Friday, April 9, 2010

Who Do YOU Think You Are?

This is just another reason why I want to scrounge together some money to get an account on!

A few years ago, I heard about the show "Who Do You Think You Are?" on the BBC. My SO and I have found ourselves over the years watching more and more Brit-TV, and once I heard about that show I just had to see it. Unfortunately I have yet to find a way to watch it over here in the US, but now NBC has imported it over and started their own version. It is completely fascinating to me as I have always been very interested in researching my family and seeing the different ways of researching it and getting beyond road blocks is very uplifting.

I know a little about my background: My father was born and raised in a small village in southern Greece where he was witness to Italian and German invasions and attacks during World War II. As he got older, he eventually followed two of his three sisters (one stayed behind in Greece, as did his brother) to Canada. He said he came over with barely any money, braved the long sea voyage despite getting seasick, and started from scratch over in Montreal. He learned English from TV and a little bit of French-Canadian from those around him, and eventually he moved to the US and settled in Connecticut. I barely knew his mother, as she passed away when I was only four. What little I remember of her is that she didn't speak much English, would occasionally visit here from Greece, and we'd sit on the back porch eating lemons and watching the wildlife in the yard. My father's father passed away before my parents even met, and all I really know of him is that he found a huge and very ancient olive oil urn on the family farm that is now in a museum. I know a few details about the family history beyond that, but nothing too specific. At some point my great-great-etc. grandfather was enslaved by the Turks who had taken over Greece, and his dramatic escape from his captor led to his settling in a new town across the mountains. This is why our unique name split in two, and I'm curious how many other people with the same surname are actual relatives of mine.

I say actual because before my grandfather met my grandmother, he had decided to move to America. However, as he was about to get on the boat he apparently said he would never get on something that looked so rickety and he decided to stay in Greece. What happened next was a mystery: When Ellis Island put a website with all the names listed, we only looked for ours on a lark. We knew the family had gone through Canada before coming to the US but we were just curious. Then it popped up: My grandfather's name. So either someone bought or stole his information and tickets, and they signed themselves into Ellis Island as my grandfather. Where the heck did that person go? Who knows. Were they related to us? Who knows. That I guess is a dead end but it does probably account for the large number of people in the country with the name.

I know probably even less about my mother's family. My mother's mother, whom I get my middle name from, was born in Pennsylvania to a Polish and (slightly) German family. I don't know when either of her parents were born, and where their families were from. I believe both were born in this country, but I don't know too much about them. My grandfather was born in Connecticut and is (supposedly) 100% Lithuanian. We had always heard the family name was changed when they came over from Lithuania, but have since discovered that it was my great-grandfather who had actually decided to change it after living here. I recently got to see the grave of my great-great grandparents on that side, and it was pretty amazing to not only see the names and dates but the actual surname that was brought over. How and why it was changed actually remains a family mystery, supposedly surrounding some sort of tragedy.

My great-grandmother (my grandfather's mother) never talked much to me about her history, but I do know bits and pieces. At some point, her mother owned a saloon which was also supposedly a brothel. I have no idea where this was or if it was actually a brothel, but I think that is a pretty interesting nugget to find! However, I don't know anything about her parents beyond that and who knows where they came from and when they came from there. My grandfather has tried to research it, and some of his cousins tried to go to Lithuania where we apparently still have some family but as most of the records have been destroyed we don't know much. I do know at some point they had a horse farm over there, but that was taken away as the family was forced out by the higher ups.

I would love to know where all these roots go. What other surprises await on the branches of my family tree? I can't even begin to imagine. Is my father's family actually all Greek? At any point, was my mother's family Jewish? She has often been assumed to have Jewish roots by people when they first meet her, and even my Ashkenazi SO (who not only is from about the same area as my family, but also recently found they had originated from Scotland before that) has said that part of the family looks like they could have been Jewish at one point. Highly likely he has said, given the areas they came from.

