You’re welcome.

Guys, we got this. Milo from 24, Gabe from Six Feet Under, Eddie from The O.C. Let’s move on to the cast members that are a little harder to track down, shall we?

Charlie Brady (1993)

    According to IMDB, Brady takes multiple honors classes. Considering he was born in 1979, these classes are either of the “zumba and decoupage at the Learning Annex” variety, or his bio is roughly 20 years out of date.

    In 2006, Brady appeared on Law and Order as a uniformed cop. If I am ever an extra on Law and Order, I will just say that I appeared as an undercover or non-uniformed cop, which will make it sound like I had a role.

    Charlie is a successful stage actor, having appeared in national tours (Les Mis), regional theatre, and a Lincoln Centre production of South Pacific.

    He has also been on some soaps and graduated from Carnegie Mellon, where he presumably took honors classes.

Nicole Brown (1992–1993)

    It looks like Brown stopped acting in 1997, after a guest spot on Smart Guy, which is as good a place as any to leave off. But she wasn’t done with Hollywood, apparently! Brown has racked up an impressive series of credits as an executive producer and co-producer, on films great (50/50, Whip It, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and small (Harold and Kumar’s 3-D Christmas, which apparently happened).

    It’s really hard to Google a photo of her, on account of search engines being all “Are you sure you didn’t mean Nicole Brown Simpson? Was that Yvette Nicole Brown?” No, Google. It freakin’ wasn’t.

Dena Burton (1993)

I think that’s her in the middle.

    Burton was in If These Walls Could Talk – I think the one with abortion, not the one with lesbians. She also guest starred on 90s favs like ER, Ellen, and Party of Five.

It might be another Dena Burton, but it seems like she went to Howard University and is now a fashion designer.

Jared Delgin (1992)

Patented early 90s child actor haircut.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Jared Delgin has a sad but sort of poetically terse Wikipedia entry: “Jared Delgin (born 1977) is an american former actor. He was only Jared on Kids Incorporated – Season 8 in 1992.”

ONLY Jared? I’m sure the person who created the “Jared Delgin Forever” playlist that is totally on Youtube would beg to differ.

He has a Google+ page but hasn’t shared anything with me. He, or someone with his name, is licensed to practice law in California. If it is him, he want to Stanford for undergrad, then Harvard Law. Only Jared, indeed.

Moosie Drier (1984–1988)

Presumably before his stint on Kids Inc. This is the patented 1970s child actor haircut.

Apparently, Moosie had one heck of a child actor career before he even landed on Kids Inc, at which point he was already 20 years old. I clearly do not remember this. Did they have a college junior who used to come and hang out sometimes?

It looks like Moosie (Moosie, guys) mostly stopped acting in the early 90s, but came back in 2000 to appear on Jack and Jill, a show I almost remember. He is now an occasional director and voice actor.

Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson  (1983–1991)

If you don’t know who Fergie is I can try to help, but you may be beyond it. After Kids Inc, she joined girl group Wild Orchid, whose main function was hosting a lip sync show on then-Fox Family. Then, she had a brief stint with meth, though her face and teeth appear largely unscathed. She then joined Black Eyed Peas, where she may or may not have wet herself on stage. It was huge in internet gossip of, like, 6 years ago. She went solo, married Josh Duhamel, and got pregnant. She is AMAZING at spelling.

Kenny Ford (1988–1992)

Kenny Ford dabbled in acting for a few years after Kids Incorporated, then left the big and small screen for about 16 years. In 2012, he appeared as a choir member in House Arrest. He may (but may not) be the frontman of The Kenny Ford Band, part of a party band company. I did not know that party band companies existed, but I am mildly tickled by the idea of having a former Kids Incorporated kid as my wedding entertainment. He is definitely in The Chalan Ford Band, though.

Like the rest of us, Kenny Ford last logged into Myspace in 2010. Actually, I’m amazed he made it that far. He was working on a solo project at the time, so who knows, maybe he isn’t in a wedding band.

Anthony Harrell (1993)

You may remember Anthony as Eric Little from Saved By The Bell: The New Class. SBTB:TNC was part of the “teen” Saturday morning lineup, which I don’t think actual teens watched — but my 10-year-old self was all over it.

He is the former lead singer of an R&B group called Brutha, which is spelled that way so that people like me are forced to sound awkward when we say it. Evidently there was a short-lived reality show about the group in 2008.The men in Brutha were all brothers, which I am pronouncing rhotically as hell as I type this. Brotherrrrrr. Seriously, if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people telling me which colloquial pronunciations to use. I’m looking at you, everyone who uses the word “li’l” in place of “little.”

Jennifer Love Hewitt  (1989–1991)

You all know about Jennifer Love Hewitt already. I mean, I know – without even having to look it up – that she wrote a book in which she sings the praises of vajazzling*. So yeah, I’d say her personal life is pretty out there if you want to find it. Or, if – like me – you really, really, really don’t.

  • *  If you want a date to end extra-terribly, I suggest leaning close to your date’s ear, fixing him with a meaningful stare, and whispering”I vajazzled.”

Edit: As of 6.4.2013, Jennifer Love Hewitt is reportedly pregnant with the child of her Client List costar Brian Hallisay. Curious, as vajazzling is commonly understood to be a barrier to conception.

Anastasia Horne (1991–1993)

Someone has a heck of a Facebook fan page for Anastasia Horne. I hope it isn’t Anastasia herself, because that’s a little like throwing yourself a surprise party. She stopped acting about 10 years ago.

According to IMDB, her trademark is “her smile.” I didn’t study intellectual property law too closely, but I don’t think it’s a valid trademark. If you can trademark facial expressions that all humans can make, I pick blinking. Blinking is my trademark now.

Haylie Johnson (1991–1993)

Picture clearly from the late 90s/early 2000s. That SHIRT. 1999, go home. You’re drunk.

Guys. Her little sister was Ashley Johnson, the curly-haired girl who replaced Chrissy Seaver in Growing Pains. I had a weird love/hate relationship with that show as a tot because (1) my name was in the theme song and (2) Chrissy and I had the same hairdo. As for Haylie, though? She’s married to Jonny Lang, so I’d say she’s doing just fine, thanks. They have a few kids.

