Movable Type 3.2
January 31, 2010
At some point between when I drank it regularly in college eight or ten years ago and when I picked one up at a rest stop tonight, they seem to have slightly changed the formula of Diet Peach Snapple. I do not approve. When I am choosing beverages based on nostalgia value, I want them to taste the same as they ever did, darn it.
Nathan Chen's Peter and the Wolf
Here's another amazing figure skating performance you should watch. This is Nathan Chen, the U.S. novice men's champion, and he is ten years old. He won't be eligible for the Olympics until 2018. Imagine what he could do by then.
January 30, 2010
Of Open Arches Endlessly Kneeling
Does this happen to you? A song comes on the radio and you realize that you completely love it, but had in fact completely forgotten that it existed. This happened to me with "Cathedrals" by Jump Little Children today. All I could come up with at the time was "Oh my gosh! That was on [my former roommate's] iPod! I love that song!" I had to Google afterward to figure out what it was. Take a listen:
I'm off to visit my family in Connecticut this weekend, so posting will be light.
January 29, 2010
Noah Millman suggests a Guys and Dolls movie remake with George Clooney and Will Smith. All I can say is: Sign. Me. Up.
Introducing the Code 58 car.(WARNING: One commenter reports malware from something on that site. I've visited the site many times without a problem, so I'm not sure what's going on. Maybe it's something in an ad that just shows up occasionally. Proceed at your own risk.) I know I keep saying "awesome" about things related to this show, but there's really no other word for it. I have to say: I was skeptical about the whole concept at first. I was going to watch for Whitford, of course, but I wasn't all that enthused about the premise. But in the last few weeks, I've become really excited about it, mostly thanks to the writers/producters/directors tweeting about it.
Selleck Waterfall Sandwich Because - well, why not?
Valerie Wilson on women in the CIA. Some of her generalizations about things "all women" can just do raise my hackles, but it's an interesting piece.
Warning: This xkcd just made me cry.
Androids: Data is the best. OBVIOUSLY.
You know, I wish female figure skaters would stop pulling their tights down over their skates. It just looks dumb. We know you're wearing skates!
Want tips for keeping your clandestine affair a secret? Ask John Edwards.
Why don't book reviewers ever say books are boring?
I adore Kristen Bell, so I wanted to see When in Rome, but after reading this hilarious review... well, I still want to see it, actually, if only to see how awful it is. But I'll wait for Netflix.
Recent Search Terms
I deal with search all the time at the day job, so I always like looking at what search terms are leading people here. In the past day or so, people have found this blog by searching for the following:
janel moloneyThat was fun! Sitemeter only shows me the past 100 searches, so I can't go farther back. But I think I'm going to star keeping a running list of interesting/funny ones and posting the best every Friday.
Chopin and Schumann: Different!
Check out this New York Times article on Chopin and Schumann. First: I'm not entirely sure why this is news. I mean, it isn't news. I guess the tie-in is that this year is the 200th anniversary of their births, and Emanuel Ax is doing recitals comprised of their music. Okay then.
The main thesis: Chopin and Schumann were not as similar as you (supposedly) thought. Really, do people assume they're similar just because they were contemporaries? "Two people who became famous had very different lives!" Do people assume this about all contemporaries? Why? The following people were all born in 1947: David Bowie, Laura Schlessinger, Dan Quayle, Edward James Olmos, Mitt Romney, Elton John, Camille Paglia, Tom DeLay, Tom Clancy, Iggy Pop, Salman Rushdie, Meat Loaf, Kevin Kline, Hillary Clinton, David Mamet, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Also my dad and my friend Kate's mom. Do we assume that all of these people have had similar lives or careers? No, of course not. (Many people do, however, say that my dad and Kevin Kline look alike.)
Here's where I think the premise of the article breaks down: Tommasini thinks he had scores of readers who were thinking, until this moment, that because Chopin and Schumann were both Romantic composers born in 1810, they probably had a lot in common. But I believe most people will never have given a thought to the question at all. And I think anyone who cared enough to think about it for thirty seconds immediately realized that no, their lives were pretty different. And most people who are reading classical music coverage in the Times likely fall into that second category.
The article doesn't actually say anything shocking. They moved in different social circles! Their family situations were different! George Sand and Clara Schumann: also pretty different! The really odd thing is the tone. It's in the first person, and Tommasini seems really . . . invested in the whole thing. It's like he's telling us about his personal emotional journey when he found out this supposedly shocking news. It ends with this one-sentence paragraph:
I find it touching that on good days during this period in the asylum, Schumann was allowed to walk into Bonn, where he made a point of visiting the monument to Beethoven.Um, okay. That was abrupt. And vaguely creepy.
L.L. Bean Signature Collection!
I love L.L. Bean. Love, love, love. I basically don't even consider buying pants anywhere else at this point, and I get most of my other clothes there, too. I've often said that if they just had a few more dresses and things, I'd be all set. It looks like that wish will be fulfilled with the L.L. Bean Signature Collection. It's launching in March, but they have a great slideshow up, and it looks extremely promising. The dresses are cute, and I look forward to seeing more of the shirts and pants. And the little yellow tote bag? Adorable!
Your Friday Dewey Picture
I think a kitten picture to help you get through your Friday should be a weekly feature, don't you? Well, maybe he doesn't. He REALLY didn't want to pose this morning, so this isn't the most flattering picture, either of him or of my house. Here he is with what seems to be our growing colony of TiVos:
Good morning, good morning...
After typing that subject line, I am now wishing I had the Singin' in the Rain soundtrack. Wait, why DON'T I have that? Anyway! A guy I work with just held a door for me (the door-holding situation in this office should be a whole separate post, actually) and I said "Thanks," and then:
Me: Good morning!So. Friday. You're going to be like that, are you?
January 28, 2010
The Social Network, a.k.a the Aaron Sorkin Facebook movie, has had its opening date moved up to October 1. Who wants to go with me on opening night?
George Lucas is making a CGI musical involving fairies. Apparently he's entered his late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle period.
Warner Bros. has apparently decided to do not only Clash of the Titans but also the last two Harry Potter movies in 3D. I kind of feel like this is getting out of hand. Does everything need to be 3D? Really?
A period vampire epic could be awesome or, um, not. We'll see.
Jody Rosen and Jonah Weiner on Taylor Swift's new song. I haven't actually heard it yet, but after reading that I'll be buying it tonight.
Quite possibly the most hope-inspiring sentence I've read all day: "Bradley Whitford is now officially an action hero." And hey, he's on the cover of a magazine.
State of the Union Reactions
First: I thought it was a good speech. Not mind-blowing, not earth-shaking, but really good. There were more laugh lines than I'd expected, I think. I like how the tone was a little sarcastic and cynical at times, because I think too much rosy optimism would have just seemed out of touch. I liked the emphasis on hard work. I was especially happy that getting rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell made it in. Overall, the tone brought to mind the best-ever LOLObama:
Now: reactions some of my favorite bloggers and journalists!
The American Prospect: A Nod To Conservatism, A Case For Liberalism by Adam Serwer
That's not a calzone.
One of the most frustrating things about New Hampshire is the almost complete lack of decent pizza. I realize I'm somewhat picky about this, but - why is it so hard? There's plenty of good pizza in Connecticut. I'm 150 miles from my parents' house, and apparently something happens in those 150 miles that makes the crust taste like a cracker and the sauce and cheese just . . . bleh.
Anyway, I was excited a few weeks ago because I finally found halfway decent pizza at a chain (yes!) called Amato's. I mean, it's not the best pizza ever, but I don't actually complain while eating it, which I'm sure is a nice change of pace for my dinner companions. (Although, really? People who are convinced that Pizza Hut is The Best Thing Ever - you're just asking for it.) Yesterday I was really wanting a calzone, so I figured that since Amato's pizza was okay, maybe their calzones would be too. Yeah, not so much. There was sauce baked into the calzone, which is something they do around here that I just don't understand. Sauce goes on the side! There was no ricotta. And the dough didn't form a nice fluffy pocket enclosing the whole thing. It was just kind of . . . folded over.
I mean, okay. The thing tasted fine. It just didn't at all fulfill my calzone craving. I'm going to Connecticut this weekend; there may be a calzone in my future. Otherwise, I'm going to have to just start making them myself.
I woke up today wanting to wear a certain kind of sweater - something thick and warm but slightly oversized, almost to the point of baggy. Like a security blanket in the form of a sweater, because it's been that kind of week. Alas, I have no such sweater. I've realized over the past few weeks that I seem to have some sort of sweater shortage in general. Everyone at the office is wearing all these great sweaters, and I feel left out and slightly ridiculous - I'm a knitter, after all! I think the problem is that I don't buy sweaters because I think I'm going to knit them, and then I just don't. So. I think after I finish a few gifts I'm already committed to in the next month or so, I'm going to make sweaters for myself my knitting focus this year. It would be great to be able to wear handknits every day next winter if I wanted to.
A long time ago, we used to be friends...
