Monday, October 4, 2010

Ingram Hill - "Hey Girl" Live at Juanita's 10/2

Check out the video I took Saturday night at Juanita's in Little Rock of my favorite band, Ingram Hill, performing "Hey Girl," off their new album Look Your Best!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Premiere Week Impressions: Monday Night

I haven't gotten a chance to watch Lone Star yet, so it's missing from this rundown. Apparently, it tanked in the ratings anyway, so I'm not sure if I'll watch now or just hold on to it until I see if it picks up better ratings next week.

The Event (NBC, 8 pm CST) - I tuned into this mainly because I missed the whole phenomenon of watching Lost as it aired and I didn't want that to happen again. NBC has played fast and loose (and for good reason) with what the titular event actually is, but I was happy to see that we actually found out what it is in the pilot. The show had the tone of something like 24 or that one episode of Flashforward I managed to catch. Lots of moving parts in the pilot, with very little time devoted to fleshing out the characters, other than who I assume is the main character, Jason Ritter's Sean. I was kind of 'meh' on the whole thing until the last 5 or 10 minutes when several things (including "the event") really piqued my interest. I will definitely give this one a few more episodes, at the very least.

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS, 9 pm CST) - I really loved this pilot. For one, I adore Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan. For another, James Marsters, Spike himself, is in it! It wasn't deep, it wasn't all that meaningful, but it was pretty and entertaining. The pilot sets up a nice continuing plot line involving the murder of Steve McGarrett's (Alex) father (briefly seen to be Jim Sadler, my dear Sheriff Valenti from Roswell), along with the potential for Case of the Week hijinks to be tackled by McGarrett's task force. The best part of the show was the banter between McGarrett and Caan's Danny "Dano" Williams. Scott Caan is best when he's allowed to be the sarcastic smartass, and hopefully the show will continue to let him exercise that skill. Season pass is already set up, so I'm in for the year, unless something really drastic happens.

Castle (ABC, 9 pm CST) - This was a returning favorite, and I have no complaints about the episode, but it didn't really wow me. I feel like we've made no progress from last season. I know that will-they-or-wont-they is a timeless tv trope, but getting stuck in a rut is no fun either. Here's hoping they're going somewhere interesting with Beckett and Castle this season. I'm actually looking forward more to what happens when Alexis gets a boyfriend than anything else on the show. Oh, and Ryan and Esposito. They make this show for me.

Other new shows I'm watching so far: Nikita (mainly due to my love of the Peta Wilson show), which I may review eventually, and Terriers, a fantastic new little drama on FX starring Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James. The characters are fantastic and the dialogue is some of the best I've seen in a while.

TV Review: The Vampire Diaries 2.2 "Brave New World"

Spoilers, as always!

Oh, Caroline. I'm not sure how I feel about your transformation into a vampire. On the one hand, it'll be interesting to see a vamp besides the Salvatores in Mystic Falls and the hijinks that will ensue on everyone's parts to keep Matt and Liz in the dark should be entertaining.

Observations in order as I watched:
  • Why in the world does Vamp!Caroline not question the fact that she wants to drink blood? Does she already remember some of her Damon-repressed memories? I'd have run screaming to the nurse if I had a craving to drink blood out of a bag.
  • What the hell is a goldfish toss?
  • Damon heading up the Anti-Vampire Council of Mystic Falls? Fantastic.
  • Also fantastic: the Lockwood boys in very little clothing while they discuss Tyler's anger issues. Obviously, Uncle Hottie is digging for info to see if Tyler inherited the wolfiness.
  • Again, why the hell isn't Caroline questioning what the hell is happening to her? Is it new vampire instinct to hide what's happening to them?
  • Poor Pudding Pop. I'm certain he's in for a rough season.
  • "Aren't you worried that one day the forest animals are going to band together and fight back? I mean, surely they talk." Heh.
  • Candice Accola is really knocking her material out of the park.
  • Oh, Uncle Hottie, no one believes that the moonstone you're looking for is useless. Family heirlooms on this show always have super special powers.
  • Jeremy, threatening Damon is even more stupid than your usual stupid behavior. Loved that Damon threw the ring back at his head.
  • "Get him, Stef!" Hee. Damon, I love you so.
  • "Maybe they're Ninja Turtles." Stefan, you can stay, I suppose.
  • Ambiguous Supernatural Mystery Uncle is Uncle Hottie's new nickname, at least until next week when we find out he's Jacob Black.
  • So Caroline obviously has contempt for Damon now that she remembers everything he did to her. Will she align herself with Katherine to get back at him? In the books, even though she's not a vamp, Caroline is more of adversary to Elena and Stefan than an ally. It will be interesting if her becoming a vampire moves her more in that direction. Still, I'm sure Stefan helping her puts some marks in the good guys' favor.
  • I heard a few rumblings since the episode first aired about Elena seeming to be more okay with Damon than she should have been after the end of 2.1. I disagree, however. She's not being nice to him, but she also recognizes that there is much supernatural hijinks afoot in Mystic Falls and that she needs to know what is happening in order to help her friends and family. Besides, she knows (as do we) that she is safe with Damon, at least physically, so going with him to find out what's going on wasn't a huge risk.
  • Though I have high hopes for Vamp!Caroline, Damon makes some good points about the difficulties of keeping her alive.
  • Ambiguous Supernatural Mystery Uncle is not very good at diverting attention from his wolfy traits. Tyler wasn't fooled for even a millisecond.
  • I don't know about anyone else, but I thought how sweet Damon was to Caroline before he tried to stake her was genuine. I think he really didn't want her to suffer and genuinely felt bad that she'd been put in this position.
  • How much do I dislike Bonnie right now? That would be a lot. Its not Caroline's fault that she got turned into a vampire. And you know what? Its not Damon's either, at least not any more so than it is Bonnie's or Elena's or Stefan's. The blame lies on the shoulders of Katherine "Bitch Incarnate" Pierce. Deal with that, Bonnie. Damon is a bad, bad man for many reasons, but he is not to blame for everything that ever happens in the history of the world. There are other bad people too. If I'd been Elena, I'd have slapped her ass for being a bitch instead of hugging her.
  • I see some really intriguing possibilities in a Damon/Jeremy alliance. Better yet, Damon, Alaric and Jeremy can be the three amigos, cracking wise and fighting the forces of evil in Mystic Falls.
  • "It was 1864...people knew how to whittle."
  • The Edward Cullen Spider-monkey jump was the low point of the episode, which sucks, cause that's how the show ended. I love me some Twilight, but I watch TVD because its not that.
Next week: It's all about the Ambiguous Supernatural Mystery Uncle. And Alaric is back!

Friday, September 10, 2010

TV Review: The Vampire Diaries 2.1 "The Return"

Spoilers ahead!

Oh, Damon. Its a good thing I like my fictional characters really freaking broken. Otherwise, I'd hate your guts right now. Instead, I'll hate Katherine (and maybe Stefan?) for making you into the person we saw in last night's season premiere of The Vampire Diaries.

We left off last season with Katherine cutting off Uncle John's fingers while pretending to be Elena, Jeremy lying motionless after ingesting Anna's blood and a bunch of pills, and Caroline critically injured in the hospital.  This episode picked up right where that left off and, as Damon put it, "doppelganger hijinks ensued." Elena finds John, but not Katherine, and gets him an ambulance, then she and Stefan discover that Jeremy is not a vampire, just an idiot. I'm hoping that Jeremy isn't whining about becoming a vampire all season.

Damon was the first to put the pieces together and realize that Katherine was back in town. The look on his face when he realized it was Kat he kissed and not Elena was typical Somerhalder awesomeness. Stefan, on the other hand, recognized Katherine right off the bat. He was such a badass in this episode, in his interactions with Katherine and when he threatened John Gilbert. I like Forceful!Stefan. I was a little frustrated when he was focusing so much on Damon trying to kiss "Elena" since I thought he was missing the forest for the trees, but Stefan had come to the same conclusion by episode's end. That's the beauty of this show: no waiting!

With the CW promoting this season as "The Year of the Kat," you have to think that Katherine will be sticking around all season. Props to Nina Dobrev for making Elena and Katherine so distinct from one another. And really, she's playing 3 characters right now: Elena, Katherine, and Katherine-pretending-to-be-Elena. I'd hazard a guess that eventually we may add Elena-pretending-to-be-Katherine to the list.

Then there were the two screaming-at-the-tv moments. First, Damon, heartbroken after both Katherine and Elena tell him that they don't love him, that its always going to be Stefan, snaps Jeremy's neck. I was horrified for Elena, wondering if Jeremy was really dead or going to become a vampire. Turned out, it was not really either: John Gilbert had given Jeremy his Ring of Imperviousness. Elena now claims to hate Damon, since he just killed Jeremy, but Stefan insists that Damon must have noticed the ring. I'm not real clear on how the ring works, since John told Jeremy that it only protects from "supernatural" death and not accidental. I'm going to assume he wasn't referring to being killed by Dean Winchester. I'm actually wondering how if John was telling Jeremy the truth about why the ring didn't protect his dad, or if there's more to that story.

