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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our Favorite Movies of the 2000s By Year

First, let's get one thing straight: we are not movie buffs or movie experts. We're TV people. Movies pale in comparison to the small screen's ability to develop characters over hundreds of hours. We haven't seen a bunch of obscure, great things that your brother the film student has seen. But that might actually be best for most people. That means that the good movies listed here are the bare minimum for enjoyment of movies and pop culture at large. 

It means you should probably watch most of them (at least the ones that are in the genres you enjoy), as a cinematic primer or just to be able to dialogue with the rest of the world/catch references. On this list and the ones that will follow, you'll see the standards (Casablanca, Pulp Fiction, etc.) with only a few oddballs (and some of them are truly odd). There are a handful of foreign films. If you know of something great that we missed, let us know. We love hearing about good movies that everyone should have seen. 

Our Top Ten Movies of 2011 (previously blogged about last year)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Our favorite movies of 2012

We're doing another movie post as promised in the comments, but for now, here's 2012.

Our Top Ten Movies of 2012
1. Seven Psychopaths- This is the year that movies mocked movies in order to point out things about our media culture (see also: Cabin in the Woods). Seven Psychopaths tackled the Tarantino-esque, fast-talking, brainy, gritty action flicks that we all love. It pointed out the staples (you can't kill dogs, just women), while telling a violent, funny story of its own. The cast was solid, the laughs were steady and rollicking, and the script was devilishly clever. We had high hopes for this movie because its writer also created another of our faves (In Bruges). This movie exceeded those expectations. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Homeland- season 2, episodes 10-12

By David Shankbone (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
We finished Homeland season two. Lots of people think the show went off the rails in these episodes and that season two isn't as good as season one. First of all, what is? That's an incredibly high bar. Second, the show is still great. Season two was riveting, fast-paced, and risk taking. We loved the surprising finale. Brody was found out by Saul in EPISODE TWO. He became a different person. In the penultimate episode, they killed Abu Nazir.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gossip Girl's identity makes no sense

But hey, at least Blair and Chuck ended up together.

Dexter- season 7, episodes 10-12

By Kristin Dos Santos (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The show went off the rails for the first time this season in the episode where Dexter abandoned his code. He really thought that his Dark Passenger wasn't him? We thought he at least knew it was a part of him. Dexter, as a scientific adult, seeing his urge as a separate entity doesn't make full sense for us. What Hannah said didn't seem like enough to convince Dexter to abandon the code. It wasn't explained well enough.

Scandal- season 2, episodes 7-9

By David Shankbone (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
This season of Scandal has been a joy from start to finish. We don't even mind that they shot Hot President. He's gonna live. There have been so many twists and turns this season that we're tempted to call it The New Vampire Diaries, since the old, regular Vampire Diaries has decided to shell out no surprises this season. Yawn. We hope so much that Mellie is involved in the shooting. She didn't want to get out of the car, remember? It seems like she might know something. Trying to kill your husband is definitely a good enough reason for him to ask for a divorce.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Grey's Anatomy- season 9, episodes 8-9

photo by Alan Light [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
We liked Neve Campbell guest starring as yet another of Derek's sisters. She's direct, smart, and honest.  We loved her calling out Meredith on being a selfish, distant family member who doesn't come to visit and doesn't seek relationships with her relatives. It really is weird. We get that Meredith didn't have a cozy family life growing up, but she needs to not let her crummy family make her pre-judge her new one. Neve looks like she could be related to Stephen King or Rob Lowe.

The Vampire Diaries- season 4, episode 9

By Gage Skidmore  Uploaded by MyCanon (The Vampire Diaries) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
We're just going to ignore Elena's sire bond for most of this post. It's not romantic, it leads to sexist places, it's a cop-out, it cheapens the show's relationships, and it's boring. It's dragging down the show, hard. Now Stefan is all mad because Damon didn't break things off right away, but Damon ends up doing it at the end of this episode, blah blah blah, we don't give a scheiste (that's Ern's made-up German word that Leeard hates). It's time to end the triangle. We know they won't.

Glee season 4, episodes 8-10

Yeah, we're mean and tried to make you watch this again.

Thanksgiving- Whose idea was it to "have a Kiki"/do that song? How painful. We just watched it in awe, remembering that Glee really can be this terrible. We were also angry about Quinn. The show finally brought Quinn back, like we've been wanting, but we didn't get the mature, capable Quinn who left for Yale. The show brought back Crazy Quinn who is boning the wrong guy: in this case, her married professor. Yuck. Why does Sue have a baby? The show gave Sue a baby and then did almost nothing with it. Thank God, but still. It makes the whole thing more pointless and annoying.

Have You Guys Seen This Trailer?

Even though they cast guys who aren't our type, physically, this movie looks surprisingly awesome. We read three of the books and thought they'd make good movies, but usually teen books fail in the execution to become decent films. Here's hoping this is an exception.

Pretty Little Liars- Summary of Seasons 1, 2, and the first half of 3

UPDATE: A new summary can be found here. It includes all of season three now.

Since the pathetic season one summary has been so popular, we thought we'd do this again and do this right for the thousands (89,910 according to this blog's stats) of people crawling all over this site looking for a way to catch up on PLL or refresh their memories. Know that this post took weeks. PLL is kind of a complex show. There are tons of clues, everywhere, and this recap will probably miss, like 1,000 of them. But we'll hit all the big notes and clues that we think are going to be important.

First, a few characters.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

American Horror Story- Season 2, episodes 7-9

By Rubenstein  Uploaded by MyCanon (Lily Rabe) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
At this point in the season, this show's ever-present problems are starting to wear on us. It's running too long, mostly because it's been in its climax almost the entire time. When you're always going 100 miles per hour on a show, it makes it hard to appreciate developments. We complain about build-up and quiet episodes, but we really do need a show to keep us at 20 mph before speeding up. You have to f***ing earn it, Ryan. If you want us to feel real horror, real devastation, and real fear, you have to work on us for a while, sit with us, introduce us to ideas, and THEN shoot your wad.

Modern Family- season 4, episodes 9-10

By Jenn Deering Davis  Uploaded by MyCanon (Modern Family Cast) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
When a Tree Falls- This is the one where Mitchell and Cameron work together to save a tree, Haley picks trash up by the side of the road, Jay strives to bond with younger men by throwing Phil under the bus, Alex tries to get an unflattering picture of Haley, and Claire gets caught shoplifting, only to be saved by Gloria faking labor. Cameron stole the show with his jealousy of the Cats lead and his understudy costume. Haley's mugshots were funny and cute, but we were less impressed with Alex's storyline. It felt beneath her, and since the pictures of Alex were not that bad or funny at all, the number of facebook "likes" they got were just stupid and unrealistic.

The Golden Globes are on crack

The Newsroom and Smash (?!!) were nominated in best show categories. Boardwalk Empire was nominated and not Mad Men. Also, no Game of Thrones. Episodes was nominated over Louie. Whatever. We're glad Girls got some love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Arrow has lost us for now.

It's an unrealistic, predictable, and kind of sad Batman knock-off. Maybe the comics are cooler and more original. Heck, we'd bet on it. But the show has been unbelievable to the point that the plot isn't convincing even in its own world. We're not attached to anyone on this show, and it's a little too procedural. We've given it a fair shake though. Eight episodes is a lot for something we don't look forward to watching. We may revisit it later, but probably not. Paul Blackthorne deserves better than this boring show, haha.

Are you still watching?

Airdates for Spring Shows We Mean to Watch

So, this is the full list of spring shows that we probably won't be ignoring completely.

January 7
Switched At Birth

January 8
Pretty Little Liars
Cougar Town

January 13
House of Lies

January 14
Being Human
The Carrie Diaries

January 17

January 21
The Following

January 30
The Americans

January 31
Do No Harm

February 5

February 7

February 13

February 14
Zero Hour

February 19

March 3
Red Widow March

March 31
Game of Thrones
Mr. Selfridge

Possibly Merlin (1/4) and Justified (1/8) too, if we're caught up by then.

