Television: The Muppets, "Hostile Makeover"

Piggy falls prey to the charms of Josh Groban, making her much easier to live with but her show a lot worse, too. And Fozzie is apparently a kleptomaniac.

While better than the pilot—I mean, at least this time I laughed, especially thanks to Laurence Fishburne—I'm still not completely sold on this show. I'll probably give it one more episode to see if it continues to get better. If not, I'll strike it from my viewing roster. I have too many other things to do to waste time on a so-so show.

Television: Scream Queens, "Pilot" & "Hell Week"

So if you're looking for something kind of ridiculous, this fits the bill. While I couldn't stomach some of the bloodier parts, I did find Scream Queens entertaining. I know everyone says "Mean Girls" and, yeah, this is that except here at least some of the mean girls get what's coming to them. Of course, some innocents become collateral damage along the way.

I won't go into details about the plot, but to summarize: A sorority house ruled by meanie Chanel (Emma Roberts doing pretty much the exact same thing she did in AHS: Coven) is targeted by a serial killer. Why? Well, it might have something to do with how one of the pledges was left to die in a bathtub during a party 20 years ago. The pledge had just given birth, and now that baby is old enough to take revenge.

This is the running theory, though there are certainly a number of suspects on offer in the show, which is part of the fun. Jamie Lee Curtis does a fine job as the dean who hates sororities, and there are at least two characters obsessed with and/or turned on by death.

I've already dropped Minority Report, but I'll continue to watch Scream Queens. It's over the top, and I could use that in my otherwise rather heavy viewing diet.


Podcasts: Limetown

So there have been two episodes of this particular podcast, with the intention of there ultimately being seven IIRC.

It's an interesting, fictional tale of a reporter digging into the mysterious Limetown, which was a facility in which a collective of genius scientists lived and were working. What they were working on is unknown, and what happened to the people is equally unclear. There was an "incident" and then everyone disappeared (except the lead scientist, who seemingly was burned at the stake by his colleagues).

If you like, say, The X-Files, you'd probably enjoy this.

The only thing that irritates me about this podcast is whoever plays the main character (the female reporter). I really dislike her voice acting. I find her soporific and unbelievable as a journalist. She's slow when she should be fast and vice versa. That is to say, moments when she should be quick and excited, her words are drawn out, and moments when one would hesitate or be confused, she's too sharp. I dunno. I'm probably overthinking it. But it really does bother me. Enough that, if this were an indefinite program, I'd likely stop listening. But if there's only going to be seven, well, I can stick it out despite her.


Television: Doctor Who, "The Witch's Familiar"

Uh . . .

So Clara and Missy are doing a thing, and the Doctor is doing this other thing. And there are some rotting Daleks, and then Clara goes into a Dalek and Missy tries to get the Doctor to kill Clara (because Clara is "dressed" as a Dalek).

I dunno. Whatever.

Seriously, though, Davros tricks the Doctor into using some of his regeneration energy to heal him, thus also strengthening the Daleks (except this causes those rotting Daleks to become the Dalek equivalent of living dead . . . If the living dead were sludge). So now maybe Daleks are hybrids? With some Time Lord power or something? ::shrug::

I suppose the important thing is the Daleks now know Gallifrey still exists. Oops.

Oh, and the Doctor uses sunglasses now instead of a sonic screwdriver. He's hip like that. (Or Moffat liked the idea so much in Sherlock he had to transplant it.)

Is having a female Time Lord—Time Lady—his response to criticism that the new Doctor should have been a woman (or a POC, but in any case not another white man)? Of course, then he makes this woman evil, so . . .

Although, honestly, Missy is one of the more interesting characters these days. It's fun to be bad, amiright? Missy is this show's Moriarty. Pretty much the exact same character. Moffat really only has one note.

But at least the Doctor is revealed not to be a child killer. That's Moffat's other favorite trick: the fake out. He needs a new toolbox, some fresh blood in his work. It's all going to be more of the same otherwise.

Books: You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Picked this one up prior to traveling to London and it was a nice, quick and easy read for the plane.

