The Day The Musik Died…..

No, I’m not about to do a Musikalischer Mittwoch about “American Pie”  (I can more or less promise that won’t ever happen–I don’t hate the song, but it’s been eye-rollingly over-done in my corner of the Universe).

I’m talking about how my favorite radio station totally killed music.

The country station I listen to (the one that plays old shit and does not mock my less-than-secret love of Hee-Haw) decided to become the 24/7 Christmas station for the area starting the day after Thanksgiving.  I would applaud this but for two things:

1) They said this will run through 26 December.  Um.  Yeah.  No.  Twelve days of Christmas, yo (and more than that if you’re smart and milk both Roman Catholic/Protestant AND Orthodox calendars)


and (this is the important one)


2) I haven’t heard a Christmas song yet.  Or any other song.

This station was always a bit heavy on the advertisements in the mornings.  That’s to be expected for any station, so I’m annoyed, but forigiving. But since the alleged Christmas rotation started, I have heard about nothing but collision repair, vinyl siding and the price of brisket for a grocery chain whose nearest store is 30 minutes from me.

I knew the Christmas music thing was going to be a bad gimmick, but I didn’t think it would be this awful.  How can I mock the craptastic renditions of “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer” if I never get to HEAR them?!?!

Showering with Kittens

It’s been at least a couple weeks since I updated you on the antics of my adorable, insane orange fuzzball.  Recently he’s developed yet another… quirk, shall we say?  He’s decided he’s very upset by this habit I have of showering every night.  It’s a habit I’ve had since before he came to live with me, so I’m not sure why it’s only recently become so disturbing.

If I don’t allow him in the bathroom when I take a shower he sits at the door and cries.  If I do allow him in he waits impatiently outside the shower, occasionally sticking his head around the edge of the curtain.  If I turn off the water, even for a moment, like to let conditioner set or shave my legs he tends to climb in the shower and pace around for a little while.

But the strangest thing is what he does when I get out.  He comes rushing to me as though he was afraid he would never see me again and stands up on his hind legs, putting his front paws up on my stomach or chest if he can get high enough.  And if I make the mistake of wrapping myself up in a towel, he climbs the towel until he can snuggle up against my chest.  He continues clinging to my chest until I put him down, which often requires a lot of finagling since he wants to prolong the snuggling.

I’m not going to lie: unlike some of his other oddities, this one is at least as cute as it is annoying.  What gets me is trying to imagine what’s going through his little head to prompt this behavior.  Is he thinking, “Mommy!  Don’t go in there!  It’s wet in there!”?  Or do I smell differently when I get out? (like TJ’s Tea Tree Tingle instead of Wash) Or does he just really like snuggling in a warm towel?

I don’t know, but I’ve started drying off as much as I can before removing the towel from the towel bar, just so I can be somewhat dry before I have to stand there with a crazy tabby clinging to my chest.

Coffee On A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Would we have coffee with Madeleine L’Engle?

Cammy:  In honor of her birthday tomorrow* I would be delighted to buy this woman a cup of coffee.  I cannot fathom that she would be anything less than interesting to talk to.  Her books have touched on such a wide variety of topics from science to religion to moral failings in one’s parents to just getting along with those pesky younger siblings.  And those are just the ones marketed at children/young adults.  Her best known book, A Wrinkle In Time, actually employed legitimate science, for which I will be eternally grateful (there are plenty of great fantasy books suited to the younger set, but far fewer actual sci-fi–even more rare to have sci-fi and a female lead).  She produced books that were connected, and yet very different from one another, which always strikes me as awesome.  I’d love the chance to talk to her about the way the different “universes” of her books run next to one another, occasionally glancing off tangentially.  Why did she choose to do it that way?  Why not keep the Austin’s totally separate from the Murrys, or fully integrate them?  How did she really feel about the right-wingers who were down on the subject matter of her books?  Beyond that, I just want to chat with the woman.  After all, she managed to start a work with “It was a dark and stormy night…” and turn it into something fabulous and thought provoking, imagine what she could do to having coffee.
Kristy: This is another one of those moments where I confess to a minor heresy: I’ve never read anything by Madeleine L’Engle.  I think in elementary school one of our readers had a chapter from one of her books or something, but that’s it.  It wasn’t a deliberate choice, I just never got around to it.  I was obsessed with history and dance as a child and there were enough books for kids focused on those topics that I never had time for fantasy.  Something I kind of regret as an adult, though I have yet to find the time or inclination to go back and read the things I missed.  So clearly I have some homework to do prior to coffee, but yes, I would have coffee with her.  I imagine we could still have plenty of things to talk about.  I’m interested in how late in life she began her professional writing career–did she ever imagine writing was something she’d do professionally?  Why does she think it took her that long to find her first novel idea?  I’d also love to hear any insights she had into the publishing industry in general.  Heck, I’d love just a list of suggested books for my nieces and nephews.  I’m sure she’d be a very interesting lady with whom to share a cup of coffee.
Cammy:  ZOMG.  I feel like I’ve failed as a roommate for never having made sure you were indoctrinated.  I am going to retire to a corner and cry tears of shame.