I said the other day that Teen Dream, Beach House's new album, sounded like something off the Veronica Mars soundtrack. And that made me realize that it had been too long since I'd listened to the Veronica Mars soundtrack. I know this is in no way new or anything, but please, do yourself a favor and check it out - both the soundtrack and the show itself. Kristen Bell is a delight, and the supporting cast is great too, especially Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, and Francis Capra. Oh, gosh, and Tina Majorino. And Charisma Carpenter. The first season is practically perfect TV, with complex characters (both adults and teenagers) and good writing, and it manages to hit that mark that so many crime shows attempt of having an overarching plot for the whole season along with smaller mysteries in each episode. The second season did that almost as well - and, overall, was better in some ways - and if the third season became a bit of a mess, well, it was still better than 90% of the stuff on TV.
The same as I love you, you'll always love me too,Here, I'll make it easy for you (but of course, also try Netflix or your local library):
Or wait until February 8 (I'll remind you!) and watch season one for free at The WB. (They have season three up now, but please don't start with that. It won't make any sense. Trust me.)
Yes, I'm writing about John Edwards.
I wasn't going to post about Edwards, because I don't think I have anything particularly new and interesting to say about the matter. But Eric Alterman just can't hate John Edwards, and I think he makes some good points. I don't think Edwards is necessarily worse than a lot of other politicians. I mean - Mark Sanford. Have we forgotten about that already?
The Edwards story bothers me in a way the others don't, of course, because I was more invested in the campaign. I gave a little money but many, many hours of time. The timing of the whole thing didn't really register with me until last night, when I had dinner with another former Edwards volunteer. I told her about the rumored sex tape. "Wait," she said. "You mean, while we were spending our evenings sitting in that office making phone calls for him, then, he was making a sex tape?" Yes, more or less. That's why this one stings.
Edwards always seemed vaguely slimy, but I honestly preferred his policy positions in the primary. Of course, in retrospect, thank God he didn't get the nomination. If he had and this had come out during the campaign, McCain would be president now. And what if it hadn't come out during the campaign, and he had won, and then the news broke? I literally cannot imagine the chaos that would have occurred then. And I still think that the most baffling part of the whole thing is how these politicians - or any famous people, really - can do this sort of thing and think they won't get caught. Unbelievable.
January 27, 2010
A Few Good Men might be coming back to Broadway! I will totally go to New York for that.
The Go Fug Yourself ladies have taken on figure skating. Thank goodness.
I posted about this the other day, but I just like Matt Yglesias's headline: Lawful Evil Circuit Court Upholds Dumb-Ass Prison D&D Ban
The CW has picked up a pilot by Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino. It's about a Wyoming horse farm, which could be meh, but I'll try anything by the creators of Gilmore Girls.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - one of my favorites - is getting a makeover.
State of the Union Coverage
Last night, Megan Carpentier tweeted about wine delivery. I would have almost thought she was joking, but then I thought about it and remembered that Steph Pearl-McPhee mentioned beer delivery the other day. Needless to say, we do not have such things in the wilds of New Hampshire. All I can get delivered is pizza, and maybe Chinese food. But now I'm curious. Can you get exciting things delivered where you are? Can anyone get coffee delivered? (Or lattes, really. I can make coffee easily enough myself.) How about ice cream? I've long wanted there to be something along the lines of an ice cream truck that comes when you call.
First Thoughts on the iPad
2) Yes, the name is exceedingly dumb, for a few reasons. First, it sounds way too much like a sanitary product. Second, as a friend just pointed out, "It sounds like a guy with a Boston accent trying to say iPod." Third, it's so close that it spell-corrects to iPod, which is actually kind of a mixed blessing for me right now personally.
3) I kind of want one. I was undecided until they brought up the "unlimited data for $30 a month with no contract" bit. I've been wanting a cell modem for my netbook for a while now but wasn't willing to pay $60 a month for service. But half that? I'm really, really tempted. And the device itself is less expensive than I'd feared. And it's just so PRETTY and does so much more than my netbook.
4) But maybe it's one of those things that would be more useful in my pretend life in my head rather than the life I actually have. Like if I traveled more. Or took public transportation to work. Or something.
All in all, I'm glad it won't be available for a few months, so I can think about it before deciding whether to buy.
It could be worse.
Everyone's been complaining recently about our politics and government, from both ends of the political spectrum. But then I heard this story on NPR this morning and it brought home how good we have it compared to people in lots of places. Basically: in the wake of the presidential election in Sri Lanka, the losing candidate is all but imprisoned in his hotel. There's no transcript for the NPR story, but from a similar Voice of America piece:
A Sri Lankan military spokesman said government troops have surrounded the central Colombo hotel where General Fonseka is staying. The spokesman said there are about 400 people, including army deserters, who gathered at the hotel after the election in support of the general.
People who lose elections here generally aren't surrounded by troops or in fear for their lives. Let's be thankful for that, and make sure it stays that way.
The Mysterious Gatsby
I went to the library last night to pick up a few CDs I'd requested from another library in the system, and there was an old copy of The Great Gatsby rubber banded to them. There was a note in the book: something like "Ask if she still wants this." Um, sure! But did I ever? I vaguely remember thinking about rereading Gatsby a few months ago. (Jacob's incomparable and literary Gossip Girl recaps probably prompted this.) And it's plausible that I requested a copy from the library, although I don't specifically remember doing so. But I certainly don't remember cancelling the request, or hearing from the library that they couldn't get it. (And it's The Great Gatsby. Why would it take months for a copy to turn up in a decent-sized library system?) And it definite wasn't on my hold list any time recently. So it's a mystery. Is there some sort of helpful library elf making sure I read my classics?
An exciting day...
It's Apple announcement day!
And it's State of the Union day!
And it's the day on which I will finally finish watching Battlestar Galactica!
I'm kind of worried that the combination of the first two there will break Twitter. But anyway - as long as the Apple announcement comes at some sort of reasonable time, I'll write about it during one of my breaks at work, so look for that post later. I probably won't liveblog the SOTU, but I'll give you some suggestions as to where to follow along later today.
January 26, 2010
Greg Malins (of How I Met Your Mother, Friends, and Will and Grace) and Arianna Huffington (of - you know) are producing a comedy show about freshmen members of Congress living together. I'll give it a try, but I would be exponentially more excited if Aaron Sorkin were involved.
Really, History Channel? Larry the Cable Guy? Is this really necessary?
Endeca has a new search blog. I am dorkily excited.
Alyssa Rosenberg now has me wishing I'd watched Jersey Shore. Buffy AND Pride and Prejudice references? I can't possibly resist that.
Apparently Timothy Hutton is a literary sex god. Who knew? (Leverage is really good, though.)
Code 58 Day!
Today is a glorious day: It's Code 58 Day! No, the show isn't on until May. But today's the day when they started filming in Dallas! If you haven't heard of Code 58, it's the new Bradley Whitford/Colin Hanks show from Matt Nix about a mismatched pair of cops. I made a Twitter list of people associated with the show that I will continue to update. Follow it here. There are some great production updates, including the fact that Whitford and Hanks were doing dueling Christopher Walken impressions between takes. We can only hope that that makes it onto some DVD special feature...
And then there's The White Album.
The other day, I was trying to find the song "Never Say Never" on my iPod, but I couldn't remember what the album was called. I finally realized it was The Fray. I was confused because I knew "Never Say Never" was a newer song, but I'd assumed The Fray was their first album. Nope. How to Save a Life was first, and the self-titled one was second. What's with that? I don't like eponymous albums in the first place: they're confusing. And seriously, if you have enough creativity to make a whole album, why can't you be bothered to come up with a title? But if you insist on having a self-titled album, then for goodness' sake, at least make it your first. I'm not wild about albums that share titles with songs, either, because, again, confusing. I do like album titles that are made up of a quote from a song on the album that somehow symbolizes the whole thing, like, oh, Jagged Little Pill or A Few Small Repairs or Films About Ghosts. But I'm not picky. Just come up with an album title that is distinct from both the artist name and the song titles.
My best friend got an early version of this rant, and he pointed out that R.E.M. has an album actually called Eponymous. Stop the madness! (Well, okay, Eponymous as a title is actually kind of funny.)
Review: Milk and Honey
Milk and Honey by Faye Kellerman
Milk and Honey is the third mystery in Kellerman's Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series about an L.A. cop who meets and falls in love with an Orthodox Jewish widow. It wasn't quite as good as the first two, in large part because Rina wasn't really involved in the main mystery, and was absent for the first section of the book, as she was staying in New York while deciding whether to marry Peter. Peter is a strong, interesting character, and he would probably be enough to carry a series on his own, but after getting used to their interaction in the first two books I missed it in this one.
The main mystery revolves around a two-year-old Peter finds wandering around at night, He eventually traces her back to a family of beekeepers, several of whom (including the child's parents) have been murdered. The main subplot involves an old army friend of Peter's who is accused of assaulting a prostitute. Peter's determined to find out what really happened and clear the man's name if he's really innocent. (I kept expecting these plots to come together somehow, but so far as I can remember, they did not.)
