Friday, September 29, 2006

TV this week

TV update from this week.

My general feeling is that I am not a huge fan of the "set up" episode. Most shows try to cram way too much in for the sake of exposition, and I wind up feeling like I watched a movie with no resolution. I'd prefer it if they'd take their time to set things up, ease us in. . . but most of us would probably give up before it got good if they did that, so I can see why they don't. I'm just not sure my opinions of these shows will stay the same over the course of the season.

New this week:
Brothers and Sisters: So far, I think this is good. The writing is good, the acting is good. They feel somewhat like a real family, although I'm sure that will get better with time. I excited to see so many of these people back on TV, and I'm not that sad to lose one of them (I don't want to spoil anything that the commercial didn't already)

Heroes: I'm liking this. Ben is annoyed that they are doing X-men without doing X-men. I can see the point there. But I like that they have the same concept without the restriction of having to stick to already written plot lines and character descriptions. Most of the characters were intriguing, and I'm very interested to see how they all come together.

Ugly Betty: Funny. It's a complete rip off of The Devil Wears Prada so far, a fact that surprisingly few people are mentioning in their reviews, which totally stumps me. Apparently it's based on a spanish telenovella, but you could have fooled me. I'm enjoying the characters, though, so I think I'll keep watching and see if it ever decides to enter it's own territory.

Help Me Help You: It's contrived and silly, but I liked it anyway. There are some really great scenes in the therapist office, and some great ones with Ted Danson & his estranged wife, played by Jane Kaczmarek. It's one of the few "sitcoms" out there right now that may just interest me enough to watch it.

Boston Legal: Not a new show, obviously, but I liked it at one point, and I decided to give it a try rather than re-watching Smith. It was a good episode. There are 2 new characters, and they're funny, smarmy, and way too clever. In other words, perfect for the Boston Legal world. I may keep watching.

Second Viewings:
Studio 60: Still brilliant. The opening sequence of the show as a number from Pirates of Penzance was PRICELESS! I can't wait to see what happens next.

Six Degrees: I liked the second one better, for sure. They didn't try to cram in quite as much as last time, and the characters grew a little. I really think I may like this one once it hits it's stride a bit. The story lines I like best so far-- Bridget Moynahan & Cambell Scott. The ones I care about the least, Jay Hernandez & Dorian Missick.

Grey's Anatomy: I really like how they resolved the Derek, Meredith, Finn love triangle. It's the perfect set up to stretch out the joy of the situation for most of the season without making us mad because characters keep changing their minds. Such good acting in last night's episode. & some seriously brilliant moments. I am so thrilled that Sara Ramirez is sticking around for the whole season. I love her!

Still waiting for:
Lost, The Nine

Shows I didn't manage to watch the second episode of, and may or may not get back to: Jericho, Smith, and Kidnapped (although I will probably watch my recording of this last one).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Movie Night

Ben has class every Wednesday, which means that I generally lay around the house, eat popcorn in my PJs and catch up on some TV or DVD watching. But Pickle and I (probably because the above scenario is a little bit pitiful) decided we are going to have Movie Wednesdays. We began the tradition last night by going to the mall armed with some free cinemark passes, determined to find something worth watching. The movie scene lately has been SAD. DO YOU HEAR ME HOLLYWOOD?! SAD!!! I can't comprehend why those guys in LA are wondering WHY the box office receipts are so much lower than they used to be. It's because you are making AWFUL movies. I love movies. I have gone through phases where I've seen 3 or 4 a week in the theater. I am NOT in one of those phases right now. The plots are dull, the writing is awful, the direction is pitiful, and don't even get me started on the acting. I'm BORED. The best movie of 2006, in my opinion, has been Little Miss Sunshine, and it was made with a ridiculously small budget. But it started with something crucial. GOOD WRITING!!

And now I'll get off of my soapbox and get to the point of this post.

We decided to see The Illusionist. I love Edward Norton, and I'd heard good things about the movie from friends that had seen it. It seemed like a logical choice.

I have to tell you, I really liked it. It was the kind of understated film that Hollywood doesn't seem to know how to make any more. The script was not wordy, but the acting and direction were beautiful. Even Jessica Biel, who, let's face it, is generally just paraded around in a bikini on screen, was wonderful. I was skeptical going in, on several levels. There are 2 "magic" movies coming out this fall, and this seemed like it would be the crappy knock off of the one with the great director and more impressive cast. The Prestige may still wow me. In fact, I'm counting on it to wow me. But I thoroughly enjoyed this film as well. If you haven't watched the trailer yet, do so:

Of course, it being only 9:15 when we finished that movie, we decided to be sneaky (if any of you work at Provo Towne Center, I apologize in advance) and movie hop. Of course, the adult in me knew I had to be up early, so we picked the one starting right away, as I needed to get to bed. The next movie starting. . . Crank. And may I just say, if any of you were considering seeing this movie, and you have ANY taste. . . PLEASE DON'T DO IT. We lasted about 15 minutes, and that was 10 minutes too many. That is all I will say. If you want to understand, watch the trailer to this one too:

States I've been to

I have a lot of boredom at work lately. A LOT. And I've taken to reading the blogs of as many interesting/funny people as I can find. My friend Jen has a bunch of fun charts and graphs on her blog, and I decided I needed to try one of them. The following is a map of all of the states in the US that I have been to. 52%. Not bad at all. Of course, when I did the country map it was so pitiful I couldn't even bring myself to post it. But this is a map I can be pretty proud of. I didn't include states I had just stopped in on an airplane. That's kind of cheating. I did include states I drove through, however, because you do actually SEE the state that way, and get out of the car at least once.

Try one yourself. They're fun.

create your own personalized map of the USA

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Jenny & I have been taking a cake decorating class at a little store in Provo for the last few Saturdays. This week, we had to use what we'd learned so far to decorate a whole cake. As Ethan's birthday is in a couple of weeks, and he wants a Little Einsteins cake, I thought I'd try a practice cake to see if I can help Natalie decorate one for him.

The idea here was to do a transfer of the pattern from a page from a coloring book. It didn't work quite as well as I wanted it to, but it wasn't awful either. . .

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New tunes of the week

OK, I'm totally aware that a lot of people think John Mayer is over rated. You are entitled to your opinion. I, on the other hand, really like his music. It's simple, yet complex, his lyrics are always amazing, and the tunes are catchy. He has definitely evolved as a musician since his first album, and I like the direction he's gone. I have been listening to his newest album, Continuum, for the past 2 weeks, and I am hooked. I knew that a few of the songs were political statements, and I'm sure they are completely liberal, but I like them anyway. He makes good points with Waiting For The World To Change and Belief. I am very conservative, but I agree with a lot of the sentiments.Try Stop This Train. If you can't love that song, you can stop listening.

Also, I downloaded some of the new Indigo Girls album this week. I have always been a fan of the Indigo Girls, but they go through phases that I don't love as much as others. I really dig a few of their new songs. The album is called Despite Our Differences, and my favorite tunes so far. . . Fly Away, Last Tears, and All The Way.

Next up on the songs to try. . . the new Shawn Colvin album, and a closer look at the bands from the Last Kiss soundtrack.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fall TV so far

I'm not morally opposed to television like a lot of people are. I don't think that TV is inherently evil. I do not, however, often find much on TV that is worth following. I know everyone in the world thinks CSI & Law and Order, in all of their MANY incarnations are the bees knees. I don't really get into them. (let the flogging begin) There have only been a few shows over the years that I've followed closely. Alias, Lost, Friends, and back in the day, X-Files. Last year I started watching Grey's Anatomy. Oh how I love that show, but more on that later.

This year, for the first time in a long time, I have nothing to do after work. There is NOTHING in the movie theaters to interest me yet, and it's the start of the TV season. I didn't miss all of the premieres! In fact, I have made a nerdy little chart of all of the shows that look interesting and I am systematically recording them and watching. Some of them have, with only one episode, thoroughly impressed me. Some have left me running for the door. Some will require further viewing to decide. The following is a list of what I've watched so far and what I think:

Justice (Fox): Oh how I wanted Victor to find something good to follow Alias. I love him, even though his Alias character was gruff and mean. . . But OH what a disappointment. This show tries desperately to be fast paced, clever, and intelligent. It fails SO completely. It mostly just feels like a cast doing a speed through and tripping over themselves. A total disappointment.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC): WOW! Aaron Sorkin is a genius. I loved this show. It succeeds in all of the ways Justice fails. It's got a fantastic cast that can keep up with the pace the show is meant to have. It's quick, it's clever, and it's engaging. I can't wait to see how it evolves. I always regretted not keeping up with West Wing. This is at least as entertaining. & I LOVE the fact that NBC is basically making fun of themselves.

Smith (CBS): meh. I wasn't bowled over by this one. It felt a little bit forced and like it was trying to be a cool caper show, but wasn't really succeeding. I may watch it one more time. Ray Liotta didn't really impress me, but Virginia Madsen was intriguing, and Johnny Lee Miller may have potential as the kid just out of jail.

Jericho (CBS): I really think I'm not going to like this one. I'm probably going to watch it one more time, though, just to give it another chance. Skeet ULrich is like a poor man's Johnny Depp, with not even half his acting chops. . . and no one else in the show is particularly compelling. But the idea is interesting, so maybe it will improve.