*Side Note:  Apparently November 29 is a great day to be born if you want to write a successful youth novel.  C.S. Lewis and Lousia May Alcott share the day with L’Engle.

I Have More Faith in Peanut Butter than Television These Days

A couple years back I wrote something for a different blogging site stating that for the first time in a long time I had hope for television.  It just so happened that year there were a lot of creative shows with great concepts or writing that had me excited to watch them on a weekly basis.  I thought great storytelling was gaining ground back from reality television and it was such a relief.

Well, gentle and not-so-gentle readers I have to admit something: I was wrong. That hope I had back then?  Fairly diminished.  I’m not saying hope is gone; I believe somehow or another, someday we have to hit rock bottom and at that point entertainment, in whatever form it takes, will start elevating again. But at this moment… it’s not a pretty picture.

Of the shows I blogged about back then, the only one that’s still on the air is How I Met Your Mother.  I’m not going to climb on the bandwagon with a lot of people on the internet and say that the show has jumped the shark.  I think it’s still good.  I look forward to watching it every week.  Neil Patrick Harris  is still one of the most brilliant comedic actors ever and the show continues to bring the funny while occasionally kicking me in the shins with a sad moment.  Here’s the problem: One of the things I like most about the show, the storytelling frame, has become a trap. I think the writers are afraid that the day Ted meets the mother of his children the show is over.  My advice to them?  It doesn’t have to be.  Come on, you really don’t think Ted has more stories to tell?  How he convinced her to go out with him.  How she convinced him to marry her.  How they decided to become parents.  I think it’s time we start telling at least one of these.

Now I must admit, for someone who says she’s losing hope in the genre, I watch a lot of television.  There are other shows I like.  There just aren’t a lot I love.  The rundown:

One Life to Live.  Okay, actually, OLTL is great.  Best it’s been in years.  I’m excited to watch it every day.  Why it’s making me lose hope?  Oh yeah, because it’s going off the air in a month.  To be replaced by yet another show telling women that if we lose weight and wear different clothes everything that’s wrong with our lives will disappear.  (And because Brian Frons has still not been fired.  Oh yes, I’m still bitter.)

General Hospital. At the moment this show is not just bad, it’s offensively bad, but it’s still in my DVR because I feel like I need to support the few remaining daytime dramas while I can.  (I’m not in the least concerned it will be around next year to suck)

Castle.  I like Castle.  But the only thing that separates it from hundreds of other procedurals is Nathan Fillion.  And as Richard Castle has become slightly more tortured in the past season, he’s lost a little of his energy.  I’m not saying the character shouldn’t evolve, I’m just saying… as a whole, the show is not nearly good enough to make me break my ABC boycott starting in January.

Ringer.  I really want to like this show.  It has actors I like and my old roommate’s names, but… it’s about one hectic week away from being taken off my DVR.  There’s a difference between building suspense and just not telling the story and with regards to the real Siobhan, I don’t think this show knows that.  Also… I like Sarah Michelle Gellar just fine, but she’s not doing enough to delineate her portrayals of the two sisters.

Glee.  Again it’s a like, but not as much as I want to kind of thing.  The weird thing is, it’s the closest depiction of high school as I actually experienced it that I’ve ever seen.  Yes, including the singing.  This show is good at bringing the funny, I’m just not invested emotionally in many of the characters.  I will be interested to see what happens when a lot of the cast “graduates” at the end of this year.  Can the pull off a Degrassi style slow transition?  I’m curious enough to stay tuned, but if I miss an episode, I don’t freak out.