Those mystery plots were . . . fine. Not hugely mind-blowing or anything, but well done and not too easy to figure out. But I think the real point of the book was to allow Kellerman to reveal more about Peter's past through the interactions with the Army friend. (There were also a few shockers about Peter and his ex-wife thrown in.) I didn't like the friend - he wasn't supposed to be likeable - so I got a little bogged down in some of the passages about their history in Vietnam. And as Rina learned about some of these things along with the reader, there were a few of those moments that tend to happen in books when you can see what's coming, how the characters are misunderstanding each other and it will lead to disaster, and you just want to reach into the book and yell at them. So that was a little uncomfortable to read. But from a series development point of view, I see how both Rina and the reader had to come to terms with these aspects of Peter's past and his character. Now that they have at least started working through these things, they can get married (the next book seems to take place on their honeymoon), and Rina and her sons will, I hope, be more present in future books.
Getting library books under control
Please tell me I'm not the only one who has this problem with library books: I put things on hold as I read book reviews and blog posts, and then before I know it I have dozens of books out and no chance of reading them all before they have to go back. And then I always feel guilty, and I don't finish as many books as I'd like because I'm trying to read too many things at once.
So. No more. New rule: I can only have ten holds at a time. (Some of them take months to come in, so this is reasonable.) And I can only take out non-hold books if I have fewer than five books out. Otherwise, I'll just make a list and wait and request the books when I don't have a million other things out. Maybe this way I will be able to actually read all my library books, and even read some of the books I own but haven't read because I'm always trying to read library books. I can do this, right? Right.
Curse you, American Idol!
I watch a lot of scripted TV, but reality TV has never been my thing. I've watched a season each of a few of the competition shows (Amazing Race, Project Runway), and my best friend recently reminded me that we once watched a season of The Apprentice. (I had apparently managed to block that out of my memory.) But in general, they don't really pull me in, and I had completely resisted American Idol. Until now.
Really, I'm pretty convinced that American Idol deliberately set out to lure me in this year. First, they announced that they were having guest judges. And who do they get? Two of my favorite actor/singers, Kristin Chenoweth and Neil Patrick Harris. "Fine," I thought. "I'll watch their episodes. But that's it."
So then - then! - they put someone I sort of know on the show. Here's Katie Stevens:
Katie is from my small hometown in Connecticut, and her brother and my brother were in the same grade and played soccer together and stuff. I haven't seen her in years, but I vaguely remember her from soccer games and such. My parents say she's a nice kid; she sang at a wedding they attended a few months ago. So now, of course, I have to watch and vote as long as she's on. Sigh. I had no idea American Idol would go to such lengths to make me watch.
January 25, 2010
I don't know why it took me so long to start paying attention regularly to NPR's music site, but I've been enjoying exploring it over the past week or so. Here's another song I really like: "Broken Things" by The Reigning Sound.
10 'Will They/Won't They' Couples: Considering that this is my favorite TV plot ever, basically, I'm surprised I only watch three of these shows (although I'm planning on starting to watch House and Chuck). And what about Jane and Lisbon from The Mentalist? They totally belong on there.
Omnivoracious, the Amazon book blog, has a roundup of eight influential authors of the YA Decade.
Before we get ahead of ourselves with excitement about the American version of Torchwood, Allie Townsend reminds us about Fox's history of cancelling sci-fi shows.
Um, really? Wisconsin thinks D&D encourages prison gangs?
Do we still need Lilith Fair? Carrie Brownstein considers.
Pete Souza reflects on the President's first year with a gallery of photos and commentary. There are some interesting process notes. For example, on photo ten: "The President meets with the Democratic Blue Dog coalition in the State Dining Room. I had noticed the glasses of cranberry and orange juice sitting on a table in the doorway of the Red Room, so I backtracked to compose this picture from inside the Red Room."
Slate's Farhad Manjoo wants the new Apple tablet to be more like a toaster.
What should my parents watch next?
My parents aren't big TV-watchers. They don't really watch any traditional once-a-week shows, except for maybe Dancing with the Stars. But I've gotten them hooked on TV on DVD. They've gone through Bones and just finished The West Wing. They liked the former well enough, but they LOVED the latter. What should I have them watch next? I have a few ideas but I'm curious to see what you all think.
Patty Griffin's Downtown Church
I listened to Patty Griffin's about-to-be-released album on NPR First Listen, and I remain baffled by my seeming inability to like Gospel music. I love the atmospheric originals, and her voice is gorgeous, of course, but most of the traditional songs she includes just leave me cold. I'm not sure what my problem is, but I always have this issue. Gospel music almost always seems - I don't know. I can't relate to it. I'd almost say that it's because it's so far from my own New England Catholic experience, but that doesn't make any sense, because there's plenty of music from completely different faith traditions that I like a lot. So. Baffled. Let me know if you have any ideas on what my problem is.
I'm undecided on this version of "All Creatures of Our God and King," which I would put in the "hymn" category rather than the "Gospel" category:
It's beautiful. That much is clear. And it's done pretty straightforwardly, which is what I generally like from hymns. It's somewhat addictive; I've listened to it several times and like it more each time. But it's so slow! Why? And it sounds almost unnecessarily mournful. It's a happy song! Cheer up, Patty!
Corinne Bailey Rae's The Sea
Yet another from NPR First Listen, here's The Sea. I got really, really sick of "Put Your Records On" when the radio was playing it constantly a few years ago, but I figured I'd try the new one anyway. I'm not the hugest fan of her voice, but I think it works really well in certain types of songs. I really like "The Blackest Lily:"
My other favorites are "Paris Nights/New York Mornings:"
And "Paper Dolls:"
Most of the other tracks were less interesting, though, and I ended up getting kind of bored by the album as a whole. Hm. The songs I liked had the quickest tempos, I think. Maybe I like her voice better in faster songs. She tends toward the whiny in the slow ones. Of course, her husband died two years ago, so she's entitled to some less-than-happiness. But there's a way to be sad without whining.
Don't I know you better than the rest?
(There are two more music posts coming up this afternoon, because I wanted to get them up before the links at First Listen expire. If you're only going to pay attention to one, it should be this one.)
Please go listen to Teen Dream by Beach House right now. Shani O from PostBourgie tweeted about it the other day, and I can't stop listening. I preordered the CD, even. The whole album somehow hits the title perfectly - it really does feel like a dreamy version of some sort of archetypical teenagerhood. It all sounds like it could have been on the Veronica Mars soundtrack, and it makes me think of Sarah Dessen novels and maybe A House Like a Lotus and Troubling a Star by Madeleine L'Engle. The album perfectly encapsulates the mix of promise and innocence with regret or nostalgia for the parts of that innocence that have already been lost and, more than anything, the total transience of the adolescent experience.
Both the vocals and the instrumentation give it an often droning sound that could get annoying fast, but doesn't. The fabulous keyboard parts are a large part of the dream-like quality. The vocals are a little fuzzy and sometimes hard to understand, but that doesn't bug me as much as it usually would because what they're really going for here is the atmosphere. It did make it difficult to quote the lyrics for you, though. The songs are similar enough to clearly make a coherent whole, but different enough to keep it from getting boring.
I had a really hard time deciding which songs to include here, so you really should listen to the whole thing. But here are a few.
Here's "Norway," with the best example of the droning I was talking about:
"Walk in the Park:"
"In a matter of time
"Used to Be" has shades of Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles, no?
"In an endless night, could you feel the fright of an age that was and could never be?
Coming home, any day now, any day now, any day now, coming home..."
The quote in the title of this post, by the way, is from "Zebra," and we'll end with one from "10 Mile Stereo" that nicely sums it all up: "They say you'll go far, but they don't know how far we'll go . . ."
January 24, 2010
I just watched the first episode of The Deep End. It may in fact be the worst show I have ever seen.
Armless (and Janel Moloney's performance) is getting a lot of good reviews, including this one.
The Music of the Night...
If you have any interest in figure skating at all, watch this ice dancing performance from Meryl Davis and Charlie White from the 2010 Nationals yesterday. It's just mesmerizing.
That music gets me, of course, but it's more than that. The choreography is amazing, and you can really tell that they've been skating together since they were nine years old. Their synchronization seems natural (although I'm sure they have worked very, very hard at it) and they clearly know and are very comfortable with each others' bodies. And in interviews they seem pretty down-to-earth. I like how White talks about how weird it was as a kid to be touching a girl like that. I'll definitely be rooting for them at the Olympics.
Thought: Are there any good ice skating romance novels? Ice dancing girl starts dating someone and her partner realizes he's actually been in love with her all along, or something? Seems like there should be.
Real Talk on Cupcakes
Let's talk about cupcakes. More specifically, let's talk about cupcake-specific bakeries. I keep hoping that this trend will be over, but it keeps going. Heck, even some doctor on Mercy said that cupcakes were over. But alas. The trendiness persists. My basic problem with them is twofold. First of all, they're expensive. $3-4 for a cupcake? One? Seriously? That's highway robbery. But maybe I wouldn't mind so much if it weren't for the other problem: they're just not good*. I've been disappointed every single time I've had a fancy cupcake-store cupcake. I assume it's something to do with the mass production. If I'm going to spend that much on a single-serving dessert, I'd rather it be an ice cream sundae.