I am not, for the record, any particular fan of Ms. Day, though I've seen many of the shows she's been in (I'm a fan of Joss Whedon, so . . .) Why, then, did I decide to read her memoir? Because it sounded interesting. And as I read, I realized we have a lot of personality traits in common.

  • Weird upbringing in the American South? Check. (Though mine was distinctly different from hers, I was equally isolated and had difficulty making friends.)
  • Crush on Commander Riker? Check. Named my favorite teddy bear William. Though later MacGyver became my man.
  • Creating elaborate worlds that combined favorite book and TV/film characters? Check. Mine had Han Solo and Indiana Jones as identical cousins, Patty Duke style, and for some reason they all spent a lot of time on the Enterprise. Also time traveling into the antebellum South, cuz I love me some houses with big columns.
  • Astrology? Check. I still read charts for friends.
  • UT Austin? Check. In fact, it sounds as if we attended at about the same time.
  • Obsessive/addictive nature? Check. For me it was TV shows and movies rather than video games, but yeah. You should see my scrapbooks.
  • Having a friendly support group hold you accountable and get you to start writing? Check.
  • A people-pleasing, perfectionist nature? Check. I didn't necessarily need kids my age to like me, but boy howdy did I want my teachers to love me. All my self-worth was caught up in that, and I still struggle with it.
  • Wanting to erase yourself from the world (digital or otherwise)? Check. I went through that a few years back, deleting accounts left and right, and I'm starting to feel that way again now.

Anyway. It's a great little book that doesn't require Felicia Day fandom to enjoy or relate, though whether you find her life and experiences interesting may be predicated on how much you like . . . geekdom? Day doesn't say anything specific about time on the Buffy set or other such things, instead focusing on her own work with The Guild and Geek and Sundry. We do get a lot about commercials and auditions, though, and acting classes, etc. And a bit about conventions, of course. (I was the guest at conventions when I was at UT, back when fan fiction had to be published in zines rather than just slapped onto the Internet. I was a fanfic author of some renown at the time—well, and my Sherlock fic from a few years back is still considered the gold standard—and those conventions were so fun. Maybe I'll get to do it again some day. Thanks, Felicia, for giving me permission to own that I got my start writing fanfic before moving on to more "serious" work.)

Other topics covered include mental illness and Gamergate. On the whole, it's a somewhat spotty story, but a good one. Worth the little bit of time it takes to read.

Theatre: Hamlet at the Barbican (London)

I know it's something of a cliché to say Hamlet is your favorite Shakespeare play, but for me it is absolutely true. I'm original in a lot of ways, but in this one thing I am like so many others. I have performed, taught, and seen Hamlet so many times I can't even count, and I'm as like as anything to quote the play on almost a daily basis, or at least think the lines! Hamlet has a workable quote for just about anything.

As for this particular production, there is much good to be said of it. The set and production design blew me away. Just beautifully done. And it's an interesting choice to bring the time period into a sort of 1930s or 40s feel. Lends itself to nice costuming.

Edits to the original text . . . seem designed to give the fangirl audience more of what they came to see. I could do an entire other essay on celebrity in theatre, but I'll refrain from it here except to say that some of the choices for this production appeared to have been made to maximize Cumberbatch's time on stage and allow him to chew as much scenery as possible. For example, they've chosen to start the play with Hamlet on stage and have given him the famous first line of "Who's there?" They also have Hamlet play Lucianus. The soliloquies are literally spotlighted. And there are some moments that are just too, for lack of a better word, precious.

Still, none of this detracted from my overall enjoyment. Director Lydsey Turner has made some other interesting choices. The slow motion moments that occur when Hamlet is soliloquizing—things like that always make me think of the effort the actors are putting in. Hamlet's sense of humor has likewise been punched up (and Polonius' somewhat blunted, again allowing Cumberbatch to play to his audience). I will say that making so much of the soliloquies—the slo-mo, the spotlights—brings to the fore just how many there are. For the first time ever, in my long history of Hamlet, I was like, "Oh, really? Again?"