Psych.  Okay, weirdly, if anything is giving me hope on television it’s this show.  Not that it’s that amazingly well done, but they’ve managed to take the procedural format (which as a general rule I dislike) and make me enjoy it.  They also continue to bring the funny.  But most impressively, they’ve let the characters and their relationships evolve (and let Shawn and Juliet get together) and it hasn’t ruined anything.  My only concern is the recent obsession with big name guest stars.  Some are great, but I feel like it indicates they don’t think the regular characters are enough to sell it, and they’re wrong.

Bones.  I dunno.  I like that Booth and Brennan are together and still have drama.  I like that Hodgins and Angela are together.  I just… feel like the show is becoming a little too formulaic in its episode style.  Way too many of them are defaulting to the Law and Order standby of “people doing random thing find gross body, they freak out, cut to our investigators.”  They’ve always used this, but it just feels like they’re using it more and more.  I still like it, but I’m not as excited about it as I once was.

Grimm.  My mother’s friends convinced me to give it a little longer trial.  I want to support fairy tale inspired shows it’s just… there’s nothing new about this show.  I stand by my initial assessment that it’s Angel with less funny and a less charismatic cast.  Honestly, there’s only one character who interests me at all and he’s our domesticated Big Bad Wolf.  Even the villains aren’t fun to hate.  They’re just… meh.  And at the end of the day, it’s just a procedural with a twist.  Which isn’t even a well executed twist.  Also… it’s a little rapey.

Fringe. I was really excited for this season to start.  And I’m excited for it to come back from hiatus.  I like a lot of things about this show—genuinely creative plots, characters I care about, good acting and dialogue, plus it brings the right amount of funny.  But I’m starting to have concerns that recent plot twists are kind of just JJ Abrams being weird because he can be, not because it pertains to the overall integrity of the story.

Once Upon a Time.  Okay, I figured out why I like this show.  Because I like when shows do alternate reality episodes, and essentially, this show is a giant alternate reality episode.  So it’s fun.  But again, I’m not invested.  I don’t care if Snow White gets her prince back.  I don’t care if we “bring back the happy endings.”  I enjoy watching it, but again, it’s not going to be worth violating my ABC boycott come January.

So yeah… it’s not that television is all bad.  It’s just… I’m not seeing things going in positively creative directions.  There are a lot of things I like—there just isn’t a lot I love.  And given I’m a broke graduate student it’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder whether that cable bill is actually worth it… Am I missing something, readers?  Is there great television out there somewhere I’m missing?

In Which I Throw a Hermit Slumber Party

I’ve had to work most of this holiday.  Other than a reprieve on Thanksgiving itself to cook, eat and sort out holiday music, I’ve basically been plugging away on crap for that thing that pays the bills.

I’ve got the proverbial shit-ton of stuff I need to get done this weekend, but I’ve hit the equally proverbial wall.  Since I’ve been at this for more hours in the day than normal (given that I didn’t have to waste time getting up, getting ready and driving to and from work).  I can’t focus and I need a break.

So I’m throwing a hermit slumber party.

“WTF is that?” you ask.

It’s piling in on the sofa/floor/someplace not your usual bed with a stack of movies, blankets, ample snack-age and decked out in your fuzziest, most childish PJs….without the benefit of friends to keep you company.  With friends, this would just be slumber party, but without them….well, I still choose to view this as a celebratory event, but due to the solitary nature, the term “hermit” comes to mind.

On the one hand, yes, this is sad, pathetic…a total commentary on my social existence right now.  On the other hand, it is really, really uplifting to turn this into a mini-event.  Sure, there’s no one to paint my nails for me, or to play truth or dare….but I also don’t have to deal with drama over choosing the movies and no one will mock me when I continually jump a mile in the air while watching Zombieland, despite having seen it 5 times.  And no one will force me to confess (or do) anything embarrassing.

And on that note, I have to end this:  the oven timer just told me my roasted garbanzo beans are ready (seasoned with garlic and cayenne pepper), and the DVD is queued up to help refresh me on the rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Obligatory Cliche Post

I wasn’t going to do a “thankful for” post, because they seem a bit cliché.  I considered doing a “not thankful for” post inspired by Spanny’s Big Fake Smile.  But truth be told, I’ve kind of been in a rotten mood all week, and wallowing in it further is not going to help things.  So we’ll wallow in cliché instead, in the hopes it improves my mood, and maybe even yours.

I am thankful for six days off, even if I had to do work at home every day.

I am thankful I now have deep violet streaks in my hair.

I am thankful I finally have my doctoral committee worked out.