But there's a less tangible issue, too. They're just so . . . conspicuous. "Look, I'm spending $3 on a cupcake!" And they're so cutesy, and . . . I don't know. Actually, Sara Mead made this point much better over at the IFA. As she says, "Even the long lines are about the notion that this is something SO special and magical it's worth wasting half an hour of your time to get that box and show you've been at the trendy place." I like her jewelry store comparison, too.
I think there's some sort of gender thing going on here too. I mean, sure, guys like cupcakes. But these stores are clearly marketed to women. And the concept of a cupcake implies that it's small. Childlike. Maybe even miniature. (Never mind that some of these stores have ridiculously large cupcakes.) Women aren't supposed to order dessert, but since cupcakes are seen as little and cute and girlish, they're okay. Now I want to do a study: take two groups of women eating at restaurants - on dates, even. Offer half of them a really good slice of cake at the restaurant for dessert, and offer the other half a cupcake at a cupcake store down the road. I wonder if a higher percent would say yes to the cupcake? Hmmm.
But I'm getting off track here. The point I was trying to make, before I got distracted by the gender stuff, was that most cupcake store cupcakes are overpriced and taste bad. For the amount of money you'd spend on two of those, say, you could make two dozen yourself that would taste better. Try it! Three cheers for homemade cupcakes!
* Caveat: I have a good friend who is talking about starting a cupcake place. I have had her cupcakes and they are wonderful. Obviously she is the exception to the rule and I am not at all talking about her here.
Hey, look! My dad's in the paper!
This article about financial aid eligibility quotes him (David Welsh) in the second half of the first page. Yay Dad!
Nails, Darker Than Anticipated
My lovely cousin Liz asked for a picture of the nails mentioned in last night's Endnotes. Her wish is my command:
It's harder than I'd realized to get a picture of your own hand from a decent angle. Anyway, the polish is a lot darker than the sample thing looked in the store, but now that I've gotten used to it, I kind of like it.
Review: The Sign of the Beaver
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
I've loved The Witch of Blackbird Pond since I was about twelve, but I had somehow never read The Sign of the Beaver. A teacher friend outed me for not having read it in front of her whole class of fifth graders, so then I clearly had no choice. And it was good! It's no Witch, but very few things could be. This is aimed at a slightly younger audience, and it's about a boy and rather more action-oriented.
13-year-old Matt and his father have traveled to the Maine wilderness to build a homestead; then the father goes back to Boston to get the mother and younger siblings, leaving Matt alone. Completely alone. In a cabin in the wilderness. There aren't even any neighbors. Really, it's TERRIFYING, and Speare makes it all very subtle and understated, but - my God, I cannot even imagine. Of course, then a bear comes and eats a bunch of the food, and then Matt gets stung extremely badly when trying to get honey out of a hive. A local Native American chief has been watching him, it turns out, and takes him home to give him some medical care.
Matt is afraid of the Native Americans at first, of course, but he comes to like and respect them over time, and he strikes a bargain with the chief. (The reader is left to suspect that the chief, being a nice guy, was probably going to take care of this poor little boy no matter what, but Matt feels like he's being an adult about the whole thing.) In exchange for food and other help that the chief and his people provide, the chief asks Matt to teach his grandson (around Matt's age) to read. The boy doesn't want to learn, but the grandfather recognizes that if their people are going to survive, they must learn to play by the white settlers' rules. Matt and the boy become grudging friends, and eventually the rest of the boy's family come to trust Matt too.
By this point, Matt's father has been gone way longer than planned, and it's time for the Native Americans to move to different hunting ground. They offer to adopt Matt, and he has to decide whether to go with them or wait for his family, who might never appear. I was honestly unsure of what he would decide while I was reading, which is quite something for a kids' book - usually the plots of even high-quality kids' books are pretty predictable to adults. I won't ruin the ending for you, but it brings up some really interesting issues of the concept of "civilization" in regards to the Native Americans and the settlers, and of the way that prejudices can change, in several directions, over just a generation or two.
January 23, 2010
I just accidentally painted my nails dark blue. I mean, I painted them on purpose but I didn't expect the color to be quite so . . . navy. Oops. Now that I'm getting used to it, though, I kind of like it.
Formula One update: no more double diffusers.
Emily Bazelon updates readers on the book swap her family does in lieu of gifts at her kids' birthday parties. All I can think is - man, I wish any of the parties I went to as a kid resulted in going home with a book instead of a dumb goody bag. I am likely missing the point of the piece.
A lot of Facebook spoofs don't quite work, but the Slate version of the President's Facebook feed manages to be consistently funny. Here's the most recent one.
E! Online is going to do a TV's Top Couples bracket going into Valentine's Day, and they're taking suggestions for which couples to include. Comment over here to suggest your favorites.
You know that Tooth Fairy movie we all were hoping was some sort of elaborate practical joke? Alas, it's real, but Josh Levin watched it so we don't have to.
SAG Awards Liveblog
8:00: I don't even know who's hosting. Now they're just . . . introducing a lot of people? I'm not sure why. Anna Paquin's dress is a mess.
8:02: Now people are introducing themselves! Stop with the introductions! Edie Falco gives the President's bio instead of her own, which is kind of awesome. Aww, Cory Monteith. I won't complain about his intro.
8:04: Maybe there is no host. Here's Kate Hudson and Justin Timberlake. Her dress is bizarre - the front covers everything and the back isn't there at all. Are they hosting or presenting? I can't even tell. Okay, presenting. Male Actor in a Comedy Series. I watch none of these shows, and find it ridiculous that neither Matthew Morrison nor Neil Patrick Harris were nominated. Alec Baldwin wins and hugs his brother. Aww. Larry David is not clapping for him. Baldwin's speech is very pro-union. Negotiations coming up soon! Please don't go on strike, actors.
8:09: Inglourious Basterds people introducing a clip of the movie. Can someone please explain the "Basterds" spelling to me? Diane Kruger's shoulder is still bothering me. My brother loved this movie, but I think my dad didn't like it. I assume that means I wouldn't like it either, but I should probably give it a try.
8:10: It seems like someone tried really hard to make Simon Baker less attractive, but yay for his actual accent. I've already talked about Anna Paquin's dress, but - wow. Really not nice. This is Female Actor (Actress? Not sure how they phrased it) in a Comedy Series. Again, I don't watch any of these shows, and Lea Michele was robbed. But Tina Fey wins! I support that, on principle. She makes an NBC joke, of course.
8:15: Commercial for Valentine's Day. I know it looks awful, but I still want to see it, because that cast! I'll wait for Netflix, though.
8:17: It just occurred to me that I didn't eat dinner. Or, um, lunch. Next commercial break, I should heat up some leftovers.
8:19: We're back! Jane Lynch! We are "celebrat[ing] the artistry of funny." Hey, Danny Kaye! Is this just a sequence of random funny moments from things? Why? Some of them are not very funny. Lots of dancing. Lots of hitting. Most of these were not from this year, by the way. Okay. That was random.
8:22: Kyra Sedgwick and Ray Romano, for Outstanding Comedy Ensemble. Ray Romano says he's going off-script but it seems very planned. Okay, nominees. I should really start watching 30 Rock. I want Glee to win this, of course. And - they did! Yay! They all look so adorable and happy. And something about the way Matthew Morrison and Cory Monteith just hugged made me want to go look for teacher/student slash. Jane Lynch is doing the speech. "We also have the largest cast."
8:27: Precious stars introducing their movie clip. I should probably see this movie too, huh?
8:28: Helen Mirren, silver all over. Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. I wanted to see Invictus but I think I missed it. Ooh, I want to see The Last Station too. I adore Christopher Plummer. I haven't seen any of these movies so I think I'm rooting for Plummer, although I loved Tucci in Julie and Julia. It goes to Christoph Waltz. His speech is a little incoherent. But he looks like he's actually crying, so points for that.
8:33: Commercial! Let's get food.
8:36: Okay, back with leftover spaghetti. They just showed a commercial for The Pregnancy Pact. I might feel compelled to liveblog that tomorrow. Just to warn you.
8:38: We're back! Felicity Huffman and Alec Baldwin. Felicity can't read the teleprompter. Aww. Alec is reading it all. Man, I miss Sports Night. This is Outstanding Female Actor in a Drama Series. The only one of these I watch is The Good Wife. And Julianna Margulies wins! Oh, there's Matt Czuchry hugging her. She's thanking the writers. I'm actually about ten episodes behind on this show. I should catch up. She pronounces Matt's last name "ZOOK-ri." Good to know. Thanking the cast, now her parents. They call her after every episode. Aww. Snakes on a Plane joke!
8:43: Jenna Fischer and Benjamin Bratt, drinking on stage a la Ricky Gervais. Is it real? Unclear. Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series. I'm pulling for Simon Baker but assuming Michael C. Hall will win. Yup. I loved him on Six Feet Under but have yet to watch Dexter. He's the second one (I think) to say the word "union" in his speech. Uh-oh. He seems to have taken the weird shiny suit torch from Mark Saling and Taylor Lautner last week.
