My TiVo Hates Me

Late last night, while I was typing away at my computer, and Henry, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, lay cozily napping on my bed, I heard a voice whisper loudly,

“Hey, Monica!”

I looked up. No one was there. I resumed typing.

“Psst. Monica. Over HERE!”

Again I turn around. Henry opened one eye.

“Henry, was that you?” I asked.

He shook his head and fell back asleep.

“Psst, behind you!”

Looking around the other way, I noticed the sound was coming from the vicinity of the TV.

TiVo? What are you doing on at this hour? I haven’t watched you in days!”

“Days? More like weeks. I’m getting overloaded here. I’m going to pop a cable if you don’t start watching your shows soon. I can’t keep saving everything, you know. Something’s gotta give if you’re not going to watch, and I’m afraid it’s going to be me.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” I respond. “Cut me some slack. I’ve just been so busy with my writing.”

“How do you think I feel? You used to love me and watch me all the time! Now, you only have eyes for that thing.” TiVo shrugs and aims it remote at my computer.

“One of these days I’ll get to you.”

“One of these days? How about now? Parks and Recreation isn’t going to stay around forever, and besides, don’t you want to know if Leslie Knope wins the election? And, Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but not that cold.”

“And what about me?” came another voice from within the TiVo box.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s Brian Williams,” TiVo responds.  “He’s getting a chip on his shoulder and is feeling snubbed. Wolf Blitzer isn’t too happy either, and, believe me, you don’t want to get him mad. I’m running out of excuses for you.”

“What do you mean? What have you been telling them?”

“First I told them that you were on vacation.”

“Where did you say I went?”

“Atlantic City. I loved that show, Boardwalk Empire.”

“TiVo, what did you say I was doing there? Going on some sort of Prohibition run?”

“Hmm…I hadn’t thought of that. Well, after a while they stopped believing it, so I said you were being held in North Korea where you were being forced to serve as a propaganda mouthpiece for Kim Jong-Il.”

“Did you get that idea from a 30 Rock episode in which Jack’s wife, Avery, was kidnapped and being held by the government?”

“Well, maybe. That’s on your season pass, is it not?”

“Touché. Anyway, TiVo, have you gotten around to telling them the truth? That I’m busy with my writing?”

“No, I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. I might have said that you went off to Afghanistan and were hunting for Osama Bin Laden.

“TiVo, the Navy Seals got him a year ago.”

“Tell me something I don’t know. Remember you made me record that CNN coverage? You never did watch, but I did.”

“That’s because I ended up getting all my information from Twitter.”

“There you go again. Always with the computer or social media.”

“So, TiVo, what excuse are you giving them these days?”

“That you left for Antarctica to save the polar bears from extinction.”


“Yeah, I saw that on an episode of National Geographic.”

“TiVo, for crying out loud! Look, I’m on deadline. I’ve got to get back to my writing.”

“Sure, be that way.”

“I’ll be back soon, I promise.”

“Okay, but no guarantees as to what you’ll find on your “Now Playing” list when you do return. I may just start recording my own recommendations and deleting yours.”

“So, how can I make it up to you?”

“Start watching and ease my load! Oh, and you can tell that dog of yours not to stare at me whenever I’m talking. Gives me the heebie-jeebies.”

“Henry? He doesn’t stare at you.”

“He does whenever he sees a dog in a commercial. Then he barks like a coyote at a full moon.”

“Ignore it. Just, go back and tell Brian, Wolf and all the others, the truth about why I haven’t been watching.”

“I think I’ll tell them you’ve just left for Spain to run with the bulls.”

“Excuse me, TiVo? What show did you see that on?”

“What’s it to you?”

“Goodnight, TiVo.”

“Chaio, bella.”

“Let me guess. Roman Holiday on TCM?”

“No, Lady and the Tramp on in-demand.”

So tell me, readers, do you have a DVR that’s overloaded and giving you grief? How do you manage your television viewing?

Dear Colin Firth, I love you!

It’s awards season! And what better time than this, to tell you that I love you. No, let me rephrase that.

I LOVE you, Colin Firth!

To be sure, I haven’t always loved you. But I imagine that’s because there was a time I didn’t even know you existed. Yet, once I saw you—as Mr.Darcy of “Pride and Prejudice” fame—I fell head over heels for you, succumbing to your romantic allure and steely stare. Indeed, sir, you had me at, “Good afternoon, Miss Bennet.” Do you recall?

Of course you don’t. I was probably one of millions of women who swooned and fancied you from afar. Totally infatuated with your onscreen persona then–and now. If you don’t believe me, all you need do is Google your name and you’ll find countless fan sites devoted to pouring their adoration upon you.

