windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (tvd:  I'll save you)
The Vampire Diaries
Season Four of The Vampire Diaries is underway and I'm still loving it. Some of the cast pairings, in terms of who gets scenes with who--not necessarily romantically, are switching up which makes for a really interesting dynamic on such a big ensemble show. Is anyone else up-to-date and watching the show every week? My favorite weekly recaps are done by [ profile] woodwitch, at her blog. I don't always agree with her, but she has a great sense of humor, is fiercely loyal to the show without being slavishly accepting of the missteps and plotfails, and she often says what I'm thinking about the episode developments. And, you know, she's really a fun writer to follow no matter what she's talking about.

Because I have Hulu Plus and a teething-instead-of-sleeping baby, I started watching Arrow--a new series based on the Green Arrow. He was never on my comic book radar, so I have no preconceptions about the show, the character, or anything. I'm three episodes in and still on-the-fence about whether it will earn a regular place in my TV watching habits. The set-up is pretty simple--wealthy playboy is shipwrecked on an island for five years, presumed dead by everyone. The show starts when he is discovered and brought back to not-Gotham-City,where his family are Trumplike titans of business.

And there are some standard comic book tropes thrown in--the transformative life experience, the seemingly effortless construction of a top-secret high-tech super hero lair, expert tailoring of a leather/pleather fighting costume, the clueless love interest, and the gee-shucks alter-ego with a suspicious tendency to disappear from places just before things get interesting.

I'm just not sure if the cast, as a whole, is interesting enough for a series or if I can handle a 'new bad guy every week' format. What I love is that intercut with the present day are memories the main character has of his castaway days on the island. I, a sucker for all things survival and deserted island-y, want to see how a douche of a guy with minimal lifeskills survives and changes when he finds himself somewhere money doesn't buy him a pass (or even a sandwich). How does he go from his entrenched entitlement to a corruption-fighting superhero? I love that the answer to that might be strewn out, a little thread of insight at a time, episode to episode. So for now, I'm holding out hope for the show to grow on me. Anyone else watching it?

Beauty and the Beast
And, with all the cross-advertising on the CW, it was inevitable that I found myself watching the relaunch of Beauty and the Beast, too. I'm a sucker for Beauty and the Beast myths--my love for Damon and Elena evidence enough--so I was drawn into this one. I like that the 'beauty' is tough but it seems she is tough enough to defend herself for only enough time for the beast to show up to save her time and time again. Like, thank goodness he got there because she was going to eat it but geez--he could be a little speedier with his swooping in.

But really, this is probably going to drop off my watching list pretty quickly. I don't see the appeal of either main character and I can't quite figure out why I should value or even believe their instant chemistry. The man is gorgeous. Nothing beastly about him, unless he gets HULK-MAD but otherwise, this isn't the story of looking past the cover. No, he's gorgeous and he's intelligent and he's been cursed by the military like a lot of vets I know. He can't let other people see him, not because he's hideous or terrifying, but simply because he is supposed to be dead and can't be caught out and about, hale and hearty.

So it isn't Beauty and the Beast so much as it is Beauty and the Fugitive. If you've seen it--what do you think? :)


Other than that, I've been catching up on past episodes of So You Think You Can Dance and Master Chef here and there. (Don't tell me what happens, please.)

What are you watching? :)

Media List

Mar. 4th, 2012 04:16 pm
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (tvd:  I'll save you)
I've been watching...
Robin Hood (BBC) Season 3: Episodes 5, 6, & 7
Downton Abbey Season 2: All Episodes
Dog Town Season 1: Episodes 1, 3, & 5
Sense & Sensibility (BBC) (2008)
Northanger Abbey (2007)

The Help (2011) <---Easily one of the best movies I've ever seen, if not *the* best movie I've ever seen.

and reading...
ElfQuest Graphic Novel Compilations #4, 5, and 6
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (tvd:  I'll save you)
I have gotten some good recommendations from reading [ profile] wanderlustlover's media consumed posts over the years. I thought I'd start something similar to open conversations about some of the things I am discovering. :)

Robin Hood (BBC) 3.3, 3.4
This is my first time watching Robin Hood. I blazed through the first two seasons rather quickly during nursing and naptime sessions but have slowed down quite a bit with season three.

The Vampire Diaries 3.14, 3.15
Halfway through the third season and I'm still quite content with the show, the writing, the characters, and the pace. I appreciate the nods to the fans, like in the most recent episode when someone pointed out how 'annoying' it is that everyone always trips over themselves to save Elena--often with tragic consequences to everyone else. In the original trilogy, Elena was this golden child, up on a pedestal, and you had to wonder as a reader if she deserved that kind of treatment. In the show, too, you wonder how much any one girl could possibly be worth.