8:46: Carey Mulligan introducing the clip from An Education. I really want to see this because I love Nick Hornby. And she's pretty adorable. I was unsure about her dress on the red carpet but I'm liking it here.
8:47: Christina Applegate and Chris O'Donnell, wearing blue ribbons. For Haiti? Not sure. I thought last week they were wearing red ribbons for Haiti. This is Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a Drama Series. Again, The Good Wife is the only one I watch, but I'm guessing it will go to Dexter or Mad Men. (I know, I need to watch Mad Men.) Oh, or maybe they're feeling quirky and will give it to True Blood? Nope, Mad Men. (Have I mentioned how weird it seems that the award is called "the Actor"? It makes a lot of the statements awfully clunky.) Wow, Elisabeth Moss is very sparkly, and I like her hair here better than it was at the Golden Globes. Jon Hamm jokes that he told them all to grow beards and they didn't.
8:53: Commercial for From Paris With Love. Totally want to see that. I mean, John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers together? Hee!
8:57: Now for Ken Howard, the president of the Screen Actors Guild. This is only the 16th annual awards? Huh. He's talking about how great the actors are, but I'd like this to be a little more uniony. He's thanking George Clooney for the telethon. Back to the union. "We're all in this together," blah blah. Now thanking the Armed Forces. And the fellow entertainment unions. "We're all in this together." Again.
9:00: Sandra Bullock, introducing The Blind Side? No! Introducing Betty White for the life achievement award. I still can't decide how I feel about the top of Sandra's dress. She finds Betty White annoying because she makes her feel like a slacker. "She starred in four different shows called The Betty White Show. Four. Most people would stop naming shows after themselves after three." Lots of talk about how many Emmys she has, which seems a little weird at a different award show. Time for the Betty White bio movie, with a voiceover that really makes it sound like one of those documentaries they make for middle schools.
9:04: Apparently Betty White sings. I did not know that.
9:07: Wow, this is going on forever.
9:11: People have clapped for over a minute. Now Betty is speechifying. Honestly? I haven't seen much she's done and so don't really care much about this part.
9:18: Laura Ashley makes mattresses? This thought brought to you by a Sleepy's commercial.
9:19: Extraordinary Measures trailer. I am disappointed in the lack of "I already work around the clock!" And now a Men of a Certain Age ad. I wish I'd started watching that.
9:20: Anna Kendrick and Stanley Tucci. Odd combination. Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. I have seen none of these. Drew Barrymore wins for Grey Gardens, which I didn't watch on principle, because isn't the whole point of the original that it's so unbelievable but actually true? Drew is stammering. "Again, I'm not used to this." Drew? If you have to say "again," you should be used to this. I do not find her messes of speeches cute or endearing. At all.
9:24: Here are three guys from The Hurt Locker. I'm afraid I didn't catch their names. I really hope this wins instead of Avatar for at least SOMETHING tonight.
9:25: Michelle Monaghan and Jon Hamm. Her dress also has only one sleeve, which I didn't even notice because of its blinding sparkly stripes the last time I saw it. Overall, a definite fail. This is Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. I haven't seen any of these either. I sort of want Kevin Kline to win for Cyrano de Bergerac just because. Nope, Kevin Bacon. Kyra Sedgwick is very cutely excited for him. I'm not sure I like the black tie on black shirt with black jacket thing Bacon has going on.
9:29: Sigourney Weaver, whose dress also looks like it is falling off her shoulder and is generally sack-like. She's introducing the In Memoriam bit. I wonder if she wore black deliberately because of that? Oh, gosh, I forgot about Natasha Richardson. Ohh, Brittany Murphy. Ron Silver! I'm pretty sure that was a West Wing clip they used for him. I always wonder how they decide what order to put people in. It's obviously not alphabetical or chronological by date of birth or death. Patrick Swayze! Okay, now I'm all sad.
9:39: Morgan Freeman for Supporting Actress in a Feature Film. Penelope Cruz is very sparkly. Once again: seen none of these. I'm sorry; apparently I never watch anything. Mo'Nique wins. Shocking! Her dress is all nipply and clingy and - well, actually, it just looks like she needs to wear a slip. It's also pretty wrinkled. My father would not let me go out in a dress in that condition, is all I'm saying.
9:43: And now a bunch of people from Nine. I wanted that to be good - I love musicals - but I keep hearing it wasn't, so I'll wait for DVD.
9:50: Meryl Streep! I was uncertain about her patterned dress and big belt on the red carpet, but I think she's making it work. We're at Male Actor in a Leading Role. I haven't seen any of these but I'm pulling for Colin Firth as a matter of principle. (And I want to see all of them, actually.) And . . . Jeff Bridges. Again. He's saying "you guys" a lot. My father wouldn't approve of that either, while we're on the subject. He is rambly. They're telling him to wrap it up. He refuses. He's recommending his over-the-phone singing coach. Once again, he's making them show his wife, which is nice.
9:55: Warren Beatty. No jokes. Short intro. They must be out of time. Female Actor in a Leading Role. Helen Mirren should win because that's how the universe just works, right? She wins everything because she's awesome? Ooh, but Meryl Streep is up for Julie and Julia, and I DID see that! Three times! Oh my God! Sandra Bullock beat out them plus the Precious girl and Carey Mulligan? I am honestly shocked. Wait, Tim McGraw was in The Blind Side? THAT Tim McGraw? Huh. Okay, Bullock's speech is pretty cute, especially the part about her husband.
10:00: George Clooney, to present Cast of a Motion Picture. He just made some Betty White joke I didn't quite get. Again: I have seen none of these, but I want The Hurt Locker to win because of the Golden Globes situation. Nope! Inglorious Basterds. I have never seen a Tarantino movie. Perhaps this shall be the first.
10:03: And we're out!
SAG Red Carpet Liveblog
Red carpet time! I'm starting a little late, so I'm fast forwarding through boring people to catch up . . .
6:22: Chris Colfer wants Julie Andrews to be on Glee! Yes! Wonderful idea. And Jenna Ushhowitz looks lovely.
6:27: Betty White's dark blue stripes are kind of unfortunate.
6:30: Patricia Arquette's dress looks extremely uncomfortable. And Tracy Morgan's date's dress looks like it's strangling her. And - his pickup line is "I'm going to get you pregnant"? Really?
6:33: I have never seen True Blood, but I approve of the cast's clothing choices so far.
6:35: Aww. Carey Mulligan brought her best friend. And Sarah Hyland seems to be having some sort of issue with her dress falling off.
6:38: Cory Monteith! Breaking: no A-list actresses hit on him at the Golden Globes. Also! He's single. His suit is much less shiny than it was at the Golden Globes, so that's a plus.
6:39: Stana Katic's dress looks like it would be really hard to pull off, but I think she's making it work. And I love her hair.
6:41: I feel like Christina Applegate's dress includes several elements I usually dislike, but somehow the combination works.
6:44: Amber Riley: It is not hard for us to find out your age. Stop trying to be cute.
6:46: Billy Baldwin is Alec Baldwin's date for the evening. They are making fun of Stephen. Hee. Alec seems annoyed that Giuliana keeps asking whether things in It's Complicated were in the script. Of course they were! Wait, he and Steve Martin are hosting the Oscars? Huh.
6:55: I didn't catch the name of this person from Modern Family, but her black and white one-sleeve thing is a bit alarming. I'm over the one-sleeve thing in general, actually.
6:57: Please show us the rest of Anna Kendrick's dress, glam cam. I thought she was actually really good in New Moon. Shades of Cordelia Chase, no?
6:58: Tina Fey, asking who criticized her dress last week. I actually liked her Golden Globes dress. Obviously she's playing it safe this week. I like the purple but her dress has this weird gaping pockety thing right in front that is really unflattering. And I feel this neckline really calls for a necklace.
7:01: Jane Lynch! Giuliana made her a PBJ. Hah. Her dress is nicely swoopy. I love full skirts, and it's an interesting blue.
7:02: Justin Timberlake! Not sure about the dark shirt. But he's cute so he gets a pass.
7:03: Oh, Mark Salling. No fad diets, please. I am iffy on the two-tone suit.
7:07: Wow. Sarah Paulson's Holly Hunter impression really is right on, huh? As soon as Hunter started talking, I thought "Huh, that's the person Sarah Paulson imitates!"
7:11: Speaking of Sorkin alums, there's Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy! Macy tweeted that Paul McCartney gave him his scarf, fwiw.
7:15: Someone is wearing very unfortunate white feathers, but they didn't put her name up and I don't quite recognize her.
7:17: They could stop this "Gigi" and "Ross-Ross" thing ANY TIME NOW. And Diane Kruger's dress looks like it's falling off one shoulder, although I'm sure it was designed that way.
7:18: Lea Michele's dress is pretty but I honestly don't think anyone's neckline needs to be at their belly buttons. I love her hair down and curly, though. Oh, yes, Justin Timberlake would also be a great guest star.
