Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The holidays are coming!

Recently my friend April has been blogging about the preparations she is beginning to make for Thanksgiving - invitations, menu planning, the whole nine yards. (You can check out her blog, A Kingly Affair, here.)

At first, I was a little surprised. Thanksgiving is more than two months away. Then I realized, no, it really isn't. This also means that Christmas is less than three months away and I haven't started shopping at all. Time to start making that list and checking it twice. :)

The pictures that April posted of dishes she is considering made me start daydreaming about my favorite Thanksgiving delicacies. I can see them in my mind and definitely smell them! Fried turkey, mashed potatoes (real, not instant) with gravy, sweet potatoes with praline topping, stuffed merlitons (sp?), spinach madeleine, dressing (don't forget oyster dressing for Uncle Marty!), Carol's homemade bread, various other vegetables, etc.

And the desserts - my mom makes the best pies: Kentucky Derby (pecan with chocolate chips and a splash of bourbon) and pumpkin with real whipping cream, complete with homemade crusts. Sometimes she makes a lemon chess pie as well. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, no store bought crust can compare with a homemade crust done by an expert. My uncle Rob and his family drove in from Huntsville one year and he almost cried when he realized that Mom had decided to experiment with dessert for Thanksgiving that year. The cheesecake she made was excellent but it just wasn't the same. After that, she saved the experimental desserts for Christmas Dinner, lol.

Sigh. Now I wish Thanksgiving was closer than almost two months away. What are your family's Thanksgiving traditions?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall 2010 so far... part 2

Greatly enjoyed the returns of Community, Cougar Town and Supernatural. As always, the students of Greendale and the family and friends of Jules Cobb were very amusing. Both comedy season premieres are watchable if you haven't seen the show before, but you'll probably enjoy them more if you've seen at least an episode or two from last season. If you haven't had a chance to watch them yet, here you go:

Community - Anthropology 101 (featuring Betty White as the world's most dangerous Anthropology professor)

Cougar Town - All Mixed Up (with Jennifer Anniston as Jules' equally crazy therapist)

Supernatural wasn't yet available for online viewing at the time of this blog being posted. Its season premiere was pretty decent and raised some interesting questions. For a thoughtful review and recap, read Mo Ryan's take here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall 2010 so far...

I skipped The Event. I heard too many comparisons to Flash Forward, which I liked initially but grew tired of quickly.

I was really looking forward to Lone Star and evidently I was the only person that watched it, lol. It’s a shame, it was really good and far better than that DWTS crap. I guess too many people thought it would be like Dallas. According to Zap2it.com, LS only drew a little over 4 million voters – definitely not enough for any kind of longevity on Fox. Bummer.

My favorite new shows of the fall are FX's Terriers - it reminds me a lot of the late, great Veronica Mars - and HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Even though they don't have a lot in common on the surface, both have great casts with good chemistry and a real sense of place.

I’ve written off Nikita and Hellcats. They weren't terrible, but they weren't good enough to take up my viewing time either.

Mike and Molly. Oh, dear. Where do I begin? I wanted to like this show - I love Melissa McCarthy, the actress that plays Molly; she was one of my favorites on Gilmore Girls - but it's dreadful. The laugh track is grating and the fat jokes offensive. A definite skip in my book.

Of the returning shows I've seen so far, I greatly enjoyed Sons of Anarchy, Chuck, Glee and The Vampire Diaries (the show runners at True Blood should watch to see how it’s done). Castle was entertaining as always.

Be on the lookout for more updates later this week!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Self discovery? Maybe. Ramblings of an insomniac? Definitely.

It's been an odd time for me, this life journey over the past five years or so. Five years ago this month, I really thought God was calling me to be a youth and children's program director at a church in Mississippi. I went, and it turned out to be a disaster. After having my plans and ideas shot down time after time, I eventually gave up doing anything until they let me go.

My parents were moving back to Baton Rouge around the same time, so I took it as a sign that that was where I needed to be. I moved into their garage apartment, applied for a job at the paper and the rest is history.

I really do feel like God put me on that path for a reason. While working at the paper, I've gained a sense of self and self confidence that I was lacking before. Now I feel like I've learned all the lessons that can be learned there. Being turned down as a copy editor feels like a sign that my journey there is, if not over, at least at a point where I can progress no further.

I've been toying with the idea of pursuing becoming a closed captionist for a while now. Since watching t.v. is one of my favorite things to do, it seems like a good fit. I think I'm going to try and figure out a way to make that work. The training takes between two and three years, so I'll probably stay at the paper for at least that much longer. Seems to me that having a job that isn't particularly challenging would be a good thing if you're trying to go to school at the same time.

As for the change in scenery, I'll be finding a new place to live when my lease is up in December.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Good-bye, True Blood

There were a few things I liked about season 3 of True Blood: the yummy Alcide, the wonderfully campy Russell Edginton and the always fantastic Alfre Woodard as Lafayette's mom. I also think there wasn't nearly enough Baby Vamp Jessica.