New Girl- Season 2, episodes 9-11

By Genevieve (Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Eggs- In this episode, Jess became obsessed with the idea that she might not have enough time to have children, but it turns out to be CeCe who should worry. Ah, the ticking clock. Girl, preach it. We've been worried about that ever since we realized how awkward and useless we are with the menfolk. No, we're not like those dumb girls on tumblr who are actually beautiful whining that no one will ever love us. We know someone will. But will they realize our weirdness is cool IN TIME? Jess, be our spirit animal for this one. You're pretty weird yourself. Schmidt's bedroom troubles stole the show for us, especially when the lesbian doctor pronounced him a va-genius after he named all his hilarious-sounding moves. We also loved Nick finishing his zombie book and having it be legendarily terrible. We'd still read it. The show ought to actually write and publish it. Very funny, very real episode.
Episode grade: A-

Bathtub- We liked Winston and Jess collaborating to get a bathtub and pretending to rob the apartment. It was zany and childish, but it worked. Poor Schmidt. He almost had her. Since this is TV world, he can't sit down and explain things to her and say that it was a one-time, stupid thing and that doesn't mean that he can't get serious. This isn't real life. One mistake has to ruin things completely. The stripper stuff was too crazy for us. It spiraled out of believable humor's zone. It started out promising though, so we hope when the character keeps coming back, Angie is a little dialed down. Winston and Jess have great friend chemistry, and it needs to be utilized more often.
Episode grade: B

Santa- Sam! Sam! He's back. We are totally in love with him, especially when he doctors children. We know Nick is eventually endgame for Jess, but we hope she and Sam have a good, long run together. We loved Schmidt's grinch-y attitude the entire night after having been ditched by CeCe. We wish we could always do Irish goodbyes. We loved when Winston faked a breakup with Jess. Black santa was hilarious too. Again, Angie the stripper didn't bring laughs so much as some character development for Nick. But that's cool.
Episode grade: B+

The Mindy Project- Season 1, episodes 7-9

By Kristin Dos Santos (Mindy Kaling) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Teen Patient- This episode was kind of crazy and unrealistic. It wasn't the norm for this, or any, show to have a doctor stalk a teen patient to her school and compare love lives or whatever the heck happened here. Still, there were some good jokes, so the trip was worth it. We loved Mindy having trouble relating to the teens, slime, and other jokes about how quickly normal people get out of touch with what's going on in private high schools. We also loved that Mindy didn't try to be cool, owning that she was an adult and launching into hilarious lectures.

Sofia reads Jonathan Franzen for fun, huh? How pretentious. However, we'd rather read Freedom than a novelization of Iron Man. Gross. We hope Sofia comes back though and that she wasn't just a random character for this episode only. She's Mindy's teen neighbor. There's more to be mined there. This episode would have gotten an A but for the lame side plot about Betsy feeling unsexy because she isn't sexually harassed. Dumb.
Episode grade: B

Two to One- In this one, Mindy took off from the office to celebrate "best friends day," leaving Danny and the British guy to run things and keep the midwives from poaching all their clients. This is the episode that really proved that the side characters on this show just aren't working. The only time we enjoy The Mindy Project is when Mindy is around. She steals the show, as she should, since it's her show. But she needs some competent supporting characters.

Everyone thinks Danny is a good character, and we agree, so he and Mindy need to move to a new medical office after this one tanks spectacularly in, say, the season finale. This episode was a dud since it featured the office a lot while Mindy wasn't even in it. It got boring, fast, but we loved the resolution where Mindy proved herself to be a necessary leader to the boys. The midwives were funny, as was Mindy's new best friend.
Episode grade: C-

Josh and Mindy's Christmas Party- Josh is a cheater!!! We knew it had to be too good to be true. Also, we can't have Mindy settling down in the first season of her show. She needs to date many more rejects. Plus, Josh is a lawyer. Male lawyers almost always cheat (sorry, lawyers). We can't believe that dull little gnat who plays Erin on The Office even got that role, let alone this one. We know Mindy is friends with her, and we guess that's enough of a reason to stain the episode with one of our least-favorite working actresses. Ugh. At least this means we'll never have to see her on The Mindy Project again. We can't see Mindy hanging out with Josh's ex-girlfriend. There were funny lines in this episode, and some good moments between Mindy and the only other character we can tolerate (Danny).
Episode grade: B+

We still need this show to get better, but with that Christmas episode, it's bought itself a season one pass. We'll keep watching in the spring.

Parenthood- Season 4, episodes 9-11

By Sebastian Jespersen (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
We were annoyed when Pamela Adlon (pictured) showed up to be a poor, complaining neighbor to Crosby, because we're over the irrational b*tch stereotype. It's just this kind of portrayal that women don't need. Marlyse. Ugh. She's a funny actress and we liked her better on Louie, but we guess this is an interesting way to give the recording studio a storyline. Thank God it was over quickly and the good neighbors showed up to support local business. So sweet.

We didn't recognize Glen Hansard as the musician who got towed right away, but we've seen him before in Once. It was a cute cameo and shows that The Luncheonette is doing really well/attracting some big names. Crosby and Jasmine having another baby should be hilarious.

Julia and Joel's marriage troubles are boring us. We've seen the storyline where the workaholic is bored being a stay-at-home parent before, and we feel like this couple deserves better things to do than that. Oh yeah, there's also the plot where Julia isn't very good with the kids, especially Victor. We're so glad she bounced back. Of course it was going to be this hard. Joel and Julia are lucky it isn't harder. We think it's cute that they wanted Syd and Victor to believe in Santa.

Sidenote: Ern never believed in Santa. At the age of two, her mom read her a book about Saint Nicholas, a nice Christian who lived a long time ago, was very generous, and "would be sad to know that he takes attention away from Jesus on Christmas." Ern's mom was very adamant about never lying to her kids. So when every adult asked Baby Ern what Santa Claus was getting her, she would reply, "Oh, you're such an idiot. Santa Claus is dead." Yup, that's how kids are gonna take that.

In the last couple of weeks, we'e been thinking, "Amber and Ryan are going exactly where we thought they would. It starts with Ryan being surly and shutting her out, and will most likely end with a big, violent blow up that breaks them up, at least for a time and possibly forever." It was nice of Amber to try to get Ryan a job. Lots of people don't know this, but it's extremely common and accepted to find a job through someone you know.

People want to hire people that they can trust, and if they have it on good authority that a person is cool, they are more likely to take the chance. Of course, Joel didn't really need anybody and it was a favor, but it's still all well and good. It's not school anymore. In the academic world, it's all about equality and merit (or at least it should be). In the real world, it's networking and "who you know." So make friends, kiddies.

Amber gets more adorable in every episode, by the way. It was painful to watch Ryan suck at construction. It was almost cathartic to watch Amber and Ryan's fight after he came home drunk having damaged her car. We all knew it was coming, and a drunken screaming match was less excruciating than a different scene might have been. Amber made a wise and mature decision, learning from her mom's mistakes. We hope Ryan gets his act together though...and comes back just in time to be part of a triangle?!! Pretty please, show?

The show was really obvious with having Sarah choose Hank's job over the wedding with Mark. We've known for a while that Sarah would be torn between the two, and having this happen is just the step before a few more steps that get her into Hank's bed and in a world of confusion. We were hesitantly Team Hank before, but after Mark called Sarah "a lousy fiancé," we were positive about our choice. Marie from Breaking Bad played Hank's ex, so we knew she was going to be unpleasant and icy.

We were genuinely surprised when Mark showed up at the hotel. His anger level was understandable. His analysis of Sarah's issues was probably right on too. Huh. Maybe Mark has a point. Maybe we want him back. Hank might be too melancholy for Sarah. Still, we loved them hooking up in the Christmas episode, and they seem to like each other for the right reasons. Also, Max needs someone in the family who thinks he is the best Braverman. It was pretty funny when Camille kept her mouth shut about Mark being in the Christmas cards.

We're getting more and more able to tolerate Max. There's something about this season. Maybe it's because he agreed to go to the dance for his mom, which is a huge sacrifice for someone with Aspergers. The noise, the social challenges, the boredom, all the stimulation, the physical awkwardness...yeesh. Poor Max. Kristina bribing Max with candy was hilarious. So let's talk about the video. Obviously that was the biggest tearjerker of all time.

BUT what it means is that Kristina is going to live. The show already had its big emotional payoff that it would get from her dying, so now it would be pointless to kill her. Adam praying for her was adorable, you have to admit, even if you aren't the praying type yourself.

This season is moving at a glacial pace, and it's going to predictable places. This show makes us miss San Francisco and our friend who lives there. :-( But the Christmas episode made up for the slow first half. It was emotional and good. Also, it made us happy that we are not Bravermans this year. Man, what a rough holiday for everyone but Sarah.

You Can't Always Get What You Want: B
Trouble In Candyland: B
What to My Wondering Eyes: A

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Re-watching LOST: Season five

By Josh_Holloway_2.jpg: Kristin Dos Santos derivative work: RanZag (Josh_Holloway_2.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Lots of people think this is the best season of LOST. These people are mostly nerds, since this season was all about the time travel. We thought the first half was bogged down by the Oceanic Six trying to get back to the island. It took a while, and it even took a while to convince some of them to go. Desmond helped them, and looked great in a scarf while doing so. Ern's brother dressed up like Desmond and went to school the day after Jughead aired. Only a teacher got it. Ern's brother is awesome.

In this season, we find out how Locke died and that he was really and truly dead. We thought, at the end of season four when we saw his body in the coffin, that he couldn't be dead. There was just no way. But the show surprised us with the ultimate, depressing twists that not only was Locke dead, but he was a confused little man who was never called or special. He told Richard Alpert that he was special, so Alpert set everything up for him. No one called Locke but Locke.