Persuasion (1995)
This is an old favorite of mine. The steadfast and reliable heroes always get me--so Captain Wentworth is a go-to for when I'm feeling low.

From Prada to Nada (2011)
I would have never watched this based on the title alone, but then I read that it was a somewhat faithful modern adaptation of Sense & Sensibility. It was absolutely endearing. The Marianne character was a bit snobbier than I like to imagine, but the whole thing overall was a big, cheerful, comfortingly Austen tale.

Granddad's Prayers of the Earth by Douglas Wood
This illustrated children's book is wonderful. I discovered it by happy accident browsing in the clearance section of Half Price Books the other day when I was waiting for the books I'd brought in for sale to be evaluated. A boy's grandfather explains how everything on or part of the earth prays. Rivers pray, sparrows pray, people pray.

Each living thing gives
its life to the beauty of
all life, and that gift is
its prayer

I cried in the bookstore reading it and hope to find a copy at the library sometime soon to read it to Graeme. It isn't pagan, per se, but it does acknowledge the divine nature of all creation and animates the inanimate and allows the boy to find his grandfather (and peace) in the world's song after his death.

The Lion and the Mouse by Bernadette Watts
Such a fantastic take on Aesop's fable. The little mouse, because of love and confidence and hard work, saves the lion from a trap. As an environmental tale, it is an inspiring way of telling Graeme that he shouldn't believe people who tell him he is too little to make a difference. Indeed, of all the animals in the jungle, only the mouse was able to save the lion--though all tried.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (tvd:  I'll save you)
Last night's episode (The Sun Also Rises) was touted as the biggest of the season, with the season finale appearing next Thursday. Shall we chat about it?

Total Spoilers Ahead... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (witch's circle)
Oh, Thursdays, how I love thee! A new episode of The Vampire Diaries airs tonight. As I'm cable-free these days, I have to wait until the episode becomes available online tomorrow. Sooo let's chat about the episodes thus far, shall we?

Spoilers up thru Episode 2.08 (Rose). )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
A show that should have never been canceled. Moonlight. With some CBS scheduling antics and then the disastrous writer's strike, it never had a chance to hit its stride. It deserved at least a whole, undisturbed first season.
A show that you wish more people were watching. Survivor. We could talk about it endlessly!
Your favorite new show (aired this t.v season). Glee and Vampire Diaries. They're both so enjoyable and so different from each other, I can't narrow it down to one.
Your favorite show ever. The Muppet Show
Favorite episode of your favorite t.v show. Episode 524: Special Guest Roger Moore!
Least favorite episode of your favorite t.v show. Seriously, I can't do that.
A show everyone should watch. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (I dare you not to cry in the first ten minutes.)
Best scene ever. On MacGuyver, when he was sealing some kind of nuclear material leak with some chocolate bars from the vending machine. That was classic.
A show you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving. CSI. My brother forced me to watch it in Season one and I loved it until Grissom left.
A show that disappointed you. Lost. I wanted a show about the isolated survivors of a commercial airline crash finding a way to create a new society on a small island, ala Swiss Family Robinson. FAIL!
An episode you’ve watched more than 5 times. Moonlight, the episode "B.C" where Beth took the vampire blood drug and went all sex-crazed and silly.
Favorite childhood show. She-Ra: Princess of Power! I also loved Adventures in Wonderland in the 90s.
Favorite male character. Damon from Vampire Diaries is a current favorite.
Favorite female character. Rogue from X-Men: The Animated Series
Your guilty pleasure show. The Tudors
Favorite mini series. Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth
Favorite title sequence. MacGuyver! I can still hum the song today!
Best t.v show cast. House
Favorite kiss. Hmmmm. How about when Spike and Buffy were making out and the abandoned building was falling around them? That was a cool one. :D
Favorite ship. I don't understand "ship". Does that mean relationship? If so, how about Rogue/Gambit (X-Men Animated) or Damon/Elena (Vampire Diaries)? Tortured and impossible is how I roll.
Favorite series finale. I'm never satisfied with the finales.
Most annoying character. I don't know about most annoying, but I found Willow from Buffy pretty unbearable. (Sorry, folks! :D)
Best quote. I'm not a good quote rememberer. I did see a clip that I loved from True Blood that went something like this:
Bill:"...He's forced you to drink his blood."
Sookie:"No! No!"
Bill:"You're connected, he'll be able to sense your emotions."
Sookie to Eric:"You big lying A-hole! *hits Eric*
Eric: "Bill, you're right. I believe I can sense her emotions."
A show you plan on watching (old or new). I plan on catching up with Tudors and True Blood.
OMG WTF? Season finale. Ask me tomorrow.
Best pilot episode. Hmm. How about X-Men: The Animated Series. I was hooked!
First t.v show obsession. Obsession? My Little Pony
Current t.v show obsession. Vampire Diaries.
Saddest character death. This may not be television, but I have still not recovered from Goose's death in Top Gun.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (witch's circle)
Let's discuss last night's episode of The Vampire Diaries, if you watch such stuff.

