Posted in September 2012

Kate’s Television Musings: “The Mindy Project” not just another “Neurotic Single Gal” show

By Kate Emswiler

Mindy Kaling is everywhere right now, discussing her new sitcom, “The Mindy Project” which she created, wrote, stars in and co-executive produces.  Back when we’d only heard about the show in dribs and drabs and then finally got a preview video, I thought the show looked funny and well-crafted, with some notes of cutesy silliness that appeal to my personal comedic sensibilities.  But I was curious to see what the initial response would be from others.  I scanned Twitter and Facebook, and found the reaction to be generally positive, though one comment on a friend’s Facebook post gave me pause:  “Looks alright but do we really need yet another show about a neurotic single gal and her wacky adventures?”

The thought hadn’t occurred to me, but ever since I read that comment, I have been wondering how “Mindy” might fit into the TV landscape.  It’s true that if a show has a female protagonist (and a sole protagonist — not sharing the lead spots with other characters on the show), it’s most likely that the character is single, neurotic and constantly struggles to “have it all” with a supercool career but a kooky, messed up love life.  Have the Liz Lemons, Ally McBeals and Carrie Bradshaws of the TV world wrung out all the modern single gal stories?

No way, I say.

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Yay! Barack Obama has joined in on the Kate-sanity

By Kate Torgovnick

This morning, I received an email from the Barack Obama and Joe Biden campaign. The subject line: “33,252 people named Kate.” For a minute, I thought, “Could Obama have discovered!?!?”

Alas, no. But this is still pretty cool. This email automatically sucked in the receiver’s first name and told them how many people with said name are registered to vote in the upcoming election. As for Kates: there are currently 33,252 of us registered. Which sounds pretty good to me, as I’m sure that doesn’t include Katherines, Catherines, Cates, and Kaitlins.

All I have to say is—way to get name-specific, Obama.

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Kate’s Dates: An Open Letter To The Booze Bag I Abandoned On The Lower East Side

By Kate Richlin-Zack

Nine dirty martinis in 3.5 hours. That’s quite an average there, boozer.

I could say that’s impressive but it’s probably a better indication of your raging alcohol dependency. Let me “break it down” for you this time, since this seems to be your catch phrase along with the sporadic, inappropriately timed bird calls of which you were ever so fond: drinking that much on a first date is a very bad idea. In fact, drinking that much at all is a very BAD idea.

Why? Because apparently, despite your claims that you are a “fun drunk,” you’re actually a gaping a-hole, drunk or sober. Assuming you’re ever sober.

I’m not quite sure at what point things started deteriorating. The initial meeting was great. Immediate attraction. Great rapport. We obviously appreciated each other’s sarcastic, ball-busting sense of humor. Perhaps things started devolving when you finished your second dirty martini while I was still working on my first drink. Granted, I’m just assuming it was only your second since by this point, I’d only witnessed you consume two alcoholic beverages. Most likely, considering your well established connection with the bartender:

1) you likely had at least one, if not two, drinks before I even arrived and

2) our charming bartender Keith made them extra strong for you, his most loyal customer.

But I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and start the martini count at the moment I arrived.

Drinks: 2
Elapsed time: 30 minutes

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Kate of the Week: Kate Vesper, who likes dinosaurs and sundresses

There are so many fascinating Kates out there. And every week, is resolving to introduce you to a new one. This week, I would like you to meet Kate Vesper, of Taiwan, who just turned 25 with only a minimal quarter-life freakout. Without further ado, 13 questions with Kate.

What do you do?

I teach English to kids in Taipei.

How did you get started in your line of work or study?
In my first year post-grad, I had two journalism jobs – one at a business magazine and one at an entertainment website. Both were enjoyable and staved off the existential distress at having selected English as my seemingly employment-proof major. Unfortunately, neither position could guarantee much security long-term. Being a 22-year-old resident of a country in the midst of economic crisis, I figured there was no time like the present to satisfy my urge to globe-trot. I’m now beginning my third year in Taiwan.

I hadn’t visited Asia before making the move, but was in contact with a few people who had taught in China and South Korea. They had really positive experiences to share, so I thought I’d give it a try. Teaching abroad started out as a ‘I’ll just do it for one year’ thing, but the temporary adventure has turned into a really fulfilling and sustainable life.

What’s something you wish people knew or understood better about what you do?

