Navigating the summer slump.

Hi. My name is Whitney, and I am a TV addict.

I’ve been one all my life, since the days of bingeing “Fraggle Rock” and “Scooby Doo” while sprawled on ’70s-era shag carpeting. When you had to get up and turn the dial to change a channel. Before TVs were flat or hung on walls.

It’s true. This is one of my earliest memories:

Somehow, I even ended up in a job that’s TV-adjacent. So I get paid to talk about TV and entertainment all day, like a kid in a candy store.

Since we’re now in those dog days of summer — the TV slump before fall premieres, when good TV is hard to come by — I’m often asked what I’m watching. People are looking for ideas. Luckily, I’ve found some! Continue reading

Monday Musings: On being late to the party.

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Happy Monday, all.

I know I’m way late to the party, but I’ve just discovered Orphan Black. Sci-fi is usually not my bag, but I kept seeing ads and hearing raves about this show. Plus, I heart BBC America. So I watched the first episode on demand and … I’m hooked. It may have been a nice, sunny weekend, but I don’t know because I was on my couch bingeing 16 episodes of Orphan Black. Continue reading

Monday Musings: On just dropping by.

Good Monday, all.

I’m just dropping by, since that’s all I seem capable of these days. But these few random musings I felt compelled to share.

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A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune to travel to South Africa, a life-changing experience. I never thought I would go to Africa — I never felt its calling, as some do. That is until I went. South Africa is a fascinating, devastating, infuriating, inspiring country, and I will feel connected to it in my soul for the rest of my days. It’s hard to explain unless — until, I hope — you visit yourself. So, though we knew it was coming, Nelson Mandela’s death last week struck a chord. He was an amazing man who lived an extraordinary life. Continue reading

Monday Musings: On weddings, childhood reading and lips.

Happy Monday to you.

I went to a wedding this weekend in Greenville, S.C., a place I’d been through — maybe even slept in — but never really explored. It was a blast. Picture a bunch of north-of-30-year-olds who think they have the stamina (and livers) of 22-year-olds. That’s all I’ll say. But the town is a find. It’s cute and quaint and walkable, with a proper main street actually called “Main Street.” It’s also a foodie town — every restaurant, even the burger joint on the corner, was phenomenal. I don’t know why I haven’t been more often.

Last week, I read that one of my childhood idols, E.L. Konigsberg, passed away. I hadn’t thought of her in years, but the news still made me take pause. Her book “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” was one of my favorites growing up. I don’t remember much more than two kids running away and camping out in the Met Museum in NYC, but I know I loved it. Right up there with “Have You Seen Hyacinth Macaw?” and “The Westing Game.” I need to own and re-read all of those again, I think. Continue reading

Monday Musings: On burgers, hotel beds and backlash.

Good Monday to you. Here are some of the random, wacky things on my mind this week:

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I don’t know if you heard, but I’m trying to be a vegetarian. Except for the cheeseburger I ate this weekend in NYC at Shake Shack. Or the brisket and sausage at Hill Country. But now, back on the horse.

I love hotels. There’s something icky about them, especially if you really think about it: all those people in and out of the same rooms night after night, how quickly you can really sanitize a bathroom or “clean” a carpet. But I relish a nice, upscale hotel experience. For one, I sleep better. I find the orderliness and luxury of the room relaxing, the beds warm, soft and comforting, and when you have few personal effects to distract you, that’s all there is to do: watch TV, read a book, sleep. And then there’s room service. Bliss.

Have you all been following the flack about Anne Hathaway following the Oscars last week? I didn’t realize so many people are annoyed by her. However, she’s always been on my list of actresses I irrationally hate. None of them have ever done anything to me, and I actually think some been amazing and charismatic in certain roles. I loved Anne in Les Mis, Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain AND Bridget Jones, January Jones in Mad Men. But then there’s Scarlett Johansson. Gwyneth Paltrow. Taylor Swift sort of counts, and Kate Hudson and Katie Holmes are dangerously close to being officially included. Who might be on your list?

Who designs most women’s pants? What’s with the weird placement of pockets that make our hips look bigger?

Speaking of Mad Men, I heard a rumor that it returns to us in April. You have no idea how happy that makes me. No idea.

Have a good week, all.

Monday Musings: On Oscars, beets and more Downton Abbey.

Good Monday to you. As we recover from our Oscars hangovers, here are some of the random, wacky things on my mind this week:

When the book “Life of Pi” came out several years ago, we tried to read it for a book club. But none of us made it past page 10, since I remember it being a little … abstract. With all the hoopla about the movie at the Oscars last night, I’m wondering if it needs a second chance. Have you read it? The whole thing, I mean. What do you recommend?

I went to dinner with six friends recently, and every single one of us loves beets. That’s odd, no? Surely not the statistical norm.