I was actually most impressed with Ciarán Hinds as Claudius. He conveys the idea of seething rage just under the surface very well, balancing it with false obsequiousness. Instead of fawning over Gertrude, he becomes sharp with her; even in moments when he's being kind (or pretending to be), there is a sense of his power and short temper. Siân Brooke as Ophelia was, for me, the weakest point, and I feel like Gertrude was given short shrift in this version, though Anastasia Hille was magnificent with the material she was given.

There are things about Hamlet in general (not specific to this production) that have long made me wonder . . . Like the fact Gertrude can give a detailed account of Ophelia's drowning and yet no one seems to have tried to save Ophelia. Someone saw it, right? That's how they know how it happened? Either Gertrude was there, or someone reported it to her, but either way . . . Why didn't anyone go fish her out of the brook? (I recently read a take that suggests Gertrude actually murders Ophelia, which is an interesting idea.) And Hamlet, for all his seeming introspection, doesn't appear to have a good sense of how his actions affect others. "Laertes is home? Why? And why is he so mad at me?" Um . . .

But anyway. It was a fine show. Definitely interesting and beautifully staged. I feel fortunate to have seen in live, but there will be a filmed broadcast on October 15. You can visit this site to see if it will be playing near you. (Look to the right column.)

Look, Benedict, I love you (I hope you know that), and maybe that's all you want out of life and your career—for people to love you. In which case you can pack up and go home because you've achieved that much. I see you are at least doing your best to leverage your popularity toward worthy causes, but Rob [Thomas] has done it better. Get organized about it if you want to make a real difference. As for your Hamlet, well, it was fine, though hardly groundbreaking. Maybe it's impossible to bring anything new to such an old  and worn role. I would suggest, instead of playing parts that have already been done so many times by so many people (Holmes, Hamlet), and instead of pretending to be other people who've already lived (Assange, Turing), you find something truly unique and make it your own.

Movies: Far from the Madding Crowd

I watched this movie while flying to London, so I have to consider that it was not the best viewing conditions: small screen, etc. And it's not that I didn't like the movie, but it's clear it probably makes a much better book.

Thing is, I think I read this book as an undergraduate (we had to read a lot of Hardy), but I don't really remember. It all blurs together, and to this day I can only say I know I really didn't like Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Can't tell you a thing about the book itself, only that I hated it when I read it and have thus gone on to block it from memory. This one I don't recall hating, but it also clearly didn't leave much of an impression since I only vaguely remembered while watching the film the name Bathsheba sticking out in my head. Biblical much?

The story, then, is of Bathsheba Everdene (and yes, I did think "Katniss" every time her name was said, even if it's spelled differently), a much sought after independent woman. She is reluctant, however, to give up her freedom to any man. Pretty basic. First farmer Gabriel Oak asks her to marry him, then the wealthy Mr. Boldwood. Both are solid, reliable men, but Bathsheba declines their offers. Instead, she is swept off her feet by Sergeant Francis Toby and loses all her resolutions to remain independent in the face of his charm and boldness.

There is, I think, much that could be said about British reticence as depicted in this film (and book). One overarching theme seems to be that good men will not be flashy or bold. They will stick by you, be patient and persistent, and generally very quiet. They will send you longing looks, and their actions are respectful. These are the men to go for, ladies, this film seems to say. These are the ones who will make you happy in the end.

This message isn't singular to this film, of course, or even to Hardy. One can find similar feelings in Austen and such. But it is interesting to me. Americans, of course, are relatively brash by comparison. We value just the opposite in courtship: flash and pomp.

But Sergeant Toby's flash and boldness doesn't make Bathsheba happy in the end. He runs up gambling debts and puts her farm at risk. And then he meets his first love, who he thought had left him at the altar (she'd accidentally gone to the wrong church), and discovers she's pregnant with his child. But then she dies, and Toby tells Bathsheba he is done with her. He goes out to drown . . . Except not really.

Boldwood has once again asked Bathsheba to marry him, and she must seriously consider it, if only to save her farm. But then Toby returns and demands money, reminding Bathsheba that she is his wife and property . . . and [spoilers!] Boldwood shoots him. Again the lesson is that a good man will protect his woman, will be at her side.

And who has been at Bathsheba's side most constantly? Gabriel Oak, of course. As Boldwood is imprisoned for his crime of passion (but, we're told, will be spared execution), Gabriel gets ready to leave the farm. But then Bathsheba realizes how much she depends on him! And goes after him! Roll credits.