Meanwhile, over at the Mystic Falls hospital, Katherine tells Caroline, who is magically healed thanks to Damon's blood, to give the Brothers Salvatore a message: Game. On. Then she smothers her with a pillow. Presumably, next week, Caroline will feed and turn, unless she dies. I think the preview for next week gave the answer to that one away.

I don't even think turning Caroline was Katherine's opening gambit. I think that came when she told Damon that she'd never loved him. I'm not saying she actually does, but I'm certain that her telling him was a purposeful act to drive a wedge between him and Stefan. Whether Katherine still cares or ever cared about either brother remains to be seen. Damon's heartbreak at the end when he was alone in mansion was palpable, and I'm certain that we'll be seeing the effects of the premiere on his behavior all season.

The most powerful scene in the whole episode, in my opinion, was when Damon confronted Elena about her feelings for him. I actually wondered for a minute if Damon was going to rape her, and kudos to Somerhalder for displaying that kind of desperation, though I'm not sure how I reconcile my love of Damon as a character with my willingness to believe he could actually do that. In the end, I don't think that Elena loves Damon. I think they definitely have a connection that she won't admit to, but its not love, at least not the romantic kind for now. Poor Damon, he's just so desperate to be someone's first choice.

Looks like Williamson and Plec are going to keep the hits coming this season. Overall grade: A- (The minus is due to lack of Alaric. More Matt Davis, stat.)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Awkward Polar Bears & Awesome Mancandy: 1.11 & 1.12

1.11 All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues - Hey, its another 'Jack's Dad is a douchecanoe' episode! Really, the episode dealt with the search for Claire and Charlie, who have been kidnapped by Tom Cruise's Creepy Brother (turns out William Mapother is Tom's cousin, but just go with it). Peppered throughout though, we get flashbacks to a situation where Jack intervened in a surgery because his father was drunk and the woman died. Now, the writers obviously tried to make these two plotlines fit together because the woman was pregnant and Jack couldn't save her. Claire is pregnant and in danger, so Jack makes with the crazy in order to find her. Instead, all he finds is a mostly dead Hobbit. Grade: B
  • Michael's whining about being included is annoying. If I were him, I'd be thrilled to hang out at the caves and not go off to be fodder for The Thing in the Jungle.
  • I laughed out loud when Boone explained the concept of a Red Shirt. How does Locke not know that?
  • Walt had another dad named Brian, so I guess we'll be getting that flashback at some point.
  • I was curious about how long Charlie had been dead when Kate and Jack found him. I know brain damage is present after a few scant minutes without oxygen, but I guess this is tv, people die and are brought back perfectly healthy all the time.
  • Charlie hanging in the tree was creepy as hell, though, and I'm curious as to why he was blindfolded. I'm guessing there had to be someone other than Ethan around to prompt that.
  • I've heard talk of the infamous hatch, so I'm guessing that's what Boone and Locke found. Time will tell.
1.12 Whatever the Case May Be - Boring Kate helped a bank robber, Sawyer took off his shirt, and I don't remember much after that. Except Kate wanted the case cause there was a toy in it she needed. I'm guessing so that at some point in the future, she can take her toys and go home. Grade: C
  • Sawyer: I was protecting you! Kate: From what? Southern perverts? Hee.
  • The dead bodies in the swimming hole were creeptastic! Still, it made no sense to me how the marshal checked his case and then it somehow wound up underneath these dead people's seat. Must have been because the script said so.
  • I was annoyed by Kate telling Sawyer he was disgusting for scavenging the bodies. For one thing, it wasn't like she didn't know Sawyer's MO, and for another, I can't say I blame him. If I'm stranded on a frakking deserted island, I'm going to do what I have to to survive. The dead guy can't use what he's got on him, so its fair game, as far as I'm concerned. 
  • I love Sawyer, and despite his asshole tendencies, he's too awesome for Boring Kate. I got the impression that his whole determination to get open the case was to impress her and figure out what she wanted out of there. 
  • Witness my not surprise that Kate dated a bank robber. 
  • Sun overheard Kate and Jack talking about the guns, so I wonder if that will come up later. 
  • Kate trying to take the case from between sleeping Sawyer's knees was one of the most idiotic things she's done. No idea how she thought he'd sleep through that, but then again, I'm beginning to realize that I can't apply logic to anything Kate does. Boring and Badly Written Kate.
I decided to start grading the episodes too, so look for that. More next week!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Awkward Polar Bears & Awesome Mancandy: Solitary & Raised By Another

Solitary continues the line of 'lets give each character a background through flashbacks' episodes, this time focusing on Sayid.  Though I'm a little exhausted with every episode focusing on a different character, I was really drawn into the story of Sayid and Nadia. I'm pretty curious about what happened to Sayid after he freed Nadia, since he hasn't found her and somehow wound up in Australia.
  • Tom Cruise's Creepy Brother (aka William Mapother, but who the hell actually calls him anything besides Tom Cruise's Creepy Brother?) is playing Ethan Rom, therefore I know Ethan is probably evil and creepy (see how being Tom Cruise's Creepy Brother works?).
  • Favorite Exchange - Michael: Polar bears? Charlie: You didn't hear about the polar bear?
  • I loved Hurley building the golf course. I'd heard via various interwebz things that Hurley is pretty much the Everyman character, the normal guy who represents the audience, needs explanations, etc and I thought this was a great moment for him.
  • I liked Sawyer making an effort to be part of the group, even if it was a little bit at Jack's expense. Jack didn't seem to care until he wondered (as I did) whether Sawyer's effort was simply about Kate. I want to like Sawyer in spite of his behavior. Josh Holloway is so ridiculously good looking and charismatic that its hard work to remember his asshole behavior.
  • I haven't mentioned the subplot with Sayid and the French woman, but that's cause it was just so vague that I didn't care about it much. So she's been there for years, and there are "Others" out there. 
Raised by Another is the Very Special Claire Flashback episode, but I found that it raised some interesting questions about what may actually happen on the island, unlike Sayid's or Sawyer's. The first few flashback scenes were predictable, but it really picked up when she went to the psychic.
  • Creepy Locke eyes in Claire's nightmare! I couldn't help but think this was foreshadowing, sense I've always found Locke fairly creepy (though not as much so as Tom Cruise's Creepy Brother).
  • Claire's Baby Daddy is a douchecanoe and I hope we never see him again. Unless its for Sawyer to beat him up. Or Jack can, I'm not really picky.
  • So Psychic Wonder clearly wanted Claire to be on the flight that crashed. My question at the end was: did he want her on that flight because he knew it would crash and thought that it would kill the child or did he know that Claire and the baby would end up on the island? Which was his goal in putting her on that particular flight?
  • My first inkling that something was up with Ethan was when Hurley failed to ask him as many questions as he did the others. Then when Charlie sent him to get Jack, my spidey sense was majorly tingling. The episode ended with Ethan there with Charlie and Claire and Hurley saying that one of the island's inhabitants was not on the manifest. I'm guessing we're supposed to wonder if that person is Ethan, but I think it could be more interesting if it weren't. 
  • I totally wanted to keep going after this episode with the cliffhanger, but I thought it might be more interesting to get all my theories blogged about before the next episode answered any of my questions.
More later in the week!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Take Another Shot of Courage...

I finally finished my first pair of toe up socks!

Ravelry project here. The pattern is a combination of Gusset Heel Basic Sock and Dead Simple Lace Socks from Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up. Yarn is Red Heart Ltd. Heart & Sole in Tequila Sunrise. Needles: KP Harmony fixed 0 circs.

I cast these socks on back in December in the LR airport as I was heading to Indianapolis for the annual SKT Extravaganza, but they kept getting put on the back-burner in favor of other, more exciting projects. However, when the circular for my Gabriel's Wings shawl got confiscated in the Cancun airport recently, I decided to try to finish up some WIPs while I waited on a new needle to come in from KnitPicks. These socks were all done except a couple lace rounds and the 1x1 ribbing cuff.

Now I really suck at photographing my knitting, so imagine that these socks are really pretty.  My circ has come in from KP (along with the kit for the Fall/Winter Seasons shawl), so I'm back to working on Gabriel's Wings.

Tomorrow: More Awkward Polar Bears & Awesome Mancandy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Awkward Polar Bears & Awesome Mancandy: 1.5 - 1.8

I didn't take detailed notes for these episodes of Lost like I did for the first four, so this entry might be shorter than expected. I intend to return to the geeky note-taking for subsequent eps.