Can you believe they're on another hiatus until March 25th? )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (mathdumb)
I've spent the past two days watching the first season of Dollhouse, a gift [ profile] rubymulligan enabled me with for Yule. A lot of my friends have told me I needed to watch it, but I was resistant for a long time to the idea of watching Eliza Dushku acting like a sexy librarian and then a sexy waitress and then a sexy arms dealer. It sounded *so* lame. I stand corrected. It is a pretty damn entertaining series. I dare to say it is Whedon's best.

So that, and some new folks on my friends list, and some discussions of books with [ profile] mermaiden and [ profile] willow_cabin has led me to making lists. If you're asking, these are my favorites, my must-watch, must-read, must-hear list. Tell me yours!

Television Favorites
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
The Vampire Diaries
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Tudors

Past Television Favorites
The Muppet Show
The Young Indiana Jones

Favorite Books/Series
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Soulmate by L.J. Smith
Gaia Girls series by Lee Welles
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Earth Mother by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
Circle of Three series by Isobel Bird
The Next Place by Warren Hanson
Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Brave Little Parrot by Rafe Martin
Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss
The Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant

Favorite Movies
Sense and Sensibility
The Long, Long Trailer
The Muppet Movie
Dangerous Beauty
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Gone With the Wind
Romancing the Stone
Bride and Prejudice
The Princess Bride
Top Gun
How to Marry a Millionaire
Dirty Dancing

Favorite Music
This feels impossible. I think you can't go wrong with Natalie Merchant, U2, Dave Matthews Band, Snow Patrol, Peter Gabriel, Sting or Amanda Palmer.

Especially Natalie Merchant. :D
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (cookie)
* I had an exhausting dream last night that George the Cat, a very skittish fellow, was actually George the Horse, a very skittish fellow, whom I had to load into a trailer. It was tight quarters, inside a house filled with furniture, and he was anxious. We circled the trailer over and over again, sometimes he got all worked up and reared, kicked, shoving and trampling me into furniture. He wasn't trying to hurt me but his nerves and fear of the trailer were getting the better of him. Pretty cute seeing a seal-point horse, though. :) I'm feeling unrested.

* I made some super pink and girly cotton candy bubble bath and pink sugar scrub last night. Both were a little disappointing. The texture of the scrub was perfect and it looked gorgeous, but the delicate cotton candy scent, no matter how heavy handed I was, couldn't mask some of the yeck clay-y scents of the oils and other unscented components. It smelled, as sort of an afternote, like all those natural unscented soap products Daniel's father insists upon. It worked awesome, in testing, but wasn't as candy!bath of an experience as I'd been angling for. The bubble bath, too, was a disappointment. There the fragrance worked out better, had less to compete with, but it didn't get as big and bubbly as I like bubble bath to be. It was more of a hyper-moisturizing foam. I'm out of bubble bath ingredients. It's just as well, I wasn't happy with the product. The scrub, which I have ingredients for a second batch, was pink and scarlet and silver and outrageously sparkly. I love it. I just need to figure out a new fragrance strategy. I don't want to abandon the candy!bath vibe I'm going for. Maybe a smidge of amber in the background would mask the ingredients' natural scent? For sure, I'll need something broader, fuller, more complex than that thin, thin cotton candy one-note. If I'd gone a different route, in terms of aesthetics, I'd have a broader range but pink rock candy looks limit the logical accompanying fragrances. I'm having fun, though. I'd packed all my soap and bath-product supplies two years ago, when we put our house for sale, so it'd been a long, long time since I could do any fun mad-scientist soapy projects. :)

* On [ profile] radshaun's recommendation, I finally read Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games yesterday. Holy shit. I can see why he's compelled to buy copy after copy to hand out to people. It is a great weighty book. It has a lot of the underlying "our society is going to hell in a handbasket" themes as, say, Wall-E. Entertaining and disturbing. Genius, really.

* The grocery store here is selling used books to raise money for a variety of charities. I picked up a YA Arthurian twist, Lisa Ann Sandell's Song of the Sparrow on sight for $3. I'm only a few pages in but I'm horrified to see that the editors shrunk the margins of the page to use only the middle third for text, making the prose read like stilted poetry. 383 pages of this:

I hurry back to our tent,
eager for news from my brothers.
I pace the small room, the walls,
the thick folds of my
roughly woven dress
imprisoning me,
keeping me from the
affairs of men.

It may become the best book on earth for all I care but I will still resent everyone involved, and the inanimate book itself, for the pretentious, awkward, absurd format.