To those who are slightly wary of children: how surprisingly un-scary working with kids is. There’s a lot more to it than sticky jam hands threatening your every article of clothing or a nonstop headache-inducing cacophony of ‘myyyy toy!’.

One thing kids don’t get enough credit for is their intelligence. They are crazy smart. Their brains are seriously absorbent little sponges for knowledge. There’s a lot of societal pressure to be studious here. Taiwanese children start school at a very early age – they can be as young as 2 when they begin a full-day schedule! In addition to learning English, ages 3+ often also take Chinese, music, dance, art, and supplemental French and Japanese classes. The kids are dropped off around 8 in the morning and often don’t go home until 7 p.m. All this long before most American children have even been introduced to the concept of spending time away from their parents.

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Fabri-Kate: Makeup and magnets = genius!

By Kathleen Neafsey

When moving my daughter into her dorm room earlier this month, I was astonished at the amount of “stuff” teenagers consider to be essential.  Everything had to go with her.  However, dorm rooms were not made to accommodate all the “essentials” of two teenage girls.  Although, I admit they have made it work for them, and that’s what counts!  Hence, this week’s project is born:  a hanging makeup organizer! I’ve seen similar ideas on other craft blogs, and decided to try my hand at one or two of my own. It’s a great way to make use of the vertical space in the room, and alleviate some of the clutter on top of the dresser – I only wish I had done one while she was still living at home!

You can express yourself so uniquely through this project so I’ll tell you the necessary supplies.  The rest will be up to you, and how you choose to modify it to make it your own.

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A Mary-Kate-less “Full House” reunion

"Full House" reunion

Here is what the cast of “Full House” looks like these days, minus Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. While the rest of the Tanner crew gathered for a 25th anniversary reunion show, the Olsen twins didn’t make it, because they are apparently too famous and fashionable. I mean, hey ladies, John Stamos put in an appearance. [NY Daily News]

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ExpliKate: What’s with all the butterflies in my tummy?

By Kate Hakala

This week I had a job interview for a position that I so badly desired. Because I actually gave a crap, I had what many know to be anticipatory butterflies in the tummy. Only, these butterflies seemed to have taken some amphetamines and enrolled in jazzercise lessons, because there was some weapons-grade fluttering. This is an unpleasantry that we all have experienced–whether it’s before a job interview, on the first day of school, or when we’re reaching the door to our partner’s parent’s home for the first time. It’s a sickening feeling that can even lead to unlucky trips to the bathroom where these restless nerves work their way out of whatever end your body so chooses.

But it can also be a good feeling. Conventional wisdom has it that if you don’t feel winged insects in your GI tract when you meet your girlfriend or boyfriend, they’re probably not the love of your life. So whether it’s your heart swelling or just plain old trepidation, butterflies happen. Why? What good does it to have our body feel so poisonous before landmark life events?

The simple answer is that the butterflies in your stomach come from a reaction to your body’s fight-or-flight response. But that’s just the SparkNotes version.

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Trivia: Loss of a legacy, the Katharine Gibbs School has closed

Katharine Gibbs Schools, Gibbs Girls Pinned at Graduation

By Kate E. Stephenson

While this isn’t exactly recent news, it was devastating news for me—Katharine Gibbs Schools closed as of 2009.While they say old news is no news, on this one point I do beg to differ. Katharine Gibbs was one of the most influential women in terms of female employment in American history. Yes, that may be a broad, sweeping statement but I stand behind it. Immortalized in Judith Krantz’ iconic novel Scruples (and my first introduction to its legacy of excellence), Katharine Gibbs was not a two-bit typing tutorial but a professional preparation school that turned out the best executive support staff for almost 100 years, many of whom later rose to be Executives themselves. “Gibbs girls” were the crème de la crème of secretaries in the heyday of the school.

Ms. Gibbs elevated the status of the functional role of secretary and helped elevate the understanding of women as professionals in the workforce. The legacy of Katharine Gibbs is one of high standards, impeccable professionalism, and polished poise. It saddens me that such a classic exemplar of Katedom has passed into memory—but those who believe there is something in a name know the essence of Katharine Gibbs lives on.

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Kate Stewart our new fave on “Dr. Who”

By Kate Torgovnick

I had an exciting moment while watching Saturday night’s new episode of “Dr. Who”—the introduction of a new character, Kate Stewart (left, played by Jemma Redgrave). Stewart is the Head of Scientific Research at UNIT and, as her name would suggest, is awesome. In fact, her bio on BBC One declares, “Kate is intelligent, quick-witted and has a dry sense of humour.” Here’s to watching her story arc develop over the next few episodes.