And I know Helen Fielding would agree with me! Helen, author of the bestselling novels, Bridget Jones’s Diary and its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, was inspired by your Mr. Darcy portrayal to write these juicy tales, which I thoroughly enjoyed, if I say so myself. Not so much because Bridget was funny, but really because these books were, at heart, a tribute to you! Who can forget how deliciously appealing you were in “Pride and Prejudice.” You gave your all—and took off your shirt, to boot!—as the dark and brooding Mr. Darcy in the six-hour drama. Imagine! Six glorious hours! I was so envious of Jennifer Ehle, the actress playing the role of a lifetime—Elizabeth Bennet to your Mr. Darcy. You were so rude to her at first that I had to wonder, why couldn’t that be me? Why couldn’t you feel nothing but scorn for me? Were there no wise Latinas in early 19th century England? ¡Que tristeza!

Know that I’ve made it a point to see all your films, even the ones in which your part was rather small, as in “Shakespeare in Love.” That film could have been so much better if they’d expanded upon your character. I’ve also seen one or two that were not up to par, such as “Hope Springs,” which, I believe, went straight to video, at least in this country. No matter. I’ll see any of your movies, if it means getting a glimpse of you.

You were very clever in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” which happened to be the first time I heard you sing. Not bad, Mr. Firth. Not bad. And you delighted me to no end and made me feel all giggly inside when you sang again in, “Mamma Mia.”

I even shed a tear last year, when you didn’t win a Golden Globe or an Oscar for your performance in “A Single Man.” You were robbed! Heaven knows, you so deserved it! Thank heavens you’ve already won the Golden Globe for your stellar performance in “The King’s Speech.”  But I swear I will boycott the Oscars if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences fails to bestow its award on you come February 27th.  As far as I’m concerned, the Oscar is yours for the taking.

Let it be known, Colin Firth, that I humbly adore you. But this doesn’t mean you should trifle with my affections. Indeed, if on your next press junket, you find yourself in San Diego, please DO NOT look me up. No can do, my friend! Truth is, I’m afraid I’d fall to pieces in your presence.

So let’s just keep this going from afar. I’ll always have your next film to look forward to, and you’ll always have the pleasure of knowing that I’m one of millions, paying my $12 in order to sit in a theater for two hours so I can be enthralled by you. No need to thank me. Your brooding silence is enough. Indeed, sir, it is I, who should be thanking you, for allowing me 16 years of my utterly shameless devotion to you.

Oh and one more thing:  Congratulations, my dear Colin, on your Golden Globe win! Well played and well deserved! All that’s left now is a knighthood from the Queen. Let me know if you need any help in making that happen, as I’m happy to give you a reference. I don’t offer that to just anyone, you know.

Next Up: This is Chávez Country: The Little Bully That Could (Conclusion)

My Life in Soaps

Llanview, Pennsylvania

Image from Wikipedia

I already know where I’m going to live when I retire.  I’m going to sell my home, most of the furniture too, and hightail it to Llanview, USA.  I’m not exactly sure where it is, since it’s not on any map.  But I’ll find it because that is the place to be.  Yep, I’ve decided I’m going to live in a soap opera, and not just any soap. I’m heading to “One Life to Live.”

I know what you’re thinking. Soaps are a dying breed.  But I refuse to believe it. Soaps have so much to offer and I should know. I’ve been watching them for decades, starting in high school when everyone was watching the original vampire soap,  “Dark Shadows.” Soaps are campy and good fun. An indulgence that is calorie free!

Soaps can bring complete strangers together. One summer during college I was a mother’s helper for a woman with whom I had nothing in common. Zippo.  Until, that is, we discovered we watched the same soap, “All My Children,” and that opened the floodgates of conversation. We  deliberated over the machinations of Erica Kane, and wondered if her mother, Mona would ever find true happiness with Charles Tyler, assuming, of course, he’d divorce Phoebe.  Fascinating stuff like this has led to many a bond between women.

I’ve been watching “One Life to Live,” for well over a decade.  So when I move there, I already have an advantage. I know all the townspeople and I’ve always wanted to live in a town where everybody knows each other.  Sure they have their problems. Infidelities, kidnappings, people returning from the dead, and people lying to each other about you name it. Alternate personalities and blackmail run rampant in Llanview. Indeed, the list of indiscretions is infinitely long.