Of course the celebrities on "Who Do You Think You Are?" have not only their own money and power behind them but that of NBC (and to an extent, the BBC), so they probably have an easier time getting over all these road blocks. This research is sadly expensive, but the longer I wait the harder it is going to be to fill in the missing pieces.

I do wonder what strange coincidences I'll find though. Sarah Jessica Parker, who once played a Salem witch in the movie "Hocus Pocus" in one of her early roles (and where I first saw her), assumed her family was just European Jewish as that was all they knew of. However, through the show they discovered an ancestor from Connecticut and from there they traced her family back to Massachusetts in the 1600s. Surprise! She had an ancestor who was an accused witch in Salem, although her trial was the last one held and they never prosecuted her.

Emmitt Smith was on the next episode I watched, and while he traced his family both back to a white slave owner and a tribe in Africa, one of the keys to his past was in a book numbered "22" which, he pointed out, was coincidentally always the number on his jersey.

I'm still watching Matthew Broderick's episode right now and he has a similarly strange coincidence as his wife had. He pointed out he had played a civil war soldier in "Glory," and then was shocked to find out his great-great-grandfather had actually died in battle in the civil war (and through that research they were able to put a name to an unmarked grave).

So what coincidences will I find in my own tree? Who will I find there? I can't wait to find out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I do kinda remember old-school "SNICK" rather fondly, though...

I fully admit it: I was born in 1981. People always think I'm 16 or maybe 18 and, rarely, I'm assumed to be somewhere between 21 and 23. Then there will be a moment of shock when they either spy my ID, hear me talk about all the things I've done since high school, or listen as I mention things from my childhood.

I saw the Challenger explosion in preschool and I apparently saw Reagan at the town hall when I was a baby/toddler. Hurricane Gloria blew my Fisher-Price playhouse down the road. Games on the playground were about "Rainbow Brite," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and "Indiana Jones." I can proudly say I got to see "Return of the Jedi" in the movie theater first run (What a great brother I have! What teenager wants to take his very much a kid sister to "Star Wars"? I am very lucky!) even if I can barely remember the experience. Side Note: For years afterward, I kept remembering people speeding through trees and what I would eventually find out to be Ewoks. It wasn't until I discovered the trilogy in middle school that I realized what I had been seeing all those years.

We had an Atari, a Commodore 64, and (wait for it) the Nintendo Entertainment System WITH ROB THE FREAKING ROBOT! I remember the days you couldn't save your games and had to leave the machine going all night. My father had an Asteroids (or was it Space Invaders? It is somewhat fuzzy now) machine at his barber shop, and we ended up bringing it home and having it in the family room. A nice old table top version, which we did sometimes use as a table. (I admit that bad habit stuck: right now I have a desk lamp on my desktop.) My first TV was black and white and still had a UHF knob. At some point, I got this neat box that had 24 (I think? 18 maybe?) switches I could use to change channels - two per switch. Not all corresponding to channels we actually had but I do remember the switch for Fox was also the switch for Nickelodeon. This allowed me to watch things I wasn't allowed to watch at that age because as soon as I heard someone coming I could switch it easily to "Donna Reed" (on the same time as "In Living Color"). That was maybe one show ("Lassie" was another) that I didn't enjoy watching, but everything else was love. I watched "F Troop" and "Dobie Gillis." "I Love Lucy" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show." "Get Smart" was one of my favorites and I dreamt of the day I could have a shoe phone (essentially a cellphone with a dial... and in a shoe).

Then it all disappeared. The shows I had been watching were on in the 50s and the 60s. Now it was the 60s and the 70s as we moved through the 90s, then... the 80s became classic. Why was my childhood suddenly on Nick at Nite and TV Land? Why could I watch "Full House" or "Roseanne" where I used to watch "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Jeannie"? Then the 90s broke through, and you can now watch "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." I loved that show back in the day, but I can't watch it anymore. It seems too new, until I think back and realize my mother probably felt the same way about those shows I used to watch. They were her childhood and her teenage years. Sure I barely remember watching "Taxi" as a toddler with my mom but I ended up falling in love with it when I was older and watching it on "Nick at Nite." To her, that was her "Fresh Prince." It was her "Roseanne." When is "Friends" going to grace the channel? Will "LOST" ever be on it?