Gratuitous photo of Jonny Lang.

Watch this space, because we’ll be back with updates on the rest of the non-famous Kids Incorporated cast!

Live Blog: Scripps National Spelling Bee

Good evening and welcome to our liveblog of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Or, as I like to call it, Nerd Superbowl. Speaking of the superbowl, this is the one time every year that many of us will be voluntarily tuning into ESPN, so everyone, give yourselves a few minutes to track down the channel. Keep refreshing the blog to catch our updates, and follow our live tweets on Twitter — @cookiessangria

  • Like homeschooled 5th graders and NPR fans everywhere, I’ve been waiting all year for this. Literally, this time — I read American Bee: The National Spelling Bee and The Culture Of Word Nerds right after last year’s bee, and was pretty bummed I’d have to wait 12 months to see it play out.
  • Remember the big bee news of 2012? The youngest speller ever, 6-year-old Lori Anne Madison competed. She got dinged out on “ingluvies.” Cute kid, but can’t spell ingluvies? What are you, a kindergartner?

    I honestly have tattoos older than her.

Ugh, who am I kidding. Even though she has a name from 1973 (a good thing, as Lori is 10,000 times better than Madycynne or McKaeighlah), this kid wasn’t even born until I was a few years into college. Lori isn’t here this year, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her. I sincerely hope that she’s being seven right now and constructing a blanket fort or making a village out of tissue boxes.

  • This year, the hot story is that the competitors have to take a vocab test. FINALLY. If there’s one problem with spelling bee kids, it’s that they’re dumb and lazy and don’t know enough about words. Thank God we’re finally weeding out those bozos!
  • The Bee begins with a kind of confusing Matilda The Musical tie-in. I can only guess that we’re trying to reach out to all distinct nerd groups, from word to theater to eventually science. I can only guess they’ll bring in Doctor Who eventually.
  • Really embarrassed to remember some of these kids. Favs: Vanya, whose sister won a few years back and is ADORABLE, and Arvind, who has more charm than any child since Jonathan Lipnicki told us all how much the human head weighs.
  • Dr. Jacques Bailly is seriously just the Tim Gunn of the National Spelling Bee. What a dream.
  • Do kids with misspelled names get ashamed during the bee? Or are they drawn to it to correct their parents’ mistakes? I’m looking at you, Christal Schermeister.
  • Guys, if I’m mean about Christal Schermeister, it’s just because she’s clearly going to grow up to be far more intelligent and attractive than me.
  • First ding out! Bummer. I try not to get too attached to anyone during the early rounds. I’m sure many Panem citizens used the same tactic during the Hunger Games.
  • A little more spelling bee background: the kids arrived in D.C. last weekend, and I guess they just go hog-wild in a hotel this week. I mean, as wild as kids who spend all day studying the dictionary can go. It’s like rumspringa for a very particular kind of Amish person.

  • Vanya Shivashankar knows French very well. I mean, of course she does. Best kid ever. BTW, her sister Kavya is here and she’s so grown up! Off to Colombia already.
  • Amber Born: “Is the sentence funny?” Amber wants to be a comedy writer. Amber, girl after my own heart. Please come by and write for us sometimes! As long as you promise not to judge our spelling which is, admittedly, not always awesome. The announcers say she’s a dark horse. Move over, Arvind, I have a new favorite.
  • Sriram is from kind of near me! This matters to none of you. I’ll stop. He gets singerie, which is from French. Apparently when I was taking college French I told Traci that it was the language that they speak in hell. I don’t remember saying that, but it seems like something I would do. Such weird pronunciations! Full disclosure: French was my grandma’s first language, so I’m not just being a jerk. I’m being a jerk to my own beloved family members.
  • Arvind’s drama teacher sees him in a red smoking jacket. I’m sorry, is he a precocious 8th grader or Hugh Hefner? I’m confused.
  • Here is a fantastic spelling bee video (not from today). This kid is my new comedy hero. He was totally punking her:

  • Oh man, I remember Vismaya from last year. She did pretty well and had a distinct air of being probably too cool for this business. Damn, Vismaya. You’re smooth. Delivered “sciomancy” like it was nothing even though she was obviously not sure of it.
  • Grace is pictured diving into one of those pits of foam blocks, which was a childhood dream of mine thanks to all of the gymnastics centers that opened up after the ’96 Olympics. There are also a bunch of trampolines, which reminds me that Amanda Bynes was photographed at a trampoline center at my old city, Buffalo. First of all, I never knew there was a trampoline center there. Second, I am really curious as to what string of events lead her to a Western New York trampo-gym. Buffalo’s right at the border, so maybe that.
  • Bailly and co. tried to recreate those commercials where kids are sitting around being asked questions. I love those commercials, but I can’t say that they’re all that effective, because I can’t remember what they’re for. Was it phones?
  • Grace Remmer is chronicling her various awkward stages that appeared during the bee. Listen. Like most American kids, I can remember my spelling bee downfall painfully well. I was a major bookworm with the vocabulary of a nerdy adult, but I didn’t have an exceptional spelling prowess. See, if they’d had the vocabulary test then, I might have been okay. Anyway, I made it nearly to the end of my elementary school bee, only to be struck down by “counselor.” To be fair, I don’t think we got definitions, and I spelled it councillor, which is a homophone or close to it. Whatever. Anyway, Grace reminds me that it’s not like I’d really want my 11-year-old mug visible on the internet today, anyway. I had the Frizz No Butterfly Clips Can Tame.
  • Christal’s little sister looks majorly concerned. Somebody didn’t study “doryline.” Oh shit. Countdown clock. Bye, Christal. It’s been real. With the sorry spelling genes that your parents passed down, it’s a miracle you made it this far. I mean, Christal?
  • According to the spelling bee kids via Mackelmore, the ceiling is no longer able to hold them.
  • Vanya, stop asking questions, you know this. I was about to wonder whether she got teased with Uncle Vanya references at school, but probably not, right? Because she’s a child?
  • Amber Born reminds me of Traci and I when we first became friends, except actually accomplished at something other than recording The Rosie O’Donnell Show so we didn’t miss it during our afterschool activities.
  • I know envoutement totally LOOKS like a word, but when you pronounce it with a fancy French accent, it sure doesn’t SOUND like one. I reiterate: The Language They Speak In Hell. With all due apologies to my dear, late Grandma. But I think there’s a reason she always spoke English with us, you know?
  • [The reason is my demonstrated inability to speak French properly, probably]
  • This may be the first time I correctly identified a history-based root. Sansculottic, related to the sans-culottes? Yeah, I KILLED AP European. That’s right.
  • Vismaya is from Bountiful, Utah. Was that the town with all of the plural marriages? I read a book on the FLDS but don’t really remember. She’s clearly too cool to take part in that though:There are nine spellers left. NINE. Don’t they know that kids stodgy 20-somethings are watching with strict bedtimes to attend to? Come on, Bailly. Stop playing so nice.
  • Can we talk about redshirting? When I was in eighth grade, maybe half of the kids had turned 14 by the end of the school year. I’d think with all the homeschooling happening, most of these kids would be ahead of grade level for their age. There are a few too many 14-year-olds, is all I’m saying. I’m only regular-smart**, not spelling-bee smart, and teachers even asked my parents if they wanted to skip me ahead a grade. I’m sure some of these old kids are being kept at eighth grade status just to eke out another year of eligibility.