The other lesson worth looking at in this film and book is one that suggests a woman really can't make it on her own. Bathsheba is competent, but still requires men to help her—save her. Gabriel saves her flock of sheep when they become ill, Boldwood saves her from Toby. And Bathsheba's ultimate happiness is still predicated on her relationship with a man. Though, one might argue, at least she comes into the relationship as more of an equal than might be typical for the day and age (1870s).

It's a lean movie, and probably quite lovely when not viewed on a tiny screen with a terrible glare. Still, I feel like I might have gotten more from the book, as if maybe there's a lot of unfilmable thoughts in the prose . . . The movie weirdly starts with a voiceover by Bathsheba that never returns. Since I don't usually like voiceover narration, I'm not sorry, but I don't know if we need even those first few lines. Feels like an odd choice, yet again I wonder what is in the book that creates more feeling than the film is able to? Words really do sometimes work better than pictures.

Television: Scorpion, "Satellite of Love"

So. We're doing the will they/won't they with Paige and Walter and with Toby and Happy? Ugh. Overkill much? Can the writers not think of any other potential drama to create between these people?

We've also added a snappy new (female!) government person. "See? She's a strong female character because she snaps orders at people!" Sigh.

I don't know. I like Scorpion, but . . . It's wearing thin.

Season 2 starts with Walter not quite ready for prime time as he continues to recover and go through physical therapy after last season's car accident. But of course Gabe gets a call (he's been working as an advisor on film sets, and we get a few random seconds of Gene Simmons) that brings our group back together, and Walter jumps in even though his doctor advises against it.

Walter has been having dizzy spells, btw. Which I'm guessing will be super important later.

Then something about missiles. And the group miscalculates a couple times . . . It actually wasn't all that interesting. Nor was any of the personal drama compelling. Which is why I'm questioning whether to keep watching this show. I'll give it another couple episodes to see if it can recapture me.


Television: Gotham, "Damned If You Do . . ."

Do I even still really care about this show?

We start Season 2 with Jim now directing traffic and Bullock having quit the force to become a bartender. But Jim isn't an officer for long; he's fired when he roughs up his idiot partner.

I'm really tired of the whole Jim being down and out thing. It just feels repetitive, and if it's supposed to create any amount of tension, well, it doesn't.

This time Jim makes a last ditch effort to get back onto GCPD by asking Penguin for a favor. Penguin has become the high mucky-muck of Gotham's underworld. He tells Jim he'll get him back on the force if Jim collects a debt for him from a difficult minor crime boss. Jim is, naturally, torn. He doesn't want to be doing any work for the bad guys. But Bruce Wayne basically tells him to do it anyway. Bruce's stellar reasoning is that sometimes to do the right thing, it has to be the hard thing (or, in this case, a bad and illegal thing). This is, of course, the very line of thought that will one day lead Bruce to become Batman, but whatever.

I can't figure out if we're supposed to believe Bruce is "wise beyond his years" or what. He certainly comes across largely as juvenile and something of a brat. He and Alfred play together in making a bomb so they can blow open Bruce's father's secret lair. There Bruce finds a letter from his dad that amounts to "ignorance is bliss."

So then Jim does go ahead and do the job for Penguin, and Penguin in turn gets the commissioner to resign, and we get my favorite person to hate James Frain as the new guy. And he is, as James Frain always is, evil. Actively evil in a way the previous commissioner was not. Like, Peter Scolari was corrupt and all, but James Frain (and I probably won't bother to get to know his character's name) is working with murderously insane inmates from Arkham Asylum, including Barbara and Jerome.

Oh, and Nygma is losing his mind, but what else is new?

I dunno. If they could stop with Jim constantly being beaten down by various circumstances, let him get the upper hand for once . . . And if we could see more of Bullock, who is really a great character . . . But I'm just not feeling it.

Television: The Muppets, "Pig Girls Don't Cry"

I guess I missed the pilot, but whatever.

