New TV Season

For several years, the TV pickin’s have been slender around here, since I’m not a fan of legal shows, police or procedurals, or medical, supernatural, vampire-specific or futuristic shows, nor most reality shows.  What’s been missing are the comedy blocks from years past, the real escape stuff.  Plus every year I hope for something completely fresh and unexpected.  I’m still not over missing “Frasier.”  This week Kelsey Grammer’s new show, “Hank,” debuts and I hope it sticks, because the last one he tried didn’t – and the man’s a singular talent.  

With longer nights around the corner and the rainy season approaching, it’s nice to see a bunch of promising new shows in the mix.  I’ve already programmed  several of them for series taping.  There’s Drop Dead Diva, the new Community, Modern Family and Glee.  Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother are back, and both Mad Men and Entourage recently returned.  Add Dancing With The Stars and my DVR’s getting more use these days than it has in ages.   

Ó Anita Garner

God bless you anyway, the panhandler said.

He said it to my back as I walked away. That was his reaction after he asked if I have something for him and I answered, “Not today.”   His tone made it a rebuke. God bless me anyway?  Would I have been sincerely blessed if I had deposited money into his hand, the way I sometimes do?  

This was in  San Francisco where hundreds of homeless people live.  Hands are outstretched all over town.  Most times I choose one or two people on my route and deposit my donation.   One time as I passed by a particularly aggressive seeker, I shook my head no and he waited ’til I was almost out of hearing and then shouted after me, “You have a beautiful smile!”  I wonder how many people turn around and give after hearing that?

In the small town where I spend time, three or four beggars have regular posts. One is a young man with a dog who works a particular median by a stop light.  Another works a four-corner area.  From what I can see, about one in five cars hands over some money. 

A friend tells me she worries about how to explain this to her children without expressing her own concern that the money they collect may be used to buy drugs or booze.  The man’s sign said “Need food.”  She decided to take him at his word.   

Her little boy asked,

“Why does he look like that?”

Her girl said,

“He wants some money, mommy, give him some money.  He’s so sad.” 

She told her children, 

“I believe he’s hungry.  Let’s go get him some food.” 

She told the man they’d be right back, and they returned with a full meal in a take-out container.  She was concerned that food wasn’t really what he wanted, and she didn’t know what she’d tell her very young kids, so she handed him the food and hustled them away.

She wants her children to know and understand that not everyone who begs is on drugs, but nor is every homeless person noble.  Like her,  I don’t want to buy drugs for anyone, but I donate anyway.  There is compassion for every one of them, no matter the circumstances that ejected them from whatever shelter they once had.  What do you do? 

Ó Anita Garner


“Glee” is being hailed by critics as new and fresh and like nothing we’ve seen before (except for those other critics who’re saying it’s a show you’ll either love or you’ll hate)  but what I’m enjoying  – in addition to the singing and dancing and good performances all around – is that everything about it is kind of old-fashioned.  Retro.   

Take sad high school stereotypes we all recognize and give them some fine memories in spite of themselves.  Of course so far it’s the viewing audience who realize the characters are having the times of their lives. In real life, the kids would be too loaded down with  angst to notice right away that their differences are their strengths.

What a colorful assemblage of characters the producers and writers offer – one of every kind of not-popular kid and a few of the ones who run things in every high school.  

I admire the storytelling – based on solid narrative, and oh those quirky twists! 

The misfits try to make a place for themselves using their unusual talents and interests, with the popular kids swatting them back, using age-old high school hierarchy as their main tool, along with some nefarious schemes hatched up by the wonderfully evil cheer-leading coach.  All this is mixed with enough new music and fresh dialogue and situations to add the right elements to hold the interest of a whole family. 

Forget about the family for a minute.  Matthew Morrison?  Girl, please.

