Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Designing Women on my mind

Finally, as of today, May 26, 2009, Designing Women has been released on DVD.   Long delayed, the first season of this beloved Southern series, which ran on CBS from 1986-93, introduces us to the outspoken steel magnolia Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter), her vapid beauty queen sister Suzanne (Delta Burke), single mom Mary Jo Shively (Annie Potts) and the design firm's rambling and naive receptionist/accountant, Charlene Frasier (Jean Smart.) And then, a few episodes in, we meet ex-convict Anthony Bouvier (Meshach Taylor) and the slightly senile matron Bernice Clifton (the late Alice Ghostley), both of whom proving so popular as foils to the four sassy ladies that they ended up staying for the 7-year run of the series.

I have collected many series on DVD, and I usually watch the first few episodes of each before ultimately getting distracted. But Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's witty wordplay in Designing Women, a show I remember vividly from my high school days, is so addictive, Frank and I quickly saw this DVD box set through to the end.

What's amazing about this series is that quite a few of the classic moments you might remember from the show are right there in the first season. For example, the now-closed bar Revolver on West Hollywood's gay Santa Monica Blvd. strip used to show one classic speech of Julia's, where she defends her younger sister Suzanne's reputation as a beauty queen, so often that its patrons often would shout along. And from speaking to Delta Burke a few years back, I learned that this is the case in a few of the Atlanta bars as well; the ladies know it, and often joke about making a surreptitious outing down South to check it out for themselves.

In August, Shout Factory will release Designing Women's 2nd season -- it's great that unlike with some shows, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show for example, we won't have to wait forever to get more of the episodes we love.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Phil's Amazing Ride

This past Monday, I met up with The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan as the New Zealand-born adventure-seeker cycled his way through our nation's capital.

Tomorrow, Phil arrives in New York, the final stop of his grueling, 40-day bike ride across the USA.  As he told me on Monday, he has persisted through punishing cold and rain and taken several nasty spills as he made his way, up to 100 miles each day, all the while raising money for multiple sclerosis research.  And Phil's fans came out at all of the numerous cities along the route, to offer encouragement and donations, and some, MS patients themselves, to give thanks.

In DC on Monday, Phil was greeted by five members of the US House of Representatives:  Russ Carnahan (D-Missouri), Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Dr. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Tom Petri (R-Wisconsin) and Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), who is herself living with MS.   The House had earlier flown a flag in Phil's honor, and now here it was, signed by all five and presented to Phil in appreciation of his incredible efforts.

Tomorrow, you too can come out and see Phil on his last stop; he's appearing from noon until 2 PM on Friday, May 8 at the downtown Manhattan location of one of the ride's sponsors, GNC.

I'll have just one question for the guy:  you race around the world twice each year, and now in between, you're riding a bike cross-country in the rain.

Don't you ever just want to sit home, order a pizza, and watch TV?