This show feels like something that was in development around the same time 30 Rock got started and The Office was big. Which is to say, it feels a few years too old. They hang a lampshade on how the whole documentary angle is overdone (thanks, Gonzo), but go through with it anyway. And it doesn't really work for me. Because none of it is actually all that compelling or interesting.

The episode focuses on (a) Miss Piggy being Miss Piggy (that is, a diva) and not wanting Elizabeth Banks on her late night talkshow, (b) Fozzie meeting his girlfriend's parents, and (c) Kermit gaining a spare tire due to stress eating.

You see how I get 30 Rock + The Office. There's the faux documentary angle, there's everyone working together, but the setting is showbiz absurdity à la 30 Rock. And yet The Muppets falls short of either of those shows.

Also, Kermit's new girlfriend's thick Southern accent really bothers me for some reason.

In the end, I didn't laugh. I felt like they were mean to Tom Bergeron. I don't watch his show or anything, but still, he seems like a nice guy. Why are they poking fun at him exactly? And making Fozzie a central story was . . . Well, Fozzie never was one of my favorites, so maybe that's just me.

Sigh. I was just so underwhelmed. And I love the Muppets, so I really wanted to like this show. It's really too bad.


Television: Minority Report, "Pilot"


It wasn't awful, but it wasn't great, either.

First we get this intro that tells us the story of the pre-cognitives. I suppose that's for anyone who never saw the movie or doesn't remember the movie. It's also to super-humanize these pre-cogs since they're going to be central to the story.

So way back when, these three siblings were used to stop crime before it started. That was a program called "Pre-Crime." When that program was ended, these three (Agatha, Arthur, and Dashiell) were pensioned off to some island where they could live in peace. Thus removed from all the stimuli, they were ostensibly no longer tormented by visions . . . Right? I mean, in the intro it was said they were seeing murders "within a 100-mile radius" before they happened. So if you live within 100 miles of nothing . . .

Well, I don't know. And it doesn't much matter because our central character is Dash, who has returned to the city. For whatever reason. Because the cabin is boring and Agatha is bossy? Seems like as good a reason as any. And Arthur already lives in the city and is making money through his abilities, too. But of course Dash isn't as selfish as his brother and only wants to help people.

Which is how Dash falls in with a homicide detective named Vega. And now they work together on the sly.

There's your setup.

Oh, except Agatha is having visions of her and her siblings being dragged back into service, and the question is whether Dash helping this cop is the reason why it happens. So . . . She can see things from more than 100 miles away? Or they still live within 100 miles of the city? (In which case, that was a crap location to park your retired pre-cogs.) Or Agatha can only see the visions because Dash was living at home up to that point and the visions involved him? But now that he's gone, then, the visions should also stop. Unless she's just seeing her own future now. God, that would suck.

Okay, well, the show was okay. Dash is a bit too earnest and innocent, and I'm kind of tired of the whole "maladapted" schtick where a main character is antisocial and weird but somehow supposed to be lovable anyway. Or if not lovable exactly, we're still given traits that are supposed to make us like him or her. Quirks. And then there is always a sidekick designed to help this person navigate the world. The sidekick is a "normal" person and sometimes a love interest besides.

Of course it's great to have a dynamic duo. We all love two characters with good chemistry and who play off one another well. But this particular dynamic has become the go-to in shows in recent years and is becoming a bit tiresome.

And while Dash and Vega do have okay chemistry, it isn't off the charts. This isn't Holmes and Watson or even Booth and Brennan caliber. So I'm not sold.

I will possibly give the show one more chance, though. And it seems like a good fit to accompany Gotham on Monday nights, too. (But I haven't had a chance to watch Gotham yet, so you'll have to wait on that one.)

Television: Doctor Who, "The Magician's Apprentice"

So first I watched that little 10-minute thing because my DVR recorded it, then the episode. And my first question is: Why does a show made in 2015 look like it came from 1995? Doctor Who reminds me of old episodes of Babylon 5 and Highlander. Sure, I loved those shows, and the production values were good for their time (well, okay, fair), but that was 20 years ago.

I hear a lot of people screaming that the low production values on Doctor Who are all part of the charm, but . . . I'm not convinced someone really just doesn't know what they're doing.