7:20: Julia Louis-Dreyfus's dress is quite possibly the worst yet, but I love how she's talking about Giuliana's dress instead.
7:22: Justin Timberlake! I've decided that the blue shirt is okay, but the issue is the bowtie being blacker than the suite. Wait. Why is Giuliana dancing?? Stop, please. JT says he'd be on Glee! Yay! And now he's talking about the Facebook movie. Also yay. He looks sort of like T.J. Thyne, no? I never noticed that before.
7:29: Sandra Bullock seems to have lost track of her husband (?). I can't decide whether I like her dress. It almost looks like she's wearing should pads. Hrm.
7:30: Amber Riley's dress doesn't quite fit.
7:32: Matthew Morrison! Apparently Giuliana is feeling him up and he's very muscular. He has a man crush on Justin Timberlake. Yes! Get him on Glee! They're showing him and Chace Crawford on the glam cam 360 thing. I kind of love that he and Chace are buddies. Now he's talking about his record deal. He'll be recording on the weekends. He looks extremely nice, by the way. Of course.
7:34: Marion Cotillard is doing slightly better with the clothes thing than she'd been doing lately, but it's awfully feathery.
7:35: Jon Hamm's beard is delightful. That is all.
7:35: I would like Nancy Carrell's dress if it were all one color. Alas, it is not.
7:36: I don't watch Kyra Sedgwick's show, but I like her dress.
7:41: The E! guy is talking about the new Footloose movie. I thought that had been cancelled?
7:43: Paula Patton, repeat after me: The front bustle never works.
7:44: Julianna Margulies's neckline has a little too much going on there.
7:45: John Krasinski is looking dapper. Jennifer Carpenter's dress is just baffling. Are her sleeves longer than her skirt? Jessalyn Gilsig has unfortunate crotch-area gathering on her dress.
7:48: Indy Racing League commercial! Nifty. And yes, that means I am now caught up.
7:52: Michelle Monaghan's dress makes my eyes hurt. Hey, Colin Firth! Lovely as always. And they cut right from Colin to Matthew Morrison. Are they trying to kill me with the hotness?
7:54: Agh! The architecture of Drew Barrymore's dress is alarming. Helen, Mirren, however, is beautiful as always.
7:58: Adam Lambert: not watching American Idol. Hah.
A few thoughts on the Haiti telethon
(Here's the link, in case anyone needs it: Hope for Haiti Now.)
1. I knew I wasn't going to be home when the telethon aired, so I TiVoed it. I think that says a lot about what a huge cultural event they managed to make it, that anyone would even think to TiVo a telethon. So good job to the organizers for getting so many huge names.
3. It really, really bugged me that they didn't give names for any of the performers (or actors/other celebrities doing the talking parts). I recognized some, but certainly not all, and I would have liked to know who they were.
4. I am biased against anyone who isn't Jeff Buckley (even Leonard Cohen - I know it's his but the Buckley version is just sublime) but I have to say that Justin Timberlake (and someone else I didn't recognize) did a nice job of "Hallelujah." I will be buying at least that one and the Jay-Z one when they get up on iTunes. (I might just get the whole album. I am undecided.)
5. I unabashedly love Taylor Swift's records, but I'm always disappointed with her performances I see on TV.
6. "Like a Prayer" is probably my favorite Madonna song, but it seemed like an odd choice in this context. The choir sounded nice but also seemed weird, given the song.
7. Songs in the telethon that have also been on Glee: three that I caught. No real point there, except maybe that in all cases I preferred the Glee versions.
Honestly, I'm not sure I've ever watched the Tonight show, regardless of host. But I've seen enough clips and such to know that I find Conan way funnier than Leno. But anyway. That's not the point. The point is that this is an amazing goodbye:
Classy. Makes me like him even more. The musical number was great too:
All that? That makes me want to watch whatever he does next. Well played, sir.
Just like old times...
Good news, longtime readers of Jezebel! This weekend, former editors Megan Carpentier and Moe Tkacik are guest-editing, so make sure you head over there repeatedly!
January 22, 2010
I need to redo all my categories. Hmm. Something to contemplate.
Alyssa is headed to New York and gives us a YouTube New York mixtape to enjoy while she's gone.
Rachel is blogging a picture a day this year, and unlike many who do that, she's a very good photographer. So you should follow along here.
Nate Silver's first post-Masspocalypse Senate rankings are out, and it's not looking, you know, bright and shiny, but I liked this line: "Paul Hodes might be saved if the Republicans nominate a wingnut rather than Kelly Ayotte." (Dear Hodes campaign, I signed up on your site to volunteer! Call me!)
Go vote for Amanda Palmer for both best- and worst-dressed at the Golden Globes. All the cool kids are doing it.
Blast from the past: a new Gene Roddenberry show?
Like YA books? Read this.
My friend Jen has a new column on young adult books at the Examiner. Her first piece is on the Printz award winner and honor books. Jen knows lots about YA, so I look forward to seeing where she goes with this.
I promised you knitting...
Honestly? I'm still trying to finish Christmas presents. And baby presents for a bunch of upcoming babies. And then I have to do something for that church auction. And one of the Christmas presents I finished on time? Still haven't managed to get a picture. Sorry. But! I knit this up for a friend's baby for Christmas - Candy Cane Hat!
The yarn is Plymouth Dreambaby DK. I made the pattern up as I went along, and it's more colorwork than I'd really done before, but I'm happy with how it came out.
Pampered Chef favorites?
I'm going to my first-ever Pampered Chef party this weekend. Any of you regulars? What do I want to buy? The can opener is being universally recommended, it seems...
Mr. Brown Has Two Daughters, But...
Perhaps the least unpleasant effect of Tuesday's Senate election has been that this song has been stuck in my head for days:
Did you know that the powers that be (Mickie Most, maybe?) decided to promote Herman's Hermits because they thought Peter Noone looked like JFK? Yeah. At least according to a PBS special my dad and I watched recently. Actually, though, I feel like they're kind of an underrated band. I guess by that I mean that I tend to forget about them, and that whenever I stop and think about how many of their songs I really like, I'm kind of surprised. This one, of course. "I Am Henry VIII, I Am" is just silly, but I've always loved "There's a Kind of Hush." "I'm Into Something Good" has a sort of sublime simplicity. And there's "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat," of course. These less prominent British Invasion bands often get overshadowed, and sure, they're not the Beatles or the Stones. But not everyone has to be. They're worth a listen.
(And IMDb tells me that Peter Noone guest starred on Quantum Leap. Who knew?)
This isn't funny. Really. But...
Good Morning America did this story this morning about a 16-year-old Starbucks employee who is suing over sexual harrassment by her supervisor. This is a serious issue and I really don't mean to make light of it. But I cannot help but point this out. The supervisor's name?
. . . wait for it . . .
Tim Horton. No, really. I can't figure out if the whole thing will end up as good or bad PR for Tim Horton's.
Here's some cuteness to help you get through your Friday:
January 21, 2010
(Is there someone else who calls an evening link roundup "Endnotes"? I have a nagging feeling that there is, but I can't come up with who. Whoever you are - sorry! I'll come up with a new name if you want!)
Stupid criminal of the day: This guy paid a prostitute, who then refused to sleep with him. So he CALLED THE POLICE.
Wait, REALLY? When I first saw something about the new all-white professional basketball league, I assumed it was a joke. Alas, it is not. Update: Just saw that Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks it's a hoax. God, I hope so.
Tim Matheson tweeted this morning that the Code 58 cast - Bradley Whitford, Colin Hanks, Diana-Maria Riva, and Jenny Wade - have arrived, uh, somewhere. Wherever he is. Dallas, I assume? That's where they're filming. But anyway, this news fills me with glee.
When did Fox become the network that keeps coming out with new shows I like? Something to ponder.
The new Clash of the Titans might be 3D. I am undecided about this, and 3D movies in general - they can be nifty but I don't really enjoy the headaches I get from watching them.
Jessica Grose thinks the news Jersey Shore style show should be Massholes. Awesome. That one I might actually watch.
I haven't actually watched any of this season of Brothers and Sisters yet (it's on the TiVo!) but I am unhappy with this development (spoiler!). The bit in the fourth graf makes it a little less sad, I suppose. More on my feelings on this when it's no longer a spoiler.
Your Bradley Whitford non-news of the day
In this all-around amusing TV Guide video of various actors backstage at the press tour, Bradley Whitford says that his quirky talent is tying his legs behind his head:
But he won't/can't do it in those jeans. Never fear! He did it on Ellen a few years ago:
So there you have it.
Goodbye, Air America . . .
Oh, no. Air America is no more. I will admit that I didn't listen as often as I should have - I know! I'm the problem! - but I was a faithful reader of the Web site. And - dudes, remember when now-Sen. Franken was a radio personality? And Rachel Maddow was this new person no one had ever heard of, other than us Berkshires types who listened to WRSI? They were part of what led us out of the wilderness, Franken and Maddow and the rest of Air America. And more recently, Air America was the home of two of my favorite journalists, Megan Carpentier and Ana Marie Cox. So. Anyone hiring? Hire them, please.
