Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Best Overlooked Holiday Shows, Now on DVD

posted by kris rasmussen

If you’re burned out on all the classic Christmas movies on the tube and you’ve seen everything worth seeing at the box office, here are a few personal picks for some overlooked but spiritually thought-provoking episodes of TV shows that you can now enjoy on DVD no matter what holiday you are celebrating.

My So-Called Life: “So-Called Angels”: This episode of the angst-filled teen drama always makes me cry. Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and her agnostic family find their spiritual and emotional preconceptions challenged when Angela’s friend Rickie goes missing and the Chases’ search for him lead them to a mysterious encounter with a homeless teen.

Once & Again: “Gingerbread House”: In my opinion, this series–which focused on two divorcees trying to find a way to be in love and blend their families while also dealing with their exes–was one of the best shows ever on television. This episode focuses on mom Lily’s attempt to create a perfect gingerbread house over the holidays as the ultimate metaphor for trying to piece back together her broken life and heal her relationship with new love Rick after a major transgression on her part. Lily learns that trying to achieve reconciliation is neither easy or pretty, always fragile, but always possible. The other touching twist in this episode is the way Lily’s youngest daughter, Zoey, also has some of her own holiday dreams unexpectedly shattered.

X-Files: “5X05 Christmas Carol”: Faith and science collided over and over again on this series, but in this episode the always-skeptical Scully is home for the holidays and begins to have nightmares which she thinks may connect her to a murdered woman’s daughter. As Scully tries to unravel the mystery, she comes face to face with her past. The episode (it’s the first of a two-parter) is not so much about Christmas but about reconnecting with family with some supernatural help. Can’t we all use of that?

NYC Transit Strike Highlights the Kindness of Strangers

posted by donna freitas

If you live outside the NYC metro area, it’s possible you don’t know there is a major transit strike happening in Gotham, the first in 25 years, and it’s bringing the city to it’s knees–or rather, to its feet, rollerblades, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and, of course, cars.

When I heard about the impending transit strike, I worried about big things like the rights of the workers, the people who hold by-the-hour jobs who might miss paychecks because they can’t get to their jobs, and whether family would be able to make it in and out of the city for the holidays. But on a smaller scale, I felt a twinge of dismay about the simple absence of a subway ride in my day.

Though some people hate riding the subway, I love it. It’s fast. Efficient. I can get anywhere in Brooklyn or Manhattan in under 30 minutes. I have favorite lines like the Q that will get me express to SOHO and the Union Square Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, and the A train that takes me all the way up to Harlem in just seven stops. And the subway is one of my favorite places to people watch. Everyone takes the subway, even Mayor Bloomberg. On any given train you can find a microcosm of the city’s diversity–ethnic, economic, and otherwise. The fashionable and the functionally attired, parents with children, the old and the young all mingle together like nowhere else in the city. Late one night I even caught a Broadway cast on their way home from Times Square, and was treated to an impromptu show for five stops.

But in the last two days, as I and the rest of the city have made our way whichever way we can, I’ve seen a lot of anger: angry drivers that can’t cross a bridge because they don’t fulfill the four-person-per-car restrictions or are stuck in gridlock, people overtired from long treks on foot lasting, sometimes, upwards of five hours. But more than anything else, I’ve seen and heard about kindness. Cabbies are offering free morning rides so they can make it across police lines with the right number of passengers, drivers are offering total strangers rides across the bridges and living to tell the tale, walkers are handing each other bottles of water just to be nice, and people crowding the bridges are talking and telling stories just to pass the time. In “Thrown Together in a Crisis, Strangers Share Cars and Life Stories,” New York Times reporter Alan Feuer asks one driver, owner of a fancy BMW, why she didn’t fear inviting strangers into her car, and she gives a Karma/Golden Rule-inspired response: “I didn’t even worry when I stopped to give these people a ride… I really believe that when you’re nice to people they’re going to be nice to you back.”

It’s rare that people talk to each other on a regular, subway-riding day. And I am looking forward to shorter walks and faster commutes. But for now I’m enjoying watching the Good Samaritans everywhere I turn.

Jesus Takes Manhattan

posted by donna freitas

As a lifelong Red Sox fan, (though I now proudly call Yankee territory my home), I am stunned and saddened to report that the Red Sox traded Johnny Damon (JOHNNY DAMON!), a.k.a. Baseball’s Jesus, to the New York Yankees in a $52 million dollar deal. The hugely popular Damon earned his nickname–and the immortal WWJDD? T-shirts–because of his shoulder-length hair and beard as well as his role in bringing a World Series championship to Boston after an 86-year drought.

Boston’s Savior has left the building.

Heaven Is My Diet

posted by burb

Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, told Barbara Walters on her “Heaven” show that in heaven we’ll be able to eat every kind of food in any quantity without getting fat. Was this a plug for his new book? “The Jerusalem Diet,” a regimen for losing weight that has to do with fat-eating days and fruit-and-nut days, is something of a departure for Haggard, whose previous writings are in the vein of “Simple Prayers for a Powerful Life,” and “The Life Giving Church.” The Random House web page for the book, however, describes Haggard as “a busy pastor who loves food and admits to a lack of self-control when it comes to eating.” This raises the sickly question of whether Haggard’s preaching on heaven was colored by his own food issues, but first, Rev. Ted, will heaven stock that peanut-encrusted toffee that’s been popping up around my office this Christmas season? Cuz if it doesn’t I’m not sure I want to go…

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