And then the episode, which was kind of a mess. We start at the end, which is also the beginning. Or maybe we start at the beginning and it's also the end? It's ceased to matter in this show, if it ever did. But anyway, the Doctor claims to be looking for a bookshop, but he apparently really sucks at navigation, or else the TARDIS is failing miserably. And it appears he's going to save this little boy from "hand mines" but . . . Well, we'll get to that.

Meanwhile, to everyone else the Doctor is missing. And Davros (creator of the Daleks) sends a snake guy out to find him. That planet with the women . . . And already I wasn't paying much attention, but I felt like that planet says a lot about how Moffat views women in general.

Meanwhile, Missy (sigh) freezes airplanes mid-flight in order to get some attention. So of course Clara is sent to meet her. But to prove she's still "bad," Missy randomly kills some men sent with Clara—men Missy specifically said should accompany her IIRC. There's the obligatory, "Shouldn't you be dead?" from Clara, but at this point we always just assume anyone is fair game and no one really stays dead. This fact means there is ZERO tension in Doctor Who any more. Nor is there much narrative cohesion. Watching the show these days is like staring at a plate of spaghetti and expecting it to tell you a story.

Missy has the Doctor's . . . something that amounts to a last will and testament. And since it hasn't opened or activated or whatever, they know the Doctor isn't dead. They end up finding him doing electric guitar for a bunch of medieval people (from the 10-minute preview thing). I'm not sure what we were going for here. Character development? Are we answering the critiques that Capaldi is too old and crotchety? He didn't come off any less so. Instead he seemed a bit desperate to prove he isn't old and crotchety, yet his "oh, come on, dudes!" still failed to be lighthearted.

Thing is, I haven't had a problem with Capaldi as the Doctor. I rather like how different he is from the antic Matt Smith. He and Jenna Coleman have no chemistry, though, so it's probably just as well she's leaving. In short, however, I think trying to liven up this Doctor is a mistake. Trying to force him into a new mold is a spectacular disaster.

Whatever. We do eventually get around to Davros, who is dying. And the Daleks take possession of the TARDIS, and they kill Missy and Clara and then destroy the TARDIS. And so we go back to the first scene and this time the Doctor kills the boy who would be Davros.

And this is what Davros wanted, ostensibly. He wanted to prove to the Doctor that compassion is not only useless but a fatal flaw. And now we're up for a whole season of angst as the Doctor deals with that, I guess. But it felt like a ridiculously long way around to get there.

I do wonder sometimes why I'm still watching the show. I'm not sure if it's to see how bad it can get, or to see if it gets better, or both. But I do find with each new episode my interest wanes and my mind wanders. So if any of the above is incorrect, or if I've missed something (and yes, I do know the medieval guy was a Dalek), it's because the show did not hold my full attention.


Movies: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia, Vikander
Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Written By: Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram, based on the television series by Sam Rolfe
Warner Bros., 2015
PG-13; 116 minutes
4.5 stars (out of 5)


When this movie came out, I avoided reviews that would give away the plot, but I did see one question pop up again and again: Who is this movie for?

The teens and young adults, or new adults, or whatever they're calling them this week, won't have any reference for this movie, and the older viewers ostensibly weren't going to find the show they loved in this film franchise. I can't speak to the latter because I've never seen the show. I don't know how much like the show this film is or isn't. I can only guess that it has about as much in common with the source material as Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes does to Doyle. It's there to an extent and punched up in a lot of weird ways.

Still, as someone who'd never seen the show, I really did enjoy the movie. Okay, it has some big sins. Lots of exposition in dialogue (spy movies get away with that through "debriefings"), and then also some backstory written on the screen. But at least there's no voiceover narration, right?

As for the plot, it's fairly straight forward (and they explain it as they go along anyway). In a nutshell, the Russians and Americans team up to get information about an Italian family that is supposedly harboring a scientist who is developing a nuclear warhead. The whole thing is set during the Cold War, of course, and the opening credits are a quickie history lesson for those who didn't live through it.

This looks like a Guy Ritchie movie, by which I mean, if I hadn't know who'd directed it, I would've guessed without too much trouble. But I like Guy Ritchie movies, so . . . Cool.