I am thankful to have had a gourmet meal on the cheap with my fellow broke foodie grad students yesterday.

I am thankful that someone on Twitter gave me the idea of rewatching The West Wing episode “Shibboleth” on Thanksgiving and that it is still awesome.

I am thankful for realizing that Jane Lynch was in season 1 of Veronica Mars, playing an uppity version of her character on Glee.

I am thankful that Prospect Park tried to revive One Life to Live, even if they ultimately failed.

I am thankful I gave up commercially produced soda in lieu of mixing juice concentrates with seltzer water, thus saving money and avoiding both HFC and artificial sweeteners.

I am thankful for the knowledge that “collen ferhð” (pronounced “Colin Firth”) is Old English for “stout-hearted.”

I am thankful for caramelized Brussels sprouts.

I am thankful that this past year a quirky, adorable orange cat came into my life, even if he is yelling at me to hurry up and finish this blog so I can feed him.

I am thankful for ice cream, fried foods, good (cheap) wine, grilled cheeses, and the knowledge that diets are bullshit. (Also, the Oxford comma)

I am thankful for this blog, my co-bloggess, and all five of our readers.

Holiday Tune Vampire

To start:  Yes, I’m missing a lot of posts.  That is due to a work-related time vampire that I am just not going to discuss because it’s entirely too suck-tastic.

And now that I’m here thanks to the wonder of one of the few holidays we haven’t destroyed completely in this country*….

Except that I’m here later than I expected because, it’s officially post-Thanksgiving-meal-consumption for me, which is my stated prerequisite for starting up Christmas music.  And I wanted friggin’ holiday cheer blaring before I started typing.  So, I sit down at ye olde PC…..about 2-3 hours ago.

Trouble is, I had hell getting MP3s loaded.  To own the truth, I am still playing them ones-y, two-sy.

In the off-season, when I’m shifting files around on computers to make space, or set up a new drive, the first thing to get shuffled aside in a less-than-orderly fashion, are the Christmas MP3s.  It’s generally done because, well, I won’t need them until after Thanksgiving, and of COURSE I’ll get them organized again before then.

Except I don’t.

So, here I am, ready to start rockin’ to my Danish Santa Rap, Juleman, and….where the hell was that file?

First there’s the consolidation into one location, then there’s dumb-ass iTunes and it’s molasses-in-January loading process (although, I suppose I shouldn’t blame iTunes totally….I have fairly extensive collection of holiday tune-age.  By-product of being a practically-Christmas-baby).  During this process, I get fed up and start my internet search for the killer-app to replace this nightmare that we call iTunes.  Download a few.  Install.  Realize they won’t fit the bill, go back to loading iTunes.  And here I sit, just now attempting to get this thing posted while a folder sits open next to this window so I can right click on a Christmas song and tell it to play in Winamp so as not to disturb the goings-on of iTunes (why don’t I just use Winamp?!?!?!)

Then again, the real time vampire in this is probably my own lack of organization….

*Though we’re working on it–I mean, whatever meaning it had, racist or not, is pretty much gone–but so far it’s still a mandatory day off.  Except for those poor SOBs in retail.  And because of that, the slippery slope is in place to make this into another work-day for the rest of us where only those with vacation time and forgiving superiors can manage to take the day.
This entry less-than-thoughtfully composed to the following soundtrack: “Kaj i kanen” – Kølig Kaj; “Podsafe Christmas Song” – Jonathan Coulton; “Es Wird Scho Glei Dumpa” – Stefanie Hertel & Stefan Mross; “Christmas Wishes” – Anne Murray; “Throw The Yule Log On, Uncle John” – The Christopher Wren Singers; “Wenn ein neues Jahr geboren wird” – Claudia Jung.


Review: Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)

Director: Shekhar Kapur

Writers: William Nicholson and Michael Hirst

When even the DVD sleeve from Netflix makes a comment about a movie’s loose take on history, I go in with low expectations where history is concerned (there’s probably a whole separate post coming on historical accuracy and movies).  But I loved the first Elizabeth film and Clive Owen is always a nice selling point.  So I thought, what the heck, at least this will be fun.

A lot of the things I loved about the first film still held true here: Cate Blanchett is exquisite as Elizabeth and I also love Geoffrey Rush as Sir Francis “My what a big rack I have” Walsingham.  On the other hand, it lacked a little of the energy of the first film.