Kidnapped (NBC): I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It's surprisingly well written and produced. I was sucked in by the story right away, and the acting is good. Apparently we'll follow the same kidnapping case through the whole season, and that's a very different approach. I'm interested to see how they stretch it out. The acting is good, and I cared about the characters already. But they left the audience with plenty of unanswered questions to come back to find the answer to.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC): I was a little bit underwhelmed by last night's premiere, plot wise. I LOVE this show, and I wanted to have a few answers to the things that were started in the season ender. On the other hand, it's the next morning. Nothing would have changed significantly yet. & I'm definitely along for the ride to see what happens next. I know I shouldn't want Meredith & McDreamy to get together, but I do. I admit it. I do. I just wish he'd divorce his wife first, for heaven's sake.

6 Degrees (ABC): I wanted to love it. I wanted to jump right in and love it like I do most JJ stuff. I didn't. I did like it, though. It was certainly worth going back to, and I think it has the potential to evolve. I was a little bit bugged that so many connections were made SO quickly. Why can't we get to know the people before they know each other? Isn't that the point of the whole season? Do we need to find out how they're connected from the beginning? I'll watch again. Definitely. But I'm hoping it gets better.

In general, I'm impressed by how star-studded TV is this year. Maybe it's because there are NO good scripts out there in the film world right now. Or maybe it's because the pay checks in TV are better than they used to be. I don't know. But we keep recognizing EVERYONE in the casts of these shows. There is very little new blood.

A few that I'm still looking forward to: Brothers & Sisters, Lost, The Nine, Heros. I'll report when those have aired.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Fun Size" candy

OK, with Halloween fast approaching (OK, it's 6 weeks away, but try to tell the good people of Walmart that) we have an influx of "fun size" candy. & this brings up a point. What IS IT about things that are smaller being "Funner"(though I know that's not a word) or "Cuter" than things of normal size? what's FUN about a twix bar that's about 1/4 of what you'd get in a normal Twix package? Personally, I think it's a lot more fun to do LESS unwrapping and end up with 4 times the Twix. Who decided this was an appropriate name for smaller versions of candy bars? Could they just not come up with a good name for that in between size? There's King Size, normal, "Fun" and Mini. Why could the well paid intelligent people at M&M Mars not come up with something more creative and descriptive than "Fun Size"?

It just doesn't make sense.

Doesn't stop me from buying them, stashing them in my desk, and eating 3 in one day. . . but that's another story. & it HAS to be a positive step in the right direction from buying the Ice cream twix bar from the vending machine on a daily basis. right?

Friday, September 08, 2006


Where did the obsession originate? With the girl in Sur La Table one day on a shopping trip with Melissa Leilani-- a shopping trip where I was NOT going to spend any money. But that darn girl talked me into buying a cupcake tree. It was on sale, in my defense, and I was with Melissa. . . who is the devil to shop with. She never talks me out of anything. Besides the tree, which was very pretty, the girl talked me into a recipe book for cupcakes. It was all over.

I made my first real batch, make that three batches, for Secret Garden's opening night. & it was so much FUN! They were so pretty, and they tasted pretty good too. & then it got worse. I made them for Ben's birthday, and then we got engaged, and I got a plan in my head. Instead of a wedding cake, we were going to have cupcakes. & not just any cupcakes. COOL cupcakes. PRETTY cupcakes. & really really TASTY cupcakes. I hate that wedding cake doesn't ever really taste good. The frosting is generally awful. The cake is usually dry. BLECH.
Ours would be different.

So the process began. Recipe books were purchased. There was a trial run with many flavors to try. . . and what was the result? They liked them all. So we had 6 different kinds of cupcakes at the wedding. We made a total of something like 24 batches. . . 400 cupcakes. It was insanity. But generally speaking, they were pretty, and tasty, and even cool. Mission accomplished.
& somehow, after all that, I still feel like trying more. I'm curious. I have to see if I can do better. Jenny's birthday, here I come!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Cancer scares me. . . I'll admit it. There are few other diseases out there that every one of us can say we've been affected by, either personally, or by way of a friend or family member. We know it happens. We know that in some cases we can't do anything to stop it. . . and maybe that's why it scares me. The lack of control.

Lung cancer is one thing. If I never pick up a cigarette, never work in a coal mine, I'll probably be lucky enough to avoid this one. Skin cancer, same thing. I can put on sunscreen, cover up when I'm outside, avoid the tanning bed (not that I'm very good about doing any of these things, but I COULD). But breast cancer? Cervical cancer? Colon cancer? It's all about watching and waiting, getting tests when we're supposed to get tests and praying it doesn't happen to us. . .

There are few other things that are that outside of our control.

I do not enjoy that feeling.

A close friend was just diagnosed with Uterine cancer. Apparently a HUGE number of people get this kind of cancer every year. 75% of people that catch it early (stage 1 or 2) are cured. But what about that other 25%? That's a really big number. What happens to those people? All of a sudden, out of nowhere, their lives are never the same. They are fully capable, productive members of society, with lives and careers and familes, and then suddenly, they're patients? They are confined to hospital beds and losing their hair and throwing up? It floors me that this is something I never really considered until now. . .