Our favorite episode of this season was The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham. Locke's death scene might be our favorite scene of the entire season. It was so unexpected. Ben seemed to change his mind about wanting Locke to live in the span of two seconds. It was chilling and well-acted. The perfect end to the sad life of Locke. Since we all expected a resurrection though (not a possession), we never got a proper chance to say goodbye or mourn Locke. Lots of people hated him, but Ern always counted him among her top five favorite characters (along with Ben, Hurley, Juliet, and Desmond).

This season had nice fillers (like The Lie) sandwiched between knock-your-socks-off hours. Wait, was The Lie the episode where Hurley threw the hot pocket? Wait, then we take that back. That episode was the tits. Oh, hey, Jin was alive the whole time. While all our friends rejoiced, we rolled our eyes. Does anyone die and stay dead on this show? (Turns out, yes, but that's what we were thinking at the time). Who survives an exploding freighter in the middle of the ocean when they were on the freighter? Ideally, no one. At least Michael didn't come back.

This season introduced one of our favorite couples, Sawyer and Ms. Juliet Burke, who were way less dull than Kate and Sawyer. We were a little bored by main characters joining Dharma and Sayid shooting Ben. All of that spanned way too many episodes, and we felt like our time was wasted when we me the Dharma torturer and then never saw him again. Why make such a big deal out of him and then have almost nothing happen? Whatever Happened, Happened was the best Kate episode of the series.

We said goodbye to Daniel Faraday, and while it was sad that his mother killed him, were weren't that sad to lose him. One of our friends was pretty obsessed with him though, because she thought he was cute. We were like, "Um, do you not see nearly every other guy on this show? Daniel is not the island hottie. He's a hobbit to replace Charlie, that dead hobbit." To each her own root, we guess.

We loved seeing a young, pregnant Rousseau. She was so cute. We're weren't THAT sad when Charlotte died, but it was appropriately creepy when she whispered, "This place is death." Loved that. All the tediousness was followed by the emotional episode Dead Is Dead, where Ben was judged by the island for letting his daughter die. Really, it was the smoke monster making sure Ben was on his team.

The flashbacks of Ben acquiring and caring for Alex really worked for us. That was a father/child relationship worth spending more time on. The one that didn't work for anyone was Miles and his father. If that episode didn't feature a hilarious Hurley and an attempt to write The Empire Strikes Back, we would have given it an F. By then, everyone knew that the Miles character was going nowhere interesting.

The show was going over familiar ground and bringing up new pasts when it should have been wrapping up and moving forward. In short, Miles's daddy issues were unwelcome. No one cared. We already saw Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Claire, Hurley, Sun, Locke, Ben, Daniel, Alex, Penny, and to some extent Jin struggle with their fathers. The natural next step was for one of them to have issues with the Ultimate Father, some form of God...oh wait, Ben did kill Jacob at the end of this season, right? :-)

You know what else was crazy? Jack this season. Him wanting to blow up the island and change the past was insane. Didn't he learn anything from his time on the island? Weren't there good times? How was this going to help his relationship with Kate? He just lost it. We loved the last episode when Jacob visited key characters at important moments in their pasts. That episode was all about Jacob. We were sad when he died. We barely knew him. The heartbreaking cliffhanger ending with Juliet falling down that hole and Sawyer screaming was breathtaking. That was a good finale.

Because You Left: B+, The Lie: C, Jughead: A-, The Little Prince: C+, This Place Is Death: B+, 316: B, The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham: A+, LaFleur: A, Namaste: B+, He's Our You: B-, Whatever Happened Happened: A, Dead Is Dead: A, Some Like It Hoth: C-, The Variable: A, Follow the Leader: B, The Incident: A+

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Red by Taylor Swift

By Marcin Wichary from San Francisco, U.S.A.  Uploaded by MyCanon (Taylor Swift) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
A long, long time ago, a commenter wanted to know if we were going to write this. We were, but laziness prevailed, and we're only just now getting around to it. Also, we had to wait until we could find a deal on the CD so we could really give it a good listen, rather than just listening to every track on youtube. On this album, Taylor Swift is less country than ever, especially in the catchy, yet trashy, song "Trouble." We'd better get used to that one. We can see it getting a lot of radio play.

We can see Taylor working to please her young fanbase and stay on top. She hired Max Martin to do some writing, and if you don't know who he is, just know that he writes songs for many pop artists, and he's the reason all music today sounds the same. It's the same guy. She even hauled in Ed Sheeran for one of the better songs, because he's the next big thing for young hipsters. He's all over tumblr. We like Ed's one song on the radio about the dying prostitute who likes cocaine.

But back to Taylor's album. This girl is addicted to the rush of the in-love feeling, but it gives her material. We like the title song, Red, for its clever comparisons of the affair with colors. It doesn't make perfect sense, but we get it. Lyrics-wise, our favorite song is "Begin Again." This album emphasizes physical activity and passion more than her last entries. It's hard to review this album. We like it, but we kind of hate it. We're getting sick of Taylor trotting out the same act all the time. It's all familiar ground. Yeah, it sells, and it would be foolish to change what generates sales. But art takes risks. It doesn't hire Max Martin.

The break-up and love songs are getting old to us, mostly because it's not where we are in life, so we're happy that she threw in  a song like 22, which is yet another anthem about the fun of being young. Actually, we're not digging those songs either. It sucks to be young a lot of the time. No stability, self-doubt, loneliness, fear of not finding a good job, fear in general, not knowing's all there. That's why we love Lena Dunham and Girls. Instead of making us feel guilty for not having a roaring time like the radio thinks we're having, Lena gets how we're really feeling.

But Taylor Swift is writing about the fairy tale. Unless it's a mean breakup song written for revenge on Jake Gyllenhaal (the immature We Are Never Getting Back Together), Taylor overstates the importance and wonder of romance several times, never actually giving her tween listeners a peek at the challenges and realities of actual relationships. In Holy Ground and State of Grace, which sounds like a U2 song, Taylor compares romance to the spiritual. Romance is society's new religion. Taylor is helping us worship (for a profit), not exactly baring her soul in this album.

We think she's gussying up dating so that it fits the fantasy, whether tragic or ideal. If she wanted to take a risk, she'd write about other aspects of life. But she won't. This album was all about being commercial, less about being an artist/poetry, and almost not at all about staying country. She's got multiple genres in there. This album should please most of her fans and keep her on the radio. We're not impressed with it, overall, but we like a few tracks and there aren't many obvious fillers. There aren't any we want to put on repeat though.

Album grade: B


The spam comments are getting out of control. Cut it out. This blog is monitored closely for spam comments and they won't last long enough to be read by anyone by us 99.9% of the time, and we don't visit your sites. We will pull them down. This goes double for the dude trying to sell porn.

You're wasting your time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Parks and Recreation is worse this season, but it's still better than most comedies.

By Peabody Awards (Amy Poehler) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
We love Parks and Rec. Seasons 2-4 were as funny as any comedy we've ever seen, and all the characters are hilarious, loveable, and distinctive. But as we head toward the middle of season five, we have to admit that while it's still pretty good and loads better than The Office right now, it's not what it once was. They are having writer's block or something. Maybe having Leslie win the election wasn't a great idea, as much as we teared up and loved the victory.

Pawnee Commons
This was the one where Leslie and Ben met the Eagleton architect, Andy was bored at his new security job, and Tom started work on his new store. We loved when the radio guy had to define Batman for his audience. We also liked the focus on building a park in the lot. That's just the kind of arc this show needs to have at this point in the season. We need to be building toward something like the Harvest Festival or the election. Leslie now has to pitch her park to the council and beat April's pitch. After this episode, that shouldn't be too hard, but we'd love the dog park to win.

We also liked when Ken Tucker, the TV critic from Entertainment Weekly magazine was referenced. He usually writes good, thought-provoking stuff, even if we sometimes disagree with it. We also liked the balloon versions of Ben and Leslie and Eagleton's park design. FACE. We liked the gunshot app April had on her phone. Joey was a cute kid. We liked the end of Bert Macklin and the Segways. There weren't any actual laughs in this one for us though, except for Leslie's revenge on Wreston. Most of the Eagleton stuff was rehashed from previous seasons. The show needs something new for that rivalry.

Ron and Diane
We know the point of having Jerry's wife on the show is that she's hot. That's the joke. That's the only joke. So it makes sense that Christie Brinkley would have more botox than John Kerry before an election. Still, she came off as weird and robotic since she couldn't move her face. But, again, for this plotline, it's just important that her face looks good. Goal achieved, even though we prefer the natural look ourselves. Jerry's party scene should have been a lot funnier.