There were a lot more that I despised: Tara being continually made into a victim, Franklin, turning Sam into a bad guy (the whole storyline with his family, actually), Hot Shot and its denizens, the fairies; or that I was on the fence about: I started off liking Lafayette and his love interest, but really didn't care for that whole drug dream thing and the subsequent story lines.

My friend Brittany is a real fan of the show; she thinks I'm nuts for not enjoying this season. She records it on her dvr and fast-forwards through the parts she's not interested in. I watch it online and do the same thing but when I find myself watching a 45 minute show in 10 to 15 minutes because I've fast-forwarded through the parts I don't care about, isn't that a bad sign?

I may wind up watching season 4 if I'm unable to resist the temptation of all that eye candy but it won't be appointment t.v. for me any longer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To 3-D or not to 3-D

Hollywood's latest fad is to make everything into a 3-D movie. I think part of the reason this appeals to them is the exponentially bigger ticket price. They've gone way overboard with the 3-D. Step Up 3D? Really?

Hopefully this is going to backfire on them. I hate the 3-D movies. It actually makes my head hurt to watch them.

Roger Ebert give 3D a D-. Here are his nine reasons.

James Cameron, the creator of Avatar, has been quoted as saying that he thinks the overabundance of 3D is bad for the medium, that not every movie needs to be 3D.

Slate.com has an interesting article about 3D ticket sales and profitability complete with graphs and charts. Click here to read it.

Are you a fan of the 3D craze? Would you rather Hollywood stuck with 2D and just used 3D for special cases like Avatar?

I keep hoping we're better than this

An article appeared recently on The Advocate's website about two small children that were injured in an automobile accident because they weren't properly restrained. (Click here to read the article.) It makes me really angry when I see people driving around with their children obviously unrestrained - especially when I see a cop ignore the situation. Since the adults in the accident weren't seriously injured, I think it's safe to say that if the children had been properly restrained, they wouldn't be in critical condition.

People already look down on Louisiana as ignorant and redneck; there's not any reason to give them more reasons to think this way. Britney Spears already did plenty of damage on this front.

The other thing that I find disturbing about this article is the comment section. I keep hoping that the South is moving past the blatant racism/classism that has defined it for so long... and then I read the comment section for this article. I was truly horrified - especially after I realized that I hear similar comments and/or assumptions everyday. I just tune them out. The comment makers are obviously assuming that the people in the vehicles were definitely poor and probably black. There was nothing in the article that would indicate that other than where the accident took place.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Theatrical Cuts vs. Director Cuts

Is one better than the other? Hard to say. Sometimes the difference between the two isn't that great, only a matter of a few scenes that were cut for time reasons or something similar. Sometimes it's a completely different movie after the extra footage is inserted.

I know that Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves isn't a particularly good movie but I've always enjoyed it (even with Kevin Costner's amazing disappearing, reappearing accent), mostly because of Alan Rickman's awesome turn as the Sheriff of Nottingham. After watching the "director's cut" version of that film, it has been ruined for me. I know, I know, there was always the witch and her spells, but the new version went even further down that path, to the point where it made me uncomfortable to watch.

Earlier, I blogged about Kingdom of Heaven and how it made me consider what it means to be a person of faith versus a person of religion. Either version of this movie is fine to watch but the director's cut is about 45 minutes longer and adds a whole (and rather major) plot line. Is it necessary? No. Does it improve the movie? Debatable. Does it help tie up a few puzzling bits in the original. Yes, it does. Would I recommend one over the other? Depends on whom I was recommending to.

And Blade Runner. Good grief! There are so many versions of this movie out there that I'm not sure which one I should watch.

What's your take? Are director's cuts and/or extended versions of movies better than the theatrical release? Or is it a conspiracy by the studios to try and make more money?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kingdom of Heaven

On my Facebook page I often post random movie quotes. I kind of enjoy seeing if other people get the reference or not. I wanted to post this one - "I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of God. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What God desires is here [points to head] and here [points to heart] and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man - or not." - but Facebook said it was too long and there was no good way to shorten it. It comes from Kingdom of Heaven, a 2005 Ridley Scott film about the Crusades.

I originally saw KoH because it had Orlando Bloom and Edward Norton. I've seen it several times since because it really makes me think about what it means to be a person of faith. It's about the age-old conflicts between Jews, Christians and Muslims over Jerusalem.

You can watch it as an action flick with knights, castles, sword fights and huge battle scenes. Or you can pay more attention to the dialog and watch it as a meditation about faith versus religion. Personally, I recommend the latter. Watch it if you haven't already and let me know what you think.

No more excuses!