    ** A cold truth to all of you precocious kids out there: eventually, you’ll be average. I may have had a sixth grade reading level in kindergarten, but by law school, I just had a law school reading level. There’s a silver lining, though. That means parents can chill out about trying to teach their babies to read and their 2-year-olds to multiply. Eventually, they’ll probably be exactly as dumb as everyone else.

  • FYI: When there’s an accent mark, the kid doesn’t have to say it. The more you know.
  • Trivia: Vismaya’s mom used to be an actress in India. She got the word right, which is nice, I guess, but I am seriously getting sleepy here. Please start being less excellent, children.
  • Awww. Grace Remmer just got a standing ovation after she dinged out. She’s been here 4 years in a row. Such a likable kid! She’s temporarily taken over for Amber Brown as my favorite of the moment, because SOMEONE had to get eliminated so that this thing ends.
  • ESPN tells me that Nascar will be on in two days. Why do I guess there’s not too much overlap in these 2 audiences?
  • The winner gets $2,000 worth of reference works from Encyclopedia Brittanica. I’m sorry, do people still use encyclopedias? Other than my dad, who pulls down his 1976 Encyclopedia Americana because he doesn’t remember to use Google? In case you’re wondering, my parents are also the people who still use phone books as phone books.
  • This kids difficulty with the pronunciation of kaburi reminds me of this gem:

BOWERY. BALLERY? Bowery. BALLERY? I don’t know if this girl has a hearing impediment or a speech disorder, but either way, I’m going to hell. I’d blame this debacle on a regional accent, but the girl is from Philadelphia. I lived there. I’d understand the confusion if they asked her to say water (“water.” “WOODER?”) or eagles (“eagles.” “IGGLES?”), but bowery should be fine. Just kidding, love you guys, send me some Tastykakes, go Iggles.

  • The announcers just said one kid was the most consistent speller. But, if you’re still on the stage, isn’t it because you’ve gotten everything right? So all of these kids are equally consistent? Well, it’s not a logic bee.
  • So long, Vanya. Unlike most of these red-shirted 14-year-olds, she has two years of eligibility left. I’d really like to see her win one of these years!
  • Guys, Born gets laughs just for walking on stage. Girl’s going places. The last person I remember getting laughs for a mere entrance was Cosmo Kramer.
  • Goodbye, Vismaya! Fortunately, she will seldom come across the word paryphrodrome to haunt her again. It is so obscure that my spell check can’t even tell me how terribly I just butchered it.
  • Amber Born is out. Want to know a secret, Amber? Comedy writer is a cooler title than spelling bee champion, anyway.
  • They just announced that this can’t go on all night. I think I may have heard all of the angels of heaven singing hymns of joy and praise. 25 more words. I can stay awake for this. Maybe.
  • Sriram’s out. Don’t cry, little buddy. There is no way that ptyalagogue is even a real word.
  • AHH WE’RE DOWN TO ONE SPELLER! I’M NOT USING CAPS BECAUSE I’M HAPPY FOR THE WINNER I just really want to go to bed.
  • Oh my God, Arvind could win! This kid! He gets a German word last. German is his language-nemesis. I get this. Right, French?
  • Guys, I just want to do something so amazing ONE TIME that ticker tape confetti is thrown all over me. One time. Other than attending a ticker-tape parade. Love his look of utter shell-shock.

That’s all, kids! Thanks for reading and thanks even more for ignoring all of my spelling mistakes. I’m a bit of an armchair QB as far as spelling bees go.

And Amber, if you want to write a guest post, we’ll be here waiting.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

On a recent trip back to my hometown, my friend asked me, “Does it feel like home when you come back to Rochester?” He posed an interesting question that I guess I’ve never been asked before, and I had to find the right words to accurately depict a real answer.

Sure it felt like home, but not in the same sense that it was when I was younger. I guess the idea of ‘home’ changed somewhere around spring of 2006. I spent the semester studying abroad in the Netherlands with 79 other kids from my college, and we all lived and took classes in this medieval castle. I went in there not really knowing anyone, but ended up leaving with a group of lifelong friends, the experience of traveling around Europe, and it essentially became a turning point into adulthood.

I’ve mentioned it briefly before, but while I was there I was introduced to a song called cathedrals by Jump Little Children. One of the lyrics from the song that I still connect to to this day says,

In the cathedrals of New York and Rome, there is a feeling that you should just go home – and spend a lifetime finding out just where that is.

It was true – this random castle in a sleepy Holland town became my home after 3 months, and although I absolutely loved it there , I was longing to go home to America to see my family and friends. Problem was – Boston slowly became my home and Rochester was the home I only ever knew before going away to college.