Episode 5, "White Rabbit," focuses on our intrepidly bland hero, Jack, and the circumstances that led to him being on the doomed plane. We learn about his asshole father who died in Australia and whose body Jack was transporting back to the US.
  • The first scene with his father, when Little Jack is telling his father about the fight he got into made pretty much no sense to me, and I'm not sure if that was intentional or not.
  • Please, please give Ian Somerhalder something to do besides be the guy who tries to save everything and constantly fails.
  • We again harp on the concept of leadership and how Jack may or may not be one and people may or may not see him as one. Enough already, Abrams.
  • Locke: "This place is different...special." Really, dude? I couldn't have guessed. He also says he looked into the "eye of this island and what I saw was beautiful." I'm guessing at some point we'll be revisiting the fact that Locke probably saw The Thing in the Jungle.
  • Charlie's tattoo says "Living is easy with eyes closed." Wonder if that is some sort of portent?
  • The dolls at the waterfall were damn creepy. Also creepy: the empty coffin. Since the coffin lid was not dislodged, I have to theorize that either Jack's Dead Dad got up and walked away or someone removed the body and put the lid back.
Episode 6, "House of the Rising Sun," focuses on our cute Asian couple, Sun and Jin. They're angsty and in love and from two different social spheres. He was abusive and might have killed someone. She's secretly known how to speak English this whole time.
  •  Sawyer had the handcuffs in his pocket? I'm for it.
  • When Kate found the corpse in the cave, I thought for a split second that we'd discovered where Jack's Dead Dad went before I realized he wouldn't be that decomposed yet. Well, not unless the writers of Bones had somehow been on the island.
  • Kate: Where'd they come from? Jack: Didn't you guys shoot a polar bear last week? Where'd that come from? Heh.
  • How long are the batteries on Hurley's Walkman going to last? Who still uses a Walkman with CDs?
  • I wonder if the 2 camps will continue to be a thing? Could make for some interesting drama.
Episode 7, "The Moth," is about Charlie and his sad rock star life and his silly little heroine addiction. I found it to be fairly boring, despite my epic love for Dominic Monaghan.
  • I couldn't help but wonder what the castaways would have done if Jack had actually died in the cave-in. Would they have turned to Locke for leadership? Or Kate, Sawyer or Sayid? My money is on Locke, but he's just creepy enough that they may have turned to one of the others instead.
  • Really, Boone, asking Shannon to do something important? Though she actually did what she was supposed to, it seemed a silly move.
  • First shots of Shirtless Sawyer. Yes, please, and thank you. But his not telling Kate about Jack was a big ol' douche-canoe moment. Bad Sawyer! I'll be happy to properly punish you for your behavior.
  • I don't know if I ship Kate/Jack. I know that Kate/Sawyer is gonna be a thing, and I'm cool with that, at least temporarily. Still firming up my romantic allegiances.
Episode 8, "Confidence Man," in which we learn more about Pretty Pretty Sawyer. He's a con-man, but he secretly has a heart buried in that sculpted chest, refusing to steal from a family with a young son. Also, he must have a metric fuck-ton of guilt, cause he's masochistic enough to let himself get tortured as punishment for something he didn't do.
  • I now need to read Watership Down. Thanks, Sawyer.
  • I'm incapable of taking Michael Deluise seriously in a dramatic show. He'll always be Idiot TJ from Gilmore Girls to me.
  • I really and truly almost had an asthma attack watching Shannon struggle to breath. That's good acting, yo.
  • There's no way it was Sawyer who attacked Sayid last ep, and this episode made me think it was Locke. Or one of the many, many cast members we haven't met yet. My money is on Michelle Rodriguez.
  • Sayid on mapping the shore: "I can't think of a better person to do it than the only one I trust." I really liked this line, and I identify with it immensely, as someone who generally will just do something myself before trusting someone else to do it right. You've got my attention, Sayid!
More next week!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Glee: The Journey to Regionals

I've watched this episode 4 times now, and I still can't watch it without crying. Maybe I'm just a big ol' sap, but I blame Cory Monteith. His work as Finn is my favorite thing about the whole series in this first season, and he sold the hell out of his scenes in this season finale. And really, its not just because I find him incredibly pretty to look at. I liked other things about the finale too!

Finn & Rachel: I really liked how Finn was sitting on the arm of the couch next to Rachel in the sequence with the club at Will's house. Even though I feel like the writer's have dropped the ball the past few episodes where the couple is concerned, that little bit of body language helped draw me back into the tension between the two. I loved that Rachel just kissed him in the hallway, though I had to laugh at how it had to be staged on the stairs so that little Lea could plant one on Frankenteen. Finn's "I love you" was perfect and the expressions on both of their faces before they began "Faithfully" were just breathtaking to me. The sweet moment of her head on his shoulder at the end was just the icing on a delicious cake for this Finn/Rachel shipper.

Puck & Quinn & Baby Drizzle: I almost wish they hadn't shown us the scene of Drizzle's conception, cause Puck just came across as a douche. I know I should expect that after his past behavior, but it was still not fun. I wonder if the audience was supposed to be convinced by his line about it not being a random hookup, but if so, Mark Salling didn't sell it for me. I'm pretty much ambivalent about the rest of this storyline, including Quinn's mom and Baby Drizzle being adopted by Shelby.

Will & Emma: Whatev, I just don't care any more. Emma has been gone so much that I'm no longer invested. Bring on Dentist!Stamos.

Regionals: "Faithfully" was just beautiful and made good use of Finn and Rachel's outrageous chemistry when they sing together. "Anyway You Want It/Lovin Touchin Squeezin" was joyous, and "Don't Stop Believing" was a perfect parallel to the pilot, though I prefer the pilot arrangement more. The New Directions girls' dresses were just gorgeous, as were the Vocal Adrenaline ladies'. "Bohemian Rhapsody" was a perfect companion piece to the birth scene and the editing was phenomenal. I liked Quinn echoing the lines of the songs, though I did cringe a bit during "let me go." Jonathan Groff just oozes charisma from his pores and I wanted to kiss him and slap him for his obvious arrogance all at the same time. Perfect delivery from him. Vocal Adrenaline deserved to win and I'm glad that they left New Directions something to work towards next season.

To Sir with Love: *sobs* Finn's "And I didn't have a father" line just killed me dead. Brought on the big ugly cry. Everyone looked so sad, but Cory's face gets me every time I watch it. Such a cheesy song, but it worked for me.

Sue Sylvester: I thought the issue of Sue helping New Directions was deftly handled. Sue being made fun of by Josh Groban and Olivia Newton John worked very well. I even bought Sue's tears as she watched "To Sir With Love." Kudos to Jane Lynch for selling the hell out of that, when it so easily could have been hard to convince the audience that Sue was capable of such a thing. I just hope we still get plenty of Evil!Sue next season.

Favorite lines:
"Are they a poor person's school?" - ONJ
"We have something the other groups don't have....Finn's dancing." - Will
"Break a leg" "I love you"  - Rachel and Finn *sigh*

See you gleeks next season!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Awkward Polar Bears & Awesome Mancandy: "Tabula Rasa" & "Walkabout"

When I first saw the title to the 3rd episode (if you count the pilot as 2, which Netflix streaming does), all I could think about was the Buffy episode of the same title, "Tabula Rasa." The concept of Tabula Rasa, promoted by John Locke (hee.) basically argues that the mind is a clean slate to be influenced by experiences and perceptions. In Buffy, that took the form of the gang having their memories erased and trying to figure out who they were based on the things around them.

In this episode of Lost, the concept is applied to Kate mostly, to her clean slate after whatever crime she committed which led to her being chased down in Australia by the YED!Marshal. Jack says that it doesn't matter who they were before the crash, that they all have a clean slate now. Its a nice sentiment, but I'm not sure Jack believed it fully and neither do I. As Buffy and the gang found out, our pasts catch up with us, and I'm sure that's true of everyone on the island. I kind of felt like Jack was sticking his head in the sand a little by not letting Kate tell him what she did. If he doesn't know, then he doesn't have to feel as guilty about keeping it from everyone. Hurley knowing she's the fugitive will probably be an issue, I'm guessing.

Sawyer was also very interesting in this episode. I knew I was predisposed to like him, because I've always pictured Josh Holloway in my head as one of my favorite book characters ever, Sam Starrett. And boy are the characters of Sawyer and Sam similar. They're sarcastic and macho and sexist, but you kind of like them anyway. I actually felt bad for Sawyer when he shot the marshal and the guy didn't die, but dude, if you're looking to help someone die and all you've got is one bullet, a headshot seems much more efficient.

I was very suspicious of Locke being the one who found the dog and brought him back. Seems to convenient, but then I think I'm just permanently suspicious of Locke cause I know I kept reading his name over the years and he's quite plot-important. Also, was it me or was there a growling noise on the last shot when Locke was watching Walt's reunion with Vincent?

The second episode I watched was "Walkabout" which could have just as easily been titled "Tabula Rasa 2: Electric Locke Boogaloo." I found Locke to be pretty disturbingly nutso pre-crash and his calm after his confrontation with the thing raises some questions about whether Locke is still Locke. I'm also sure that it wasn't coincidence that Black Suit!Man disappeared into the woods in the approximately the same spot that Locke emerged with the boar.

I thought this episode did some interesting things with Jack and the concept of leadership, as he continually asserted that he didn't want to be in charge of things. Once you prove your ability to lead, its often expected of you, and I anticipate that this will continue to be the case with Jack. I'm not altogether certain that Jack is really a natural leader, and I'm curious to see his backstory for more detail.

Stray observations from these two episodes:
  • I didn't buy Boone's explanation for why he took the gun. There's something going on there.
  • Do Charlie's fingers still say "fate" or did they say "late" in Tabula Rasa?
  • "Any bodies we bury won't stay buried for long." Jack, I have a feeling that truer words have ne'er been spoken.
  • Jack sitting with Rose? Heh.
  • Shannon still sucks and I hope she dies.
  • Favorite Line of these eps: "Was it a dinosaur?" - Hurley

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Awkward Polar Bears & Awesome Mancandy: Adventures of a Lost Virgin

Yeah, yeah, I know I'm six years behind, but I'm finally getting around to watching the pop culture phenomenon that is Lost. I've always been interested, but knew that it was a mythology heavy show (much like my beloved Supernatural) and that I'd need to be able to pay close attention to it when I decided to take the plunge. It was also attractive to wait until the show was off the air, so I didn't have to wait for new episodes. Thanks to my handy Netflix Instant Watch capable Blu-Ray player, I have access to the first five seasons to stream, and the summer seemed to perfect time to start since most all of my shows are on hellatus til the fall.

