Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Favorite Things '10 (What I'm Thankful For This Year)...

This year went by so fast. I feel like one of those old women cliches, but I'm going to say it anyway: I don't know where the time went!

This year definitely had its ups and downs, like any others, but it brought some new experiences and new elements all of which definitely worked towards making 2010 buttloads better (for lack of a more professional term) than 2009. Plus it certainly helps that Oprah's show is coming to an end so I can be the reigning "Favorite Things" list queen.

The way Darlene Hunt chose to have her protagonist react to her cancer diagnosis on The Big C. They say grief comes in multiple stages, and subtly and silently, we saw Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney) go through each one this first season of the new dark comedy. Oddly, though, she didn't end up accepting; she ended up wanting to fight. But throughout the season, when some fans and former patients criticized her approach, I nodded along and smiled through my tears. Not telling people-- not wanting to make it about her and her illness but actually getting to live her live with no consequences and no regrets for once, well, that's the dream, isn't it? This show is therapeutic in so many ways. It makes you laugh, and yes, it makes you cry. If you've ever been affected by cancer-- or by any potentially fatal illness, really-- it gives you something to think about and something for which to hope.

Showtime and FX screeners. In my not-so-humble opinion, they have the best and most consistent programming across networks right now. One is also a premium channel which I don't normally get, while the other is just a channel so far away from the others I normally watch I often forget I have it at all. But thanks to the very lovely publicity teams who understand a writer's limitations (both of financial and time-constraint nature), they are the only networks to send out full seasons of their series to critics for review. Sure, sometimes episodes arrive after they've already aired, but when they're giving you so much quality programming for free, you have absolutely no reason to complain. About anything. Even the fact that *I* want to be Dexter Morgan's new partner in crime!

@FoodTruckLA on Twitter. Instead of having to follow a million and one local food trucks, I can just follow these guys, who reTweet all of the alerts from the most popular ones, including a few of my personal favorites: @getyourlardon @ButtermilkTruck and @grlldcheesetruk. I don't like to follow too many people, and in truth, even if I was willing to add dozens of individual trucks to my feed, I probably wouldn't see their updates until they'd already moved on to the next location. But following one, and setting up push alerts for one, isn't so bad. And because of it, I've found out those few rare occasions a truck is in the valley, and I've stopped by.

Cake Pops. On a similar note, I first found out about these last year, but I found them perfected through one of the aforementioned food trucks (@SweetEsBakeShop). Even more than cupcakes (if you can imagine THAT!), I love these little one-bite mouthfuls of fresh, moist cake dipped in a chocolate (sometimes candy, sometimes frosting) shell. The perfect snack, especially because they're so small and light you can eat a dozen and not even feel the slightest bit sick. Or maybe that's just iron stomached me.

Life Unexpected. The show spoke to me from the very first draft of the pilot script that I read. Its characters were all so flawed but in beautiful, very real ways. It made me laugh, made me cry, made me feel. And that is what the best television is all about. As the series went on, though, I got to know a good number of the people involved in creating it, and they are all such sweet, down-to-Earth, talented individuals it makes the viewing experience that much better because you genuinely want to see them succeed. They have a great passion for their project, but they also have great senses of humor, and those are rare things, let alone combination, in this industry!

Examiner merchant incentives. When I first joined the Examiner team, I thought it was unnecessary for them to boast that being a part of the community would mean "extras", like special coupons to retailers of my choosing. I signed up for notifications of only three, assuming I'd never use them, and wishing they instead put the energy toward paying us more than a penny per page view. But lately I have been finding them very helpful, especially considering it is time to buy holiday presents and holiday ornaments. It's not any less thoughtful if it was purchased via discount!

The TCAs. Or more specifically, the network publicists who allowed me to go this year. They were everything I dreamed of and more! But seriously, folks, day after day of sitting in a room with other writers, being plied with free food (and on occasion, free stuff) listening to creative talents from all over television discuss their projects was inspiring, in addition to being lucrative for my writing career.

Invisalign. I don't know how well this actually works or if it doesn't at all, but as someone who spent four years with braces, headgear, and a retainer, I am certainly excited about the less invasive, less intrusive, less visible option. Because as promised by my rude orthodontist all those years ago, my teeth have started shifting. In what I consider a very noticeable fashion. So I may have to invest in this in 2011.

Madison Chandler. It doesn't matter if I someday win the lottery, have a book on the Best Seller list, sell a television show...he will always be my #1 favorite thing!

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