Thankfully the internet is a treasure trove of older shows. For some reason, watching something as "new" as "Newhart" on there isn't as jarring, and I can stil re-watch "Welcome Back, Kotter" and "One Day at a Time." It isn't all nostalgia, because a lot of the things I find myself watching are things I rarely liked as while growing up. Even though I've seen them before, they seem suddenly fresh. Fresh in ways that re-watching shows from the 90s doesn't compare to. Why? Because now that I am almost 30 I am seeing things in these shows that I never saw before. Things you don't understand as a child and can only understand when you've lived a little bit. Will I someday find different wisdom in "Frasier" or "Wings" in ten or twenty years that I didn't get the first time around? Will I see the jokes different? The plot-lines?

Meh, who knows. Just another tangent I guess that I began to ponder. So thank you to Hulu and Netflix for filling the void Nick at Nite can't fill anymore. Now if only I could get my NES working... I could use some old school Legend of Zelda action, and the re-release on the Game Cube just doesn't cut it. (Yeah, I know there are emulators... but it isn't the same!)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm a Bad Blogger

So yeah. I fail.

I was so excited about my "LOST" blog, and then I never got to keep up with it. :( Sadly, my access to the internet and television have been severely limited ever since I started my journey. If I had more time, perhaps it'd be easier. However, by the time I get to watch the new episode, I don't have time to go back and re-watch the old ones. Life has gotten in the way, yet again.

With Asteri's 11th birthday coming in now less than two months, I'd like to say I've been hard at work getting all that done and thus have a valid reason why I didn't keep up with the topics of this blog. The website revamp too has unfortunately suffered a similar fate, being pushed aside for life. The thing with that is, I have to meet the deadline for a variety of reasons so I need to start trudging along and facing life as well as these tasks at the same time. Otherwise I'm left without a release, and with regrets of not getting all my projects completed when I wanted them to be.

I have some exciting things planned, and granted a lot of the work has already been done but that is just the beginning of what needs to be accomplished. Here's hoping I find a way to fit it all in.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Raised by Another after Sundown

First off, forgive me because I had already re-watched episodes 1 through 9 prior to coming up with this project. I thought about going back to watch them now and restart, but when I realized my next episode would have been “Raised by Another” if I kept going… well, I thought that was perfect considering last night’s episode, “Sundown.” I will eventually go back, but I’ll work that in later. Besides, for now until I get into the swing of things… this may not take complete shape just yet.

Now, the last episode (“Solitary”) saw Sayid meet up with Rousseau, learn about the “sickness,” “the monster,” and of course… the whispers. This episode begins with Claire having a dream about a very creepy looking Locke (with one pupil black) and then getting attacked. Charlie ran over to Claire after hearing her screams, and saw her hands were bleeding. Jack cleaned her up and they have a discussion about her OB-GYN. Now, at this point, neither they nor we know they are brother and sister. That is an odd thing I keep reminding myself, even watching the pilot and seeing Claire was one of the first people Jack helped.

Things I note during the episode:

- Initially, I thought Kate would end up with Sayid when the series started.
- As soon as the psychic got freaked out and made Claire leave the first time, I thought for sure he saw an evil future for her and her child. As did many others. Looking back, FORESHADOWING! Which yeah, we figured anyway…
- What would Charlie do if he were still alive and seeing what Claire is like now?
- Hurley has always been awesome, and wow he actually did lose a lot of weight during the course of the show.
- He showed signs of a leader in the beginning, with making the list of people who were on the plane. (Hey, is that meaning something considering Jacob and his lists?)
- Did Thomas get some sort of visit from Widmore/Abaddon/someone that scared him away from Claire? Perhaps he was promised fame for his art in exchange for not staying with Claire and the baby. Perhaps that is why Widmore has Thomas’ painting? (Although, granted, that painting of Widmore’s was technically shown earlier than Thomas was painting it.)
- Haha, I love that Hurley was creeped out by Locke.
- When I first started to watch LOST, I never read spoilers. Yet I knew as soon as I saw Ethan that he wasn’t on the plane.
- Aww, Jack and Claire are fighting like siblings even though they don’t know they’re siblings. Cute.
- Shannon made up just as many awesome names for things as Sawyer did. Craphole Island. Rape Caves. God’s Friggin’ Gift to Humanity. <3 I miss Shannon… (I realize I am in the minority. :P)
- Hurley melted Sawyer’s heart faster than Kate ever could.
- “Do you know ‘Catch a Falling Star?’?” Hmm.
- Wait, her dad used to sing it to her? Was this her step-father, or Christian? Was he around at all when she was a child?
- As everyone speculated back then, the Island somehow made Claire’s pen not work. Perhaps that was Jacob’s doing? Or MIB’s? Who knows at this point!
- “Someone promised me it’d be different.” What? A couple raising your son in LA and you not raising him on an island? Well, Jack and Kate were for a while. In LA. :)
- So the psychic (Richard Malkin?) told Claire the couple would meet her and she had to take flight 815 to do so. Technically, she did meet Kate and Jack because of that. :)

As for the rest, I will say honestly I got a migraine toward the end and wasn’t totally focused on the task at hand. I’ll have to rectify this bad ending later when I go back to watch the beginning. This is a work in progress, most definitely.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Yet Another LOST Experiment

Chances are, even if you've never watched a minute of it you probably know that LOST is ending this year. It is all over the TV, the internet, print, and radio, popping up in random places like weeds pushing through the ground. Well, weeds don't always have to be bad things. I find dandelions quite pretty and a lot of people I know enjoy eating them with olive oil and lemon juice, so I can't really get too much LOST information.

If you don't give a rat's ass about it one way or the other, this will not interest you in the slightest. If you are someone that has grown sick of hearing about Others and the Smoke Monster and a million other things you can't begin to understand, then I invite you to walk away now lest you decide to virtually chuck tomatoes at me. When it comes down to it, I'm committing myself to doing this "experiment" (I guess it is more of an exercise) for no one but myself. Well, maybe that is a lie, because who knows what theories/ideas I will inadvertently spread and... um... my non-LOST friends will probably thank me for having somewhere else to dump these conversations.

So enough of my usual long-winded text, let me get down to it: I randomly decided to re-watch the LOST pilot the other day and it of course made me want to keep watching from the beginning. Unfortunately, I'm also following it in "real-time," meaning last night I watched "Sundown" with amazed eyes and creeped out ears. However, while re-watching "Solitary" (Sayid's first flashback episode) I realized how amazing it would be to follow that with this year's season premiere. This show is certainly a well-crafted series of layered novels in disguise as a television series. Maybe that is why I'm drawn to it. Even in the "bad episodes," the writing is something to admire. To date, the only other television series which has managed to capture me the way LOST did in the beginning is what I've seen so far of "Caprica" after happening to catch the pilot's re-airing prior to the series' premiere on SyFy. That, however, is another post.

What will I be doing exactly? I think it might be fun and interesting to re-watch the series while watching this last season, comparing what happened before with what is going on now. I will try not to put spoilers for future episodes anywhere (I went 9 months without reading one, but since this season's premiere I've succumbed to temptation a few times), but if I do I will give fair warning. However, if you are not caught up to the latest newly aired episode then do not expect to be unspoiled. For the record, I'm currently on eastern standard time but do not always get to watch the episode the night it first airs due to unreliable access to cable. I've been lucky lately, but Hulu and ABC.Com work just as well!

So stay tuned... or keep reading... or whatever. Go visit another web page or order a pizza. You have free will, right?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ask me anything so I can procrastinate some more.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ask me anything since I am totally bored with this snow.