We're trying to avoid the b-word ourselves, Leslie. It's pretty sexist. Where are the writers taking Chris this season? He drank fatty eggnog. Progress? (Also, a weight loss tip. It's best to just eat the satisfying fatty stuff that tastes good rather than a lowfat version. You'll be more satisfied and eat less later on in the day. You don't want all the chemicals either. Just eat real food and exercise.) April is really weak? We liked the Ron Swanson plot. Diane is perfect for them, and if they break up, we will riot.

Pawnee Commons grade: B-
Ron and Diane grade: B

The Vampire Diaries. Groan.

By vagueonthehow from Tadcaster, York, England (Ian Somerhalder  Uploaded by MaybeMaybeMaybe) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
My Brother's Keeper
We don't love what they are doing with Jeremy because the hunter instinct is taking over him. It's too repetitive. We saw this with Alaric already. The show needs to let Jeremy keep his free will and slowly come to the conclusion that he should kill vampires. Leeard was hating Caroline and Tyler this week, and she continued hating them in the next episode. The big news of this episode was that Damon and Elena have sex right as Caroline and Stefan are figuring out that Elena is sired to Damon. Whoa.

Everything that happened this season makes sense once you know about the sire bond. But is this the best way to have Damon and Elena seal the deal for the first time? Would it be SO TERRIBLE to have perfect, compassionate, sweet little Elena sleep with Damon because she's lusty and she wants Damon? Being sired should not have been the reason they hooked up. The show should have had the balls to take Elena there as a woman making a gutsy choice. Super hot scene though. Thank God Damon didn't know, or it would have been rape-y and ruined his character for us forever.

We'll Always Have Bourbon Street
We loved the dress Elena wore to school and in the beginning of the episode. Female friendships are so great on this show. Still, this episode had way too much teen drama. What with Caroline whining about not liking her friend's boyfriend, the brothers fighting, and the endless talk about Elena's feelings, this episode certainly felt like it belonged on the CW. Caroline was being a jerk, but we can understand that because of what Damon did to her in season one. Why does this show always torture Caroline? It's extremely sad, yeah, but give her a break. We'd care if it were one of the other characters too. This one was a snore saved only by Lexi's presence.

We hate to say it, but this show might have lost what made it one of our favorite shows in the first place. It's not going anywhere. It seems to be biding time, making things up as it goes along, and protecting Elena from doing anything wrong, ever. It's not telling us a story we want to see the ending to. We trust these writers more than most, but only one episode this season has been up to the standard it set for itself in the first two seasons. It needs to let Elena legitimately go for the bad guy without giving her an easy out. If this is the only way this show can keep the love triangle alive, it needs to drop the triangle and just move on.

This show needs a shake-up. At this point, we want it to kill Elena, bring back Katherine, and have her, the Salvatore brothers, Caroline (as long as she starts being less judgmental), Rebekah, Klaus, and Matt leave Mystic Falls for another town, with an angry Jeremy, grieving for his sister, hunting them and trying to kill them. Also, cure Damon and make him a snarky human. Or how about this? Kill Stefan and Damon, have Elena get tougher, and then bring in new vampire love interests. Even Ern has to admit that Stefan is less sexy after the whole ripper thing, and what Damon did to Caroline in season one sort of ruined him too.

Stefan is too boring and "good boyfriend," and Damon has been an ass so long that we can't get onboard with that either, especially if it's not real/sired. Maybe they've both outlived their usefulness. Maybe we ship them with no one. We have many ideas and while many would anger fans, they would be a heck of a lot better than having the show write cop-outs and repeat the last three seasons. We will still watch in the hopes that this show can get its groove back. We believe it can.

My Brother's Keeper grade: C+
We'll Always Have Bourbon Street grade: C

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Should we tune into Nashville next year?

By Raven Underwood (Hayden Panettiere @ Grand Slam) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Lovesick Blues
Loved the lyrics to the duet between Juliette and Rayna. It really is a shame neither of them can sing that well. We love both Connie and Hayden as actresses, but it's too bad the show couldn't find some powerhouse vocalists who could also act. It kind of makes sense for Juliette to have a lightweight voice, since she's supposed to be a Taylor-Swift type only with more sex appeal. But Rayna should be able to rip it. It's also too bad that Scarlett is such a weak, wet blanket, mousey bore with a weird speaking voice like she's got a mouthful of nuts in the back of her cheeks that she's saving up for winter, because she can actually sing. We didn't love her Ring of Fire rendition in this episode though. You can't touch that song unless you're gonna really kill it. Scarlett's version was too airy and lacked grit. She could have been shot right after that, and we'd have been like, "Justified."

Where He Leads Me
Gunnar finally kissed Scarlett, but because she is Scarlett, she agonized over it and pushed him away. Juliette goes to church with Tim Tebow, and she looked gorgeous in that church scene. We love her hair up like that. We love emerald green and want that dress. It won't be as good on brunettes, but it will still be pretty. Mrs. Tebow is a jerk. Juliette needs a good mommy, not a snob. We are now solidly on Juliette's side in this show, just because we want her to succeed and stick it to Mrs. Tebow. Teddy comes clean to Rayna in this one. Finally. The trust is broken, and Rayna was meeting Deacon soon after. We like the idea of Rayna and Deacon, but it might not be interesting enough in the execution. It's best to build them up and save them for the end. Finally, finally, finally Rayna and Juliette will be touring together.

Other thoughts-So, we're wondering whether we want to catch the show when it next comes on. We enjoy it while we are watching it, but there's nothing that keeps us coming back except this blog and the need to give promising new shows a chance. We never immediately want the next episode. Also, we don't think this show is going to make it, and we want to spend our time on something that's not going to be cancelled soon. On the other hand, some of the music is so good that we've actually bought two songs, and one of us doesn't even normally like country music. We bought If I Didn't Know Better and Fade Into You.

It gets Nashville, TN pretty well, as far as we know. Yeah, we've been there. It's not a bad show at all. There's nothing we really hate about it, and it could get good. We'd follow Connie Britton nearly anywhere. We loved the pilot. We wonder if Tim Tebow will marry Juliette (even though it was real dumb of her to ask him, not to mention CRAZY; way to cut his balls off). This show was smart to speed up all the storylines right before the break, bringing tension to the show where it wasn't present before. Nashville earned itself a pass for at least one more episode from us. We want to see the immediate developments right after this episode for sure. If we think we like where things are going after that, we'll stay tuned.

Are you guys watching?

Lovesick Blues grade: B
Where He Leads Me grade: B+

Supernatural. This week and last week.

By Canadian Film Centre from Toronto, Canada (CFC in L.A. 35) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Last week, Supernatural treated us to a funny, Loony Tunes-themed episode for all of us who enjoyed Saturday morning cartoons. For the rest of us, there was Castiel trying to be a hunter alongside the brothers. Sadly, that didn't go well, dashing all of our dreams. See, we've said before that we want Sam to die and for Castiel to join Dean full time, hunting. But that might not work so well. Dean didn't seem to keen on taking Castiel's help, and Dean was rolling his eyes at Castiel way too much for our taste. We were like, "Don't ruin it, Winchesters! Just let him be weird!" They wouldn't even let Castiel ride shotgun. How are they missing that he's adorable?

The episode was original, well paced, and unpredictable. It was missing some of the dull glumness that bogs down this show's worst episodes. It was in this episode that we found out that Amelia's husband, Don, never died. We felt a little bad for Sam. We liked Amelia's father because of how perceptive he was, and we were rooting for him to start liking Sam.

This week (last night) was the midseason finale. There was sort of a cliffhanger. Sam left Amelia with her husband, because he was trying to do the right thing, but Amelia showed up at the end. We can't wait for her to find out what Sam's day job really is. We're glad Benny is the real deal and that he and his great granddaughter lived. Sam needs to just listen to Dean all the time. Dean is always right. We didn't remember Martin very well, but we are thrilled that he's dead.

Martin was so annoying it made us like Sam during this hour. Man, what a pain. We can't believe Sam sent him to keep tabs on Benny. What a dumb idea, Sam. Okay, maybe Sam still IS our least favorite character to ever be on this show, now that we think about it. Of course Sam is mad at Dean, even though Dean was 100% right about everything this entire time. We'd love Sam to run off to Mexico with Amelia and leave Dean alone, but we bet they'll make up within two episodes next year.

And so ends the first half of the season with the new showrunner. We're fans. It needed the new blood. Supernatural still isn't as good as it was in its best seasons, 2-4 (and most of 5), but it's a heck of a lot more watchable than the last two years. The "Bs" are an achievement for Supernatural these days. Too bad the LOST people can't get ahold of this show. It's nerdy enough to intrigue them, and now they can write flashbacks for it too! Although it looks like Sam and Dean's flashbacks to what they did last summer are over. Thank God, in Sam's case. Those weren't very good, and they were often poorly acted. See you in 2013, Winchesters.

Hunteri Heroici grade: B
Citizen Fang grade: B-

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lawless and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

This movie should have been better than it was. It's based on actual people, it had a good cast, for the most part, and it looked awesome, meaning it had good cinematography, costumes, color, and setting. It just wasn't engaging enough to be great. Tom Hardy was a highlight. We swear, that man has a different voice for every character he plays, and we're not just talking about accents (although we've seen him do about four, and he hasn't been in that many movies yet). His surly, tough character was our favorite. Poor Mia Wasikowksa didn't make out so well. We've loved her since In Treatment, when she played a young gymnast getting therapy. She was the best Jane Eyre in movie history, and she can be really pretty. She's a good actress too. Sadly, she didn't get much to do in this movie, and they hardly ever let her put her hair down, so she didn't look that great either. The men we watched the movie with just kept complaining about how she wasn't pretty and was "anorexic." It made us feel bad, since we like her and think she's gorgeous in a different sort of way.

Gary Oldman hardly gets anything to do, but it's the best we've liked him in a while (he was hideous in The Book of Eli). This was beneath Jessica Chastain, especially given her role. Shia LaBeouf did a much better job than we would have predicted, and we're pleased to see him at least trying to get into good movies. He's grown. We were also happy to see Dane DeHaan, who we recognized from Chronicle. He's a great new actor and a little cutie to boot. Guy Pearce has the meatiest role. Parts of the movie are a little slow, and it feels listless. We felt uninvolved when we were watching it. even in the parts where we were entertained. The film lacked both tension and heart, and at least one of those is key in movies like this. In the end, the best thing about this movie was the violence. If you like brutal, slightly creative, and gleeful violence, this is the movie for you. It's not constant, but when it's there, it wakes you up.
Movie grade: B

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Once again, the cast is the draw here. Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, and Maggie Freaking Smith. Yes, please. We ended up liking Bill Nighy's character the best. This movie had a boggy middle, since there was little in the way of firm plot. We didn't know where it was going. The characters' main goals were...wait for enjoy retirement. Hows that for a story? Seven old people set out to enjoy their retirement, BUT WILL THEY SUCCEED when it's in India, and they find the country weird and the hotel a bit run down. We didn't care about one of the major love stories. Dev Patel's character was funny. That guy was so positive that if someone pooped on him, he would say, "Ah, yes, I can eat that and it might have some nutrition."

The movie is sweet, and it has a few good lines and chuckles. We expected more though, especially because of the cast. This movie was wise not to exceed two hours, but we wanted to see more of India and the more interesting aspects of the culture there. We wanted more jokes and fewer cliche plots. The actors save the script. We were a little annoyed at some of the portrayals of women in this movie. All the villains were women (even if their villainy was light), and we watched this movie with a guy who got a chance to throw around the world "bitch" a lot. We're sick of women in movies being negative nags, shrewing around. This film didn't totally work and will end up being forgettable. If it weren't for the cast, it would probably have been a complete waste of time.
Movie grade: B-

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sunday midseason finales: The Good Wife, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, and The Walking Dead

By Arnold Gatilao from Fremont, CA, USA (Jennifer Morrison) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The Good Wife- Battle of the Proxies
Nick is gone! Thanks for the Christmas present, CBS. That character was a dud and so was the plotline. We're curious to know how Kalinda got rid of him. We doubt she killed him, but with a storyline that dumb, one never knows. We don't even care what happened to him. In fact, one way for Kalinda to get her mystery back is to have the show just never tell us what she did to protect Alicia. He's gone. No one cares about him. Showing her killing him would be stupid, but anything less than his death would be unsatisfactory (unless the writers have a creative solution of which we can't conceive). Just leave it at that. Kalinda has ways we don't know about. Ways we can't fathom. Stand in awe. Our main complaint about this episode was the lack of Cary. Alicia needs a new love interest at some point too. For a midseason finale, this one was awfully quiet.

What an interesting case to save for the end though. This is one legal show that puts real, intelligent thought into its scenarios. Amanda Peet has Will nailed. Not literally, but it's probably just a matter of time. We can't believe Alicia's kids were so mean to her when she tried to have The Talk with them. Actually, we can. Our parents are cool cucumbers, like Alicia, who we respect, and we even snap at them sometimes. No one wants parents up in their grill, even after high school. Alicia messed up though. Now Grace is probably going to have sex with Bobby. Did Alicia send Grace the message that it's a little expected for Grace to start considering sex? It was cute and hilarious when Zach and Alicia found out that the real sex maniac was Jackie. Peter's campaign is in trouble and Eli is in a tissy. What else is new?
Episode grade: B

Once Upon a Time- Queen of Hearts
As saccharine as it all was, this episode touched us, especially when Emma's heart threw out Cora. Will Emma have more powers in the future? Jennifer Morrison looked prettier than usual in this episode, for whatever reason. Regina didn't get the results she would have wanted from her redemption, but we love seeing her come this far. One of our concerns with this series was that the good and bad guys would be fixed, uncomplicated, and stock characters. But this show isn't afraid to take them from their archetypes and grow them, making room for surprises like Red being the wolf or the "evil queen" being unselfish. We loved the ending too.

Hook is such a little poop. His aggressive "flirting" during his fight with Emma was just disgusting. Who is writing his part? If they are trying to get us to hate him, it's working. As sweet and fulfilling as this episode was, the best part was Hook and Cora sailing toward Storybrooke. As villains, they probably aren't scary enough, but we can't wait to see them face off against Rumpy and Regina. We'll give them a chance to prove that they can cause real trouble. We like that the midseason finale got the whole Charming family back together. A separation storyline isn't as interesting as an all-out war storyline, especially when we are repeatedly assured that they will always find each other.
Episode grade: A-

Revenge- Revelations
This wasn't a bad way to wrap up the first half of the season. It wasn't good, but neither was most of this season so far. The events were a little depressing. Daniel has control of Nolan's company, because Nolan wanted to protect Amanda that much. Wow, that's a great friend. Too great of a friend. David Clarke must have been one hell of a mentor. We hope Ashley wasn't anybody's favorite character (we truly doubt it) because she probably isn't anymore. Her actions in this episode were pathetic, but we can all likely agree that we're glad she and Daniel are broken up. We welcome a triangle between Daniel and Aiden. Jack is just too sweet and clueless to make an intriguing triangle point and be competitive enough to make a fight for Amanda exciting.

It seemed like the Jack/Amanda ship was endgame from the first season, but now that he has a baby with Emily, he seems sort of tainted as a love interest. Plus, he has Declan and gave rise to this season's most boring material, in our opinions: the drama with his dead father's enemies. We had hoped this episode would end that arc for good, but it seems we'll have to contend with it next year. Much more exciting is the idea of the Initiative, the terrorist group that started it all, trying to control Daniel. Daniel isn't as pure as the driven snow as he used to be, but he's not evil, he's smart, and he has good intentions. Heck, the guy is a literal poet. He's going to be horrified when these people start contacting him.
Episode grade: B

The Walking Dead- Made to Suffer
Darryl!!!!! Oh no! We saw the preview for February and he was still running around, so supposedly he lives, but we still don't like to even see or think about the risk of losing our favorite redneck of all time. We have five new characters in the prison, and we're alright with that. With all the people dying, they need to be replaced. We want the show to keep trying out characters and only keep the ones we like (and occasionally kill one of them as well). AMC needs to learn how to write women we like. Maggie is a start. We actually don't hate Andrea, even though a lot of people do since she started sleeping with the Governor, a choice some deem as "gross." Carl is a pretty good little leader, as shown by this episode. At first, we didn't buy him as a bad ass, but he's growing on us.

The battle was okay, but the real action was the fight between Michonne and the Governor. Thank God Michonne put his poor daughter out of her misery. That was a gnarly fight. As disgusting and sociopathic of a person the Governor is, one of us is kind of attracted to him. If he had raped Maggie, that attraction would be completely gone. But he didn't, so there it is. We wondered why the Governor turned on Merle so fast, but then we remembered that Merle lied to him about Michonne being dead, and the Governor probably doesn't want to deal with Merle's whinging about his brother. RIP Oscar. You won't be missed that much. Can't wait until February. We just want an answer as to what the Governor is doing with all those heads. EXPLAIN THE HEADS.
Episode grade: B+

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ern Reads Every Stephen King Book post 3: The Shining

I've read this one before, back when I was younger, and I've seen the popular 1980 movie based on the book as well. I don't remember much about the movie. That was a long time ago. I remember liking it. There are a few classic moments that are not present in the book, like Jack's writings just saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" over and over. Also, "Here's Johnny!" only happens in that movie. There are a ton of differences and both the book and movie are good, so it's worthwhile to partake in both. My only complaint about the movie is that the wife, Wendy, is so ugly in the movie that it's distracting. I know that's mean to say, and I'm sorry, but the book paints Wendy as much more attractive.

Stephen King lived portions of this book/got certain scenes from real life. He actually moved to Boulder, Colorado for a year in order to give his third published book a different setting. We guess it would be a problem to write a book set in a place with which you are unfamiliar. King and his family stayed in a hotel one night where they were the only guests, and they stayed in a room that was said to be haunted, Room 217. He was served at a the hotel bar by a man named Grady and dreamed of his three-year-old son running from a firehose. The hotel, The Stanley, had once housed famous people.

This is one of only a few books that have ever really scared me. The "bathtub scene" is what did it the first time around. The second time around, I was more unhinged by the crumbling marriage, the suspicion, and the adult stresses of the job, blame, and parenting. Maybe it's just that I'm older now. The Shining isn't just a ghost story. The novel explores a damaged marriage, hurt and trust in a marriage, alcoholism, and one man dealing with quite the temper. The evil hotel, filled with ghosts, uses all of these already negative things, blowing them up to massive proportions to take a family down.
I don't think this is Stephen King's scariest book anymore, although I used to. The Stand and Pet Sematary probably compete for that title now.

My biggest complaint about this book is that sometimes it got repetitive. King would tell a story from, say, Jack's past, having him remember it. Then he would tell the same story from his wife, Wendy's, point of view, but we wouldn't really get much new information. The history of the hotel was repeated several times, as were several minor, past incidents. We love the way King lets us know the entire life story of most of his characters, but we only need the life story once. Overall, this is a classic for a reason. It has characters you care about, although very few of them. I want to go watch the movie now.

Book Grade (compared to other Stephen King books): B

Re-watching Gilmore Girls: Season five

Season five was the last season of this show that Ern liked. Leeard pretty much loved every minute of this show. The season started right where season four left off, only it showed Dean and Rory lying in bed together, joking. They jumped up when they heard Lorelai in the house, running around and talking. After fighting with her mother and starting to regret her mistake, Rory takes off to Europe with Emily. Rory writes a letter to Dean, breaking things off, but his wife finds it, leading to a confrontation. We loved Lorelai sticking up for her daughter to Lindsay's mom. Real moms are still on their kid's side, even when they disagree with their decisions. They still support them as a person.

Luke and Lorelai start dating. We find out the extremely romantic, kind of pathetic fact that Luke has kept a horoscope Lorelai gave him when they first met eight years ago. He's all in. Well, we're not surprised. Lorelai is touched by this revelation and sleeps with him. Whoa, first date is kind of fast, even if they've known each other for eight years, but okay. We guess fans didn't want to wait much longer. There are a bunch of people who don't like Luke and wanted Lorelai with Christopher, and to them we say, "Huh, what?"

Rory meets rich boy Logan Huntzberger. We liked Logan. We didn't love him. He was good as a character, and we like where the relationship took Rory. It was time for her to have a steady guy again. Logan was unlike both Jess and Dean. He wasn't a pathetic, uneducated puppy dog, and while he was a bad boy, he was a bad boy in an arrogant, entitled way. Jess had a different bad boy vibe. After Dean and Lindsay broke up though, Rory tried to give that relationship another shot, with predictably yucky results. The double date with Luke and Lorelai (with the Bop It) was painful, but funny.

Richard was always right about Dean. As much as class still shouldn't be a thing and love should conquer all, the reality is that most people marry others with similar educations and financial backgrounds. Dean worked in construction; Rory was a blue blood going to Yale. And Dean knew it. The rich girl/poor boy love story is everywhere, but it's not the combination that usually works in real life. Guys have a chip on their shoulders most of the time. They have to be the stars, the successes, and the breadwinners. The wives are the back-up, the support, and part of the overall picture of success. The arm candy. Should it be this way? No. Is it? Not all the time, but most of the time.

It was Dean who couldn't handle being with Rory around her grandparents' house and rich friends. Luke did a little better. Richard and Emily were rude to him at the start of his relationship with their daughter, and things never improved. For all their talk about manners and breeding, they acted like trash. A real respectable person treats everyone the same, regardless of status or income. As Sirius Black said, "You can judge a man by how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."

Or in the words of Brendan Frasier in the underrated Blast from the Past, "Good manners is about making sure everyone around you feels as comfortable as possible." It's not which salad fork to use. It's "the oil of society," helping people to get along as much as possible. So, yeah, we started hating Emily and Richard a little for their behavior. Maybe Dean didn't have that big of a chip on his shoulder. Maybe he just didn't want to hang out with tools. Speaking of tools....Logan's Life and Death Brigade looked fun, but it was more than a little wasteful. We loved Rory calling Logan out for his poor treatment of Marty.

The difference between Logan and Jess was that Logan kind of wanted to be better. Whenever Rory pointed out the error in his immature ways, Logan made efforts to make things up to her, like buying her a coffee cart or apologizing. As arrogant as he was, he could take advice. He was moldable. He could grow. Watching him improve was charming. We also loved his guts and his pranks. His impromptu theater in Rory's class was hilarious. Logan's confidence made him. He did whatever he wanted, unless his father was around. It made him instantly crushable.

Emily and Richards separation continues, and Emily goes on a date. Lorelai has dinner with Christopher, who has broken up with Sherry. Sherry abandoned her daughter because she was tired of being a mother. Ugh, we hate how that show always demonized Sherry, but that was the final straw. It was just cruel to have that character turn out to be so crazy, cold, and heartless. Sure, Sherry was always the worst, but it seemed like lazy writing to us. We were just happy that Lorelai was actually having a personal life rather than forcing us to sit through Inn Drama. So boring.

Rory yells at her dad, who keeps jerking Lorelai around. Lorelai doesn't tell Luke that she's been hanging out with her ex. After Christopher's father dies, Lorelai and Rory make amends with Chris in order to comfort him. Lorelai brings the booze. And she stilllll doesn't tell Luke. Let that be a lesson to us all. That's going to come up to bite her. Emily and Richard get back together in the cutest way, but all that cuteness is ruined when Emily starts plotting with Christopher to break Lorelai and Luke up.

Richard and Emily renew their vows (Rory is Richard's best man, awww). Rory sneaks away to make out with Logan for the first time, and Luke and Chris interrupt her. They both go all He-Man Daughter Protector, making things super awkward. Chris drunkenly throws himself at Lorelai. Luke leaves, angry. We thought that after eight years of pining, it would take more than Lorelai's ex telling Luke that he (Chris) was always meant to be with her.

This break up made Luke look weak, flaky, and uncommitted. We hated it. We did love the final scene when they were all taking pictures and Lorelai leaned in and said to Emily, "You and me, we're done." We've always wanted to say that to someone nasty after watching that scene. She delivered the line like a bad ass. We all learn that you should never make declarations of love a) in front of other people b) while intoxicated. Oh wait, we already knew that. Chris, how old are you?

Lane realizes she won't have sex with Zack, her bandmate and boyfriend, until she is married. Yep, teachings from your upbringing do stick. We loved Lane for this, because it made waiting until marriage because that's how you were taught less creepy and more adorable. Zack didn't even push, earning him points. Meanwhile, Rory keeps her promise to go to Friday Night Dinners, but she's cold to Emily because of what she did to Luke, someone Rory likes. Since Lorelai is also shunning her mother, Emily marches down to the diner to tell Luke that he wins and she will stay out of the relationship. To his credit, Luke immediately goes to Lorelai's house and kisses her. Finally, some balls.

Logan and Rory are having a non-exclusive relationship, and since Rory is a girl, she doesn't care for it.  Rory gets drunk at a weird town function and ends up crying on her guy to a Tarantino-themed party. We have GOT to have one of those. He starts acting jealous. Rory gets drunk at a weird town function and ends up crying on her mother's bathroom floor, asking Lorelai, "Why doesn't he like me?" Amazingly, this did not make us hate her. Rory was now having troubles with "the typical guy," and most of us can sympathize. Especially if she was drunk and weepy.

The weird town function we mentioned, by the way, was Taylor's diorama house. We couldn't breath we were laughing so hard at that. Kirk and weird town stuff was appropriately used in this series. It was never too much and it was almost always amusing. Rory tells Logan that she is a girlfriend kind of girl and doesn't want to continue their open relationship. The ultimatum works, and Logan decides to date only Rory. We loved this. Girls have to stick up for themselves and demand respect. Say what you want, and if you don't get it, don't settle.

Logan takes Rory to meet his horrible family. Honor is cool, but she must have had some trouble in middle school, what with boys almost certainly saying, "Honor? Yeah, I've been ON HER." Logan's family treated Rory like she was Dean, unworthy of Logan and not raised properly to be a Huntzberger wife. Because he has bigger balls than Luke, Logan doesn't let this ruin his relationship. He marches out with Rory and defends her. Rory is crushed and protests, "But I'm a Gilmore." To "make it up to her," Logan's father gives her an internship at his paper. Then he crushes Rory by saying that she doesn't have what it takes to be a reporter.

Lorelai forgives Emily, Sookie has a second baby, and Luke buys Lorelai a house without telling her about it. Rory is so upset about what Logan's dad said, she steals a yacht with Logan. She is arrested. Rory wants to drop out of Yale for a while in order to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She doesn't want to take classes and explore other majors while in college (like the rest of us). She needs direction. Her grades weren't as perfect as they were at Chilton, and now the idea of being a reporter leaves her with a bad taste in her mouth.

This is what happens when you have a perfect, storybook life. As soon as one person doesn't like you or doesn't believe in you, you crumble? Ugh. Everything happened pretty fast. Lorelai disagrees with Rory's decision, so Rory moves in with her grandparents, beginning the longest rift between two characters in the history of this show. Man, was it painful. Richard and Emily first agreed to help Lorelai convince Rory to go back to school, but then they decided they couldn't believe Logan's father would have been that awful, or they couldn't say no to Rory. Or something.

Once again, characters were flopping around like fish. Some of these decisions weren't that believable. Do people really act this way? We went with it. Lorelai runs to Luke for comfort and ends up proposing to him. The season ends. All of this was interesting, but Rory's reaction to a little criticism was completely overblown.

Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller: A-, A Messenger Nothing More: B, Written in the Stars: B+, Tippecanoe and Taylor Too: C-, We Got Us a Pippi Virgin: B, Norman Mailer I'm Pregnant: C, You Jump I Jump Jack: B-, The Party's Over: B+, Emily Says Hello: A, But Not As Cute as Pushkin: B, Women of Questionable Morals: B+, Come Home: A-, Wedding Bell Blues: A+, Say Something: B, Jews and Chinese Food: A, So...Good Talk: A+, Pulp Friction: B+, To Live and Let Diorama: B-, But I'm a Gilmore: A, How Many Kropogs to Cape Cod: B+, Blame Booze and Melville: B+, A House is Not a Home: B+

Saturday, December 1, 2012

More Young Adult Fiction: Because It Is My Blood and Origin

We read some YA novels this week. As old as we get, we can't help but read stuff like this. It's fun.

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
This is the sequel to All These Things I've Done, which we thought was a little silly, but we enjoyed it anyway. These books are part of the Birthright trilogy about the daughter of a mobster. It's like a teenage version of The Godfather, only it's set in the future and it's chocolate, not drugs, that are trafficked. This book improves on things by turning the focus from the teen love story and high school. Instead of that stuff, this book deals largely with the mobster activity, Anya's choices for her future, and chocolate manufacturing.

We loved Anya's new friend in Mexico. This book had some good, believable action in it. It went quickly. We liked the ending, Anya's plans, her new alliances, and the ire it drew from one important character. One of the things keeping this series from being too dry and dour is its sense of humor. The heroine is also easy to like without being cliche or trying too hard. She's smart and tough, and her decisions and emotions make sense. This book is probably trying to provoke thought about why marijuana is illegal and whether it should be. We're fine with that. It's something to think about, especially for the next generation.

If you liked the first one, you'll like this one. We don't admire this trilogy, but we like it, care about it, and enjoy reading it. Most of the stuff we complained about in our review of the last book isn't present here. It feels less like candy and more like a real story as it moves forward. It still has an immature, slightly unrealistic feel that we can't put our fingers on, but that doesn't ruin our enjoyment of a fine female character and her discomfort at being caught between taking care of her family, being a good girl, having a solid future, contributing to her community, loving her boyfriend, and trying to figure out where she fits in her father's crime empire, if she fits there at all.
Book grade: B

Origin by Jessica Khoury
This book is about a scientifically engineered, "perfect" girl named Pia who will live forever, can run 12 miles in 30 minutes, and has really tough skin. She lives in a compound and thirsts for information about the outside world. One night, she gets out. And she meets a boy. A misogynistic jerk of a boy. This book is by-the-numbers and pretty slow. It was predictable, and the ending was too easy and clean. We didn't connect with the main character, who seemed to have no personality, and the love story left us unmoved. The prose/Pia's inner monologue was dull. It wasn't dark enough.

However, this book was written by a 22-year-old woman. That's young. It's rare that someone of that age can write something that really gets to us, deep in the gut. The writing wasn't bad, and there was nothing offensive or terrible about this book. It just wasn't remarkable. In fact, it was promising. We'd like to read what Mrs. Khoury writes in ten years. Older people just have so much more to draw from. Also, this was her first novel. We'll give her credit for trying and getting published, but we don't recommend this book.
Book grade: D+

Re-watching Gilmore Girls: season four

By Jared_Padalecki_2008_Comic-Con_01.jpg: Kristin Dos Santos derivative work: Scarce (Jared_Padalecki_2008_Comic-Con_01.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
In season four, the show was still at its best, and it made Rory's transition from high school to college without dragging down the show. In fact, we prefer the Yale stuff to the Chilton material. Most shows can't take main characters from high school to college well (Gossip Girl, countless other shows). Gilmore Girls was always about fast dialogue and family relationships, not high school drama. Jess was gone, and this season had Rory single for the most part.

The season started with the girls getting back from Europe, and we didn't get enough stories of how that went. It was better than having a whole Europe vacation special with Rory and Lorelai hopping around and dialoguing though. Yeck. We haaate vacation specials. Rory takes off and immediately misses her mommy. We actually thought that was really cute. We wish one of our parents had hung out with us for the first night at college.

Paris follows Rory to school with her life coach, and she arranges to room with Rory. We were glad Paris was back and annoyed that Rory seemed mostly weirded out. Paris is awesome, Rory. Gosh. We guess that in real life it would be a little stalker-y though. If Paris had called Rory and asked to live with her first, it would have been totally normal. That's what you get for having random roommates, Rory (something we're very glad we did in college; it helps you get close to new, very different people than you would normally be friends with).

Rory continues to be socially uninterested when she doesn't want to ruin the furniture her grandmother sent her in order to have a dorm party. Paris freaks out. Lorelai convinces Rory to open her door to the party. All is well. A cool Lord of the Rings-themed party is ruined by Sookie being annoying and freaking out about being a bad mother. Kids eat kid food, Sookie! Digger Stiles is introduced. He was one of the only interesting things about Richard opening a business. His eventual betrayal made us love Lorelai more, because she chose her family over a sleazy boyfriend.

Dean gets married, but confesses his love for Rory to Luke after getting drunk at his mediocre bachelor party. Luke advises Rory not to go to the wedding, and it's very sweet and fatherly. One of Dean's partying buddies was Schmidt from New Girl, just fyi. He's everywhere. Taylor continues to be annoying and hold up local business, but it's funny to see Lorelai freak out at him. Sometimes. It's MORE funny when Luke freaks out at him. There was a ton of Inn stuff as Lorelai was renovating and opening the Dragonfly with Sookie this year.

We thought it was so, so stupid when Lorelai got rid of the decorator because she had worked with Emily. We get that Lorelai needs space and to be her own person, but that's overkill. It's a decorator. Rory is encouraged by her mother to go out on a date, but she ends up being really boring. That guy was cute too. Her loss. Sookie goes into labor during one of the best Festivals of Living Art we've ever seen on TV. Kurt getting into character to "play" Jesus was extremely amusing, and Lorelai didn't flinch at all. That episode won the show its only Emmy (ROBBED, this show is one of the best shows ever) for makeup. The makeup was fantastic though. The characters really looked like paintings.

Rory starts writing for the Yale Daily News and reviews a ballet by lambasting the prima ballerina for being too fat and clumsy. We thought that was mean, but it was a little funny. Naw, mostly mean. Rory was lauded for her honesty and strong writing, but we mostly think fat jokes are easy and rarely clever. The Gilmores attend a game at Yale, tailgate, and finally meet the woman who almost stole Richard from Emily in college. Richard meets with Pennilynn every year to catch up, Emily finds that fact out, and the big feud between the Gilmore parents starts. The feud was pointless, sure, but it was kind of cute. It should have been depressing, but it was wholly adorable watching them pine for each other.

Paris starts dating an ancient professor. Gross. We felt as bad for Jamie as Rory did. He was gorgeous, crazy about the nearly undateable Paris, and didn't deserve to be cheated on. There was too much cheating in this season, if you ask us (more on that later).  In the same episode that Lorelai and Luke vandalize the church bells (thank God), Mrs. Kim finds out about Lane's double life in the band and the rock music stash. The band breaks up for a stupid reason, and Lane is forced to move into Rory's Yale dorm for a while. We liked all of these developments a little.

Mrs. Kim's anger at Lane disobeying and sneaking for years was bound to happen one of these days. We missed Adam Brody so much this season. Lane's new and final love interest, Zack, didn't hold a candle to him, and Zack was so dumb that we always wondered why she liked him. Lane eventually makes up with the band and moves in with Zack and Bryan. Because Paris and Rory's other roommates are jerks and won't let Lane stay, even though she's totally helpful and cool. They think it's "weird." Um, you know what's weird? Running all the time, being 16 and in college and having no personality or confidence, and stalking your high school frenemy to college. Not Lane. Whatever.

Next, Jess comes back to get his crummy car and gives Luke an earful. Jess tries to avoid Rory, but later he chases her down and says, "I love you." Rory wisely ignores him and goes about her business, but our hearts are melted because Jess is hot and the bad boy we've always wanted to meet. One of the things we love about this season is the fact that Rory has had a perfect life so far. Her school performances has been nauseatingly top-notch. Boys have always loved her and found her charming. And she never really made bad choices with the opposite sex. Until now.

The start of all this was Rory being advised to drop a class. She took on too much work, got a poor grade, and felt like a failure. It freaking happens. Welcome to the normal world of not getting everything you want in school. Poor baby. Ever since Mr. Medina's class though, Rory had been Hermione Granger-ing her way through everything and making us feel like we should be on the short bus (no offense if you're on the short bus; you can be jealous of a fictional character with us too). It's just realistic and more interesting to watch someone who isn't perfect, right?

Richard's mother, Trix, dies, and we were pretty happy about that. She was mean. Her final act of discord was an old letter begging Richard not to marry Emily, and it was written years ago. Sure, Pennilynn Lotte is beautiful and has a lovely, if different, name, but she's not Emily. Emily's go spunk and would never be meeting a married man who rejected her once a month to catch up once a year. It's desperate. Rory and Paris try to be normal college kids and go on spring break. It doesn't look like they had a good time, little happened, and we were bored.

Meanwhile in that episode, Luke is arrested and Lorelai bails him out. They still aren't together, but hey, at least Nicole is gone. We always hated her. Next, Digger backstabs and the Gilmore grandparents find out their daughter has been dating digger for a long time, behind their backs. Who likes Digger? No one. He even has a creepy dog who is ready for the military. Actually, the dog was cute and did nothing wrong. We take it back. He just had a psycho, controlling owner who couldn't share a bed with a woman after sex.

Jess returns yet again, and Luke listens to self-help tapes that let him know WHAT WE'VE KNOWN ALL ALONG: If you want a girl, you have to go after her. He resolves to pursue Lorelai romantically. Then he gives the tapes to Jess so that Jess can have the same "epiphany" about Rory. *facepalm* It's pathetic that it took Luke this long, but the next couple of episodes made it all worth the wait. Luke's sister marries a decent guy, TJ, and Luke shares a heated dance with Lorelai.

Jess fails to get Rory back. His plan was to ask her to leave Yale and run away with him. Ummm....that's a bad pitch, bro. Just start dating her again. Don't ask her to give up her entire life when you've been less than reliable. Rory has started spending way too much time with her married ex, Dean, going to him for comfort and emotional intimacy. With Dean kind of in the picture, Jess didn't have a chance, especially since Rory has been a little more insecure than usually all season. We were really depressed after that episode though.

The finale was our second-favorite Gilmore Girls finale. It's hard to beat the series finale (oh, the tears). The season four finale was so funny, so eventful. BIG THINGS, WILD THINGS. Lorelai invites her friends and family to an opening night, test run for the completed Dragonfly. Digger shows up and tries to win Lorelai back, but he's rejected. Luke doesn't like seeing Digger prowling around, so he confronts Lorelai and then they kiss on the porch.

It was incredible, and then it got even better when Kirk ran down the stairs, naked, having night terrors, and interrupting them. On first viewing, we were frustrated that Kirk ruined the romantic moment that was melting us, but later we appreciated it as comedic brilliance that kept the show from getting too sappy. The shock of the night was Rory losing her virginity to Dean and Lorelai catching them post-coitus. Lorelai reminds Rory that Dean is married, Rory "hates her for ruining this," and the season ends after the fight.

Lots of people were upset that the show had Rory do this, but we were impressed that adultery was smacked down. Just because it was a fan-favorite couple didn't mean it was alright. There were consequences. Lorelai didn't say, "Do whatever feels good" or "follow your heart." Lorelai stepped up as a mom, confronted her daughter, and never wavered in the opinion that Rory made a terrible, hurtful mistake. Call us judge, but we don't respect a choice that helps someone else break a promise to love someone loyally forever. It adds to the world's brokenness, not its goodness. Thus, Rory's season of insecurity ended, and Jess never threw himself at Rory again. Sadly. Ugh. But let's not forget that Luke and Lorelai finally got together!!!!

Ballrooms and Biscotti: A, The Lorelai's First Day At Yale: B-, The Hobbit, The Sofa and Digger Stiles: B+, Chicken or Beef?: B+, The Fundamental Things Apply: B+, An Affair to Remember: B, The Festival of Living Art: A-, Die Jerk: B-, Ted Koppel's Big Night Out: B-, The Nanny and the Professor: A-, The Clamor and the Clangor: B, A Family Matter: B+, Nag Hammadi is Where They Found the Gnostic Gospels: A-, The Incredible Shrinking Lorelais: A-, Scene in a Mall: B, The Reigning Lorelai: B+, Girls in Bikinis Boys Doin the Twist: B, Tick Tick Tick Boom!: A, Afterboom: B+, Luke Can See Her Face: B+, Last Week Fights This Week Tights: A-, Raincoats and Recipes: A+

South Park Season 16 Part 2

We finally finished watching South Park's 16th season.

Sarcastaball: B-
This is the one where Randy creates a softer version of football and then finds himself unable to stop being sarcastic. This episode is mostly for football fans aware of a controversy over replacement referees. That's not Ern; Leeard, however, fits that bill. The satire worked best for the world's Leeards who would fully understand it, and for them, it should be on-point. Both of us liked the diss of Cee Lo Green for always being on TV and never having enough hit songs. The funniest thing was Butters innocently saving and selling his own semen.

Raising the Bar: B+
This is the one with Honey Boo Boo and James Cameron. We loved the message of this one. We've lowered the bar so much, it would take the events of this episode to raise it. Of course, Cameron's stuff isn't that great either. Avatar was a total rip-off with good visuals and little else going for it. We need to send Chris Nolan down in that submarine. Still, we loved the jokes about James Cameron's ego, as well as his theme song. Honey Boo Boo and her mother were portrayed perfectly and hilariously. Any episode that has Cartman spending most of the time on a scooter and ending up in a 'sketti fight with Alana is a winner to us.

We laughed several times in this episode, and we agree that Americans need to be more discerning, quality-wise, but we don't think Alana's show is the worst thing on TV. Yes, we've seen Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Not a lot of it, but enough. One thing we liked is how much the family members love each other and get along most of the time. Most reality TV is filled with drama, fights, and backstabbing. This family has its...uh...faults, but they have each other's backs and seem to have fun together.

Insecurity: B
This is the episode where Kyle thinks his mom is sleeping with the UPS man and Cartman installs a security system. And also becomes Bane. We hate to say it, but Glee's Bane imitation trumped Eric Cartman's. What's with a spoof of security systems and people wanting to stay safe anyway? There are other things to spoof, surely. Still, we get the point that response is slow and probably inadequate, and they just profit off of people's fear. That's why one of our security systems consists of 1) lock, 2) glass bottle, 3) barking dog, 4) shotgun, 5) phone for police, and 6) back-up gun (Glock). Seriously. There were funny parts in this, mostly involving Cartman. Also, Ike's drawing showing up everywhere. Mostly though, we just felt bad for the cartoon UPS man.

Going Native: D+
This is the one where Butters goes to Hawaii with Kenny. We didn't think this episode was funny at all. Whatever was going on here, we didn't get it. Do you have to live in Hawaii and be annoying by white people pretending to be natives or something? Meh.

A Nightmare on Face Time: B
We were so excited to see The Avengers episode of South Park. Then it turned into a parody of The Shining as well. So cool. What a good idea for Halloween. The Blockbuster stuff wasn't timely though. If this episode came out when they were collapsing, it would have been better. Stan as an iPad bordered on poignant.  We laughed several times in this episode, especially at Randy. We liked when he was watching Ted on the screen. And the ending, with the McDonald's order.

A Scause for Applause: B
This was the Jesus episode that parodied the Lance Armstrong controversy and Livestrong bracelets. It was at this point in the season that South Park decided to be more timely. This episode and the presidential election one were spot-on parodies about what was actually, currently going on. We like the commentary about how stupid we are with spreading awareness about our causes without actually doing anything. It's just vanity/making us look stylish. Free Pussy Riot, indeed.

Obama Wins!: A-
This was the best, and last, episode of the season. We laughed at the poop-spewing duck once more, and we also liked the Morgan Freeman jokes. South Park handles politics perfectly, every time, while staying in the middle of the road, unlike most shows. Of course, the controversy wasn't mainly about the presidential election, but Disney getting Star Wars. South Park knows what we really care about. After the "seriousness" of one of the meanest elections ever, this episode was like a balm to all our irritation and worries over the last day. This show exists to make us laugh at what everyone else is freaking out about. It exists to slap down arrogance and point out stupidity. The show does it well.