I’ll never forget one of the first nights back in the States. I was staying in my old dorm room, which was now occupied by some random granola crunchy girl. It hit me all at once – I was back in Boston – in America – the day I had been dreaming of for the past three months – yet I just broke down and cried. Like I was probably having a mental breakdown but I just sobbed out all my emotions and insisted i was okay. If I was exactly where I wanted to be, why was I so upset?

A year later, I officially moved to Boston. It was the first time I wasn’t going home to Rochester for the summer and the first time Boston felt like home too. Two years after that, I made a somewhat quick decision to move to Los Angeles and nearly four years later, a city I swore I would never move to has now become my home as well.

On the same recent trip to Rochester, I realized that I get the same questions from my parents’ friends. “Do you like it in LA?” Swear to God, the two times every year that I go to Rochester, someone asks me that without fail. I’ve always thought that was a weird question to ask someone, especially since I’ve been living in LA for so long. Of course I like it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here still. It might be their way of making conversation or perhaps because I think too much into things, it might be their way of saying, “Why do you like it in LA so much? It’s so much better here in Rochester.”

My cordial answer to them is always a vague, ‘Yes I like it a lot. ‘ I don’t want to go into the reasons why LA can be annoying at times, because honestly who can say they love every single things about where they live and have no complaints? But yes, I like it, yes it’s home for me now, but so are these other places around the world. Anyone who’s lived in more than one place can relate. I feel like Voldemort leaving pieces of his soul everywhere but without the whole evil side of it. My heart is in Rochester, it’s in Boston, it’s in Well, the Netherlands. Who knows what will come in the future?  I’ll just have to spend the rest of my life discovering just exactly where home is.

Did I Do That?! Top TV Teen Nerds

Believe it or not, I wasn’t a cool kid. Yes, I know this might be hard to get your head around, but despite my appealing attributes – short, freckled, bookish, brillo-textured red hair — I wasn’t exactly homecoming queen.

However, I wasn’t so uncool that I was a total pariah. I was just more of a non-entity. I was also not a social striver: I figured whoever liked me, liked me and I wasn’t about to try to act cool to get cooler friends. First of all, I didn’t care enough*, and second of all, I don’t know HOW to act cool. Did those girls just get a special book at the beginning of every school year telling them what to wear and how to behave? Because if there was a book, I’d have been golden. I’m good at books.

* If you think this means I was too cool to care, let me disabuse you of that idea. I am just astoundingly lazy.

All of my favorite TV nerds are the same way. These characters aren’t all so dorky that people point and laugh at them in the hall. They’re just too busy being themselves to care what anyone else thinks. However, if they did put out an annual annotated guide on how to be cool, that’s not to say these characters wouldn’t have read it:

Millie Kentner from Freaks And Geeks

Although the entire cast of Freaks and Geeks really deserves a place on this list, I’d like to take a moment and single out Millie. Millie was that girl in high school who was a total goody-goody, but only because she actually liked wholesome activities and behaving. I can relate, as my main interests in high school were being obedient and exceeding expectations. Something about Millie is so earnest, it just tugs at my heartstrings. She isn’t so nerdy and well-behaved because she’s sucking up, it’s because that’s what comes honestly to her. Again, I can relate. I can remember one girl on my tennis team  who was acted like I was judging her because she was a “bad kid” and I was, well, hyper-compliant. I wasn’t — I just wasn’t interested in anything too badass myself.

Since I brought it up, tennis is the dorkiest physical activity you can join that still counts as a sport. Seriously. Even bowling might be cooler, in an ironic, blue collar, old-man way. Tennis: The Reading Of Sports.

Also this:

Seth Cohen from The O.C.

Seth Cohen made teen nerdiness hot. And God, do I still love him for it. It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since we first met young Seth, who is the first and only person I would ever describe as being “adorkable.” From his snarky message t shirts to his enthusiasm for comic books to his dorky joy about introducing people to Chrismukkah, Seth was everything good about uncool adolescents. I also appreciated how Seth was into indie/alternative music, just like most of my unpopular friends. This just goes to show that most nerdy teens aren’t lame and boring, they’re just not into whatever is in the teen mainstream. Cohen reminds us that dorky teenagers are just one semester of liberal arts college away from being hipsters. Also, just look at him.

Sue Heck from The Middle

The Middle really does not get enough play. I think it’s funny (usually) and hilarious (sometimes). Like all teen nerds, Sue is supremely enthusiastic. Rather than understanding and accepting that she’s a geek, Sue has total faith that someday, she will be one of the cool kids. Because of this, she flies whole-heartedly into the nerdiest activities (see: specialized cheerleading squad for the wrestling team). I especially love her supporting cast of dorky Wrestlerette friends:

Lisa Loopner from Saturday Night Live

By far the most hilarious teen nerd on the list, Lisa Loopner had a chronic stuffy nose, frizzy hair, and a boyfriend named Todd. She may sound like a typical dork, but this character is played with classic Gilda Radner joie de vivre, and that makes all the difference. I… listen. Just watch this.

Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons

Lisa may be too smart to fit in at Springfield Elementary, but she’s also too smart to care… usually. While she does try to fit in with the mega-90s kids on her beach vacation and the occasional third-grade mean girl, she is usually pretty content filling her time with her music, inventions, and Thanksgiving diorama of influential women in U.S. history. However, she is still just a kid, and can be seen playing hopscotch with Sherri and Terri or pining over Malibu Stacy. Lisa isn’t technically a teen nerd, but she has the reading comprehension and math skills of a girl twice her age, which has to count for something.

Landry Clarke from Friday Night Lights

On paper, Landry (or Lance, whatever) doesn’t really sound like a nerd. He’s a high school football player in a land where high school football is king. He’s the lead singer and bassist in a garage band. He loves the lovely and sometimes-badass Tyra. He even may have committed a pretty big felony (seriously, what WAS that plotline?). However, life isn’t lived on paper. Somehow, despite all of these cool factors, Landry is kind of a dork. He’s also proof that sometimes dorks can emerge victorious. Or crucifictorious, I guess.