What the world needs now...
... is CLEARLY another Shonda Rhimes show. And it's about doctors! Shocking! (I mock, but I will probably watch.) This one is about doctors at a clinic in some sort of exotic location. This could go reasonably well or very, very badly - remember that 7th-Heaven-in-Africa monstrosity a few years ago? Yeah. I just hope that Pete's annoying ex from Private Practice isn't involved. Wait, was she even a doctor? Or was she a photographer or something? Am I confusing her with Luke's annoying ex from Gilmore Girls? So many questions!
Television Without Pity predicts exactly what will happen. They're probably right. And I'll probably get sucked in anyway. One plus: I've spent less time in clinics in exotic locations than I have in hospitals and doctors' offices in the U.S., so I just won't know how unrealistic it is. (Well, no. It will probably be pretty obvious just how unrealistic it is. Never mind.)
The Times SHOULD charge for access.
Everyone's been talking about how the New York Times is going to start charging for access, at least for people who access the site a lot. As someone who accesses the site a lot, I say: fine. Good. I want the Times to stick around, and I am happy to pay for it. (They do say that subscribers won't have to pay online, but I only subscribe on Sundays. Will I get online content free? Just Sunday content? It's unclear.) And the metered method means that people who just want to read a story or two - perhaps from clicking on a link elsewhere - will get to do so for free.
Recently I've been feeling like the "everything on the Internet is (or should be) free" concept that seems to be generally accepted may be approaching the point at which it does more harm than good. If there are sites or services I really like, I want them to survive, and I'd rather pay a small subscription fee than have to worry about things vanishing. (I worry about Twitter.) And this idea of free news online seems so entrenched, but really - 15-20 years ago, well within my lifetime, if you wanted to read a newspaper, you either paid for it or went to the library. So all of those now having fits about their universal right to whatever content they want for free - really? Really? Where do you think the content COMES from? Journalists need to eat!
A few interesting takes on this: Jack Shafer at Slate thinks the Times should focus on improving Web advertising revenue instead. Ezra Klein muses on the implications for bloggers and wonders whether bloggers will become a "black market" for news. And Matt Yglesias considers whether this means he should stop linking to Times articles so frequently.
New format, of sorts
I don't know why I feel compelled to announce this, as it will be obvious enough soon. But the informal survey I did last week suggested that you all like a fairly wide range of subjects, and I know I prefer blogs with more frequent posts, even if they're shorter. So I'm going to try posting a few things throughout the day*, with Endnotes at the end of the day for links or whatever didn't seem big enough to get its own post. Related: I'm sorry for the lack of knitting content. I promise at least one knitting post this week(end).
* Hi employers! These are posts that I have written ahead of time or on breaks and set up to post during the day. I'm not blogging on work time. Thanks! Love you too!
What happened to "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet..."?
Didn't the post office used to pride themselves on delivering in any weather? When did this change? In my town, at least, the official policy seems to be that they won't deliver if they have to GET OUT OF THE CAR. This seems a tad ridiculous. I'm not even asking for delivery WHILE it's snowing. Just after. The past two mornings, I have shoveled the space in front of my mailbox. Then, before the mail comes, the town plow comes along and piles up more snow right there. So I don't get my mail.
Now, I understand that some circumstances might actually make it dangerous for mail carriers, but this isn't one of those. I'm short, and I can reach my mailbox just fine by standing in front of the little pile of snow. No climbing into the snow required. But I guess they can't quite reach it from the car window, so I don't get my mail. GAH. (This, of course, means that I have to go to the post office to pick it up, and do they have hours friendly to people who work office jobs? No, no they don't.)
January 20, 2010
A bunch of unrelated pop culture stuff
I keep having little bits of things I want to say, mostly about books or pop culture stuff, so let's try a post of a bunch of those mashed together and see how it goes. If I make this a recurring feature, any ideas on a name?
They're making Twilight graphic novels, which, now that I think about it, I'm really surprised they hadn't done already.
Is anyone watching any of the new shows that have started over the past few weeks? I'm trying Human Target and Life Unexpected. The former is just fun, and the latter - well, I'm skeptical of anything that's called "the new Gilmore Girls," but the pilot totally pulled me in. Oh, and I will also be trying The Deep End and Caprica, starting later this week.
When I heard that writer Robert B. Parker died, I was immediately sad and then realized that I don't think I've actually read any of his books. This column from Emily Bazelon makes me really want to read the whole series.
Hey, Joss Whedon fans: You'll want to check out this interview with Amy Acker. It's supposedly about her new show, Happy Town (which looks interesting!), but there's a bunch about Dollhouse and a little Cabin in the Woods too. (So Bradley Whitford fans will also want to check it out. And I have to say I rather fear that between the Whedon fans and the Whitford fans, this movie is going to cause some sort of fandom implosion from so much awesome in one place.)
In more potential-implosion-from-awesomeness news, Neil Patrick Harris is going to be in a Whedon-directed episode of Glee, and it is, as Alyssa Rosenberg says, pretty much the Best. News. Ever.
Wait, and more! Grey's Anatomy has cast Sarah Paulson (of Studio 60) and J. August Richards (of Angel and Raising the Bar) as young Richard and Ellis. I know a lot of people didn't like Paulson in Studio 60, but I completely adored her, so I'm really excited to see her back on my TV, if only for an episode.
If you want a really huge Gossip Girl spoiler click here.
My best friend and I have been watching Battlestar Galactica for what feels like years. We have three episodes left. I kind of hate it at this point. Just in case you were wondering.
So. Scott Brown. Now what?
Like many liberals, I'm extremely sad about Coakley's loss last night. It's not that I like Coakley, specifically. I don't. But I believe that universal health care is the most important issue of our time, and Scott Brown says he will do whatever he can to block it. So. In addition, I will admit that the idea of a Republican in Teddy Kennedy's seat just - I don't know, it somehow shifts my general worldview, and I think we all need to take a little time out to accept it.
What we don't need to do is panic. That will not help anything. Democrats still have a huge majority in both houses, and this one loss doesn't mean doom. As an almost-local (I live in NH, but in the Boston media market) I have to say that I honestly believe that practically any other candidate would have won this for the Democrats. Coakley made a series of almost unbelievably stupid mistakes, including misspelling "Massachusetts" in one of her ads. And even aside from the mistakes, she was just - blah. She barely campaigned. She said she didn't want to stand outside in the cold shaking hands. What??
So, as I said, no panicking. So, then, what? This is the best I came up with: as soon as the race was called for Brown, I signed up to volunteer for Paul Hodes' Senate campaign. Then I donated to the New Hampshire Democratic Party. That seemed like the only reasonable response. Then I tossed and turned and basically got no sleep all night (although I'm not sure that's related) and then got up and made cupcakes at 5am. Which, frankly, also seemed like a totally reasonable response.
January 18, 2010
Aaron Sorkin Alums on New Shows
(Note: All lists in this post are alphabetical, because I'm insane.)
It looks like the following new shows have been picked up (or at least greenlit as pilots). (And let me know if you know of any to add to the list.)
Code 58: Tim Matheson (directing), Diana-Maria Riva, Bradley Whitford
In addition to the following already on:
Brothers and Sisters: Rob Lowe
Someone! Go grab Tim Busfield, Allison Janney, Sabrina Lloyd, Josh Malina, Janel Moloney, Sarah Paulson, Amanda Peet, Teri Polo, Martin Sheen, and Jimmy Smits and make an awesome ensemble show! Thank you.
January 15, 2010
Apparently National Delurking Day was earlier this week and I missed it, but I'm going to declare it Delurking Weekend here. I know many more people are reading this blog than usually comment, so... say hi! And tell me what you want to read about, because I know I can be scattered. Knitting? Book reviews? Cooking? Politics? The West Wing? Other TV? Any/all of the above?
January 14, 2010
Janel Moloney (Donna from The West Wing) is starring in a new movie, so of course I have to see it. But - wow. It looks completely bizarre. Apparently she's the wife of a guy who wants to cut off his arms. Huh.
I will see it, but - really? Really?
E-mail issue resolved!
What, you didn't know there was an e-mail issue? Yeah. I finally have my comments being e-mailed to me at an address I actually use. I know! It's like - welcome to 2002! Yeah. Anyway, this means that I will likely approve them more quickly and, more important, actually respond!
January 13, 2010
(Not) on Bradley Whitford's mustache
The TCA press tour has been going on this week, and I have been endlessly amused that one of the big stories coming out of it was that Bradley Whitford (aka the most attractive man on the planet) has - gasp - grown a mustache for his new show, Code 58. Really, it's a much bigger story than I thought it would be. The Washington Post wrote about it. And NPR. And the Hartford Courant. Etc. I mean - real news sources, not just fangirls on LiveJournal.