Somehow, I've remained fairly unspoiled about the show. I know that: its a scifi mystery type show, people were stranded on a island after a plane crash, there's a huge cast, some of them seem to have a problem not driving while intoxicated, and I know most of the actors who are regulars. I know that some of those actors have left the show over the course of the years, but I have no idea how or when that would fall in the show, so it keeps me from anticipating exits. I even managed to avoid hearing anything about how it ended, beyond the fact that some people liked the finale and some didn't (go figure!).

I intend to blog regularly about the show as I watch, covering every episode. I may watch several episodes in a single night or weekend, so I'll probably lump those together in one post. I'll probably do mostly review and speculation and not much recapping (I'm too long winded to recap, see my Glee posts).

Without further ado, my take on the pilot:

The Lost pilot is probably one of the best I've ever watched, ranked up there with Justified, Glee, and The West Wing. I was afraid that there would be too many characters for me to keep up with, but that wasn't a problem. My only issue was that I caught myself watching for actors I knew appeared on the show like Michelle Rodriguez. I thought it did a great job with the exposition of the immediate plot: plane crash survivors marooned on a island, rescue is hampered by being off course, and there's a mysterious something in the jungle that likes to eat Greg Grunberg.

I know Matthew Fox is basically the lead, but I found him to be pretty bland. I hope this changes as we go forward, but I found Sawyer, Sayid, and Kate to be far more compelling right away. Ian Somerhalder brought the pretty as always, but I'm not sure what I think of his character. I keep waiting for him to be quippy and evil like Damon Salvatore, so I've got to learn to turn that off. I also found myself incredibly frustrated and angry with Jin, though my Twitter peeps assure me I'll change my mind eventually. I also didn't like Boone's sister Shannon, and was kinda disappointed that Sawyer didn't let the polar bear (WTF?) eat her. Overall, the mancandy quotient is off the charts, and I'd probably keep watching just to moon over Somerhalder's eyes.

Its hard to draw a lot of speculation from the pilot, other than "the island isn't what it seems and the polar bear probably wasn't the thing in the jungle" but stray speculations include:
  • Charlie is either a psychic who sees the future or a time traveler
  • The labrador is plot-important and may or may not actually be a real dog anymore
  • Orange Mouth guy (who I know from the interwebz is Locke) is creepy and might be evil
  • The marshal was played by Frederic Lane, probably my favorite incarnation of Supernatural's Yellow Eyed Demon, so obviously it was demon hoodoo that brought down the plane. Somebody get Jack and Kate some salt and a Zippo, stat.
Tune in sometime this weekend for more!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Glee: "Dream On"

I've been looking forward to the Joss Whedon directed, Neil Patrick Harris guesting episode since it was announced. As a longtime Buffy fanatic, I was excited to see what Whedon would bring to the show, and true to form, it was dark, funny, and awesome.

Harris' Bryan Ryan, Wills' high school nemesis is at McKinley on a crusade to cut the glee club program, and Will tries to help him get over his grudge against Glee. Meanwhile, Rachel wants to find her birth mother and Tina helps Artie as he struggles with his dream of being a dancer.

The Will/Bryan storyline really worked for me, and Harris was funny, ego-maniacal and a little evil, all at once. Will can be a little cheesy at times, but I thought his tone was perfect in this episode. "Dream On" rocked my world, and both guys were all kinds of sexy performing it. I kind of wish we'd gotten a little Teri appearance in this episode, because it would have been great to see Bryan and Will interact with her. I loved Bryan's scene with Sue, and the "anger sex" bit really made me laugh.

"Safety Dance" battles with "Dream On" for me as the highlight of the episode. I'm so glad that they used a dream sequence to give us a chance to see Kevin McHale dance. He's got some great moves, and I liked the flash mob style performance. I also liked that all the Glee kids made an appearance (except Finn, Santana, and Quinn, though the interwebz tell me Finn was there somewhere, I didn't catch a glimpse of my awesome Frankenteen). I know it could get overused, but I want to see more of McHale dancing so lets do this again. I also liked Tina's tap number with Mike Chang, but Artie totally stole it with his great singing and heartbroken face.

The Rachel storyline with Jesse and Shelby was the weakest part of the episode for me, probably because it included no Finn. Still, I'm loving what Johnathan Groff is doing with the character of Jesse. I already anticipated that they'd have him genuinely like Rachel even though he started out dating her on Shelby's orders. What I haven't figured out yet is whether Shelby is truly Rachel's birth mom or if she's fooling Jesse and this is an elaborate plot to bring down New Directions. I know Idina Menzel is only on the show as a temporary guest star, so it would kind of be weird if she really were Rachel's birth mother and she just went away after Rachel finds out.

Great lines of this episode:
"Was Mandy Patinkin in on this?" - Jesse
"I have a box of playbills hidden away in my basement, Will, like porn!" - Bryan
"Then something amazing happened: I was introduced to Jesus… he was my Honduran social worker." - Bryan
"Any of the guys in there could dance my part better than me without rehearsing...well, except Finn." - Artie

Next week: Kiss! Lady Gaga! I've gotten to listen to the songs on the new CD and I have to say, I'm really excited!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Supernatural: Swan Song

*Spoilers OMG Spoilers*

Season 5 of Supernatural went out with a whimper, not a bang. But what a whimper! I know most people were expecting something on a more epic scale, but this Apocalypse wrapped up the way it began, way back when: focused on Sam and Dean and their '67 Impala. It was a love letter from creator Eric Kripke to his show as he steps down from being the showrunner, handing the reins over to Sera Gamble. Other than the last 10 seconds, it easily could have functioned as the show's series finale. We can only hope that the real series finale next spring packs as much of an emotional punch as this one.

There weren't really any big surprises in this episode, at least not to anyone who's been a regular watcher. Sam and Dean go with the plan of Sam saying yes to Lucifer and then Sam (eventually) takes his body back and throws himself (and Michael!Adam) into the trap he let Lucifer out of. Dean did what he could to help Sam succeed and then he did what Sam made him promise he'd do: he went back to Lisa and presumably lived the normal life for a little while. Cas and Bobby were killed by Lucifer!Sam, but Cas was resurrected with increased powers, presumably by God, and he then brought back Bobby, good as new.

None of these were surprises, but there was such a sense of satisfaction in things playing out the way that they did. It was right that Sam sacrifice himself to trap Lucifer, since his bad choices led to Lucifer's release in the first place, though I think this episode might have demonstrated that he'd not been given much choice due the enormous influence Azazel and the demons had on his life. After 5 years, Dean Winchester finally learned to stop sacrificing himself for everyone around him. Yes, it was partly because Sam made him promise, but the Dean of yore would have thrown himself into that pit right alongside Sam and Adam, just to have a chance to get Sam out. Instead, the mature Dean knew that Sam was doing what he must and that Dean had to try to move on with his life.

We didn't get to meet God directly in this episode, but I think its safe to say He was around. Partway through the episode, I theorized via Twitter that God was the Impala, and while I don't know if that's true, I think its safe to say that God used the Impala to remind Sam of who he was and gave him to opportunity to take control back from Lucifer long enough to spring the trap.

The whole episode was really about the car, from the scenes depicting the brothers living in it, stuffing Legos and army men in the crannies, to Dean using it to roll into the middle of the Lucifer and Michael showdown. I loved the little bits about the car that Chuck narrated, setting up the bit where Sam regained control of his body.

Bonus points to Show for Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages" being the song Dean chose to play when he rolled into the graveyard. One of the first lines: Better to burn out than fade away. Such a perfect choice for Dean Winchester. As always the show opened with "Carry On, Wayward Son" by Kansas, and I'll never be able to separate the song from the show in my mind.

While it was slightly anti-climactic that the final confrontation between Lucifer and Michael took place via Sam and Adam instead of Sam and Dean, I think Dean had to be himself in order for Sam to have any chance of taking his body back. My heart just broke (and tears flowed) when Lucifer is beating Dean to a pulp and Dean is telling Sam that he's there for him and he's not going to leave him. It was quite possibly the most heartbreaking scene the show's ever had. With very little hope left, Dean just wanted to be there for his brother.