Fun fact: As far as I know, Jesse Plemons is the only actor who appeared in both Varsity Blues and FNL. Those, along with the times my high school won states, mark the trifecta of Things That Have Made Me Actually Care About High School Football.

Kimmy Gibbler from Full House

Kimmy Gibbler sucked. I’m not denying that. The thing is, I feel so sorry for her! It didn’t occur to me as a child, but she had three grown men living next door to her who mocked her mercilessly. Danny? Joey? Jesse? You’re bullies. Also, her BFF was kind of a dud. Remember when DJ forgot Kimmy’s birthday cake and made her a dish of hashbrowns with Happy Birthday written on it in ketchup? I sometimes use that as a metaphor when I’ve made really weak gestures of friendship. Try it for yourself sometimes. Kimmy did have some positive attributes, like being a pretty decent keyboardist when Girl Talk butchered The Sign (no, not that Girl Talk).

Steve Urkel from Family Matters

I wasn’t even going to put Urkel on the list. I think he forfeited his Teen Nerd title during the later seasons, when suddenly it was All Steffon, All The Time. I’m also still a little bitter that his affinity for cheese made cheese seem nerdy. I freaking love cheese. Come at me, nerd haters and vegans!

You gotta hand it to Urkel, though. He really knew how to deliver a nerd catch phrase.

Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air

He invented “The Carlton,” and that alone earns him a spot on the list. It’s got to be hard being a nerd when you live with super-cool Hillary and Ashley and your badass cousin from West Philly. Having so much money that you live in a full-size replica of the White House probably softens the blow a little. While mostly a classic uptight nerd, Carlton also knew how to let loose and dance.

WHATAREYOUDOINGHERE: Unexpected Guest Stars of Arrested Development

If you’re an Arrested Development fan, chances are you’ve already seen the new season in its entirety. And although creator Mitch Hurwitz warned AD fans to try to calm their excitement and spread out the viewings, it’ll be difficult to not watch all 15 episodes after waiting for seven years. Not to mention, this reincarnation of the series will bring the likes of Kristen Wiig, Seth Rogen, John Krasinski, Conan O’Brien, Ben Schwartz, John Slattery, and more to the Bluth family. So to help you heed Mitch Hurwitz’s request, take a break from your binge watching and get a refresher on some of the stars who you may have forgotten (or never even knew) appeared on this iconic show.

Amy Poehler

Well, this is kind of a no-brainer, since Queen Amy appeared in 5 eps as Gob’s wife (ugh, RIP Will/Amy), who Gob kept forgetting he was even married to. So much so she didn’t even have a name.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Playing one of my personal favorite AD characters, Julia played Maggie Lizer, a ‘blind’ attorney who was also Michael’s on and off girlfriend. This scene where Tobias sneaks into her house trying to be stealth but the fact she is fully aware he is there is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.

Zach Braff

The Scrubs/Kickstarter star played Phillip Litt, a man who showed that Tobias was not alone in his Never Nude world.

Charlize Theron

The Oscar winner played Rita Leeds who was briefly engaged to Michael, and although she may not have been the sharpest tool in the shed, she was wealthy – as the heiress to Wee Britain.

Jane Lynch

Long before she terrorized kids at McKinley High School, Jane played Cyndi Lightballoon who was an undercover agent investigating Pop Pop. Except she eventually falls in love with him. It happens to the best of us.

Armie Hammer

In a career-defining role, the Winklevoss twin(s) played ‘student number 2’ in one episode – he calls George Michael ‘star dork’.

Jack McBrayer

Kenneth the Page was still tending to people’s needs (and encountering Devon Banks) before helping Tracy at TGS – he played a waiter at the local country club in two episodes.

Ed Begley Jr.

Ok, but Ed Begley Jr. LITERALLY is in everything. He shows up in almsot every movie or TV show I watch (Office finale, much?), and it’s even a running joke with my friend Suzanne because she sees him everywhere in LA. So naturally, his off Stan Sitwell character has to be on this list.

Ed Helms

Speaking of The Office, rit-it-it-itdoo, the Nard Dog played realtor James in “The One Where Michael Leaves” episode, whom Lindsay thought was hitting on her. And maybe a minor spoiler alert? He’ll be back in the new season too.

Phyllis Smith

Before Phyllis was a saleswoman at Dunder-Mifflin, she was a board member at the Bluth Company. Incidentally, just weeks after this episode (The Immaculate Election) aired, she made her debut on The Office.

Craig Robinson

Dink and flicka. Tobias has an audition at Tantamount Studios, and Craig Robinson is there to guard the gate. Except he probs should’ve been keeping an eye on Maeby instead.

Optional Summer Reading

For those of us who match our reading list to the season, the warmer temps and longer days mean its time to start on our summer books. My favorite summer books are either set in the summer months, involve plenty of time in the outdoors, or have fun or exotic settings. That’s just a loose description, though: it’s really more about the feel of the book.

Remember those summer reading lists in high school? My high school favored dusty classics, and assigned about 8 of them to each student every summer. Even for bookworms like me, it was miserable. I wanted to spend the summer reading what I wanted for once.

In college, I learned that it didn’t have to be this way. Friends said that in their high schools, summer reading included “fun” books, chart toppers, and lighter fare. Some even had summer reading as an option. None had more than 4 or so books.

As an adult, summer reading is a delight. I feel like I’m making up for all of those summers I spent reading The Once And Future King and Black Boy. Here are some novels that I think make great summer reading.

But you don’t, like, HAVE to read them. What are we, your high school English department?

* Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Like us, you probably read and loved Gatsby, which is also one heck of a summer book, set as it is in the hottest months in the Hamptons. But if you read Gatsby and skipped Fitzgerald’s other works, you’re missing out. Try this: French Riviera. 1920s. Summer at a resort. Young American film actress. Mysterious wealthy couple. Drama. Intrigue. Parties. What are you waiting for? Gatsby fans, you will not be disappointed.

* Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

    I know I remind you of your mom in her Oprah book club, but Barbara Kingsolver really has a knack for making you feel like you’re traveling to her settings. This story intertwines three stories in rural Kentucky. I don’t know why, but even though I’m a New Yorker born and raised, something about the small-town South and rural Appalachia just says summer to me. Some of the best nature writing I’ve read is in this book. Feel free to grab just about anything else by Kingsolver, if you like.

* Summer Crossing by Truman Capote

    This novel, posthumously published in 2005, follows reluctant socialite Grady McNeil during a crazy, unchaperoned summer in the ‘40s. This is a quick, light read that will still leave you thinking for a while.

* The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

    A small-town woman chaperones a teenage Louise Brooks during a summer in New York City. Too many film actresses of the 1920s on this list? This is the kind of thing that the phrase “sorry I’m not sorry” is for.

* Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee

    Lee writes (beautifully) about growing up in Cotswolds in the years right before our modern lifestyle took hold. Not all of the essays take place in the summer, but the ones that do transport you to the villages and woods in Southwest England. One of the sweetest books I can think of, with the exception of one disturbing passage toward the end. Not sure why, but reading about summers long ago draws me back to my simpler long ago summers, even if mine were in the 1990s instead of the 1920s.

* Dreamland by Kevin Baker

    I am noticing that summer means a few things for me: The South, New York City, the and early 20th century.  Dreamland has two of those. Maybe a bit reminiscent of Ragtime, Dreamland takes place in and around New York’s grittier Coney Island environs. A bit long, but great for reading several chapters at a time on a bus or train. He can put that on the back cover if he wants: “Molly of Cookies + Sangria says, ‘Great for reading on public transit!’”.

* Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    Don’t be all,”isn’t that one the book with the guy who has the affair with the really young girl?” Yes. It is. Okay? But it’s a great book and Nabokov was a genius in a world where the words “literary genius” get thrown around too freely.

*Atonement by Ian McEwan

    I can’t be the only one who liked the earlier, summer-y sequence set at a proto-Downton more than the stuff set in WWII, right?

*Whatever you find at a used book shop while you’re on vacation.

Are You The Carrie or The Shoshanna? Labeling Yourself in Your Friend Group

In the mid-90s, when I was a minimally-supervised 11-year-old with an age-inappropriate comedy obsession, I was really into standup on Comedy Central. In one special, Margaret Cho described groups of female friends: there is always the smart one, the sweet one, and the whore.
At the time I was too young to know anyone who would self-identify as a “whore,” but I got the concept. Whenever a group of girls formed a close-knit group, they’d try to find their pop culture friendship spirit animal. In 1998, this meant Spice Girls. “We are JUST like them! I’m such a Scary!” Or, Now and Then: “She says that she’s a Teeny, but I’m all seriously? You’re ROBERTA.”
Basically, Cho was right, but she was wrong. Groups of lady-friends do sort themselves into types, but there aren’t always three. Depending on how many friends are in your group, you fall into one of the famous friend-group clusters below. Are you the Jo in your March Sisters? Or the Phoebe in your Friends friends? Read on to find out:

Three:

The Cho Grouping: The smart one, the sweet one, and the whore.
Do you have a high powered job, are you career driven, or do you read a lot of books? You’re the smart one. Are you not too bright, but beloved by many and always up for a good time? You’re the sweet one. Are you REALLY always up for a good time? Sorry, lady. You know where I’m going with this.

The Friends Formula: The Monica, The Phoebe, and The Rachel.
The Monica is sensible, perfectionistic, and possibly a little shrill. You may also be a good cook or formerly fat. The Rachel is friendly and fun, and has the best outfits and hair – seriously, Monica, what is with that Dudley Moore haircut? However, she can be a tad self-absorbed. The Phoebe is weird, but don’t worry, she’s also the best one. She’s quirky and kooky, and she gets extra points in basketball because she’s dainty.

Four:

The Sisters March: The Meg, The Jo, The Beth, Or The Amy
If you’re a Meg, you’re sensible and don’t like to go against the grain. If you like adventure, have a creative spirit, or are seriously pretty butch, you’re a Jo. Do you like the finer things in life, and sometimes pretend that you’re a little better-off than you are? Amy it is. If you’re a Beth, you’re either really boring, terminally ill, or (spoiler!) already dead. Or, everyone hates you and they made you be Beth. I suggest you break away, run off to the nearest big city, and are all “who’s the Jo now, bitches?”

The Bradshaw Bunch: The Carrie, The Samantha, The Charlotte, and The Miranda
You know this already. A Carrie is sort of like a Jo, in that she’s a writer or observer, but she has a bit of a sweet one aspect. Almost Rachel-y. A Charlotte is Meg-y, but a little less perfect, and sort of screechy, like a Monica. If you are a Miranda, you are serious and analytical, and possibly a little depressing sometimes (seriously, all that takeout?). The Samantha is the whore. I wish I had a more delicate way to put it. Smith, though. You know?

The Now and Then-ers: The Chrissy, The Roberta, The Samantha, and The Teeny
This was a pretty easy group to put yourself into as a kid. If you were tomboyish, you were the Roberta. And – bonus – you got Devon Sawa in the end! If you had family troubles like divorced parents, your friends probably made you be Samantha. If everyone’s family lives were pretty cool, then the person who was into sci-fi or scary stories or who had a little sister was the default Samantha. The girls who were into performing and wanted to be famous actresses were Teenys (that was me). If no one fit into that, then Teeny was whomever was most boy-crazy or who knew how to make fake boobs out of jello (which, if it works, let me know). Chrissy was either the prissy girl, or – hate to say it – whoever was the chubbiest in the group. Rude.

The Girls Girls: Hannah, Shoshanna, Jessa, and Marnie
If you’re Hannah, you are probably a writer, or an otherwise creative person just trying to find your place in the world. [Why is there ALWAYS a writer? If these friendships were demographically accurate, everyone would be friends with at least one HR rep or itinerant temp.] Shoshanas are, at least at first, the naïve optimists who haven’t had much – or any – of a love life to speak of. Marnies are the girls who are pretty normal and generally good friends, but have their shit less together than they would think. First season, I thought I was a Marnie, but then season two happened and I was like “oh… yeah, nevermind.” If you’re worldly, impulsive, and a little bit wild, you’re a Jessa, and you probably have very nice hair and outfits.

