Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I've always been one for seasonal decorating and Keith LOVES Christmas so at this time of year, we both tend to go a little crazy.  But this year, I think we have taken things a little too far. 

I was always a Real Tree or Die kinda girl at Christmas time.  I hate those fake trees and think they look cheap.  Oh how little I knew.  Every year, I'd drag a tree up my front stairs and into place and lovingly water it for a month and then stop watering it all together but feel like it didn't matter because I wasn't turning the lights on anymore anyways. And then some time in February I'd finally get rid of it, dragging it back down the stairs and to the curb.  Leaving thousands of little needles embedded in my carpet until June. 

But it was worth it.  How could I not have a real tree? 

And then one year, after Keith pointed out the ridiculousness of my wrangling a tree up those steps every year for just me, I caved.  I picked up a nice artificial tree at Target's after Christmas sale.  And I was converted.  At leat for now.  Maybe once we have kids, and a single family home that would allow a tree to be moved in without copious stairs, and hard wood floors, maybe then I'll go back to real trees.  But for now I'm happy with my aritifical ones.  Especially now that I've found these awesome little sticks that you hang from the branches of your artificial tree to make them smell like real trees.  

Oh.  Did you notice the use of the plural there?  That was intentional. 

It turns out that when I bought my first artificial tree a few years ago I made a fatal error and did not get a prelit one.  Which means that every year we have to individually install each branch and then string the tree with lights.  Really, the entire point of getting an artificial tree is convenience and this thing is definitely not.  So Hubby and I made a vow that this year we would upgrade and get a pre-lit tree. 

The first one I got (yep, first) at Christmas Tree Shop which required an hour long drive up to Haagerstown with Jen, but it was worth it because I was able to get a pre-lit 6 foot tree for $79.  Quite the steal.  And it had LED lights (not the kind that shine bluish but the warm kind) and said LED lights had the option of either being white or multicolored*.  

*sidenote: when it comes to Christmas lights I am 100% white lights only.  Keith is a huge fan of the multicolored lights.  So he and I are having a Fairy Godmothers in Sleeping Beauty over Aurora's Dress style fight over the lights on that tree.  When he's in the living room, they ware color, when I'm there they are white.  I'm fairly certain that by the end of the season, they'll be stuck on the white to color chasing option and we'll lose our minds.  

What's that you say? Mine is already lost? Fair enough. 

Moving on.

The new tree lived in the living room, in it's box for about a week because I refused to let Keith set it up before Thanksgiving.  On that, I'm a purist.  It is not the Christmas season until after Santa Clause rides his sleigh down 34th street and into Macy's in Herald Square.  No way, no how. 

Cut to this past Friday, we're driving home from our Thanksgiving in Connecticut, planning our Christmas decorations for this year when Keith started talking about how he wanted icicle lights to hang on the balcony.  I said that would be fine (little did I know he planned on buying multicolored icicle lights.  Icicles aren't multicolored! It makes no sense!) and suggested we go to Wal-Mart since at 10:30pm, they were probably the only thing open.  While we were walking around marveling over the fact that a store that had barricades out front to handle the Black Friday lines was now virtually empty, Keith stumbled upon a 4 foot pre-lit tree for only $25.  He decided it would be perfect for our memory tree. 

What is a memory tree you ask?  Every year, we give each other an ornament that represents somethind that happened in the previous year.  Last year I got Keith a pair of moose (he loves mooses) that are holding a sign that says Just Married and then a little sign with the year 2010.  He got me a little gingerbread man holding a rolling pin that says "I love cookies" since I had just started this fun little experiment of baking cookies from scratch.  Well, those two ornaments and a Mickey and Minnie on an engagement ring that he had given me in 2009 pretty much filled up my teeny little table top tree that I've had since college.  So getting a nice 4 foot, pre-lit tree for $25 sounded pretty reasonable to me.  And we were up to two trees.

While we were driving home from Wal-Mart, I was giddy with excitement over the fact that I had gotten a battery operated lit wreath as well as some bows and pine cones and balls to decorate said wreath and a lit garland.  I mentioned that there were two Christmas decorations that I'd always wanted but never had. One was the decorated/festooned lighted garland and the other was a kitchen tree.  I told him how I once had a boss whose wife had 25 Christmas trees that she would put all over their ginormous house and each tree had a theme.  There was the classic tree with the fancy ornaments.  The baby tree which featured ornaments marking the first Christmas of all their children and grandchildren and family friends' kids/grandkids.  They even had a nativity tree which my boss' wife explained was a tree that had become kind of ratty and sparse over the years so she filled in the large gaps with nativity scenes and then was able to repurpose old nativity sets that had lost pieces by making the remaining pieces into ornaments.  She also had a kitchen tree.  It sat on her kitchen counter and was covered in cute little food and kitcheney ornaments.  And I loved it.  I feel like we spend so much time in the kitchen (especially during the holidays) why should all the decorating be left to the living room.

The next day, Keith went to Home Depot to pick up supplies to make his Christmas Village table (since I refuse to let him use the Dining Room table this year because we'll be having his family over to eat.)  When he came home he told me he'd gotten me a suprise and produced another 4 foot tree (this one with a nice planter style base) that he'd gotten for $30 at the HD.  He simply said "now you have everything you've always wanted"

Cue awwwwwwwwwws. 

I know, right?? I think I'll keep him. 

And so, Kitchen Tree was born.  To start all it had was a single cupcake ornament Keith had gotten me from Hallmark a few weeks ago, but after going through all my ornaments I was able to add a margarita, a martini and a jug of Oberweiss milk to it.  I found this cute ornament kit at Michaels and a super cute set of Christmas themed ceramic measuring spoons that I converted into ornaments.  I also put some candy canes on to continue the food/drink theme.  I didn't need a tree skirt for this one since it has a pot but I created a star topper from an old ornament I had that matches my big tree topper, by essentially hog tying it in place (but with some silver twist ties)

While I got to work creating my festooned garland, Keith began opening boxes and assembling trees and pulling out decorations and all was going swimmingly.  Until he stepped back from assembling the main tree and said "hmmm" Never a good sound.  Turns out 6 feet is from the floor to the end of the last branch.  Well, there was about a foot between the base and the first row of branches and the last branch was about 6" long.  That little sucker is 4.5 feet if its an inch.  

So I began fretting about how silly it looked in the living/dining room under the cathedral ceiling but Keith said it was fine and to not worry about it.  Cut to a couple of hours later, I was still complaining about how wee the Christmas Tree Shop tree was and how it barely fit even his Disney ornaments and a lightbulb went off.  We decided that it should be the disney tree.  We later expanded it to include Claymation Rudolph, Shrek, the Grinch and Alvin & the Chipmunks ornaments.  But it was the cartoon tree at the very least.  I also included all of the big plain red balls I had bought last year when I thought my Christmas tree didn't have enough red in it.  To finish it off, I bought a new star for the top and a new tree skirt that for some reason reminded me of Mickey Mouse.

But we still didn't have a main tree for all our classic looking ornaments.  Off I went on a hunt for another tree.  Since we'd already spent $135 on trees, I was trying to be thrifty, but i didn't want to end up with another midget tree.  So I went to Michael's just to see what they had.  I was shocked to see that their trees were all 40% off.  Huzzah! I found a lovely 7 foot tree which was originally $209 for $129.  I also got a little mini star for our memory tree.  I then used up some gift cards I had from my birthday (thanks Sara and Alli) and brought my total for the trip to $78.  It's a Christmas Miracle!

I have to say I adore this latest tree.  It is absolutely perfect for our space.  It is tall and skinny so it takes advantage of the cathedral ceiling but without spreading too far into the main living space.  The branches and lights are super lush and our classic ornaments look really good on there.  It just glows.  I was able to use my old star (from Pier 1 that I bought 8 years ago, but I still love it) and my old tree skirt. 

Now we live in a winter wonderland.  

1300 square feet, 4 trees, 2 Christmas Villages, 2 humans, 2 dogs and a partridge in a pear tree. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Breaking Yawn

I - along with the rest of the world - went to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I this past weekend.  I laughed, I cried (from the laughing) and I have some thoughts.  Here they are in no particular order:

Warning, full of spoilers.  Though, anyone who is going to see this movie has read the book so they know what happens in the plot. 

What happened to the sparkling? 
Please don't get me wrong.  I am VERY happy that Bill Condon played down the whole vampires who sparkle in the sun concept.  I've always hated that plot device.  But there was NO explanation for it.  I've been to Rio.  A lot.  They have sun there.  A lot.  Even Bella had a tan.  How did no one notice this guy with her sparkling??? They showed them frolicking outside quite a bit.  I'm not demanding, all I needed was one throw away line about it being a cloudy week.  Or him going outside only at night.  Or thank God there was no one else on this island or they would have noticed him sparkling.  But to have a housekeeper who suspects he's a vampire not because he is sparkling when he opens the door in full sunlight but just because she's heard legend is really annoying to me.  Ditto having an outdoor wedding.  I get that they were under trees but one errant beam of sunlight and 1/2 the guests will look like a bunch of strippers on a Saturday night. 

Speaking of the outdoor wedding...
Ummmm, you guys live in Seattle.  Where it is known to rain.  A lot.  Is planning an entirely outdoor wedding and reception smart? I suppose you can fanwank that Alice can see the future and knew it wouldn't rain.  But it had to have been a little muddy no?  I'd be pissed if I showed up to a wedding wearing a nice dress and heels and be asked to walk through the mud and sit on a mossy bench. And again, how hard would it have been to have Alice say something like "I've seen that there won't be any rain"?? Not hard at all!

Bella get your damn hair out of your face!
Seriously! They make a whole big deal about the make-up and Rosalie doing Bella's hair and how grown up she looks and she still has these messy locks of hair in her face.  Not even tendrils (which I don't approve of stylistically - but at least they are a choice)! It seemed unfinished and messy.  But then how else would Kristen Stewart look awkward and immature during her walk down the aisle?

Speaking of the walk down the aisle...
COME ON! This is a young woman who is supposed to be so in love with the guy that she can't stand being apart from him.  Why does Kristen Stewart insist on playing Bella as a shy, nervous, awkward girl?  I get it for the first movie.  That was how she was.  But the idea was that Bella has a) grown up and b) found such a connection with Edward that she is absolutely sure she wants to be with him for eternity.  I don't agree with her decision (firmly Team Jacob over here) but she should be confidant in that decision.  To have it seem like her father was dragging her down the aisle while she clutched at his arm unable to even lift her head or make eye contact with anyone while she bit her lip and whimpered made ZERO sense.  Damn you K. Stew and your acting ticks!

Taylor Lautner saves this mess!
I felt this way during Eclipse too, but Taylor Lautner and the rest of the wolf pack really are the brief shining moments in the entire franchise. I love how the pack members play together almost like puppies even in their human forms. T. Laut has excellent comedic timing and wonderful "are you kidding me" facial expressions. And have you seen his abs? Within seconds of the movie starting, he has ripped off his shirt and runs towards the screen. Thank you editors.

Speaking of Team Jacob....
Did K. Stew get the memo that Bella chooses Edward?  She essentially flinches any time Robert Pattinson touches her (a fact that is even more jarring since they are dating in real life) and yet when she sees Jacob at the wedding, she launches herself at him, presses her body against him and nuzzles into his neck.  Don't get me wrong, if I were within 10 feet of Taylor Lautner, I'd do the same thing.  But I'm not being paid to act a certain way.  No wonder Jacob thinks he's in love with Bella, every time she sees him she grabs at his clothing, touches his arm and coquettishly plays with her hair.  Tease!

There is suspension of disbelief and then there are completely uncharacteristic actions!
When Bella and Edward arrive at their honeymoon island, she is visibly nervous and goes to get ready for her first time having sex.  What follows is what I assume is supposed to be a "funny" montage of Bella prepping.  But it is so awkward and uncomfortable.  She grimaces as she's brushing her teeth, she bites her lip and sighs a lot as she violently brushes her hair and then she shaves her legs.  And that is where I have to audibly sigh.  Because my friends, as annoying as the rest of K. Stew's ticks are during this scene I am struck by one thing and that is: There is NO WAY that Alice would have let Bella leave the house that morning without being fully waxed/plucked/Alaised from head to toe.  None.  Never.  The vampire who insisted that Bella wear 4 inch sparkly heels and a sheer backed dress and painstakingly did Bella's make-up would have insisted that she get fully waxed or lasered pre-wedding.  There is no doubt in my mind. 

Speaking of the Honeymoon...
So much has been said and written about the big sex scene.  I get that they wanted to keep the rating to a PG-13 so that their key demographic could actually see the movie.  So that is fine.  Kissy kissy, fade to black, wake up covered in feathers.  Move on.  To then have K. Stew stare at herself biting her lip in the mirror while she flashes back to scenes with a pained expression on her face is just awkward.  Again, this is a young woman who could barely control herself around the love of her life and is so wildly attracted to him that they broke a bed.  And she looks like she's uncomfortably remembering a date rape event on a Lifetime movie. 

I'm a nerd for meta details!
I loved that they had Charlie looking at the graduation cap art and wondering about it.  I love that Bella and Edward were playing chess with red and white pieces in homage to the book cover.  My cousin Sara spotted Stephanie Meyer in the wedding crowd (and then proclaimed herself a nerd.) Never let it be said that you don't get rewarded for attention to detail.  The people seeing this movie have obsessed over the books, movies, websites, blogs and message boards for years.  Having little moments of shout out, make us feel special. 

Let's talk about casting and costumes shall we?
Oh dear.  Casting and costuming really screwed the pooch for the entire series in the first movie.  I adore Peter Facinelli but he looks ridiculous as a blond. Ditto Nikki Reed.  These are two very attractive actors who have naturally dark hair and olive skin.  To see them so heavily caked in pasty make-up and wearing HORRIBLE blond wigs just makes them look bloated and old.  And yet, Rosalie is supposed to be the hottest vampire ever.  No.  She looks like Christina Aguilera after a bender.  The CGI people were able to digitally shrink Bella down to skeletal looking form during her pregnancy, but they can't digitally pale the vampire actors?  And the clothes they put her in?  Seriously, who did Nikki Reed piss off on her first day?  They manage to constantly give this gorgeous actress muffin top and uni-boob.  Jackson Rathbon and Elizabeth Reaser are looking a little less wooden but they are mostly set props, so I can ignore them.  I've mentioned how much I dislike K. Stew and R. Pattz in their roles of Bella and Edward.  They both act so awkward around each other and look pained to be in scenes together. I think the whole saga could have been vastly improved by some better casting choices in the first movie.  I understand that new directors couldn't recast the actors once they signed on for each movie, but I think they could have studied the previous films and addressed certain acting ticks or costuming that simple did not work. 

Speaking of casting...
Kellan Lutz as Emmit is a joy.  He is so fun and natural and sarcastic and lovable.  He is absolutely perfect for the role of goofy protector.  I found myself smiling and giggling every time he was on screen.  I believe I've spoken enough about the brilliance of Taylor Lautner as Jacob.  I'm very happy he was able to bulk up to keep his role after the first movie.  I adore little Seth Clearwater.  I found myself watching him in group scenes and loving his reactions.  Anna Kendrick was once again spot on as Jessica.  Her sarcastic barbs were perfect little moments during the wedding.  Can we get a spin off movie of just these characters hanging out together?

There are certain directorial decision that I just can't understand.
Why did the wolves sound like they were speaking through an auto tune?  Why couldn't they just use the actors voices and the scene of the wolves communicating telepathically be like Look Who's Talking?  The scene where Jacob imprints on Renesmee (don't EVEN get me started on that name! That is an issue with the book not the movie and while I HATE it, I suppose there was nothing that could be done to correct it at this point) is well done until he falls to his knee before her.  Literally everyone around me in the theater laughed with the absurdity.  I can kind of see the vision behind that direction.  But it clearly didn't work.  It looked stupid and amateurish and should have been re-shot once they viewed the dailies.  Bella looking like she is having one of her night terrors when she is ostensibly having a sexual fantasy dream is once again uncomfortable.  Why does K. Stew seem to link sex with pain?  Why does no one around her pull her aside and explain the differences in facial expressions to her?

So in summary....
Do I feel like I wasted $10? Yes.  Would I go back in time and not see it? No.  Will I see the next and final installment in the theaters opening weekend? Probably.  What can I say, I'm invested at this point.  I am very interested to see how K. Stew will play Bella as a vampire.  She better stop biting her lip and staring at the ground all the time or I'll ... well I'll.... probably write a scating blog about it.  Ha! That'll show her!

Let me know what you thought of the movie or if I missed anything.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Television - The Best Shows So Far

Well its been about a month since the first fall premiers aired.  Between baking and keeping up with my DVR, I've had time for little else in the past four weeks.  We're coming to a time where the leaders of the pack are emerging.  Here are the shows I watch within a couple hours of their airing:

Caution, if you haven't seen the episodes, spoilers ahead...

The Good:

Hart of Dixie - I am adoring this sweet, funny little night time soap.  From the awesome country music soundtrack to the lovable Summer Rachel Bilson.  I love that the show maintains a sense of humor about itself.  I love that they go for the easy laugh: "I just played Dixie with my butt.  This is officially rock bottom." I love Scott Porter.  I love that the mayor warned her to beware of Burt Reynolds while walking around at night which got a chuckle from Hubby.  I loved even more that Burt Reynolds ended up being a pet alligator.  Though that made me wonder how they know which alligator is Burt Reynolds.  Its not like he's missing an eye or had a large spot.  It would be pretty dangerous to assume that the alligator you've just come across is a pet and then be mistaken.  But I digress.  Now, will the emergency of the week get a little tired? Yeah, probably.  But I have faith in Josh Schwartz to not milk the whole "I want to take over my father's practice while his partner doesn't want me to" thing too far.  There already seems to be a little back story intrigue developing between the mayor and Scott Porter's fiancee.  Which will be perfect for a mid-season sweeps about Rachel Bilson and Scott Porter not deny their attraction to one another.  Though, my money is on the red-neck neighbor for her true love interest. 

Ringer - Oh my goodness how campy is this show? It is awful.  But then why isn't it listed under The Bad or The Ugly?  Because y'all this show is SO awful it crosses over into awesome.  It is just laughably bad.  From the moment I saw that horrible green screen scene on the boat I was hooked.  I adore Sarah Michelle Geller and Ioan Gruduff (or as Hubby calls him "Mr. Fantastic") is a treat to look at.  But she is potentially the worst liar on earth and he is simply a moron.  I hate the name Siobhan for a main character and hate the nickname Shiv.  Her best friend reminds me so much of Blossom that on a weekly basis I find myself IMDBing the show to confirm that Mayim Bialick doesn't play her.  Bridget may be the least evasive junkie ever.  And yet? I just can't look away.  I clap my hands with glee when something ridiculous happens - like wee little SMidGe wearing a white silk blouse and 4 inch heels to dispose of the dead hitman's body and some how wrangling it into a steamer trunk all by her 90lb self in under 20 minutes.  Love!

Modern Family - This show had me at Hello.  I have loved every moment of it since Cam presented baby Lilly complete with Lion King intro music and a spot light.  So far the third season is maintaining the status quo with the laughs.  I especially loved Cam's banner and sparklers for the announcement that they're adopting a little boy.  The one thing we unanimously don't like in my house is New!Lilly.  She is awful! I know that saying a child is awful is not nice.  And let me be clear.  The actual little girl(s) who play her are probably lovely child(ren).  But she went from being this adorable (albeit weepy) little silent baby to being practically a teenager with a bad attitude.  She's been SORASed* beyond recognition.  I understand that the twins who played her before were not enjoying it and their mother did what any good mother would do and decided not to continue.  But there are so many child actors now a days, I can't believe that the only Asian child the casting directors liked were these little girls.  They couldn't have found a 2 year old? or even 3? If New!Lilly is a day under 5, then I'm 27.  In the season premier, she had a full sentence to say.  Why? We don't need any more comedians in this already awesome cast.  She should be and adorable set decoration and prop.

* SORAS - Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome - Occurs when a plot contrivance baby has outlived it's cute quotient (usually after having been kidnapped at least once and/or having suffered some horrible baby only disease) and the child gets sent to boarding school (or in the case of Belle Brady on Days Of Our Lives) toddles up the stairs to go to bed and comes down a sassy 16 year old ready to be paired with a love interest and have it's own plots. 

Revenge - I honestly didn't think I'd like this show very much.  I was inundated by the previews so I felt compelled to watch.  I like that she is not going around killing people but just ruining their lives.  Sure the show is a bit heavy handed with some things.  And there are a few plot issues I can't get over: Really? The super hot townie guy named his boat after and is still hung up over a little girl he met when he was 12? And that isn't supposed to be creepy? But otherwise it is a frothy good time.  I'm not sure how they'll have a season two.  But you know what? Maybe they don't need one.  For now, I'm truly enjoying this show and eagerly wait for Wednesday nights to see what will happen this week.  Just this weekend I got the following text from my cousin Anne: "Ok, I'm caught up on Revenge and you're right, I'm hooked" and I replied "yay!" (see I'm not always wordy.)

The Vampire Diaries - What can I say about this show that hasn't already been said?  It is quite simply, fantastic.  I love that they found a creative way to essentially break up Elena and Stefan.  Rather than going to the common love triangle or petty squabble or heaven forbid having them "take a break."  I love that she didn't just hop into bed (proverbally) with Damon but that the spark is still there.  I love that Caroline and Taylor have finally joined together into a pretty super couple.  And I love that these people aren't idiots.  When Caroline was missing for a few hours, Taylor put the pieces together and then actually went to the correct person who could help him help Caroline.  Perfect.  I could do without the Jeremy seeing dead people story line but I'm willing to let it play out.  I love that Alaric is having an identity crisis and that it has resulted in him becoming a sarcastic booze hound - or as he so eloquently put it while watching a house full of his drunken history students, "I am every parents' nightmare.  I'm the chaperon from hell." I still watch every episode with a smile and a squeeee.  I'm such a fangirl, I can't even hide it. 

Grey's Anatomy - I have watched Grey's Anatomy since the very first episode.  And I'll admit there have been times where I haven't liked it that much (um Ghost Sex? George getting married over night to Callie? And then cheating on her with Izzie his "sister?) But in recent years, Grey's has gotten a little better.  It isn't as funny or quirky anymore which is a little sad, but I think this year it is getting back to that.  We are seeing more friendships amongst the adult doctors.  I love that Mere's house is still a bit of a halfway house for wayward docs.  I hope that Alex will get to have a love interest this year.  Not one who will go crazy and/or die and/or leave him.  I loved him and Izzie before she started having tumor/ghost sex with Denny.  I love that he is a kickass pediatric surgeon.  Let him be one show! So, yes, it appears that I am reinvested.  Dammit! Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in. If you used to watch and have given up, maybe give it another shot.  It's a helluva lot better than Secret Circle and Project Runway is almost over so what else are you watching on a Thursday night at 9pm? 

Project Runway- As with most reality competition shows that I watch (Top Chef, The Amazing Race) I like the general concept of the show but the cast members can make me love a season or barely care about it.  This season I think I'm back to loving it.  I adore Anya and really think she is going to win the whole thing.  I get so annoyed with the other contestants when they bitchily snark that she has no sewing experience and that they should win because they've been sewing since they were 8 (yo Laura, that is not a factor.  Just because you've been sewing since you were a wee child (PS, what 8 year old sews? were you in a sweat shop?) doesn't mean you "deserve" to win.  You will win (she won't) if you are the best DESIGNER.) Yes other designers, that applies to you too.  This is a DESIGN competition - not a sewing competition.  In the finale you don't have to sew your own garments.  You are allowed to outsource that as all the real designers do.  Do you really think Michael Kohrs sits down at his Singer and sews each dress he makes?  You are insane.  They have little Guatemalan women (or 8 year old Laura) to do the actual sewing for them.  The key is to design a garment that people want to buy and Anya does that.  She is the first designer they've had on this show in a long time who makes beautiful but accessible clothing.  And she is such a genuinely nice, smart person.  Normally I'd just DVR a later showing of this show and watch on the weekends but stupid Lifetime only airs it once and they make it an hour and a half.  Last season, that meant I ended up not really watching.  This season, that means that I've bumped other shows in order to watch PR real time.  Next season, who knows. 

Nikita - I was originally really intrigued by this show.  I have been looking for a replacement Alias ever since 2005 (the last season didn't count... too much scrambling and back story changing.)  But Nikita didn't really get her hooks into me until the end of last season.  My sister and I typically get together to watch The Vampire Diaries together and one evening she wanted to stay a little longer to watch Nikita since she didn't have a DVR.  So I begrudgingly obliged and watched with her.  And I got hooked.  Damn you Shane West and your gravely voice and your chiseled good looks! And that smirk! Lord help me when he smirks! Excuse me, I need a minute.  Ok.  I'm good.  So anyways, yeah, the end of last season got me back into Nikita, but I was nervous that Thursday nights for me were too busy, so how would I keep up with watching Shane Nikita? Luckily, they moved it to Fridays! Yay! The stories are still a little redundant and sloppy.  But I love where they are going with the show.  I also love Julie Cooper Melinda Clark, and she's great when she is strong and in charge and evil.  Honorable mention goes to Lyndsy Fonseca.  I'm glad that she's finally gotten off that couch and I covet her hair.   All viable reasons to watch a TV show I know. 

Blue Bloods - This is one of the few shows I can watch with my husband.  He enjoys the cop drama, I enjoy Donnie Whalberg.  We both enjoy counting how many times Tom Selleck takes a deep sigh and sounds like an old man.  Is the family aspect of the "family full of cops" plot line a little heavy handed at times? Yes.  Is it getting old that the police commissioner's hot headed son seems to randomly be assigned (or inserted) into every hot ticket crime? Of course.  But you know what... it works.  I am really looking forward to Rabbit from U-571 getting a meatier story line this year.  And I'm so happy they dropped that stupid "Blue Templar" C-plot that they kept trying to make happen last year.  I could do with less of the quirky grand daughter, and they should stop making Danny's wife such a nag about various parts of his job.  A job he's had since he was 18 and she married into and has lived with for a decade.  But overall, I really enjoy this little family drama and hope it continues to do well. 

The Amazing Race - This show has always been a favorite of mine.  Of any reality competition show out there, this is the one I'd like to do the most.  I love seeing all the foreign locations and love imagining how I'd handle each challenge.  As I mentioned with Project Runway, the strength of each season really depends on the cast and as of yet I don't have a particular couple I'm rooting for yet.  This season has been a little slow and I'll admit it is mostly watched as background entertainment while I do my grad school homework assignments that are due Sundays before midnight.  (hey! you don't develop such a deep and abiding love for TV as I have without being a procrastinator!) There really isn't much else on to get me to stop watching. So for now, I'm still in. For better or worse. 

Up next? See what shows I (or the networks) have already cut from the season.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Whatchu Talkin' Bout Melly?

The other day while I was in the kitchen baking, my husband was watching TV and came across a showing of Caddyshack.  All of a sudden I hear Bill Murry say "so I've got that going for me, which is nice" which is something my husband says on a daily basis.  I came running out of the kitchen to ask "wait! is THAT where you got that from??" The look on my husband's face told me that I had just committed a mortal error.  He was appalled that I hadn't realized over the past six years that he had been quoting his beloved Caddyshack all this time.

I instantly blamed my family.

Let me explain:

My extended family is very close.  On my dad's side, my cousins, sister and I range in age from 21 to 35 with four of us born within 14 months of each other.   We were also very lucky to have parents who were/are truly committed to keeping our family together for holidays.  In our family, traditions were formed early and they stuck. 

One of my favorite traditions was for us all to jam into my grandparents' family room and watch a movie.  My grandmother had a very limited collection of videos and so we inevitably would watch the same 6 - 8 movies over and over again.  Sometimes, we'd even follow the viewing by all going down into the basement and re-enacting scenes (until my uncle declared "no more shows!".)  The result of this is that we ended up not only committing them to memory but quoting them and referring to them in our daily lives.

While my husband and seemingly everybody else in our generation grew up watching and loving every John Hugh's movie ever made followed by every National Lampoons movie, we were watching movies like Gunga Din and Sound of Music.  So while everyone around us quoted Caddyshack and Breakfast Club, we were (and still are) speaking our own language. 

Here are the top five movies we refer to when we're talking amongst ourselves.  Consider it your Bonardi to English dictionary:

1) Barefoot in the Park

I believe a total of 20 people in my generation have watched Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.  I'm related to 5 of them.  The movie follows the first few weeks of marriage for stuffed shirt Paul (Redford) and free spirit Corey (Fonda) Bratter.  I cannot watch this movie without thinking of my aunt Mary.  From the moment Corey gooses Paul in an elevator full of people at the Plaza Hotel, Mary's shoulders start to shake with silent laughter.   When Corey waves goodbye to Paul as he leaves for work after a week of being holed up in their hotel room, wearing nothing but his shirt and says - in full view of another elevator full of people: "Good bye Mr. Dooley, next time you're in New York just give me a call," her silent laughter erupts into a chortle and doesn't stop for the next 100 minutes. 

The sight gags as a host of visitors arrive at their new 6th floor walk up apartment (which also features a large hole in the sky light) gasping for breath sends the rest of us into peals of laughter.  Every time I watch - which numbers in the hundreds at this point - I notice something new during this sequence.  Look out for Paul stopping to lean against a wall, opening and closing his fist like he's having a heart attack; or the phone guy telling Corey that his name is Harry Pepper, if they ever have a problem, don't ask for Harry Pepper.  

The movie gets meatier as Corey tries to set her straight laced mother up with their international, womanizing neighbor.  A match Paul thinks will never work because "you've seen his apartment, he wears Japanese kimonos and sleeps on rugs.  Your mother wears a hair net and sleeps on a board" After the date doesn't go exactly as planned, the young couple fights and breaks up before eventually making up.  But the movie is so well written, the actual plot is secondary

We quote this movie A LOT.  But in most cases the quotes we use are to indicate a moment from the movie we are replaying in our heads, I've included a translation when applicable:
  • I can't make a fist - def: I've had too much to drink
  • It feels like I've died and gone to heaven. Only I had to climb up - def: I'm exhausted 
  • Bittah?? - def: You didn't like what you just ate did you?
  • You don't pick up a fork and dig into a black salad.  You have to play with it! 
  • If I'd known the people on the 3rd floor, I'd have visited them - def: Its really far away
  • It looks like a stoop, it climbs like a flight
  • Shamma Shamma - def: lets go be adventurous
  • I've got a case in court in the morning - def: I can't go out tonight
  • He's probably only 35, they age quick on this route
  • I have to know how much my rent is, I'm a college graduate
  • I'm not getting sarcastic, I'm getting chapped lips
  • I didn't say breeze, there's a brisk north easterly wind blowing through the room - def: I'm cold
  • She'll think we're gypsies living in an empty store
  • A martini to wash down a pill?
  • At 2 o'clock in the morning? - def: You've woken me up
  • You will not meet me here every day, the bus driver will think you're my mother
  • If the hardware store downstairs was open I was going to buy a knife and kill myself - def: I've had a rough day
  • We're sleeping left to right tonight
  • For Paul's parents I just wanted to look clean.  He's going to think I'm a nurse.
  • You should have told me about this, I'd have gone into training
  • I think I've broken some straps
  • If you don't hear from us in a week, we'll be at the National Hotel in Mexico City, room 703
  • I was watching my coat because someone else was watching my coat
  • You can't go, its the shank of the evening
  • Its not that kind of a club.  To sleep over I'd have to keep winning the serve.

2) City Slickers

This is a unquestionably a very popular movie, but every time I quote it to my husband he gives me a blank, questioning stare. He contends that while he's seen City Slickers a number of times, but doesn't deem it a quotable movie. I contend that he's crazy. The instant my family and I first saw this movie, we started quoting and referring to it repeatedly.

In case you haven't seen it, City Slickers is about 40 year old Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) and his impending mid-life crisis.  His two best friends (The amazing Bruno Kirby and semi-tolerant Daniel Stern) take him on a real life cowboy adventure herding cattle for his birthday.  He's extremely cynical and sarcastic about the whole experience and hilarity ensues.   Blink and you'll miss it alert: don't forget wee little Jake Gyllenhal as Mitch's 10 year old son.  Thank God his voice dropped.  Such a cute little pip-squeak!

Every year on my birthday, I can expect my father or sister to call me up and recite Mitch's mother's birthday message - and I do the same for them.  I'm always shocked that I can't find the full written out message anywhere on the Internet and so last year for my husband's birthday I dutifully watched and re-watched the scene* where Mitch is lying in bed on his birthday and receives his annual call from his mother detailing the story of his birth - all while he mouths the words he has heard every year for 40 years.  I then posted it on Facebook for him since he was travelling.  A few minutes later, he responded with a "what??!?!" And then I cried a little bit. 

In order to avoid more tears, here are the quotes we most often use:
  • Value this time in your life kids**
  • You'll call it a procedure, but its a surgery**
  • Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla.  Don't waste my time
  • Goood Party
  • Rummaki?
  • Helllooo?
  • This was NOT in the brochures
  • I've never moseyed before.  I've walked, run, jogged, even sashayed once but that was in front of the draft board
  • You put this on during drive time.  People are having accidents
  • The cows can do it by now!
  • What about the clock?
  • If it was us, could you eat?

* As I mentioned, I had to resort to watching the movie and transcribing the birthday phone call since I couldn't find it written out anywhere online.  To avoid having to do this 3-4 times a year, (and because I'm a dork) I saved it to my hard drive.  And now I'll share it with you:

City Slickers Happy Birthday Phone Call Quote

It's September 8th 1952, we're driving back from your Aunt Marsha's and my water breaks. Your father JUMPS the divider of the saw mill river parkway and RACES me to doctors hospital and at 5:16 out you came. [sigh] Happy Birthday Darling.

** Really, the entire career day monologue is gold.  We use parts of it interchangeably whenever we are feeling old or cranky about life.  Here it is in full:

City Slickers Career Day Monologue

Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you're a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You'll call it a procedure, but it's a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn't matter because you can't hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering "how come the kids don't call?" By your eighties, you've had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can't stand but who you call mama. Any questions?

3) The Cutting Edge

Little known fact: I used to take ice skating lessons as a child.  According to my cousin Allison, I was semi-pro.  So when this movie came out in 1992 staring the super hot D.B. Sweeny, we HAD to watch it.  Over and over and over again.  Even now that we're all adults and the movie has spawned THREE!?! sub-par made for tv sequels, the cheesy goodness of the first one lives on in our daily vocabulary.  In fact, it was my cousin Anne and I quoting it back and forth to each other a few days ago that made me want to write this blog post.  (How Meta.)
The lines we use the most are:
  • Legano, nilegano. Eees grey area
  • Yes! Parlez-vous Olympics?!
  • Lorie Peckarovski?!
  • Namen Gita!
  • Toe pick
  • There is no halfway.  Halfway, you are dead.

4) The Secret Garden

My sister recently tore her ACL and while she was recuperating from surgery, I went over to keep her company and knew just the thing to make her feel better.  The Hallmark Hall of Fame's Secret Garden is quite simply a beautifully done telling of this classic children's tale of a little girl whose parents die while living in India and so she is sent to live with a distant relative (in the book the relative is her uncle.  In the movie he is just a friend of her father's) in his big creepy manor house on the moors of Scotland where she discovers a secret garden and a mystery.  My mother was visiting my sister that day as well.  She had never seen the movie and when we started, she was a bit skeptical but by the end she was smiling and watching with glee.

My grandmother recorded this movie from TV when it aired as a special back in 1988 but it is widely available at most Hallmark stores even today.  It stars the incomparable Maggie Smith and a host of adorable youngsters.  We all adored the sassy little Mary Lennox and the clever Cockney pronounced barbs.  I had a major crush on Dickon and I myself am often quoted as saying (in a pique after finishing a viewing one day) [spoiler alert] "Of course she chose Colin, he peppered her with gifts.  Poor Dickon never stood a chance!" Some of our most often used quotes from the actual movie are:
  • You cheeky little beggar
  • If we were in India, I'd put a snake in his bed
  • Please, can I have a bit of earth?
  • If you scream once more, I'll smother you with a pillow (she would too)

5) The Sound of Music

The memory of my childhood that will stick in my mind forever is of us watching the Sound of Music and then running downstairs and acting out the scenes.  My oldest cousin Allison was always Fraulein Maria, Leisl AND Mother Superior; my 2nd cousin Sara - as the only blond - played the roles of Louisa, Baroness Schreider and Frau Schmidt; I was Brigitta - the booky anti-social one; my cousin Anne - as 2nd youngest - was Marta; my sister was always Gretl since she too was the baby of the family and had the chubby cheeks that the part called for; and my poor cousin Nicky - as the only boy - was relegated to play EVERY male role... two of which are love interests to Maria and Leisle (both played by his sister) (we skipped those scenes.)

Every one of us can sing every song by heart.  If two of us are on a long car ride together, we've been known to put the sound track in and not only sing every word and hum every instrumental interlude, but do the motions like curling Rolf's hair during 16 going on 17 or holding the tops of our heads and pointing up at the end of do-re-mi. I know we're not alone in this.  There are whole tours of Salzburg and movie viewings where people sing along (btw I am DYING to go to the official Sound of Music sing-a-long... the one where people dress up.  It is on my bucket list.)  But its different with us.  I feel like we quote this movie in a bit of a short hand.  I can write in an email "it makes me want to cry" and every one of my cousins will read it hearing Marta's clipped over pronounced, pouty version from the movie.

Other favorite quotes include (but aren't limited to):
  • God bless what's his name
  • Fraulein, is it to be at every meal, or merely at dinnertime, that you intend on leading us all through this rare and wonderful new world of... indigestion?
  • What happened to your finger? It got caught.  On what? Friedrich's teeth.
  • Well, apparently, we're both suffering from a deplorable lack of curiosity
  • Only grown-up men are scared of women
  • It'll be my first party, father
  • Do you mean to tell me that my children have been roaming about Salzburg dressed up in nothing but some old drapes?
And the circle continues.  When my nephew came over to visit a few weeks ago, I promptly popped in Sound of Music for him to watch and it apparently wasn't his first time.  He bopped to the music and even stood up and marched in place while the Von Trappe children made their first entrance.  Now he just needs a few more cousins to continue the greatest tradition ever.  And I promise, I will never mimic my uncle Danny and declare "no more shows" if my kids and their cousins want to recreate a scene or two for me.

What were some of your favorite movies growing up or favorite movies to quote?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

After a summer full of reruns and mid-season replacement reality shows, I am so happy to announce that the Network TV Fall Premiers are right around the corner!  This is one of my most exciting times of the year, all the anticipation and hope.  But what will I watch?  There is a lot of new programming out there this year.  The big networks got a little heavy handed in their cuts at the end of last season (RIP Better With You) and a few favorites ended their runs.  I am lucky that I have a dual tuner DVR and another TV so I have a lot of flexibility in doubling up viewing times.  (How in the world did I live with just a single TV and a VCR for recording?) (Actually I know how, I would enlist friends and we would each individually record a certain show and then meet up afterwards and watch them together.)

Without further ado, I present you the shows I will be watching/dvring/am intrigued by this tv season. This will be what I use to program my DVR for the first few weeks of programming. Not even I can sustain this level of TV watching so it'll probably drop off pretty significantly in October. But you never know, both Vampire Diaries and Nikita were dark horses originally. I thought I would like them, didn't, and then was re-hooked a month or two later.

Away we go:

8:00 PM - How I Met Your Mother
Network: CBS
Season starts 9/19
Because at this point I feel invested. But I'll probably just DVR it and catch up if I'm bored.

8:00 PM - Gossip Girl
Network: CW
Season starts 9/26
Meh, I'm falling out of love with this show. But Mondays are usually pretty slow so I'll probably keep watching.

9:00 PM - Hart of Dixie
Network: CW
Series starts 9/26
I adore Rachel Bilson and Scott Porter and I love what Josh Schwartz did with The OC (at least for the first season or two) so I will definitely give this show a few episodes. It is basically like Doc Hollywood but with a female doctor. It worked for Michael J. Fox, and I think it could work for Rachel Bilson.

10:00 PM - Playboy Club
Network: NBC
Series starts 9/19
I don't know why, but I've always been fascinated by the playboy clubs in the 60's and a show about the women who worked there seems like it would be pretty cool. But they seem to be playing up some kind of murder mystery in the previews and I don't think it needs that. And then there is Eddie Cibrian who I just can't look at anymore without picturing Lean Rhimes and her super skinny bikini clad body being shocked that the press found them in a some super obvious Hollywood location.

8:00 PM - Biggest Loser
Network: NBC
Season starts 9/20
I can't afford to give 2 hours of prime DVR real estate to this show so I will probably end up forgetting it is on and watching Cupcake Wars or Chopped and then remember just in time for the weigh in and then catch up OnDemand.

9:00 PM - Ringer
Network: CW
Series starts 9/13
Sarah Michelle Geller. Playing twins. On the CW. This one screams my name. Plus it premiers really early so I should get a few episodes in before any of the real DVR conflicts begin

9:00 PM - New Girl
Network: Fox
Series starts 9/20
I get a kick out of Zoeey Deschanel.  She had me from "You are just in time for Champagne Thursdays" "But it is Friday" "Ah, Champagne Thursday decided to come twice this week" in that awful movie Failure to Launch. That alone is enough to buy this 30 minute sitcom on a slow night a few episodes.

10:00 PM - The Rachel Zoe Project
Network: Bravo
Season start(ed) 9/6
You know Bravo has me by the balls. I can't NOT watch.

10:00PM - Parenthood
Network NBC
Season starts 9/13
This show is surprisingly good.  I came for Lorelei Gilmore, I stayed for the quirky family drama from this group of siblings who are maybe just a little too co-dependent.  It can get a little tedious at times so it tends to build up on my DVR until the weekend.   


8:30 PM - Suburgatory
Network: ABC
Series starts 9/28
Basically Mean Girls in sitcom form. And I'll be watching the hell out of it.

9:00 PM - Modern Family
Network: ABC
Season starts 9/21
I love this show. And since it is one of the few shows I watch that Hubby enjoys as well, we'll probably watch it live.

9:30 PM - Happy Endings
Network: ABC
Season starts 9/21
Ok fine! I've been hooked by the reruns this summer! And its on right after Modern Family so I'll most likely stick around to watch it. But I won't like it and I'm still mourning the loss of Better With You and the lack of Kitty from That 70's Show and Joanna Garcia Swisher on my TV.

10:00 PM - Up All Night
Network: NBC
Series starts 9/14
I do love Christina Applegate. But I'm guessing this won't be any amazing comedy. I'll still give Kelly Bundy a shot though.

10PM - Revenge
Network: ABC
Series starts 9/21
Looks like Wednesdays are shaping up to be ABC nights. I've been inundated with previews of this show and it looks pretty good about a woman who moves to the hamptons to get revenge for her father being used as a scapegoat.

Unknown Time - American Horror Story 
Network: FX
Series starts 10/5 
I'm not really into horror things but with Connie Britton I'm going to have to tune in for at least one episode. We'll see though. This might be something I just watch OnDemand.

8:00 PM - Vampire Diaries
Network: CW 
Season starts 9/15
DUH! Will be watching (and squealing with excitement) live and on DVR.

8:00 PM - Community 
Network NBC 
Season starts 9/22 
After two seasons, this show has finally caught on with me. BUT Thursdays are a busy day so I can't promise it'll make the final cut.

8:00 PM - Charlies Angels 
Network: ABC 
Series starts 9/22 
Wow, ABC is going ballsy putting this up against Vampire Diaries and Community. I have a soft spot for Minka Kelly thanks to Friday Night Lights, but I just don't trust this remake. It will probably win vs. Community for a spot on the DVR for at least a few episodes. But its going to have to work hard to earn that spot full time.

9:00 PM - The Secret Circle 
Network: CW 
Series starts 9/15 
I'm crazy excited about this. It is based on a novel by the same author who wrote Vampire Diaries. Its about a girl who moves into town and meets a group of kids whose parents all grew up together and with New Girl's mother. Have I mentioned they are all witches? Now their circle is complete. Bless you CW for this!

9:00 PM - Grey's Anatomy
Network: ABC
Season starts 9/22
I've been there since the very beginning, I can't stop now.

9:00 PM - Project Runway
Network: Lifetime
Season has already started
Stupid Lifetime really doesn't re-air this enough for my taste but if I can afford the space on the DVR, I'll record it and watch it later. Or I'll watch it online some time.

10:00 PM - Prime Suspect
Network: NBC
Series starts 9/22
I really don't need another cop drama in my line-up. But I've loved Maria Bello ever since she was on ER and I've been waiting for her to be tough and sassy on TV again. And Peter Berg is an amazing producer/director. I loved Friday Night Lights, mostly because it was so beautifully made. So I will give this a shot.

8:00 PM - Nikita 
Network: CW 
Season starts 9/23 
This show hooked me at the end of last season. I blame Shane West and his hotty gravelly voice. I'll give it a whirl and definitely continue to DVR it but its not appointment TV.

9:00 PM - Grimm 
Network: NBC 
Series starts 10/21 
I loved Supernatural back when it was about exposing all those old horror stories and myths. This show seems like it would be along those same lines so I'm willing to give it a try. And it starts later in the season so I'll have weaned down by shows by then (hopefully.)

10:00 PM - Blue Bloods 
Network: CBS 
Season starts 9/23 
Seriously, if you aren't watching this - you should be. It is so good! Tom Selleck! Donny Wahlberg! Rabbit from U-571! Bridget Moynahan! Very very good. If you want to make it into a drinking game as your prep before you hit the bars on Friday night, try taking a drink every time Tom Selleck takes a deep sigh and/or sounds like your grandfather.  You'll be hammered by 11.

Nothing! This is the day to clear out my DVR at last!

8:00 PM - The Amazing Race
Network: CBS 
Season starts 9/25 
I love this show, but it gets annoying to watch during football season since you have to account for the game running long and pushing 60 minutes late and thus pushing the start of TAR late. Which means I either have to record 2 hours worth of CBS or I have to risk missing who gets eliminated each week. But I'll adapt. Maybe OnDemand or Online. 

9:00 PM - Boardwalk Empire 
Network: HBO 
Season starts 9/25
Damn! I have to make sure I still get HBO. I think we eliminated it from our cable line up. If you get HBO, watch this, it is great.  I'm really not a huge Steve Buschemi fan, but I still enjoy the show.  If you don't get HBO already I wouldn't go out of my way to add it.  You can get the episodes on Netflix in a few months.

10:00 PM - PanAm 
Network: ABC 
Series starts 9/25
Absolutely! I have been looking forward to this show for a while. It looks really fun and retro and I adore Christina Ricci.   I clearly watch a lot of ABC so I have been inundated with the previews.  It seems fun and sassy and like a nice light hearted view at a time period I never knew.  Hear that NBC? Light Hearted.  No need to go mucking things up with a murder mystery.  I never got into Mad Men and I've always regretted that.  This time I will be in from the ground floor.   

So there you have it.  Just a handful of shows that I will be avidly watching this September.  I hope I've been able to help you if you've been trying to wrap your head around what is out there and when they start.  I know this has definitely helped me.  I'll touch back on this list in mid/late October to see who has made the cut and who has succumbed to the ickiness of Leann Rhimes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Brain Full of What?

The other day I had an analysis done on my brain* I wanted to know why I couldn't remember such simple things as where I put my stapler but I could recall the entire Parents Day Monologue from City Slickers. ("Value this time in your life kids...") The results were astounding! My brain matter is 10% random biology facts left over from a useless degree; 15% celebrity gossip; 15% friends and family; 20% food; and 40% movie quotes and trivia. I'm like Abed from Community.

Recently I've had things I want to say. Movies I want to discuss in great detail. TV shows I want to analyze. But I don't think they fit here. Melly's Mouthul is where I talk about my undying love for olives and the perfect frosting technique for cupcakes. It is my glorified recipe book and I like it that way. I don't want it bogged down with a side by side comparison of which Salvatore Brother I'd rather Elena be with.

So what is a girl to do?

Well, I'll tell you what this girl did. She created a new blog and linked it to this original one. Join me in an extra special glimpse of this crazy noggin of mine.

*I am exagerating. I didn't really have an analysis done of my brain. Yet.