* After a week of working 8am-midnight, Daniel took off early yesterday, meeting me at the grocery store around five to walk home with my purchases. I tested my new bath stuff with a hot soak while he ran Graeme around outside for an hour and a half. We had avocados and cornbread and potato chips in a snack-dinner and watched back episodes of Survivor, House, and Top Chef. It was a very nice evening. :)

* Graeme's been talking up a storm after two years of almost no words. On the airplane, coming back from Florida, I buckled him into his seat and he said, "1,2,3....GO!". Ha! At the grocery store last night, he had fun driving the cart by telling me to go and then to stop. It took a lot longer to get down the aisles this way, but he was having such mischievous fun with it. I'd poise, stopped, waiting for the word "go". He'd slowly say "1..2...3...go!". Sometimes, to mess with me, he'd start grinning after three "!" I never knew how high he'd count (sometimes up to stuff like seventeen, which really got him laughing.) before the sudden go nor how long I'd get to go before he'd say, "Stop!". It was a laugh-riot. :D (And to my baby-hating readers, don't you worry, there was nobody around to be irritated by my cart start-and-stopping antics.)

He's also experimenting with sentences. Things like:

"Baby up!" (When he wants me to pick him up.)
"Baby go! Mama go! Baby and mama go!" (When I'm carrying him out somewhere.)
"More peas!"

It is simplistic, but fascinating to watch develop. Yesterday he was talking about his "Unka Woo", asking something that I couldn't decipher. He named his Uncle Shaun "Unka Hooray!" so I'm not sure if "Unka woo!" is another expression of that same name or someone different. He uses "mama" for all women and "baby" for all children, but "unka" is only used for his uncles. It was cute, though, him playing with toys and wanting to talk to me about someone who, whoever it was, wasn't there. Pretty cool. He's also starting to be interested in imaginative play, pretending that the remote control is a microphone or driving little trucks around with excited "Vroom! Truck go!" sorts of talking to himself. It opens up whole new worlds. :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (veggie love)
This summer, Bravo debuted a new series in the Top Chef franchise. Top Chef Masters is a charitable competition where twenty-four well-known chefs and restauranteurs compete, elimination style, for a chance to win $100,000 for the charity of their choice. These pros are pitted against Top Chef's infamously devious challenges--creating delicious dishes under all sorts of creative pressures. The producers of Top Chef are little tricksters. One day, the chefs might have to cook an egg dish with one hand literally tied behind their backs, in another, producing haute cuisine for a crowd with only microwaves and toaster ovens or to make a five course meal with access to only what $10 can buy you at 7-Eleven. That's the gig they sign up for, and these chef finalists are the biggest names in their field, so it was especially surprising to see how shaken and irritated some felt when asked to cater a dinner party for Zooey Deschanel and nineteen of her friends and family. There was no underhandedness or last-minute change-ups. Chefs were told, from the beginning, that they needed to create a dish that was vegan as well as being gluten and soy-free. That's all. They had time, they had money, and they had both hands to work with.

Eating out as a vegan can be treacherous. There is a lot of trust involved, hoping that the restaurant staff is both honest and informed enough to vouch for the vegetable soup's lack of meat stock, whether the red sauce is laced with cream or cheese, whether lard is in the refried beans. Very few restaurants explicitly mark vegan items on their menu, so ordering almost always involves asking questions about ingredients and cooking procedures. It can be exhausting, especially for people like me who are shy and naturally reticent about feeling bothersome. If the staff reacts to these questions in a hostile, irritated manner, all potential joy is leached out of the dining experience. Ordering meals that are outwardly vegan, in order to avoid the eye-rolls, can lead to a lot of unadorned salads and bland steamed vegetables.

Going to Sizzler or something, where the cooks are just cooks reheating, searing, and unboxing the chain-wide fare, I can't expect to get something specially made, but at any chef-run restaurant worth its salt, a vegan meal can be cheerfully improvised on-the-spot. One of the best vegan meals of my life was an impromptu vegan tasting menu at Top Chef Master's contestant Hubert Keller's Vegas Fleur de lys restaurant. At a Wisconsin supper club, where nobody had even heard of veganism, there was willingness if not culinary talent and an off-menu pasta dish was turned out with great pride from the teenagers manning the kitchen. I'll never forget that meal, where every person in the place from the hostess to the bartender to interested diners within earshot threw themselves into a great show of compassion, adaptation, and hospitality. What I'm trying to say is this--vegans are easy to please and dying for a show of kindness from the meat and dairy-centric food world. In six seasons of Top Chef tomfoolery, this was the chance for them to show vegan cuisine at a foodie, creative level and it was clear from the beginning that the cast was divided in their reaction to these "dietary restrictions".

Cut for spoilers, annoying quotes, and me ranting a bit. )


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