Ó Anita Garner 2009

IHOP breakfast favorite – Ham & Caeds

My granddaughter, Caedan,  calls me Hammy.  For nine  months while we waited to meet her,  I got to choose what I’d be called.  I chose Grammy.  As soon as she could speak, it was Hammy.  We could have changed it back, but why? 

Now she’s in kindergarten and nicknames are cool.   She’s taken to calling me Ham and I’m calling her Caeds.  Occasionally it’s The Ham and  The Caeds.

When I go to L.A. to visit, we  go to International House of Pancakes on Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana. On the way there, in the car, she likes to talk about the children’s menu.   She always orders the same thing, but she likes to talk about it in advance.  Sometimes this conversation begins the day before our IHOP date.


“Yes Caeds.”

“Know what I’m having at IHOP?”


“That pancake with the face.” 

“Create-A Face?”

“Yes.  With the squeezy yogurt.”

“No kidding.”

“First I’m gonna squeeze some of that yogurt in my mouth. Then I’m gonna put some on my pancake.” 

“Uh huh.”

“Then I’m gonna eat those bananas and strawberries on top.”


“And then I’m gonna put syrup on it and eat all the rest.”




“Ham, here’s a good idea. Why don’t you have a pancake too?” 

“I’m thinking about scrambled eggs.”

“But if you get a pancake like mine then you could squeeze on some yogurt.”

“I think I’ll have eggs.” 

“And if  you don’t use all your yogurt, maybe I could have it.”

“Tell you what, Caeds.  I’ll think about it.”

” Ham?”

“Yes Caeds.”

“Are you thinking about it yet?” 

Ó Anita Garner 2009

What really attracts us to each other?

How much of what we’re drawn to in other people – either in friendship or in love – is that they seem to be our opposites?  Or are we most attracted to people whom we feel are exactly like us?

One theory says we choose people who possess something we wish we knew.  Or wish we owned.  Or wish we could be. The other theory is that we seek people who mirror us.

The longer I live, the more I feel most comfortable with people with whom I have the really important things in common – values – and the less I care about whether we agree on the superficial stuff.

In childhood, there’s a fascination with people who venture where we don’t dare to go.  For a while they seem the most fascinating. As parents, all we can do is hope our kids will eventually figure out that some common ground is also important.

Remember the affair in Bridges of Madison County? The attractive photographer, Robert Kincaid (played by Clint Eastwood) meets a woman, Francesca Johnson, (played by Meryl Streep) who quickly falls into a longing state.  For him.  About him?

Or – as one writer suggested – maybe she’s attracted to the fantasy of  the independence she traded for family life.  Is Robert, deep down, a manifestation of Francesca’s dream for herself?  From time to time that idea pops back into my head.  The writer asked, if Francesca had become a photographer herself, couldn’t she have skipped the affair?  The theory being that  Francesca was really drawn to things Robert knew that she wished she knew.

A while back, after leaving behind a friendship I once thought I wanted, I began thinking that particular writer and W. Shakespeare both make good points.  If we all followed our own drummers, whatever tune is playing inside our heads (the old “to thine own self be true” theory) would we be attracted to a different type of person?

Ó Anita Garner 2009


We need high speed trains – now!

Trains contributed so much to our country’s vitality, but unlike some other nations, we almost completely abandoned ours.  (Sorry Amtrak.) Now everything about training seems, once again,  exotic, adventurous – and best of all, practical. 

In California, we’ve been promised high speed trains many times.  Finally, we voted to re-build our rail system within this state, one link at a time, but now the start date of the program, like most big statewide improvements, is uncertain. 

I’m counting the days/months/years until I’ll be able to hop on a high speed express from the northern part of the state where I live, to the southern part, where the rest of my family members live.

The “high-speed” part isn’t even the most important. I won’t mind spending time in a comfortable seat watching the world go by, instead of circling to find a parking spot at the airport. I don’t mind if it takes a while longer to arrive by train than it takes to fly to the same destination.

I’m ready – really really ready.

Ó Anita Garner 2009