Five

The Spices: Scary, Sporty, Posh, Ginger, and Baby
I don’t have to describe these, because the names really do say it all. Except for Ginger. Before the British slang for redheads took over on our side of the Atlantic, nobody really seemed to know what that was supposed to mean. However, I STILL had to be the Ginger because she and I had red hair. Figures. In some circles she was referred to as “Sexy Spice,” but not in my circles, because my circles were in a Catholic elementary school. Although, that didn’t stop me from watching adult standup comedy that throws around the word “whore.”

Of course, there are plenty more lady friendships to choose from. Are you a Kristy or a Claudia? A Blanche or a Sophia? Maybe they’re all just variations on the Cho Grouping after all. If you don’t want to admit that, maybe it’s because you’re the whore.

Live Blog: My Mom watches the Dancing with the Stars finale

Dancing with the Stars is one of the biggest reality TV shows on the air, and naturally I have to watch it and keep up with it and write any news pertaining the show. But I always forget that the one person who is pretty much the ideal demographic fort this show is my mother. Like suburban, older, women usually like this show. Naturally, she was excited about the season finale. I just happened to be with my parents on the night of this past week’s season 16 finale, and I could only get her reactions to the last hour of the two-hour finale, but they’re still entertaining none the less. It’s like she was betting money on it or something, that’s how into it and stressed she was over the show. I mean, I tend to get emotional about telveision, but it’s so uncharacteristic from her that I was more amused than annoyed. Here are some quality quotes from the Dancing with the Stars shit show. BTW – this was mostly said in Filipino, so this is all a rough translation of what she said…

During Pitbull’s performance: “(Judge) Len (Goodman) better be careful or he’ll break something!”

This man may be 69 years old, but he’s a ballroom champ and legit was helping finalist Jacoby Jones in practice the day before.

When cameras panned over to the audience: “Oh it’s Kristi! Kristi’s there!” (Yamaguchi, because she’s on a first name basis with her, apparently.)

When missing the part where the top four was narrowed down to three, and NFL pro Jacoby Jones was still in the competition: “JACKoby? JACKoby will probably win now!!” – It’s pronounced Jah-CO-bee.

And finding out Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman placed fourth, below Jacoby: “Aly probably cried… Jacoby’s good but not as good as the women. How disappointing.”

After Jacoby’s instant salsa: Jacoby’s mom is too much (she was holding up her own a ’10’ sign from the audience): “They’ll probably give him a 10. That is not right… That’s why he has a lot of fans- because of this touchdown dance.”

On Zendaya’s instant jive dance: “Ohhh her music is so good (It was the classic, Rockin’ Robin).”

On 16-year-old Zendaya’s footwear choices: “See, she can’t dance in heels. She should be dancing in heels. But she’s a kid… she’s not wearing heels.” (She actually wears heels 90% of the time on the show)

Zendaya’s video package talking about her final dance on the show: “It’s definitely going to suck” – Zendaya
“HA ‘SUCKS’! SHE’S A KID!” – My old mom

On appreciating figure skate alumni in the audience: “Oh Dorothy’s there too. Dorothy and Kristi are sitting next to each other!” (the DWTS mom version of fangirling)

“They need to improve the mirrorball trophy.”

On last season’s American Idol runner-up (and 1/2 Filipino), Jessica Sanchez, who performed: “Ay it’s Jessica!!! She has too much makeup on… she has on too much makeup.”

Still not over Jacoby making it over Aly: “It will be so disappointing if Jacoby wins… See he has the lowest cheers.” (from the audience)

After Jacoby was eliminated, leaving Zendaya and American Idol alum Kellie Pickler in the top two: “There – there it won’t matter who wins between the two of them… even though I like Kellie.”

When Kellie Pickler was named the champion of DWTS: “They’re (Kellie & pro partner Derek) shocked!! It’s because of their performance from last night. Because she’s very artistic… But derek won again – how many is this that he won? She didn’t become the American Idol but she was the Dancing with the Stars champion.”

I Am Not A Morning Person

Photo May 08, 12 59 01 AM

I have never been a morning person. Even as a kid I tended to stay up late way later than I should have, and despite thinking it would be easy to get up the next morning, it never was. Nothing’s really changed over the years, as much as I’ve tried. While we’ve all overslept before, I had somewhat of a nightmare story that includes breaking and entering, crossing state lines, and pushing the speed limit. Here’s an exact guide of what NOT to do if you want to get up on time like a normal human being.

1) Don’t go to sleep late if you need to get up early

Hello Captain Obvious. I mean this goes without saying, but sometimes it’s just so hard to go to sleep, you guys. The internet. Like, the internet is a deep, dark, scary, YouTube filled hole. But if you’re planning on taking a mini road trip to a city four hours away, and you have to be on time in order to make The Office tour in Scranton, Pennsylvania, don’t go to sleep late.

2) Don’t fall asleep with your phone in your hand

So here’s the thing about me: I use an alarm clock and my phone to wake up. Like a DUAL alarm clock, and set four alarms on my cell phone. The alarm clock is more of a warning, it’s almost time for you to get up, so you can keep pressing snooze, mechanism. The cell phone alarms are to actually wake me up. So when it’s imperative that you get up at 6am to take the subway to your friend/roommate’s house so she can drive to Scranton, make sure your phone is properly place don your nightstand, and not hastily on your bed. Because if it is just lying next to you while you’re sleeping, you could accidentally throw it off your bed in a fit of rage during your REM cycle, causing it to crash on the ground with the battery detached from the rest of the phone.

3) Make sure your roommate who’s been living at home still has a key to your apartment

If someone’s that’s meeting you is wondering where you are, but has no way of contacting you because your phone is in bits on the floor, it might be cause for concern. Death? Kidnapping? Ghost scenario and you haven’t been alive after all these years at all? Possibly. If you have a spare key or have a roommate who has a key and is willing to barge into your room to yell at you to wake up because you’re an absolute idiot, that would be ideal.