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The Week in Kate: Kate Upton plays with baby goats, Katie Holmes goes goth

By Kate Torgovnick

As per usual, it looks like the Kates, Katies, Catherines, and Katys of the world have been mighty busy this week. Here, your weekly roundup of name-specific news.

  • Kate Upton makes like Little Bo Peep in this strange art video for Carine Roitfeld’s CR Fashion magazine. [E! Online]
  • My favorite headline of the week: “Kathleen Turner’s Voice Could Save Your Life.” [Huffington Post]
  • Kate Middleton didn’t let the topless photo flap stop her from enjoying her trip to the Solomon Islands with Prince William. [E! Online]
  • The pair looked adorable as they repelled in the rainforest in Borneo on Saturday. [People]
  • And they flew home from their tour of the South Pacific … on a commercial airline. [E! Online]
  • Star magazine thinks Kate Middleton is pregnant with twins. Only it appears that they Photoshopped the image that shows her supposed bump. [Huffington Post]
  • E.L. James sat down for a chat with Katie Couric this week on “Katie.” [EW]
  • Meanwhile Heidi Klum admitted on the show that she is in fact dating her bodyguard, Martin Kristen. [Huffington Post]
  • Are you shocked to hear that ratings for Couric’s show were very good for the first week? She finished fourth out of all nationally syndicated talk shows. [Washington Post]
  • Kate Gosselin posted photos of one of her daughters in heels, and the world spun off its axis. [Huffington Post]
  • Catherine Deneuve headed to Russia for a cancer fundraiser. []
  • Kate Bosworth will be playing a methhead opposite James Franco and Jason Statham in the upcoming flick, “Homefront.” [EW]
  • And Kate Moss appears to be having a blast at London Fashion Week. [Huffington Post]
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Kate’s Television Musings: What Makes a Good Pilot Episode?

By Kate Emswiler

Earlier this week, I read an article in which Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever examines what goes into a successful pilot episode — and why so many fail.  Mostly, he believes, it comes down to confidence … and not revealing all the fears and insecurities behind a show’s first wobbly steps.  So, I decided to take a look at one of this season’s newbies, “The Mob Doctor” (which has so far elicited a watery response) and juxtapose it with the pilot episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”, which I re-watched right after “Mob Doctor”.  The differences are stark, though obviously the shows are also not entirely similar. “Mob Doctor” is a crime drama, but it’s much higher on drama than it is on crime. ”Grey’s” is allowed to thread more humor throughout.  Most significantly: “Mob Doctor” follows one main protagonist, with the supporting roles silhouetted on the periphery, while “Grey’s” features a strong and varied ensemble cast.  “Grey’s” benefits from a kick-ass soundtrack, too, something that started in the pilot and has continued throughout the series.

I didn’t dislike “Mob Doctor” entirely, though it’s thinly drawn and it’s tough to care much about our protagonist, played by Jordana Spiro—she of the Chicago-based shows and Pantene-commercial hair.  Spiro plays Dr. Grace Devlin, a surgeon who got mixed up with the wrong folks and now owes a great debt to some shady Chicago mobsters.  Grace spends the whole first episode rushing around, wearing a worried expression while her gently bouncing hair adds a softness to the otherwise “gritty” situation.  She has a lot on her plate in this first episode and it ends up being exhausting, exasperating and yields little reward.

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Dear Kate: I just got a Betta fish and have no idea how to care for it. Can you help?!

Dear-Kate-column-identityBy Katharine Luckinbill

Dear Kate,

Every time I read your column your advice is chock full of resources and references to help people get what they need. So I am coming to you with a bit of a crazy one. I recently adopted a Betta fish (“Siamese Fighting Fish”) at my office and I am getting extremely conflicting answers as to how to care for this little guy. I know you usually talk about boys and love and bra straps…but do you know anything about fish?

Swimming in circles,



Dear Nora,

Well I gotta say – you are definitely asking me to dive into a pond I’m not familiar with! *chuckle, chuckle* I mean…I am really swimming in unfamiliar waters here!! *ROFL* (Do people still use ROFL…did I unwittingly just date myself?)

Okay no seriously…I’m serious now…I promise…

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