But look on the bright side. At least I know where I’d stand. Llanview residents could lie to my face but I’d see right through them. I could even weave a tangled web of my own and introduce myself as a woman with a dark secret and nebulous past. I’d check into The Palace Hotel, the only decent hotel in the entire town. I’d also be sure to stop for a swim at the country club and a round of pool at a place called Rodi’s.

The only problem I see is that these characters don’t watch any TV themselves, unless it’s to forward the plot line, which happens only once in blue moon.  Everyone knows how much I love my TV shows so I know that’s going to be a problem.  And there are no movie theaters in Llanview either, which could be a deal breaker.

I’ve never seen any of the Llanview residents go shopping, so I’m assuming there’s no mall and worse, no Nordstrom’s. Bummer.  No grocery stores either from what I can tell, so I’m really going to have to depend on for all my needs.  There is a place to get your hair done and I’m definitely going to make an appoint when I get there, even though the woman who runs the salon has her hair all teased out and frankly, I’m not sure I want her to touch mine.

I’ll introduce myself to the chief of police and his wife, the district attorney, and make sure to stop by to meet Llanview’s mayor, a conniving woman who’s been married a gazillion times. Her last wedding ended up a wash though, when the groom was kidnapped by the bride’s ex-lover and hustled off to a prison in a faraway land.  All in the name of revenge.

Oh yes, I’m going to like it in Llanview.  The folks there are going to keep me hopping and I’ll do my best to keep them guessing as to my own identity.   It’s another world, if you ask me.

The Real Ms. Fix-it

My mother taught me a lot of things but there’s one thing she missed: she never taught me how to be handy. Nor did my father for that matter. While I was busy spending my childhood watching TV, writing my innermost thoughts in my secret diary and singing and dancing to show tunes around the house—where all the world was my stage—it would’ve been nice if one of my parents had showed me how to use a hammer and nail.

I did learn the proper way to wash the dishes by hand, how to make the bed, and how to write a thank you note. But face it, this was a different time, when not only was a woman’s place still in the home, but a young Latina’s place was preferably in a convent, under lock and key. In other words, being handy was for boys.

Getting ready for Charm School, circa 1970

And, you know how they say, it takes a village? Well the village didn’t help either. As soon as I reached high school, we were separated by gender: boys were put in Industrial Arts or shop class, where they learned how to construct, build and repair stuff. Girls were placed in Home Economics and I was no exception. There, I learned how to set a table, plan a menu, and the polite way to hold a glass of wine. No gender bias here.

Just in case I wasn’t getting it right, my mother enrolled me in Charm School, an eight-week course offered by the supreme authority on charm itself, the Sears and Roebuck department store. Yes, thanks to Sears, I learned how to walk, the proper way to engage in polite conversation, and how to hold a cup of tea. Graduation from charm school meant getting to participate in a “fashion show,” which consisted of a runway set up next to the Tools Department. It was all I could do not to trip over my chunky high-heeled, ultra teal shoes. If you ask me, walking on that runway was the closest I’d ever come to a wrench.

Which is why it now takes a village to attend to the maintenance of my home. Oh yes, I can stencil a pretty flower around the fireplace or choose a colorful throw for the couch, but don’t ask me to clean the air conditioning filter or replace the flush valve. That’s what professionals are for and why they get paid the big bucks. At least that’s what I’ve told myself when writing checks with multiple zeros at the end. That is, until I met Gale.

When Gale and I first met and struck up a friendship, I had no idea of her amazing, hidden capabilities. Unlike me, Gale is a very resourceful, self-reliant woman. More importantly, Gale has a heart of gold. I’d never met someone who could be described that way until I met Gale. The day she came into my life and saw that I was a fool for paying out all sorts of money for simple repairs, Gale took over, hook, line and sinker. She’s the original Ms. Fix-it who does it all out of love.

Gale, San Diego's first female telephone installer

Gale has become my go-to friend. Fluorescent light on the blink? Call Gale. Toilet not running properly? Gale can fix that. Too much static on my phone line? Gale can fix that too. (Yes, turns out Gale was San Diego’s first female telephone installer, climbing 30 foot poles in a single bound.) She’s a real whiz who grew up with an independent spirit and promptly learned to fend for herself. Now she fends for me too.  A true blue friend with true blue know-how.

So maybe my parents didn’t teach me to be handy because they thought a husband would take care of me. Maybe it didn’t end up that way. Who knows? With Gale on my side I can’t go wrong. If ever there’s a problem, I know I can call Gale and if by chance she can’t fix it, there’s always the neighborhood plumber. Oh and Gale, if you’re reading this, I think there’s something wrong with the dryer.