Some of the humor is a little flat. They go for easy, predictable jokes. They try a little too hard in places. Yet they manage to avoid falling into parody or camp. It is a surprisingly satisfying balance that they strike.

And what Ritchie seems to do remarkably well in all his movies is to assemble a cast that has real chemistry. They're fun to watch, and the audience feels in a way they're joining in. RDJ and Jude Law have it, and Cavill and Hammer do, too. Which is why I'm really sorry this film didn't do better at the box office because I'd absolutely keep coming back for more.

So the answer to that first question is: People like me.

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of those.


Podcasts: James Bonding

So we've been making our way through the James Bond 50th Anniversary box set of Blu-rays. And then we found this podcast that goes over each film, so . . .

It's really just two guys from The Nerdist + a guest (or sometimes guests) having a conversation about whichever Bond film. And so of course there are many digressions and such. I tried to listen to the Skyfall one, for example, and got kind of annoyed that they weren't getting around to talking about the movie. But then we just watched You Only Live Twice last weekend, and so I started listening to that podcast this morning and found it better. As with anything of this sort, quality will vary from "episode" to episode.

This is really my introduction to podcasts, too. I mean, of course I know what they are, and I've even been told to do (and considered doing) my own. But because I can't really do audiobooks, I hesitated to try podcasts thinking I might have the same, I dunno, barrier. Turns out I don't, which is good to know. For me there's something about a story that has to been seen—that is, I have to see the words. I don't like to be read to. But podcasts are just people talking, and that doesn't bother me. Especially if they're funny.

I wouldn't say the James Bonding episodes I've listened to are all that funny, but they have their moments. And the information is interesting.

They start each podcast by asking their guest about his or her history with James Bond. So here's where I'll tell you mine: My parents were big fans, particularly of the Sean Connery ones. My mother had (still has, maybe) a huge crush on Connery. (Him and Sam Elliot, so . . . ???) For me, though, Bond was something that came on weird channels on Sunday afternoons. It was always either a Bond movie or a Western. I had this passing acquaintance with the films. I think I saw all of them, or nearly all, but nothing stuck with me until Timmy Dalton.

The Living Daylights was the first Bond film I saw in the cinema, and I recall really liking it. License to Kill would actually make a greater impression on me, though, probably because I also watched Miami Vice with my parents, and LtK is more like an MV episode adapted to be a Bond movie than anything else.

And then, of course, came Brosnan, who I'd loved in Remington Steele, so naturally I was all in for those, though looking back they make me cringe a bit.

There. That's the kind of digression you can expect in one of these podcasts. But seriously, despite the varying quality of the episodes, I've enjoyed it so far. Will have to branch out to other podcasts, but I'm taking it slow for the moment.


Television: Fall Premieres

Variety has posted a list of upcoming premieres. What are you looking forward to seeing, either coming back or trying as new?

I'll admit I'm curious about the TV version of Minority Report. And I'll be trying this season's American Horror Story because I think hotels are a great location for that kind of thing (witness my short play-turned-film "Warm Bodies"/Adverse Possession). Also, I really liked that show Hotel when I was a kid? Remember that one?

What I'd love to find, though, is a good comedy. So if anyone has suggestions on that, I'm all ears. It's true that television is offering some of the best drama writing (and direction and cinematography) these days, but now everything is so heavy and dark, I really need some levity in my viewing diet! My tastes run to things like 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, The Office, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Community . . . Anyone? Anyone? Seriously, I'd write one myself except it's not my strength. Drama is easy; comedy is hard. I think because drama is a broader mark, and comedy you have to bullseye every time.

Anyway, mark your calendars.

Or, you know, just set your DVRs. Then you don't need the calendar.


Candles: My Current Collection

Every now and then I'm forced to catalogue my extensive collection of candles. Just to see what I have and what I like and don't like. Unfortunately, because I get so many of these at outlets stores, I may never find the ones I like again anyway. But it's worth keeping tabs on these things.

I'm into tea lights right now because I have a really pretty cut-glass holder, and I like that I can just let the tea lights burn until they're done. (I sometimes forget to snuff my big jar candles and will come into my office the next morning to find they're still going . . . They're in a safe location, of course, but still.)

