Monday, October 31, 2011

Classic Halloween & Other Holiday Links

This slideshow of mid-20th century Halloween photos is great.

I always love reading about food in other cultures, so this feature on what's eaten at Diwali was fascinating.

Want to escape for the holidays? How about a nice cottage rental?

In honor of the October snow, an old favorite: Make your own virtual snowflakes.

Halloween Reads: "The Fall of the House of Usher"

I've read plenty of Poe stories over the years, but had somehow never read this one, and when Sarah Rees Brennan recapped it in her first Gothic post, I knew I had to give it a try. And it was delightful, really, equal parts creepy and absurd, and just good. I'd forgotten what a good writer Poe was, although he obviously had some Issues, and was probably not a barrel of laughs to be around. It's amazing how much plot he gets into a story of less than twenty pages, and his language is extremely rich - "encoffined" and "clangorous" are my new favorite words. Since this story is so old, it's out of copyright, so give yourself a Halloween treat and read it online right now.

Haven, "Sins of the Father" - Recap at TheTelevixen

Sorry this is so late, but my recap of the Haven season finale, "Sins of the Father," is finally live at TheTelevixen.

This Week's TV News: Caffeine for 10/30

Renewals! Pick-ups! All sorts of stuff! Catch up with my column at TheTelevixen.

Happy Halloween!

I rather like the random Muppet videos this movie is prompting. Saw this one as a commercial during the morning news:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Link Potpourri

On Friday afternoons I'm going to start doing a roundup of links that haven't fit in with any of the themed link posts. Enjoy!

Hey look! A simple and useful way to think about the Euro crisis!

NYMag has a fascinating profile of Carlina White, who was kidnapped as an infant and figured out who she was later on.

If your tagline is going to be "Not Science Fiction," you should probably check that it, um, actually isn't.

HP pulls a Netflix; doesn't split itself after all.

Apparently they are "close" to finding Sir Francis Drake's body. Well then.

Yoga and Vitamins: Worthless

Picture of the day: End Galactic Corporate Greed

Headline of the week: Man Caught Having Sex with Donkey Claimed It Was a Shapeshifting Hooker

Music Break: "Snow" from White Christmas

It snowed last night, which means, in my world at least, that Christmas music is now fair game. I'll try to hold out a little while before going all-Christmas-all-the-time on you, but I had to mark the occasion. I was going to find the clip of this song from the movie, but then I found these obviously amazing people who reenacted it in their dining room. May I be friends with them?

Candy Economics & Other Halloween Links

Head over to TheTelevixen and vote for your favorites in the Celebration of the Supernatural on TV!

A Semi-Microeconomic Analysis of Halloween Treats

Awesome: Women Laughing Alone with Salad: The Costume.

What Your Halloween Candy Says About You

This site creates a horror movie starring YOU and apparently people actually want this. I do not understand people.

Stuck for a last-minute costume? Here's a huge list of printable Halloween masks.

Halloween Reads: The Horribly Haunted School by Margaret Mahy

I loved Mahy's YA The Changeover, so I figured I'd give some of her kids' books a try as well. This isn't specifically a Halloween story, but it is about ghosts, so it seemed seasonably appropriate. It's a really cute story about a boy who is allergic to ghosts - he sneezes when one is around, and can only stop when it shows itself. His parents don't believe him and send him to a special school to make him "sensible," but of course that school itself is haunted - by a former headmaster who was much less strict than advertised and just wants to make sure that his students turned out all right. This book is hilarious, and also has some really nice things to say about the balance between sense and imagination and how to encourage that balance in children. It's perfect for an upper elementary age group. Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print in the U.S., but check your library!

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/28/11

We're past the first few weeks, so let's just say that whenever there's a TV premiere, I'll try to let you know. Remember, you can see my regularly-updated TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8 p.m.:
Chuck season 5 premiere, NBC
Last season! I'm way behind on this show, but actually really like it, so I have vague hopes of catching up in time to watch the series finale with everyone else.

9 p.m.:
Grimm series premiere, NBC
A homicide cop starts seeing fairy tale characters. Honestly, I haven't heard great things, but I like the premise so I'll give it a try.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trailer: The Iron Lady

I bookmarked this months ago but realized I never posted it, and hey, the movie's not out yet, so better late than never? I'll admit I don't know as much about Thatcher as I should, but of course this looks fascinating anyway. Meryl Streep!

Music Break: "The Way You Look Tonight" by The Lettermen

The World's Best Breakfasts & Other Links for Food Lovers

Breakfast is my favorite meal, so this is possibly my favorite link of all time.

Real Talk on Cupcakes

I'll admit I want to go try Wahlburgers. Anyone?

Have you ever wondered what beer to drink with macaroni and cheese? Wonder no more.

Just in time for soup season: 20 Fall Soup Recipes We Love

Watching Footloose

I finally watched Footloose last night - the original - because somehow I'd never seen it. And I know the remake looks terrible, but I fear I will give in and see it anyway (though I plan to hold out for DVD - I'm not that dedicated to awful dance movies), so I figured I should see the original first. And it's one of those things that I can watch and recognize how it would have been such a monumental thing for viewers who caught it at the right age, but now it looks mostly like a cultural artifact - a bizarre, sometimes hilarious artifact. (I felt the same way about St. Elmo's Fire, for example.) Watching it now was somewhat entertaining, but more useful as a way to understand a set of pop culture references I'd always missed.

Nevertheless, it certainly had some impressive dancing. And I love the implication that all the Troubled Teen Boys really want is to be allowed to DANCE OUT THEIR FEELINGS.

Liszt, Bjork, & Other Links for Music Lovers

Was Liszt actually any good?

Oh, Bjork, honey. Did none of us ever explain the concept of musical notation to you? I'M SO SORRY.

I debated whether to put this Justin Timberlake fashion retrospective in a music post or a movie post, because he seems to be determined to be an actor recently, but OBVIOUSLY what we all want from him is a new album. (Kidding! I am happy to watch/listen to Justin doing WHATEVER HE WANTS. Music? Good movies? Bad movies? Reading the phone book? Sure!)

Coldplay's 24 Singles, Ranked. I had completely forgotten about "Shiver" until I heard it on the radio the other day. I love that song.

Really, Sheryl Crow? REALLY?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

P.D. James Does Austen & Other Links for Book Lovers

P.D. James has a Pride and Prejuice murder mystery coming out. !!!!! This is going on my Christmas list RIGHT NOW.

Seriously: Please Explain Scaring Yourself? (I read/watch some scary things, but the fright angle is always an unfortunate side effect, and I don't understand why people seek it out.)

This list of cocktails inspired by heroines of classic literature is awesome, and most of the recipes actually look tasty, which is more than I can say for a lot of novelty cocktail things. I want to try practically all of them, but especially the Scarlett O'Hara and the Mary Lennox.

This Joan Didion profile is fascinating, and her new book sounds really interesting, if painful to read.

I always love these behind-the-scenes pieces about judging literary awards.

Ooh! They're publishing C.S. Forester's lost crime novel!

Music Break: Vivace from Back's Double Violin Concerto in D minor

Trailer: Have a Little Faith

I had apparently managed to completely block this movie out of my brain until I ran across this trailer, because Mitch Albom is not exactly my cup of tea. But, you know, The Things I Do For Bradley Whitford. At this point, I'm just happy that this doesn't look quite as awful as I'd feared. And it's certainly got a solid cast. It will air on ABC the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Android Barometers & Other Tech Links

This Android Barometer idea is pretty awesome.

MC Hammer is launching a search engine. I've been thinking about this for three days and have yet to come up with anything wittier to say than " . . . wait, WHAT?"

Enough with the Ridiculous Product Code Names

Trying to make the Internet less annoying is a noble, if perhaps futile, pursuit, kudos to Is It Old?

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/26/11

We're past the first few weeks, so let's just say that whenever there's a TV premiere, I'll try to let you know. Remember, you can see my regularly-updated TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

10 p.m.:
Whitechapel series premiere, BBC America
A British mystery! About a Jack the Ripper copycat! Starring Rupert Penry-Jones! Frankly, if that doesn't send you running for your TV, you should probably do some soul-searching.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Music Break: "Al dolce guidami" from Anna Bolena

I listened to Anna Bolena on the radio live from the Met last night, so I have concluded that obviously what your Tuesday afternoon needs is some weirdly cheery Italian opera about tragic Tudor monarchs.

The Good Wife, "Marthas and Caitlins" - Recap at ThinkProgress

Everyone's making deals with their personal devils this week, so head over to Alyssa's place to read all about it.
But, as anyone around her should really know, Alicia’s experiences with Peter have made her hate being used as a pawn in the corruption of others, and she tries to stick with her first choice, Martha. The committee votes for Caitlin without even notifying Alicia, which seems unnecessarily unprofessional, and she feels betrayed, especially when Will admits he voted with Lee. “I feel used, Will. I feel like I was given a job and it was taken away from me.” And that’s the heart of things, really: long ago, Alicia put her trust in a powerful man, embraced the role he gave her, and was betrayed; as a result of that betrayal, she had to build herself a new life, and now she fears that the same thing is happening with Will. If it had only happened once, she could safely blame her betrayer, but if a version of what happened with Peter happens again with Will, she’ll have to start wondering if it’s her, if she’s somehow bringing these things upon herself.

Pantone Ornaments & Other Holiday Links

Christmas is two months from today! Two months! That makes me extremely excited, though I realize some of you react differently. I'm sorry. I'm warning you now, it will eventually get quite Christmassy around these parts. We're not going all-Christmas-all-the-time yet - I'm not that crazy - but here, have some holiday-related links to get you started!

These Pantone paint color ornaments are so pretty.

Michael Buble + Christmas + countdown calendar + GetGlue = My Favorite New Site

For a certain subset of the cheesy-Christmas-TV-loving public, ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas is in fact an annual event to which we look forward. Get some info on this year's lineup here. Mark-Paul Gosselaar! Nick Zano! Laura Vandervoort!

It might snow on Thursday. No, really. Is your crossbow ready?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/23/11

We're past the first few weeks, so let's just say that whenever there's a TV premiere, I'll try to let you know. Remember, you can see my regularly-updated TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8 p.m.:
Once Upon a Time series premiere, ABC
I've heard very intriguing things about this drama about a town where fairy tales are real, so I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

My feelings are apparently very complicated about this book, because I've had this window open for hours now and haven't been able to figure out where to start. So. Basically, my issue is that for the first 200 pages or so, I thought this was a page-turner but didn't actually hold up very well. But by the end, some of my issues had been addressed, and I really liked certain things, and . . . OH I DON'T KNOW.

Backing up! Divergent is about a post-apocalyptic society (in Chicago, I think) where the people have divided themselves up into five factions based on the virtue they think is most important: Abnegation (selflessness), Candor (truth), Amity (peace), Erudite (intelligence), and Dauntless (bravery). Which faction you're in defines basically everything about your life, from what you wear to what job you have to who your friends are. Kids grow up in their parents' faction; when they're 16, they take an aptitude text (with non-binding results) and then choose which faction to join for the rest of their lives. I really liked this idea, and thought both the way things were divided up (e.g. Abnegation controls the government because supposedly the selfless can't be corrupted) and the way it all broke down (Not going to spoil you!) were well thought out and believable. I did want some sort of explanation for why those virtues in particular were chosen - what about Kindness (though that's in some ways similar to Amity) or Industriousness? The latter, I'd think, would be particularly helpful in a post-apocalyptic society.

Our heroine, Tris, grew up in Abnegation, but her aptitude test gives her inconclusive results (where the "Divergent" in the title comes from), which is never supposed to happen. She's told that it would be dangerous if anyone found out, but not told why, and she chooses to enter Dauntless. (This all happens right away. Don't worry; I'm not spoiling you.) And this, honestly, is where she lost me for a while. I get why she didn't want to stay in Abnegation, but the idea of choosing Dauntless - where she's forced to fight and do all sorts of crazy dangerous things - is so far from my own psyche that I needed more help than the text gave to understand her choice. For me, and a lot of readers, I assume, the obvious choice given what we know about the factions at the start would be Erudite. They get to read all the time! It's not clear why Tris rules it out automatically, and though we later find out bad things about Erudite (and all the factions, really), that doesn't make it make more sense at the time, and some of them Tris herself doesn't know until later, so she couldn't be reacting to them at the start.

I think that is my issue with the book in a nutshell: For the first half of the book, I thought it was pretty contrived. Things seemed to be happening JUST so they would cause conflict between Tris and those around her (or internal conflict in Tris), not for any authentic narrative reason. Some of these things are addressed later, and they're not actually contrived at all - we just don't know the factors that make them make sense. The wait is necessary, because they make good reveals, and the characters themselves don't find things out until later. In some cases, these issues have to do with the structure of the world, so it's reasonable that Tris is reacting to them without understanding them, but in other cases, it really feels like the characters are reacting to things that haven't happened and knowledge they don't yet have. But the second half of the book is plotted really well, so I almost forgot about my issues with the first half. I DON'T KNOW.

One thing I have absolutely NO qualms about is the romance. Four, the hero and romantic interest, is an ideal YA hero, by while I mean that he's dreamy but also a decent guy and ALSO sufficiently flawed, so he doesn't feel fake. And once Tris gets past the "What am I feeling? I couldn't possibly be attracted to anyone!" thing that inexplicably plagues dystopian heroines (yes, I'm looking at you, Katniss), the love story proceeds perfectly. There's no love triangle (a nice change!); there are believable, hopefully surmountable obstacles, and those obstacles are both internal and external. The way the characters are drawn, it makes complete sense that Tris and Four would be attracted to each other AND would actually make a good couple - none of that "We're so different but just randomly meant for each other!" nonsense. And their chemistry is SCORCHING. They have one of my favorite YA romances in recent memory, and I've honestly found myself worrying about whether something will come along to break them up in the sequels.