No more excuses, folks! ABCFamily will be airing Friday Night Lights beginning with Season One starting tonight at 9 p.m./8p.m.CST. Don't tell me that you don't want to watch "the football show" because it is sooo much more than that.

Reflections on a tween-age assassin

Kick Ass, you have caused me to reflect more about how I feel about the contents of a movie than anything I've seen in a long time. That's right, I'm talking about you, Hit Girl. (I'm going to try not to be too spoilery. Oh, and this isn't a review, by the way.)

One of the main characters in Kick Ass is a tween-aged girl named Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz). She's cute as a bug and has been trained by her nut case ex-cop father, Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage), in all manner of fighting skills so that she can assist him in tracking down and killing the drug kingpin responsible for her mother's death. Known as Hit Girl, her alter ego sports a mask, a purple wig and a variation on a catholic school girl uniform.

Keep in mind I'm a fan of movies in general. It has to be REALLY bad for me not to like it or at least be entertained by it. Even the horrible ones are entertaining because they are SO bad.

After watching Kick Ass, I have an extraordinary (for me, anyway) amount of mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was AWESOME to see a girl kick so much butt. On the other, I'm horrified by the way this child was raised. And her language... oh, my goodness. I have a potty mouth, but this girl puts me to shame.

I know that this is fiction but it makes me wonder about the children being raised in those survivalist compounds or communes that you hear about in the media. I also wonder about Chloe Moretz and how playing roles of this type may affect her; her next role is the child vampire in Let Me In, the American remake of the excellent Let the Right One In. If I were a parent, I know I would not feel comfortable allowing my child to portray such characters.

Roger Ebert's review of Kick Ass is here. He has some interesting points to make about it.

Have you seen Kick Ass? Did it make you think? Do you have a movie that you can't stop thinking about?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

You had to know it was coming...

As much time I as I spend watching t.v. and writing about it later, you had to know this blog entry was coming. According to the folks at Nielsen, the official start of the 2010-2011 t.v. season is Sept. 20. Apparently the folks at The CW and FX didn't get the memo because many of their tent pole shows are starting their new seasons next week. Yay!

One of my favorite guilty pleasures, The CW's The Vampire Diaries, is back Thursday, Sept. 9, and I'm so excited! The folks in Mystic Falls were left in various tricky situations and I'm can't wait to see how they're going to be resolved. That's one of my favorite things about TVD - resolutions to its many plot twists and turns come quickly.

Supernatural is back on a new night, Friday. I'm very interested to see how it works with a new show runner. I'm kind of glad they're going back to more of a monster of the week format; the Apocalypse storyline of last season was a whole lot of wait and then not enough pay off.

FX's Sons of Anarchy is also back Tuesday and if it's half as good as last season, we're in for a treat. (It's a crying shame that the show itself and Katey Sagal for her portrayal of Gemma Teller-Morrow weren't nominated for Emmy's.) I know, I know, you're thinking "why would I watch a show about a motorcycle gang?" It's so much more than that; it's really about a community/family struggling to make things work under very difficult circumstances. A word of warning, as you can imagine from the subject matter, it's a bit graphic with language and violence. Don't give it a try if you're squeamish about such things.

I'm also looking forward to Terriers, a new show from FX. I'm willing to give anything with Donal Logue (Life, Grounded For Life, Knights of Prosperity) a try. Billed as a buddy cop show, it's about two unlicensed private detectives that are always getting caught up in cases that are bigger than they can really handle. It's getting great reviews from a wide variety of critics and is definitely worth a shot as far as I'm concerned.

I'll be going in to more detail about additional shows as we get further into the season. In the meantime, our friends at Television Without Pity have gone to the trouble to break down the fall schedule by day, time and show. They also make recommendations about what to watch, what to dvr, what to watch online and what to skip. Be sure to check it out here. Some of them I agree with, some not, but it's interesting reading.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sewing and self-realization

I decided that I wanted to learn how to sew. My friend April offered to teach/help me with my first project. I selected a pillow case dress since it seemed fairly simple and straightforward for a first-time seamstress.

It was an eye-opening experience and I learned some things about myself that probably should have been self-evident but were news to me. While I have almost limitless amounts of patience when it comes to dealing with people on the phone, the constant measure, cut, press, piece, sew, cycle got a little tedious after a while. I am not the small detail person that I thought I was, lol.

On the other hand, I loved the extremely satisfying feeling of having created something unique in a matter of hours. April's ready to get started on our next project; I'm not quite there yet, but I'm definitely inclined to give it another go.

What about you? Is there anything crafty that you like to do that you'd recommend to others?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Au revoir, Ted

If you've been reading this blog since the beginning, you know I'm a huge fan of ABC's short-lived sticom Better Off Ted. The last two episodes of this comic masterpiece (which never aired on television) are now available to watch on iTunes or stream on Netflix.

While not the strongest episodes of Ted, they are still enjoyable. Check them out if you've got an extra 45 minutes.