My tea lights are all from the Yankee Candle outlet, and because I'm OCD or something, I have them arranged in their boxes by color. Colors of candles are as important to me as the scent. Certain days have certain colors you see (I have synesthesia, btw), so . . . Yeah.

My first stack of tea lights are: Loves Me, Loves Me Not; Christmas Rose; Lake Sunset. I once had Lake Sunset in a jar candle and loved it, so I was happy to find it in tea light form. In fact, I love all these (which are white). Christmas Rose especially because it reminds me more of the Blue Hydrangea candles I used to have, more so than the current Hydrangea ones.

The second stack: Sweet Honeysuckle; Spring Days; Sandalwood. The first two are yellow, and Sandalwood is sort of a pale beige. Honeysuckle reminds me of my childhood, which was filled with honeysuckle and jasmine. Spring Days is a nice one, but very strong. And I've always loved the scent of sandalwood, which comes out nicely in this candle.

Next: Napa Valley Harvest; Frankincense; Autumn Leaves. All in the orange family. The Frankincense in particular is quite strong. Napa Valley Harvest is a tad weak, and Autumn Leaves is just lovely.

Only two in the next stack: Pink Blush and Christmas Eve. Pink and red respectively. The Pink Blush is another rose scent, and it's nice but I like the Christmas Rose one more. Christmas Eve has a nice mix of fruity and spicy, rather like Christmas. I don't usually go for scents that have any "food" to them, but this one isn't like, say, cookies or whatever. So many winter candles rely on baking smells, and I hate that. I'm glad for this one.

Next: Dune Grass; Bay Leaf Wreath; Sparkling Pine. All shades of green. The Dune Grass you almost can't smell when you burn it, though, so I wouldn't get that one again. I haven't tried the other two yet, though they smell nice in the box.

I have a couple watery blue-green ones next: Water Garden and Ocean Water. Again, the Water Garden is almost too weak. Ocean Water is lovely and light, though, while still making its presence known.

My final stack of tea lights: Blue Hydrangea; Evening Air; Midnight Oasis. The Blue Hydrangea does not smell like I remember from the jar candles—it's almost too candy-like rather than floral. Evening Air (which is a deep blue color) is one of my favorites, though. And Midnight Oasis is lovely, too, and is a deep shade of purple.

You would think 19 different tea lights would be enough! But I do still have some jar candles. Many are just lingering, languishing. Quiet Sky is gray and smells nice in the jar but not strong when I burn it. Blue Island Sky is a great shade of deep turquoise and smells lovely. I've got a couple Hydrangeas jar candles still hanging around. Hearth is dark gray and smells like, well, burned wood, I guess. Or just smoke. I don't end up using it much. Starry Sky is like Quiet Sky in that it just isn't strong enough. But Exotic Bloom, which is deep red, is a lovely scent. And I've got some Riding Mower left over, which is dark green and smells like fresh-cut grass. Have always loved that candle, though its name is kinda dumb.

I'm always happy to take suggestion on candles to try. Or if you're a candlemaker and want me to test and review some of your products, feel free to contact me! I have a Scentsy warmer, though I don't use it quite as often.


Television: 7 Days in Hell

I wanted this to be funny. It wasn't, really.

I wasn't even sure whether to file this under "television" or "movies" because it's a TV movie. Do they still make those? Apparently so.

In a send-up of behind-the-scenes documentaries, 7 Days in Hell covers the fictional tennis match between Aaron Williams (Andy Samberg) and Charles Poole (Kit Harington). It meets expectations for ridiculousness but not for laughs, instead largely relying on vulgar sex humor. I'm no prude, but that stuff is only kind of funny, and so this little piece of fluff ends up being one joke told over and over again.

Well, wait. There is the joke of the foul-mouthed, drunken Queen Elizabeth II. So 7 Days in Hell actually can count two jokes to its name . . . Told over and over.

Really, it's the faux interview pieces that are the best. David Copperfield is an amazingly good sport and actually brought the most laughs.

There's not much more to say. The whole thing is pretty thin. ::shrug::