This episode also left plenty of open questions:
  • Will we ever actually meet God? Some people think Chuck was God after his disappearing act, but after some discussion, I think he was a prophet like we'd been told, he just ascended after his job of writing the Winchester Gospel was done. 
  • What is Sam, now that we know he's somehow made it back? I've read many people who still think that Lucifer is possessing him, but that would mean the Apocalypse would still be going on around Dean, and I doubt that he's just chilling at Lisa's if that's the case. I don't think he's fully human normal Sam after we saw the light post go out when he got near it, but I'm not sure what's happened to him. Also, I'm guessing if Sam got out of the trap, its possible that my dear Baby Winchester is out there somewhere as well. I hope so.
  • Where was Crowley and does he still have Bobby's soul? I'm hoping we'll tackle this one next season, cause I love Crowley and think he makes a great reoccurring character.
I hope we get more a return to the old days for next season. I think the show did some great things with the Apocalypse storyline, though I thought the execution of Season 4 was better than 5. Still, I think it would be great to see the last season be the brothers back to traveling the country, fighting off spirits and creatures. Here's hoping Sam isn't one of those creatures!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Supernatural: Countdown to "Swan Song"

I finally got caught up on Supernatural on Monday night, and now I'm counting down the hours to tonight's season finale "Swan Song." The two episodes I watched have run together in my mind, but I definitely remember that Pestilence was disgusting and Death was wicked cool. I loved the twist where Death handed over his ring because he thinks Satan is a spoiled child throwing a tantrum and wants to be free of him. These two episodes left so many questions about how the finale may play out. The stage is set for the Winchesters to execute Sam's 'take his body back from Lucifer long enough to jump in the trap' plan, but this is Supernatural, and things never go as planned.

Open Questions:
  • Is Crowley working with Lucifer? Seems too much like a re-run of the Ruby situation for it to have the exact same outcome (yes, Ruby was technically working for Lilith, but its still pretty much the same since Lilith was trying to free Lucifer). Is Crowley God? If not, I hope that the Kripkeeper managed to do some backdoor crap to get Jeffrey Dean Morgan as God and they've somehow kept that info from leaking.
  • Will Bobby get his soul back? If he does, will he also be stuck in the wheelchair again? I predict we may witness the death of Bobby Singer in this episode, but hopefully they'll bring him back next season.
  • What happens to Adam Winchester, since we now know that he's Michael's temporary vessel? I like the kid and would love to see him become a series regular, but I'm guessing he's going to bite it too.
  • What happens to Mostly-Human-Castiel? He proved that he had a little Angel Mojo left, but he probably can't function as deus ex machina as he has in the past, unless its to sacrifice himself.
  • Will God show up at all? I hope so, otherwise the setup with Dean's amulet (which I'm assuming Sam retrieved from the trash) was for naught. I'm guessing the amulet will show up unexpectedly and reveal who God is (Bobby? Cas? Crowley? Please Please Please Daddy Winchester?).
  • We know that the writers have said they will wrap up the Apocalypse storyline this season, but that still leaves many possible endings. Lucifer could be locked back up, but at the expense of one or more dead Winchesters. I've no idea how they'd write it, but its also possible that the Apocalypse is averted somehow without locking up Lucifer. Who knows who could be possessed at the end?  So many possibilities!
9 hours to go!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Glee : Laryngitis

I think Glee finally got its groove back after the Madonna episode, at least as far as I'm concerned. I liked this episode much better than the last two episodes that I recapped yesterday.

The plot: Puck has to shave his mohawk for a dermatologist, and it causes his to lose his popularity, so he dates Mercedes to get it back. She knows he's playing with her, but enjoys the arm candy, so she plays along until he reverts to his jerk ways and she dumps his ass and quits the Cheerios, but not before they do a kickin' rendition of "Lady Is a Tramp."

Rachel loses her voice due to tonsillitis and has an identity crisis over who she is if she can't sing. Finn teaches her a lesson in a very 'after school special' fashion that still worked for me by taking her to visit a football friend who is now a paraplegic. It should have been too sappy, but Lea Michele and Cory Monteith (still my favorite) sold the hell out of it.

Kurt is still struggling with his sexuality and relationship with his ulra-manly father (who is still spending time with Finn). In an attempt to be what he thinks his father wants, he starts dressing in plaid shirts and trucker hats, then makes out with Britney. He even sings "Pink Houses" as his glee club assignment, but because Burt Hummel is the best dad on tv, he finally confronts Kurt and reminds him that Kurt should be who he is and let Burt be the one to adjust.

Other songs:
  • Jessie's Girl - Finn. I saw the writing on the wall for this one back when Jesse was first introduced, but it was still all kinds of awesome. I've made no secret of my love for Cory Monteith, so maybe that's why I loved it so much, but its the only song from this episode that I've downloaded so far. Also, he plays the drums and you know how much I like it when he does that.
  • The Boy is Mine - Mercedes and Santana. This one fell flat for me, mainly because it was so similar to the original. Its odd how I like it when some of the Glee covers sound similar to the original and for some, I love how they mix it up. This time, it didn't work for me, but I did enjoy Mercedes and Santana getting a little physical with each other when it was over. I like Santana-the-villain.
  • Rose's Turn - Kurt. I'm an uncultured heathen, and I know I saw Gypsy a long time ago, but I've no memory of this song, but I don't think you needed to be a fan of the original to enjoy the masterful performance Chris Colfer gave here. No background singers, no elaborate staging, just him belting it out and being himself, which is what Burt "Please Adopt Me" Hummel wanted him to do.
  • One - Ensemble. I liked the idea of Rachel and Sean (the paralyzed football player) singing this, but found the group section to be oddly uninspired. I'm not a huge U2 fan, so its not that I feel the song is uncoverable, but this just didn't work for me. Maybe that will change with a few listens.
Next week: Joss Whedon directs Neil Patrick Harris as Will's high school rival. Epicness ensues and perhaps the Apocalypse too, although Sam and Dean should have taken care of that by then.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

One Book, One Twitter: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Jeff Howe over at Crowdsourcing had an idea for a gigantic book club: what if everyone on Twitter read one book together? He held a vote for the book and the winner was American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Check out the Crowdsourcing link above for the schedule as well as some guidelines on how to tweet your thoughts and discussion on the book.

I've been wanting to read Gaiman for a while now, and even bought Stardust after seeing the movie, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. The fabulous Julie from Shinyshiny gave me a copy of American Gods for Christmas a couple years ago, and its languished on the shelf. I made a halfhearted attempt to start reading it after I heard Eric Kripke list it as one of the most important influences on his show, Supernatural, but I couldn't get into it.

Here's hoping that One Book, One Twitter gives me the motivation to keep reading. I bought the audiobook for those times when I need to multitask and read while knitting, but I'm also reading the paperback. Perhaps Lewzilla and I can help each other stay on task! The first three chapters were very interesting, so its looking good. I'll try to blog at least a couple times while reading!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Glee: "Home" & "Bad Reputation"

I finally got a chance to catch up on the last two episodes of Glee yesterday....and I have some concerns over the future of the show.  Both of these episodes were wildly uneven, though I found they balanced each other well: in "Home," I mostly liked the story but hated the music, in "Bad Reputation," I hated the story but liked the music. I wish I could squish the two of them together like one of the ubiquitous Glee mashups.

"Home" had a plot I'd been looking forward to - Mr. Hummel hooking up with Mrs. Hudson. I thought it would be hilarious to see Kurt trying to use it to get closer to his crush Finn. However, I think the showed played this storyline for too much sap and not enough humor. I did like what they did with Finn not wanting his dad to be replaced and with Kurt feeling like his dad was getting the son he really wanted, but they missed opportunity to do some really funny stuff with Finn and Kurt.

I also liked the 'Mercedes has to lose weight to please Sue' storyline, but more in the abstract than in execution. It was another storyline that was shoehorned in and then resolved, all in one episode. Usually, I give Glee a pass on those cause they can be so entertaining (Puckleberry, for example), but this one just felt like an after school special.

My biggest problem with this episode was the music though. I nearly had to prop my eyes open with sticks. Maybe I've got adult ADD or something, but I fastforwarded through every musical number but "Fire" and "Beautiful." And that's saying something, because Kristen Chenoweth has a FANTASTIC voice, as does Chris Colfer, but I didn't know any of the three 'Home'-themed songs and the tempo of them lost me. I actually tried to watch this episode live but got so bored (and sympathetically uncomfortable with the looks Kurt was giving Finn) that I had to stop and was just able to pick it back up this weekend. Boring!

"Bad Reputation" had a mediocre story but I enjoyed the music better. I still have no idea what the hell the "glist" was (ranking Glee club members on how promiscuous they are?) or why it was causing such an uproar among the faculty, but at least I've got "Total Eclipse of the Heart" to listen to in the car. Artie, Tina, Kurt, Mercedes, and Britney doing "Can't Touch This" was funny as hell, and I can't be mad at anything that gives Heather Morrison a chance to show off what a dance goddess she is.

I actually liked the "Will has a bad rep" storyline, if only to see Sue call him a manwhore so many times. I liked that Emma stood up for herself, but I wish she'd actually have meant it. It seemed like she was just going through the motions because she thought that's how she should react.

I'd never heard the "Run, Joey, Run" song, but I thought it was hilarious, and a nice way to pull in all of Rachel's guy troubles. Though I'm not a Rachel/Puck shipper, I think Lea and Mark have great chemistry and it was great to see them interact again. I'm still not sure what Jesse St. James is up to, but his voice is amazing, so I'm looking forward to finding out!

Next week: Rachel gets laryngitis! Oh noes!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review: Lover Mine by JR Ward

The first part of the review will be spoiler free, then there will be a spoiler warning prior to the spoilerific section.