4) Know how to go from dead to awake in under 5 minutes

Always have an outfit in mind for the next day, especially if you know there will be a lot of photo opportunities. In the case of a late wake up call, you can just throw it on, brush your teeth real quick, and bring your makeup in the car. Also, know how to put on makeup in the car.

5) Make sure your driver friend is willing to disobey speeding laws

Because you’ve been a stupid hoe and totes Britta’d it, your awesome friend now has to make up for lost time. 4 hour driving time to Scranton from Boston? and we have to be there in about 3? No prob. Just speed and keep an eye out for the po-pos.

Meghan, Katie, Phyllis, and me with Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration

6) Get to Scranton right on time and meet Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration

Anatomy Of An Adult Sick Day

First things first: I’m sorry for using the phrase “adult sick day.” That sounds like a sick day where you kick things off by buying and smoking a carton of cigarettes, gambling for a while, and then buying or starring in porn. I don’t mean that. If you can do all of those things, you’re probably pretty healthy and should just get your butt to work. No, I’m talking about a sick day once you’re out of school and into a steady job. You’re past the age where a sick day means getting class notes from a friend and emailing your professor the homework that was due that day. You’re past the jobs where you text a friend to take your shift. You actually have an allotted number of sick days, and deciding to take one is a big deal. There are several distinct phases to the sick day.

Here is the breakdown:

(1) The Decision. Maybe you are crazy sick the night before and your mind is made up. Or, maybe you just wake up and can tell that everything is all very, very wrong. For me, it’s usually a little bit of both. I am feeling pretty cruddy at night time, but I still set my alarm clock and hope that I wake up chirping and fresh like a spring chicken (… there were like 3 metaphors in that sentence, none of which go together, and I am sorry). It isn’t an easy decision. You wrack your brain, wondering how many sick days you have left in the year. Is it March, and you’ve already used a day or two? Maybe you aren’t THAT sick, after all. But is it December and you have five sick days left? Oh, you feel AWFUL. No way are you going to work. You also scour your work calendar. It is pretty much the opposite of high school, when you would hope to miss your more work-heavy days. Do you have three meetings and a conference call scheduled?  You’ll probably decide you feel okay enough to go in, because who wants to make that up? Last year, I was crazy sick during a week when six of the books I edit were going to press. I marched on and let myself spend a whole day in bed the next week. It goes without saying that your decision should rest on whether you’re so infectious that you pose a threat to your fellow co-workers. To be fiercely real (which is also Tyra Banks-speak for “plus sized”), if I have a cough and a runny nose, I’m probably contagious, but I’m also normal. I’m going to work, I’m just bringing Purel.

(2) The Call. I hate when I have to telephone in sick. If you are at all able to email instead, I’d recommend that. I’m always worried I’ll give too much information, which is a trap workers fall into because if you give too little information, people will think you’re faking it. Still, no one needs to know the details. Last year, I was throwing up, and I almost wrote that I had the stomach flu, or a GI bug. Then, I realized that everyone would think that was a euphemism for “pooping myself,” and I didn’t want that image in my colleagues’ heads. So I stuck with “really sick.” Really sick will do, usually, but you can throw in a symptom or so if it won’t be misinterpreted. Fever? Okay, sure. Tell away. Something legit, like strep or pnemonia? Go ahead. But for iffier sounding stuff, like a bad cough, I keep quiet because it can sound a lot less bad than it is. If I have to phone in, I get nervous that I won’t actually sound sick even though I am. However, I stop short of putting on a sick voice. Then I’d sound like I was faking sick, even though I am straight-up sick. Listen. If you have to write a phone call or voice mail script, that’s fine. I advise it, actually. It may be the only way to prevent your entire office from thinking that you’re faking sick, or have dysentery.

(3) The Schedule Unless you are going straight back to sleep, you need to schedule which tv shows you are going to watch. Are you going to plow through your Netflix queue? Clear off some DVR space? Catch some trashy talk shows? Today is your day, and you can do ANYTHING. Anything, that is, except for function as a working human in the professional world. On sick days, I tend to gravitate towards Comfort TV. Like comfort foods, comfort TV is familiar and well-loved. It’s like making a pot of noodle soup instead of a new, tricky curry. I’ll watch a two-hour block of Friends reruns, or whichever Gilmore Girls episodes I can get my hands on. Childhood favorites, like Boy Meets World, are good too. Nothing too harsh, nothing too serious. Also, nothing that reminds you of work – for me, that means no legal dramas. For me, sick days aren’t a time to watch new television, especially nothing that’s hard to follow.  By the way, if you are so sick that even never-before-seen TV dramas are too much for you to handle, you have chosen right and are probably not healthy enough to be working.

(4) The Time Comparisons. This is a holdover from my school days. I’d always look at the clock and think “11 AM. I’d be in Precalc. But instead, I’m watching The View. My life is amazing.” I do that now, too, except as an adult it makes me feel equal parts happy (I’m watching ABC Family instead of doing legal research!) and nervous (I’m missing EVERYTHING and I’ll never catch up EVER).

(5) The Disorienting Nap. At some point, you will probably take a nap and wake up disoriented. What day is it? What time is it? Did I oversleep? The absolute worst is in the winter, when you will fall asleep in broad daylight and wake up in total darkness. You will worry that you have slept through an entire day and night. Sleep is good, though. It helps you get better. Also, I have a personal rule that if I’m going to take a sick day, I have to do less than I would during a work day. Otherwise, my massive guilt complex takes over and I feel like I should have just gone in.

(6) The Slow Crawl Toward Reality. The last hours of a sick day are like the end of a very short and kind of terrible summer vacation. You pack your lunch, lay your clothes out, and mourn the end of freedom. You may go through  repeat of step one, wondering if you are well enough to go in tomorrow. For me, though, one day will usually do it. I find I’m best off if I treat it like a normal weeknight. I don’t stay up late just because I slept during the day, and I maintain my normal tv viewing habits. It’s not so bad. You are one day closer to the weekend now, and, God willing, one day closer to good health.