Have you all recovered from last week’s shock ending on Downton Abbey? ***BEWARE: Spoilers afoot.*** Luckily, I was able to watch it as it aired, though I already knew. When DA was airing in the U.K., The Daily Mail was not polite enough to bury their spoilery headlines, so I accidentally read about both Sybil and Matthew, but just not how it would go down. For the entire episode, I sat on pins and needles waiting for the figurative (or literal) axe to fall — and I was pretty convinced something was going to go terribly awry during the Scottish hunt. Alas, it’ll open up a new chapter. DA is filming Season 4 now so let’s hope we don’t have long to wait.

One thing to know about me: I almost always say the wrong thing, or at least it seems that way in my head. Call it social anxiety or whatever, but I can trip over my words or they can come out in totally the wrong tone or level of confidence I intended when I’m caught off guard or meeting new people or intimidated. Well, the other day my boss introduced me in a meeting as “Whitney Houston.” Thank the good Lord — other people do it too!

Isn’t it weird how you can stave off a cold with stress? How you don’t really start to feel unwell until you start relaxing? Well, my saving grace — given my recent travels and lack of sleep — is Zicam. The orange melty ones. That’s prevented me from getting sick about 17 times in the last 4 days. A miracle product.

Have a good week, all.

Monday Musings: On pets, peeves and Downton Abbey.

Some things on my mind this Monday:
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This week, I officially cut over to southandsundry.com, so be sure to update your bookmarks. If you want to receive my posts by email, just enter your email address in the field under “Email Subscription” (above on the right) and click “Follow.”

Speaking of blogs, the reader stats for this site tell me how all of you find me — what country you live in, what websites you come from, and even search terms you use to find me. This week, I got a good chuckle. One of you searched for “yellow fever vaccination if only stopping in dakar to refuel” and landed on my blog. Ha, I feel your pain. My advice: always get the vaccine! Better safe than very, very sorry.

For awhile now, I’ve felt that something’s off with Oliver. He’s seemed, only at times, uncomfortable and unnaturally sensitive about his back end. I’ll spare you the saga, but for nearly a year we’ve endured numerable vet visits, specialists (including a brush with a $1,000 colonoscopy), food trials and medicines and supplements of all sorts. I now give him more powder and crushed pills than food. Well, I exaggerate … but only a bit. Last weekend, I finally learned that his pelvis is out of alignment. He was likely born that way, but soon we’re off to the doggie chiropractor. Heck, I need one too.

Here’s Pet Peeve #87: Servers who clear plates before everyone at the table has finished eating. Is that rude, or am I old fashioned? (Or both?)

Did you watch the finale episode of “Downton Abbey” last night? (Shhh! I haven’t yet.) I’m proud that everyone’s gotten into the series, but I’m a little mad at all of you who just discovered it. Back when season 1 was airing, I could buy the DVDs for a steal at $19.99. Now that it’s a phenomenon, season 3 is $39.99. Curse you, economics!

Monday Musings: On cheap chocolate and bad grammar.

Some things on my mind this Monday:

Life is too short to eat crappy, drugstore chocolate. So splurge on your Valentine!

My job falls somewhat in the realm of public relations, so I read the PR Daily newsletter, well, daily. I was relieved to see this story call out all the made up words we use. Nothing makes my skin crawl like hearing someone say “supposably,” “irregardless” or “orientate.” I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

I can’t get enough of Mindy Kaling’s “The Mindy Project.” Every episode is laugh-out-loud hilarious. So go watch it, because if it is canceled, I will cry. FOX, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. (But not this week, since the president’s on.)

Whoever thought to serve a full menu of food and alcohol at the movie theater is a genius.

Lastly, an update on my musing about Girl Scout cookies last week. Apparently the name of the cookie depends on the bakery they come from. My boss was an equal opportunity orderer this year from multiple Girl Scouts, so he has boxes of both “Dosidos” and “Peanut Butter Sandwich” cookies. I think that only makes it more weird, no?

Monday Musings: On Girl Scouts and lookalikes.

Just a few thoughts rumbling around on a Monday morning:

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When did Girl Scout cookies go generic? Not Samoas, but “Caramel deLites.” Not Tagalongs, but “Peanut Butter Patties.” Not Dosidos, but “Peanut Butter Sandwich” cookies. Thank goodness for Thin Mints, keeping it real.

Is it me or does Rooney Mara strongly resemble Kate Middleton?

Beyonce = Fierce.

I watched the premiere of F/X’s “The Americans” this weekend. Matthew Rhys? Love. Keri Russell? Love love. “The Americans”? Eh.

Happy birthday to Gavin DeGraw.

I’m visiting San Antonio in a few weeks. Anyone been? What should I not miss? You know I can’t get on the plane until I have a list of places to see and things to eat.