JR Ward's books are like crack. You know they're not good for you, but you can't stop. The writing is sometimes fantastic and sometimes it makes me want to stab myself in the eye. She writes emotions well, but all the slang (some of it made up by her) gets annoying fast.

Still, Lover Mine is certainly the best BDB book since Lover Revealed. Its got one too many plotlines for me, but they all flow along nicely and there is a payoff for all of them in the end. John and Xhex are the focus of the book, which is nice since I felt like the last two books didn't focus enough on the hero and heroine's story. John and Xhex both have such tragic backgrounds and they deserved to have their fair share of the story.

As always, I found the lesser related sections to be my least favorite. I just can't care about what's going on with them other than to get a general idea of what their evil plans are. When I re-read a BDB book, I skip those parts entirely. Lash has been more entertaining than the usual lessers, but I still hated him, wanted him to die, and had no interest in his thoughts or feelings.

Ward also gave us some great moments with past characters and put some major focus on my two favorite boys, Qhuinn and Blay. I can't speak more about their storyline without getting specific, so see below for more.

Spoilers past this point!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beale Street Weekend

Well, I've sucked at blogging this week, as I haven't watched any tv to blog about and I've been focused on getting ready to head to Memphis for this years Beale Street Music Festival. Hoping to enjoy the fest this year, even if the lineup isn't as awesome as it has been in years past (to me at least).

We're driving down tomorrow for three days of bands, hopefully some beer and lots of good food. I'm looking forward to seeing Mutemath, 3 Doors Down, and Seether, among others. Mainly, I'm just hoping we have some fun and don't get struck by lightning, as yet again, rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast.

I'll try to blog some pictures from the festival! Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Music Monday: Book Playlist - Qhuinn and Blay, Part II

One of my favorite things that my friends and I do all the time is put together playlists for books, individual characters and tv shows. We trade them back and forth and have fun figuring out which songs suit relationships and characters.

In honor of the release of Lover Mine tomorrow, the 8th book in JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I wanted to share my Qhuinn and Blay playlist. Qhuinn and Blay are two young warriors who have been best friends their whole lives and are now struggling with their feelings for one another. I'm eager to see how their relationship develops in this newest book.

Its always a struggle to match up relationships to songs, and I usually try not to limit myself too severely by making my focus too narrow. Sometimes its just the attitude of a song that I think suits and sometimes is the actual lyrics. I also try to play around with different viewpoints. "You are Mine" is totally a love letter from Blay to Qhuinn (thanks to Charlote for suggesting that song and helping with the playlist!), while "Not Meant to Be" is a Qhuinn to Blay song for me. The beauty of the whole thing is that another fan of the series might interpret the songs in a totally different manner than I did.

Hope my BDB peeps like the playlist!

Sexual Violence in The Black Dagger Brotherhood

Warning: The following post talks a great deal about rape and other sexual violence.

Jane L. from Dear Author commented yesterday on Twitter that it had been pointed out to her that JR Ward seems obsessed with sexual violence. I had always thought that Ward's books weren't for the faint of heart or those not into explicit sex that borders on violent, but I'd never really thought about the series in the context of how many characters had committed or been affected by sexual violence. When I started making a list, it was rather startling how long it was (spoilers!):

  • Beth (heroine of Dark Lover) is attacked and very nearly raped
  • Zsadist (hero of Lover Awakened) is held as a sex slave for years
  • Bella (heroine of Lover Awakened) is held against her will by a lesser and forced to shower in front of him and he carves his name in her stomach, though she is not sexually assaulted
  • John Matthew (hero of Lover Mine) was raped as a teenager
  • Butch (hero of Lover Revealed) had a sister who was raped and murdered
  • Lash (villain) almost rapes John Matthew, rapes another villain (The Princess) and its probable that he has been raping Xhex since he kidnapped her at the end of Lover Avenged
  • Vishous (hero of Lover Unbound) rapes another warrior in the camp (hundreds of years ago), as was the tradition of the warriors in his camp
  • Rehvenge (hero of Lover Avenged) is blackmailed into sex against his will for many years
  • Cormia (heroine of Lover Enshrined) is tied down by her fellow Chosen to be given sexually to Phury, though he releases her and condemns the practice.
There are only 8 books in the series (counting today's release of Lover Mine), which means that there are more entries on my list than books. I think this means that we can easily claim that sexual violence is not just prevalent in the series, but also that it is a major theme. I am in no way saying that there is something horrible about these books since they contain sexual violence, but I think that its interesting, nonetheless, that these bestsellers have such a theme.

I don't know JR Ward's personal background, but one has to wonder if she or someone close to her was affected by sexual violence and part of the way she deals with it is to write characters who overcome their experiences to have healthy attitudes about relationships. Zsadist may always be partly broken due to his years of abuse (which is realistic, as someone would always be affected by that level of trauma), but he can still have a wife and child he loves and takes care of. John Matthew can still find a woman he loves and wants to have a life with. Butch will never forget about his sister, but he learns to move past the guilt he felt and live a relatively normal life. I think this might also be the reason readers tolerate such a level of sexual violence in these books. A lot of fans list Lover Awakened as their favorite book of the series and I've no doubt one of the biggest draws of the book is that Zsadist overcomes so much to be with Bella. His story is heartbreaking and inspiring.

The part I struggle with in all this is with Vishous. His book was controversial in the fandom and not just because of the scene where he rapes another warrior in the camp, but that's the part that bothered me the most. Ward, love her though I do, has this whole schtick of "the characters tell me the story and I just write it down." Most of the time, I find that entertaining, just because its funny to imagine these imaginary badass vampires telling these stories to her. However, in cases like this, I almost find it to be a cop out from taking responsibility for what you write. "I didn't make my hero a rapist, he told me that's what happened." Now I know that Ward explains that this was a cultural tradition of the camp Vishous lived in, but I still find this as uncomfortable as those romance novels in the 80s where women were raped and it was explained away as being a part of the time period. Just because something was culturally acceptable doesn't make it right.

To give Ward credit, she does depict Vishous as remorseful for what he'd done, and I don't necessarily believe that all book heroes and heroines have to be perfect. Still, I think being a fan of something, and I am a huge fan of Ward's, doesn't mean that you have to love absolutely everything that she does, and I didn't love that. More Qhuinn and Blay please, Ms. Ward, less rape.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fun Friday: Toby Eats a Salad

I love this scene from West Wing, mostly because Toby and I feel the same way about salads:

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Glee: The Power of Madonna

I took 3 pages (!) of notes on this episode and instead of putting them into a paragraph form and have it come out to be forever long, I went with bullet points. I'll also spare you the recap. If you need to know what happened, check out the EW recap. Spoilers below!

  • I didn't buy the scene where Artie was being a jerk to Tina. We've seen no evidence that he was a misogynistic jerk before. It didn't ring true and just felt like they needed some guy to be a prick so they could shoehorn in this 'girl power' theme for the episode. It was clumsy and awkward. I know we're used to Puck being a dick, but it still would have made more sense coming from him.
  • "Express Yourself" - The girls looked beautiful in this number with the costumes and hair. Loved the Madonna style choreography, Kurt pumping his arms in his seat, and the crotch grab at the end.
  • Santana was fabulously mean in this episode: "Finnocence," "You're about as sexy as a Cabbage Patch Kid. Its exhausting to look at you."
  • "Borderline/Open Your Heart" mashup - It was great to see the return of the Finn/Rachel chemistry that I love so much. Cory Monteith is at his hottest when playing the drums, so more of this please. I loved the awkward end too, where they both realize how into each other they are despite the fact that they just agreed to be friends.
  • I liked that Will got a dig in at Sue since he's usually just so "aww shucks" when she picks on him. "How's the Florence Henderson look working out for you?"
  • I wish the show would stop trying to make me and any characters sympathetic towards Sue. The beauty of her is how mean she is, but this makes it impossible for me to buy that Mercedes and Kurt felt bad for her and wanted to make her feel better. To that end, "Vogue" was more fun out of context at the end of last week's episode than it was during this ep. I did like Sue's story about her childhood though, if only because Jane Lynch does a great job of making us always wonder what Sue is telling the truth about and what she's lying about: "My parent's were famous Nazi Hunters."
  • "Like a Virgin" - Brilliantly edited. Santana was hot and the girl has pipes! All three couples had great chemistry in the number.
  • I loved Finn's reaction to losing his virginity to Santana: "I didn't feel anything because it didn't mean anything." It was heartbreaking to watch, but oh so realistic.
  • Jessie joining New Directions is obviously suspicious and I'm curious to see exactly where this is going. Loved Finn's reaction - "What the hell? Now it seems like everyone's doing things just to hurt my feelings."
  • Also curious to see how the Finn/Rachel thing continues to play out since she pretended that she did sleep with Jessie and he pretends that he didn't sleep with Santana.
  • "4 Minutes" - Chris Colfer was just hot during this performance, and of course I thought so cause its my curse to fall in love with the gay ones (doesn't bode well for Jessie St. James!).
  • "What It Feels Like for a Girl" - This was cheesy but the song is catchy. I hate the way Cory Monteith says 'boy' for some reason and its hurting my ability to listen to this song on the CD.
  • Tina's tirade towards Artie is hilarious. Glad they gave her a little screentime! "My eyes are up here!" Yay for them getting together, that kiss was adorable.
  • "Like a Prayer" - Beautiful vocals here, but I wish they'd left more of it in the episode, since you hear more members of the club on the soundtrack version. Loved the choir, the red shirts with jeans, and Kurt's falsetto.
So many good lines in this episode:
  • "The last guy I liked was the mayor of Gaytown." - Mercedes
  • "I thought I smelled cookies wafting from the ovens of the little elves who live in your hair." - Sue
  • "When I pulled my hamstring, I went to a misogynist." - Brittany
  • "No chick intimidates Puckzilla." - Puck
  • "You have all the sexuality of one of those pandas down at the zoo who refuse to mate." - Sue on Emma
  • "Its gonna be Madge-ical" - Kurt
  • "Mercedes is black. I'm gay. We make culture." - Kurt
  • "Foreplay shall began at 7:30 sharp." - Emma
  • "Mr. Shue, is he your son?" - Brittany on Jessie