But speaking of the fangirls - a lot of Whitford's fans are extremely upset by the mustache. And I just don't quite get it. I mean, sure, I probably wouldn't CHOOSE for him to have it if it were up to me. But I certainly don't think it makes him unattractive. (I saw some video of him speaking somewhere with the mustache AND glasses, and I have to say that that look was kind of hot.) I did, though, have a moment of contemplation about whether I would be able to call him the hottest man on TV when the new show starts in May, given the mustache and the rather large number of other hot men on TV right now: Nathan Fillion. David Boreanaz. Ed Westwick. Matthew Morrison. Simon Baker.
So I thought about it for a minute, and then I realized - wait, YES. Because, sure, there's the mustache, and he's a fair amount older than most of those other guys. But is that what really matters? No. So. A short list of reasons why Bradley Whitford will still be the hottest man on TV:
1. He wrote this, and this, and this.
So - really, what was I thinking? OF COURSE he's the hottest man on TV, regardless of facial hair.
Edited to add: No offense intended to fangirls on LiveJournal. I am one myself. I just meant that I thought it would be more of a niche story.
January 11, 2010
Review: Food Rules
Food Rules by Michael Pollan
You've probably heard Michael Pollan's basic rules: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." This little book expands these three rules into 64 rules, most of which are guidelines to figuring out what counts as "real food." I've heard some criticism that this is mostly a rehash of his other books, and if you've read the others, then sure, this might not be very helpful or interesting. But if you want a quick introduction to Pollan's way of thinking - or if, like me, you've been meaning to read his longer books for years and haven't gotten around to it - this is an accessible, quick read that I found both inspirational and useful on a practical level.
January 10, 2010
I successfully knit a few inches of sock in the dark at the movie theater last night. To be fair, it was plain stockinette and a movie I'd seen before, but STILL. I didn't drop any stitches or lose any DPNs or ANYTHING. I am proud.
January 06, 2010
Knitting for a raffle?
I'm on the committee at church that plans our annual Mardi Gras dance, and because of the economic situation, it's pretty much impossible to get enough local businesses to donate things to have the usual variety of prizes we have for the shoebox raffle. So I offered to knit something for one of the prizes. Now . . . what to make? Have any of you knit things for raffles before? What types of items seemed particularly popular or unpopular? Or - if you were going to a raffle, what sort of knitted thing would you enter to win?
January 05, 2010
Release the Kraken!
I have to admit that I am extraordinarily excited about the new Clash of the Titans. It promises to be just as "so cheesy it's awesome" as the original, which they actually had us watch in school, if you can believe that.
I mean, doesn't that preview just make you grin with glee? I cannot wait. I'm not sure what it says about me that I'm largely indifferent to the whole Avatar thing but simultaneously feeling that this is the movie that I absolutely cannot miss in the theater. Release the kraken! Damn the gods! So many catchphrases!
January 04, 2010
I'm feeling like I'm not getting the most out of my gadgets, because it rarely occurs to me to go looking for new apps after the first little flurry of activity. So! Tell me your favorites! I have an iPod Touch and an Android-based phone, so either iTunes store apps or Google market apps would be helpful. Free is preferable, of course, but I'm willing to pay for something good. Thanks!
Review: The Fourth Part of the World
The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name by Toby Lester
This books is supposedly about the 1507 German map that used the word "America" for the first time, but it's actually about a lot more than that, and almost all of it is fascinating. It tries to tell the story of pretty much everything that led up to the creation of this map, which means the entire history of European (and some Asian) exploration, cartography, geography, and a fair amount of theology and philosophy from ancient times through the 1500s. Aside from the obvious elements such as Ptolemy, Marco Polo, Columbus, and Geghis Khan, there are digressions into such topics as the Papal Schism and Gutenberg - and all of them do play a role (albeit sometimes a minor one) in the story.
The sheer scope of the book means that it moves very quickly, which makes it engrossing but also at times confusing. It jumps back and forth in time a bit, so I kept having to check whether certain things were happening before or after other things. And there were some comma usage issues that really bothered me. Other than that, though, I enjoyed this one and read it pretty quickly, and it definitely sparked interest in some of the topics it covered. (I kind of want to write a novel about the Council of Constance now.) I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in exploration, cartography, or the Renaissance in general.
January 03, 2010
Review: It Will Come to Me
It Will Come to Me by Emily Fox Gordon
It Will Come to Me tells of Ben, a sixty-ish philosophy professor, and his wife Ruth, a novelist turned bored faculty wife who hasn't written anything in years. One of the reasons for this drought, the reader eventually finds out, is that their son Isaac, now 24, is mentally ill and homeless, and Ruth's grief and worry has blocked her creativity. It has also, I have to say, made her very unpleasant. (I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming that she was less unpleasant before the troubles with Isaac.) Therefore, Ruth is a sympathetic character but not a likable one. And I'm not saying I have to like the characters in order to like a novel, but in this case, it certainly doesn't help. Ben is more likable, and my favorite character was certainly his secretary, Dolores.
Gordon's strength here is in the quality of the writing and in her just-slightly-overblown descriptions of academia. The university is thrown into an uproar by a new president, a visit from an accreditation committee, and an enigmatic visiting writer and her odd husband. Ruth hopes that they will give her a way back into the world of publishing, while Ben has to deal with the various changes caused by all three new elements as well as his hateful dean. And, of course, they are also trying to figure out what's going on with Isaac and his mysterious therapist, who is their only (supposed) link to their son. All of these issues could have been brought to some sort of interesting and natural resolution, but instead, the end of the book contains several out-of-the-blue happenings that can only be described as deus ex machina, and that left me dissatisfied with the whole novel.
January 02, 2010
Review: Bed of Roses
Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
The first book in this series, Vision in White, was the only romance to make it onto my "best books I read in 2009" list, so I was very excited to get this sequel. (It had a very long queue at the library, of course.) I loved it, although it wasn't quite as absorbing as the first - mainly, I think, because the romantic hero in the first was an English teacher, so it got extra points for that. But anyway, the couple in this one were Emma, a florist, and Jack, an architect. This series revolves around four childhood friends who now have a wedding business together, which sets it up quite nicely for both romance and a variety of bridezilla-type hijinks. They all live and work on a huge estate in Greenwich, CT, with their amazing housekeeper/cook (and now Carter, the hero of the first in the series, who is living with his fiancee there). It's an idyllic set-up, and the friendship between the women is pretty amazing, which goes a long way toward making this practically the perfect romance series. And since this is Nora Roberts, they all end up with friends' brothers, brothers' friends, etc. As in most of her series, the characters have a strong network of family and friends that makes the reader pretty much want to just go live in the world of the book.
And in all that, I haven't actually said much about the plot. Okay. Jack is Emma's best friend's brother's best friend (see?), so they've known each other forever, but always suppressed their mutual attraction. They kiss, sort of on a whim, and then decide to get into a relationship, much to the consternation of their mutual friends. But Emma is looking for a husband and family and permanence, and Jack has always shied away from that. So - well, I don't want to give any spoilers, exactly, but this is a romance novel so we all know where it's headed. Let's just say that the way it gets there is satisfying and avoids most of the standard contrivances romance novels employ to keep the characters apart. The writing is solid, and even though the plot isn't exactly labyrinthine, it's engrossing. All in all, it's a thoroughly delightful paragon of the romance genre, and I'm looking forward to book three in May.
January 01, 2010
Review: Meet Rebecca
Look! Fulfilling my promise! I just finished this book and I am blogging it immediately! Also, I added a new widget over on the right that will show all the books I have read in 2010. As long as I, you know, keep up with it.
Meet Rebecca by Jacqueline Dembar Greene
Okay, I'll admit it - I've been reading American Girl books for 21 years and I still adore them. This is the first book about Rebecca, the child of Russian Jewish immigrants living in NYC in 1914. It's like they MADE this one for me - World War I! Immigrants! Jewish traditions! New York! As with all of the American Girl historical novels, Rebecca's story manages to be educational, in a completely non-subtle way, and simultaneously completely engaging. It's a gentle read while also not shying away from serious issues - Rebecca's family is trying to save money to bring relatives over from Russia before they get drafted into the tsar's army and/or starve to death. And nine-year-old Rebecca is scared and worried about this, as you'd expect, but there's no suggestion that children can't deal with such things. This main crisis is set against a backdrop of sibling rivalry, intergenerational tension between old world and new world customs, and a little girl trying to grow up too quickly. Really, my one main issue with it is that I was too embarrassed to ask for the Rebecca doll for Christmas.
This has prompted me to figure out which American Girl books I've missed and, um, request about twenty of them from the library. So! Just a warning that you will be seeing a lot of these sorts of reviews in the next few weeks.
The 16 Best Books I Read This Year
Happy New Year! I completely fell down on posting reviews of each book I read in 2009. I'll try again in 2010. But I did at least keep track of the books in a spreadsheet, so here's a list of the 16 best. (Why 16? I don't know. They stood out above the rest of the list.) I did include things that were published before 2009, as long as I read them in 2009. I did not include anything I had read before. The ordering is rough; the top six are definitely the six best books I read this year, but after that, things could move around a fair amount depending on my mood. I know I didn't review these all here, so if you want to know what I liked so much about any particular title(s), leave a comment and I'll get back to you.
Let's try a nifty slideshow thing:
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins