Thin Mints. Once a year.

Are Girl Scout cookies really better than anything else out there, or do we savor them more because of the short window of time in which they’re available? I have friends who buy cases of them and put the extras in the freezer. Wouldn’t do me much good. No matter how many I buy, they’d be gone within a month.

bigstock-red-retro-tv-set-7338444 [Converted]Used to be you could only watch certain movies once a year, perhaps at the holidays. Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music, for example. Certainly The Wizard of Oz. Annually, that wicked witch had me running to hide underneath the bathroom sink. But it was only once a year, and as scared as I might get, it was an event.

I don’t know how often I’ve seen that the Harry Potter movies are playing on cable television. I’ve never watched any of them, and perhaps part of that reason is I know I easily can watch next week, next month or, worst case scenario, three months from now.

Of course there’s always the DVR to record those movies you think you might want to watch at some point, or the DVD player if you choose to buy them (or in my case, check them out at the library).

There’s something to be said for the specialness of specials. I miss those annual events, like the made-for-TV movie of Cinderella. Not the Disney film, but the one starring a very young Lesley Ann Warren. They remade it several years ago, and it was a decent remake, but not as special as the one you had to wait for annually.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the fact that if I have a favorite movie on DVD I can watch it when I want, or if there’s nothing on TV I want to see I can pull out The Mary Tyler Moore Show. 

Television has changed, and many, if not most, of those changes are good. Still, I remember when “Hallmark made-for-TV movie” meant an Emmy-worthy program. Those Hallmark Hall of Fame films were good, really good. There was a sense of anticipation when you saw them advertised, because you knew it would be a quality show. You don’t see that anymore, at least not on Hallmark.

When we usher in the new, we end up tossing out both the good and bad about the old. Something to consider when we jump on the latest technology simply because it’s the latest technology.

Thank goodness the Girl Scouts are smart enough to build up a demand for their products.

Image Credits: Retro TV Set ©; Calendar and Clock © Stillfx–


Madame Alexander…damn…I mean, Madam Secretary

I’ve recently become addicted to the CBS TV series “Madam Secretary” with Téa Leoni and Tim Daly.

It’s another insider-White House series, this time with Téa as the unconventional Secretary of State called to duty when the man previously holding that position goes down in a plane accident (well, no accident, but you have to watch for details about that…). She’s a former CIA operative whose then-boss is now, well, President (played by Keith Carradine).

Téa Leoni, Tim Daly. Photos courtesy CBS-TV.

Husband Tim Daly is a world-reknowned religious and ethics scholar, and the two get plenty of play in international intrigue. Some of it’s a bit too intense for my liking — modern audiences seem to crave more of something I find distasteful — but a lot of it is very real human emotion, played with a good dollop of humor. You get the feeling the Secretary of State is just one of us. Until you look at her day.

(If you’re wondering about the title to my piece, I had to get it out front: I keep slipping up and calling the show “Madam[e] Alexander” like the damn dolls. Okay, lovely dolls, but they have nothing to do with this show in any way, shape or form. I’m hoping to break myself of this habit by placing it right out there.)

An ordinary day for Secretary of State….like the first episode of Season Two, which just finished.  (The season, that is. The first episode aired months ago.) Somehow, despite the fact that in a bizarre turn of events Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord has become acting President for a brief time, you relate to her. At least I did. In part, because, you see, poor Bess was being called upon to perform modified lyrics to a Billy Joel song at a state dinner. Yes, SING. Like me, she’s tone deaf. Unlike me, her chief of staff is (Broadway legend) Bebe Neuwirth, so she was saved.

The show is generally much heavier than that, so don’t look for anything so lightweight on a weekly basis.

bigstock--121875197 [Converted a]But here, at last, is my point. Secretary of State is a serious position. So is White House Chief of Staff.  There are plenty more such jobs, with consequences both glorious and catastrophic. And while there is no one person capable of making the perfect decision every single time for any given role, there are those far more qualified than others, more likely to consistently make strong decisions. Like any job, there is value in having experience, connections and wisdom from previous choices.

Some of those jobs, such as Chief of Staff, are appointed, and others, such as Secretary of State, are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The meaning of the process of “advise and consent” that the Senate takes on in the confirmation process varies from scholar to scholar, but in practical terms it amounts to this: the President has the greater power in choosing who will fill those positions.

And the people he or she chooses shape this country in ways big and small, change lives and bring opportunity — or take it — from others who can make a difference.

In other words, our choice of President is critical.

It’s not a favorite year for many for presidential candidates. Lately I’ve been hearing words that strike greater fear in me than anything else, “I think I’ll just stay home on Election Day.”

vote-election-day-vector-illustration_GyWJDRd_ [Converted]Don’t let this election be decided by those who don’t — or won’t — vote. If you stay home, you’re part of a movement guaranteeing the wrong man will win. It’s no longer the same party politics.

Watch Madam Secretary for a taste of the decisions our leaders will have to make. Dramatized? No doubt. Real? In enough ways that matter, yes, it is.


Image Credits: (Scenes from “Madam Secretary”): CBS-TV (fair use); (Building) retroclipart — Bigstock; (Vote Sign)