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I love you, I hate you

Some poor soul on Ravelry asked people to post their favorite breakup songs recently, to help her while she was feeling down. I didn't get any tv watched last night and was at a loss for what to post when I remembered that thread and thought I'd share my own personal breakup playlist. Not only was it cathartic to make, I think its fun for any time, not just during a breakup, since I tried to strike a balance between sappy-woe-is-me, angry, and fun. I'd like to do a second installment soon, to incorporate some great music I've gotten since this mix was made. The Script's "Break Even" might be the best breakup song I've ever heard, second only to the legendary "I Will Survive" on the playlist below.

The only song Lala didn't have is "Why Did You Mess with Forever" by John Mayer, which I'm embedding via YouTube below. I adore the song, but I've never found an official recording, so I'm still listening to an old bootleg version I got years ago on Napster (that statement makes me feel old, btw).


Monday, April 19, 2010

Music Monday: Hanson

I know what you're thinking, I've heard nearly every Hanson joke under the sun. They look like girls, they're nothing but bubblegum pop, etc. The latter might be true, but I'd argue that bubblegum pop has its place in music, and a large place in my music collection.

It might have been my teenage hormones that drew me to the band in the first place, I'll certainly cop to that. But it was the music that has kept me a fan into adulthood, when the other boy bands I listened to have fallen by the wayside. Sure, I'll still listen to some Nsync, but its mostly for nostalgia's sake.

I won't go on and on about how awesome they are (and they are!), but if you like piano driven pop rock and you've never given Hanson a chance because of their boy band reputation, check out the playlist below. The first three songs are off their debut album, but those are probably the most teeny-bop songs on the playlist. The rest are from their more mature later releases.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Supernatural: Point of No Return

Spoilers below!

Supernatural's 100th episode was a doozy! Thankfully, it was in a good way. Last week ended with Dean running off, presumably to say yes to Michael, with me yelling at the screen and tweeting "Oh for fucks sake Dean. You're so fucking broken, even I'm beginning to get tired of it." That's a big step for a Dean Girl such as myself, but my faith in Dean Winchester was restored and validated by Kripke and Company this week.

Dean might have run off and left Sam, but he underestimated his brother's ability to find him. Sam enlisted Castiel to spirit Dean away to Bobby's before he could do anything stupid, but before they could really get into it, we were faced with Surprise!Winchester, Adam, brought back from the dead by the angels to be Dean's backup plan.

Dean is tired of fighting the angels and doesn't want to see Adam get hurt because of him. He also confesses in a hearth wrenching scene that the reason he's going to say yes is that he has no faith in Sam and doesn't believe that Sam will be able to refuse Lucifer. And since he believes that, he sees saying yes to Michael to save some people as the only thing he can do.

Then Castiel beats his ass like a red-headed stepchild, since Dean is the reason he rebelled from Heaven in the first place.
Sam: What happened to him?
Castiel: Me.
Sam gives Dean quite the pep talk, and the Brothers and Cas go off to rescue Adam from Zachariah (who has revealed that Adam is essentially bait to get to Dean). Cas sacrifices himself (as far as we know, though I'm sure Misha Collins isn't going anywhere), so there's no telling what shape he'll be in when we get him back. Zachariah tries the 'hurt Sam' routine (and Adam too) to get Dean to say yes. Dean plays along convincingly but at the last minute, kills Zachariah. The episode ends with Dean's faith again restored and ready to fight to the end with Sammy.

I liked pretty much all of this episode, but my favorite part was that Kripke and Co. restored a lot of my faith in Sam, and Dean's too apparently. It was nice to see Sam admit that he'd made a lot of wrong decisions, and also great to see that he still has confidence in his big brother. I also loved Baby Winchester. He's basically a mini-Dean, attitude and all, and I'd love to see him as a recurring character. I'm assuming that Michael got him at the end, so there's a chance we'll see him again.

Best lines:

"Did you get to third base?" Dean to Adam, like to see Dean still being Dean in the middle of the Apocalypse

"Cas, not for nothing, but the last time someone looked at me like that, I got laid." Dean, making Dean/Cas shippers everywhere hyperventilate.

"Don't mess with the nerd angels." Dean, after Cas delivers his beatdown

Next week: Looks like a MotW episode involving a hotel. Also, perhaps I'll pay attention to funny lines from characters other than Dean.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Supernatural Turns 100: My Favorite 13 Episodes

I tried to make a top 10 list, but that proved to be harder than I thought. I just started listing them from earliest on and got to 13, which seemed like a fitting number for a Supernatural list.

1. 1-1 Pilot: As pilots go, I'm certain there are better one's out there. However, I had to include it because its Genesis, the way we met the Winchesters and in a lot of ways, it tells us everything we ever needed to know. Dean is a smartass, but deeply messed up. Sam is striving to be normal, but deeply messed up. Daddy Winchester, though absent in this episode is just deeply messed up.

2. 2-1 In My Time of Dying: Season one had some good moments, but this is when the show comes into its own. Great performances here from Ackles, Padalecki, and Morgan as Daddy Winchester sacrifices himself to bring Dean back. The concept of selling your soul would also become a cornerstone of the show.

3. 2-22 All Hell Breaks Loose, Part II: I still cry every time Dean is talking to Sam's dead body and I still cheer every time Dean shoots the Yellow Eyed Demon after an assist from briefly corporeal Daddy Winchester. Also, its the episode I always remember when I hear 'Carry On, My Wayward Son' by Kansas.

4. 3-8 A Very Supernatural Christmas: This episode is both hilarious and heartbreaking, as well as more than a little gory. Its the first time that we glimpse the brothers' childhood, and it hurts my heart, y'all. Also, I just love a good Christmas episode, no matter the show.

5. 3-11 Mystery Spot: The trickster is at it again, as Sam experiences a macabre groundhogs day, watching Dean die over and over again in a myriad of ways. Its funny all the way through, but the ending isn't, as we see how Sam reacts to Dean being really dead, a portent of things to come.

6. 4-1 Lazarus Rising: This episode sets the tone for what'll be two seasons of Apocalypse, and it introduces Castiel, angel extraordinaire.

7. 4-6 Yellow Fever: Wussy Dean is the most hysterical thing ever: running from the Yorkie, screaming like a girl, manning the flashlight. Also, before the credits, the video of Jensen Ackles lip-syncing 'Eye of the Tiger' is my most epic video ever.

8. 4-13 After School Special: Dean as a gym coach in tiny, tiny shorts? Yes, please, and thank you. Plus we get an insight into the school days of the Winchester boys.

9. 4-17 Its a Terrible Life: Sam and Dean caught in an angel induced illusion where they are strangers who work in the same corporation, banding together to defeat an angry spirit. The many jokes that long time fans will get are what makes this episode great.

10. 4-18 The Monster at the End of this Book: The Winchesters find out that there's a book series chronicling the last couple years. I love the prophet Chuck and the brothers learning about the crazy fandom, including Wincest!

11. 4-22 Lucifer Rising: The shot at the end of Dean grabbing onto Sam when they realize Lucifer is coming makes this whole episode worth it. Poor, poor Winchesters.

12. 5-8 Changing Channels: Hilarity from beginning to end as the brothers are trapped in different television universes. My favorite is the crime procedural with both brothers doing their best Caruso. Also love Sam as the Impala.

13. 5-10 Abandon All Hope: *sob* That's really all I can do or say here. Sad, but beautiful.

Hanson: Thinking 'Bout Somethin'

My favorite band of brothers, Hanson, just released the music video for "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'," the first single off their upcoming album, Shout it Out (June 8).

Thinking 'Bout Somethin'

HANSON | MySpace Music Videos

The video is sunny and fun, just right for a spring/summer single, I think. And the cameo by Weird Al doesn't hurt either!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

All New Glee: Hell-O

Spoilers below!

We're finally done with the Glee hiatus! And the show was back with a bang as far as I'm concerned, though the first few minutes were a little rough.

The show picks up shortly after "Sectionals" ended. Glee club are still social outcasts but Will gives them the assignment of finding a song with "Hello" in the title to symbolize a new beginning after Sectionals. Sue has to get herself re-instated by giving Figgins roofies and taking compromising photos of them together as blackmail. Other people liked this bit, but I didn't find it all that funny, which is why the beginning of the episode was rough for me.

Finn and Rachel are now a couple, with Finn not sure this is what he wanted. He's casting looks at Quinn, who is now with Puck (I guess? They didn't say for sure.) Rachel is bringing her usual over-enthusiastic crazy: Team Finn t-shirt (I want!), relationship calendar, etc. He finally admits that he's not sure he wants to be in a relationship as he needs to get his head on straight after the whole Quinn debacle. He's helped along by Santana and Brittany trying to date him on Sue's orders (she wants Rachel humiliated so she leaves glee club). His realization comes during a performance of "Hello, I Love You" by The Doors that rocked my socks off. Please let Cory Monteith sing in a lower key all the time! He was fantastic and sexy and cocky.

Rachel is heartbroken, and she performs a blistering rendition of All American Rejects "Gives You Hell" aimed at Finn. She's not heartbroken for long though, as she meets the lead singer of Vocal Adrenaline, Jesse St. James (guest star Jonathan Groff). I wasn't into Jesse until he opened his mouth and began to sing "Hello" with Lea, but then I was totally sold. Since I'm now shipping them, at least for now, I'm sure we're going to find out that he's romancing her for nefarious reasons related to VA beating New Directions at Regionals.

When Finn tries to reconcile with Rachel, she shuns him for her new man, thought I can't blame her because he goes about it the wrong way and is motivated by not wanting to be alone. Finn is suspicious of Jesse, and tells the rest of the club, who try to force Rachel to break up with him. Rachel is prompted by a scheming Sue (who gathers a lonely hearts club of school outcasts to convince Rachel she shouldn't give in to the club's demand) to go to Jesse, and she ultimately decides to stay with him in secret so the club doesn't kick her out. He assures her that he's on the level but shares a look with Shelby that could mean differently. Groff and Lea Michele have smokin' chemistry, at any rate.

Somewhere along the way, probably when he realizes Rachel wants someone else, Finn decides that he truly wants to be with Rachel, all in. You could tell a part of Rachel really wants to take him up on it, but she's secretly with Jesse, so she tells Finn they can't risk the drama of a relationship in the club and wind up with another debacle like Sectionals. Finn has a new swagger though and assures her that he's not giving up, which leads into the final musical number: the whole club doing "Hello, Goodbye." The tables have turned from the first part of the season, with Finn openly pursuing Rachel and her backing away visibly during the number.

Will and Emma try to date, but hit the breaks when Emma admits she's a virgin. Will meets Vocal Adrenaline's coach, Shelby (Idina Menzel) and makes out with her (Bad Shue!). Emma has a run in with Terri at the Schuster house, leading up to them deciding to cool their relationship so Will can get to know himself since he's been with Terri since he was 15 (and the show continues to push the Will/Finn parallels). Can you tell I don't really care as much about the adults in this show?

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the episode, though I would have liked more from the other glee club kids. All their stories took a backseat to Rachel/Finn/Jesse and Emma/Will. I think this episode showcased some of the best work we've seen so far from Cory Monteith, especially his performance while Rachel was singing "Gives You Hell." I'm interested to see where the Jesse/Rachel relationship goes, and if he's going to be good, bad, or somewhere in between. I'm also looking forward to seeing how Finn Hudson pursues a girl, and how that might affect the 'Kurt likes Finn' storyline.

Fox aired Sue Sylvester's "Vogue" music video (featuring Kurt and Mercedes) after the episode and it was so much win you have to see it for yourself, as I can't adequately describe it.

Lines of the night:

"Dolphins are just gay sharks." - Brittany
"No, she's dead. This is her son." - Kurt
"I'm engorged with venom and triumph." - Sue

Next week: "The Power of Madonna" and hopefully less gratuitous use of parentheses (maybe)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Trying Out Hipstamatic for iPhone

I downloaded a new photo app for the iPhone this morning, and its a lot of fun: Hipstamatic. Its meant to emulate an old plastic toy camera. You get a choice of three lenses, three film types (affects the frame of the picture) and two flashes for the 1.99 app download. You can also buy more lenses, films, and flashes from the Hipstamatic Mart. I haven't bought anything from the mart yet, but I probably will in the future. Its very easy to take pics straight from the app and upload to Flickr (as I have with the ones below) or to post to Facebook. My only complaint is that there's no option to tweet your photos, or if there is, they've made the option too difficult to find.

I had some fun switching lenses and photographing the same Coke bottle on my desk:
Kaimal Mark II Lens


Jimmy Lens


John S Lens (my fave so far)

And just for kicks, here's my new Kindle skin:

Kaimal Mark II Lens

Monday, April 12, 2010

Music Monday: Wherein Holly is a Lounge Singer

I often have elaborate daydreams while on road trips. I've driven the roads between my house here in Conway and my hometown of Jonesboro so many times that its a great time to let my mind wander (not too far, no wrecks!).

One of my favorite things to do is to put the shuffle on my iPod and look for songs that suit my mood. Then I pretend that I'm belting them out in front of an adoring crowd. I have a fantastic singing voice in my day dreams, it never cracks or can't hit a high note.

Last night, the setting for my performance was an intimate club, just me and a piano. Today, I made a playlist with many of the songs I chose and some that I didn't get to on the trip that would have worked well. It turns out, lounge singer me is kinda depressing and whiney, but hey, we all get in that mood sometimes. For a giggle, picture me singing these songs in my car by myself at the top of my lungs.

Enjoy my playlist!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fun Friday: The Mysterious Ticking Noise

Today's Fun Friday video is The Potter Puppet Pals' "The Mysterious Ticking Noise." Love this video and its catchy little song that is so easy to get stuck in your head. Also fun for assigning out parts to your friends and trying to recreate it!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

When One Door Closes, a Window Opens

April 8th is the day TOMS Shoes sponsors "One Day Without Shoes" to raise awareness of the number of children in developing countries who go barefoot every day. People all over the world go barefoot for the day or just a few minutes to experience what its like to live without shoes.

A few facts from One Day Without Shoes:

* In some developing nations, children must walk for miles to school, clean water and to seek medical help.
* Cuts and sores on feet can lead to serious infection.
* Often, children cannot attend school barefoot.
* In Ethiopia, approximately one million people are suffering from Podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soil.
* Podoconiosis is 100% preventable with basic foot hygiene and wearing shoes.

After hearing about this event on Facebook, I really wanted to participate, mainly by going barefoot at my job so that I could raise awareness there. Let's face it, that's my main avenue for contact with people, a consequence of living alone. However, I made the mistake of actually asking for permission from my bosses to do so, and was refused (they're good guys, but HR has to be lawsuit conscious).

Then something awesome happened. Kris Allen, the American Idol winner from here in Conway, is involved with One Day Without Shoes, and it just so happens that I work with his Uncle Kenny. God bless him, when he heard that I'd been denied permission to go barefoot for this good cause, he wanted to do something about it.

Thanks to Kenny, I got pretty much the whole day off to go be barefoot. He also made sure I (along with my friend Sarah) got put on the VIP list for Kris' UCA show, where we got to sit in the friends and family section. Thanks to him, I got to spend the afternoon participating in the Barefoot Walk at UCA and seeing a fantastic little concert.

Tonight, my feet are sore and skinned, but I have the luxury of antibiotic cream and comfy socks tomorrow. My heart goes out to those who don't. This is a cause worth contributing to!

Check out the links above if you're interested in what you can do to help kids without shoes. I will be buying myself a pair of TOMS shoes very soon. I think its a win/win situation. I get a cute pair of shoes (there's a pair that sparkles!) and a child gets a new pair too! Also, I'll have pictures of today's walk and concert very soon!

This was such an inspiring day, and its amazing that I had no idea that any of this would happen when I got up this morning. In fact, I was convinced that I'd be going barefoot to get the mail instead of being out there, walking for the cause.

Thanks for being a window, Kenny.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TV Tuesday: NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

Close games raise my blood pressure. The closer the score, the lower the time clock goes, the more tense I get. By the last minute of the NCAA Championship game between the Butler University Bulldogs and the Duke Blue Devils, I couldn't even be in the room with the television. Instead, I was standing in my bedroom, peeking around the corner every minute or so to check the score.

I didn't have any particular loyalties going into this game. My only traditional loyalty is to the Razorbacks, then after that to the SEC. When those two rules aren't in play, I usually root for the underdog. This meant I was rooting for Butler, like a lot of other people. Duke came into the tournament as the first seed in their bracket, while Butler was 5th.

Butler also got my vote for having the cutest coach:

And Butler has this guy:

His name is Gordon. How do you not root for a guy named Gordon with big ears?

Anyway, Butler wasn't expected to give Duke much trouble, but it was a close game from beginning to end, making last year's North Carolina win seem boring in comparison, even though it was my beloved Psycho T's last college game. I never saw Duke get ahead by more than 5 points. Butler was down by 2 at the last second and poor Gordon's half court shot didn't fall.

Cinderella didn't win the game, but I don't think they really lost it either. There's no shame in being a 5 seed that lost by 2 points to a 1 seed. They fought hard and should be proud. As for Duke, I harbor no ill will towards them, but I'm pretty unmoved by their win. I'm sure the players are ecstatic, but I can't get too excited when a traditionally winning program wins some more, unless they've had a bad couple of years (which Duke hasn't).

Sorry, Gordon, maybe next year.