The first shot of the monks had this kind of hand held feel.  It was very disconcerting and I’m still undecided on whether I think that worked or not.

On the other hand, the first council scene with Elizabeth was surprisingly intimate for such a large room.  I really like the inclusion of the celestial pageant before the queen.  It’s something that was super popular at the time, but not necessarily something you see often in film.  On that note: something else very distinctive of the Elizabethan era was emblems, and there were a lot of shot compositions throughout the film that had the look of emblems.  Nice touch.  Speaking of nice touches, I thought it was very sweet how protective Elizabeth was of the Archduke. As a nerd I enjoyed the inclusion of John Dee.  I love what a BAMF Liz was facing down her would-be assassin.  They ripped off the Beacons of Gondor scene, but I’ll allow it because it’s awesome.  The whole armada fight scene is amazingly well done.  A beautiful climax for the plot and for a Elizabeth and all done with no dialog.  Way to use your visual medium.

I felt like the scene of Philip talking with his ambassador where they are shown as shadows on a sail was a little over the top.  The portrayal of Mary Queen of Scots as a little pathetic to be honest.  And again, the symbolism of her looking up at the throne right before having her head cut off was a little heavy handed.  Princess Isabella’s role was a little strange, but I suppose it went with the children theme.  But it didn’t quite work for me.

And, I realize this is purely personal preference, but I would have liked to see Sir Walter Raleigh as a little more of a player.  If you’re going to let go of historical accuracy in the first place  you should at least have fun with it.  He was sexy, but I just didn’t find him quite seductive enough for everything that happened with him to be believable.

Rating: Four out of five jars of peanut butter with a little scoop taken out of the last jar

Presidential Coffee

I couldn’t think of anyone to have coffee with off the top of my head today, so went with my standard brainstorming strategy of checking Wikipedia’s “born on this day” list and learned today was the birthday of this historic Josiah Bartlett, signer of the US Declaration of Independence.  I’ll be honest, I know nothing about him except what I’ve already written.  But that did make me think of another Josiah Bartlett that would be perfect for this feature.

Would we drink coffee with President Josiah Bartlett from The West Wing?

Kristy:  Yes.  And it doesn’t even have anything to do with his political views (though he and I are fairly well aligned in that department).  I want to have coffee with him because he’s a big ol’ nerd.  Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, speaks five languages, and makes frequent historical and literary references?  Yes, please!  You just know the man could keep up with just about any conversation topic you threw at him.  Also he’s a storyteller, which means that coffee with him is bound to include fantastic tales of a fictional White House, meetings with world leaders, and the Bartlett family.  Finally, but possibly most importantly, the man knows how to bring the funny.  And you know I love the funny.

Cammy:  Sure why not?  First off, we haven’t had coffee with anyone fictional in a while, so that’s a nice change.  Second, I don’t think I’ll have to say much.  Pretty sure he can get going on a lecture and run with it.  While I don’t align with him politically, neither did Ainsley Hayes and she seemed okay with him.  He’s more than just a story teller, the man is a walkin’ book of fun facts.  Like Wikipedia on legs–and who doesn’t love Wikipedia?!?!?  Sure, I may feel stupid for the majority of the get together, but I’ll probably walk away with some serious fodder for my next dinner party.  And, as Kristy said, with this guy, you know at least some of it will be funny.

Now Viewing…

I’m fairly certain I’ve mentioned before that when I’m really depressed my go-to cheer-up movies are Ten Things I Hate About You and Knight’s Tale.  Well I discovered this week that when I’m in a crunchy, mad at the world mood, what I need to watch is Veronica Mars Season 1.

It’s possible that other seasons of Veronica Mars work as well; I haven’t checked.  And I guess it’s not that surprising. Who doesn’t watch this show and want to be the bad ass that Veronica is.  Obviously, I don’t want her life, what with the deadbeat mom and the dead friend and all that.  But man, I would love to be able to pull some kind of video swap that incriminates the cop that gave me a parking ticket this week and somehow or another gets me allies in a motorcycle gang.  Instead, I’m just going to pay the ticket and deal with it. (Since as far as I know said cop wasn’t a d-bag like Sheriff Lamb it wouldn’t have been as satisfying anyway.)

I also learned a valuable lesson: Don’t ever say “I’m going to watch one episode of Veronica Mars season one.  Because it won’t happen.  And next thing you know you’ll be up past 2am watching more  episodes until you’ve finished the whole dame season.