So, yes, sequels. This is the first in a trilogy; the second, Insurgent, comes out next year. Whatever my qualms with this one, I'll definitely be reading the rest, both because I want to know what happens and because I'm interested to see how Roth develops as a writer. Divergent was her first book - I think she wrote it while she was in college - so I'm hoping some of the issues I had with it will be improved in the rest of the trilogy.

(And since this was Divergent and the sequel is Insurgent, I've been having fun coming up with options for the third title. Convergent? Emergent? Resurgent? Detergent? Ha. Yeah, I'm going to stop because at this point none of these are looking like words anymore.)

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/21/11

We're past the first few weeks, so let's just say that whenever there's a TV premiere, I'll try to let you know. Remember, you can see my regularly-updated TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

10 p.m.:
Boss series premiere, Starz
I was a big Frasier fan, back before I started watching much TV, actually, and I've heard good things from people who have seen this pilot, so I'm excited!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Perfect Pumpkin Carving & Other Links

Everything You Need to Know About Carving a Pumpkin

Literary daleks are my new favorite thing.

Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance

Read Alyssa Rosenberg on Disney movies and masculinity.

My new favorite game: Cheese or Font

I meant to include this YA Op-Ed Mad Lib in my YA post yesterday, because it's awesome. But I forgot. So here it is!

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/20/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8:30 p.m.:
Rules of Engagement season 6 premiere, CBS
It just occurred to me as I was typing that that I have LITERALLY NO IDEA what this is about. I'm not sure I've ever even seen a preview for it. Bizarre. IMDb unhelpfully tells me that this, like 99% of sitcoms, is about a group of friends in different stages of relationships. Okay then!

11 p.m.:
Gigolos season 2 premiere, Showtime
I don't actually know anything about this one either, but at least the title is pretty self-explanatory.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: The Psychology of Compulsion

At the beginning of the season, I didn't actually set out to make a habit of reading a lot of episode discussion and THEN writing about a popular point of contention, but that seems to be where I'm headed recently, so . . . okay!

This week, I've seen a lot of discussion about Klaus's compulsion of Stefan. The issue, in brief: Klaus compelled Stefan to turn off his emotions, but last season, Rose claimed that the emotion switch didn’t really exist, especially for older vampires. So should Klaus have been able to do that?

I'm theorizing that, at least for compulsions of a primarily psychological nature, if the compellee believes something is possible, it works. Turning off emotions doesn't break the laws of physics or anything, and I think if you really, completely believed you had to do it, you would. So even if there’s actually no emotion switch, if Stefan believes there is, Klaus can play upon this belief and the compulsion will work as intended. And so far as we know, Stefan believes in the switch.

Does Klaus? That's an interesting question, if not necessarily tied to whether the compulsion would work. After all, vampires compel people to believe things that they themselves know to be untrue all the time. But it would be interesting to know if he believes in it - though I'm assuming he doesn't. Does anyone remember whether any of the Originals have addressed this question?

Dear Fandom: Snap out of it.

We're at that spot in the fall TV season at which the season is still young enough that it has the excitement that comes with the blush of newness, but old enough that fans have to face the fact that whatever dream season they had in their heads isn't magically happening, and as a result, fandom is LOSING ITS COLLECTIVE MIND. People are calling for showrunners to drown themselves. People are using, a site designed to advocate for real social change, to start petitions about PLOT POINTS. People are protesting the fact that networks dare hire actors who have political views. People are greeting happy announcements from actors they idolize with pure lunacy. I've seen instances with at least four different shows of people deciding they'll hate whole plotlines or seasons based on one image or casting call or tweet from a writer. At one site I write for, we keep having to close the comments on our posts because of "fans" being cruel toward each other and the actors. People are calling for fans to pray - actually pray - for fictional characters who may be in danger. Don't you think maybe God has a few or 500 more important issues on His mind right now? I mean, COME ON.

I'm self-aware enough to know that I am in no place to fault anyone for watching or thinking or talking about TV too much, and nor would I want to. But there's a line somewhere. I am always in favor of more good discussion and analysis and criticism of TV, of any art form. And art can and does change the world, but not through 'shipper wars or nasty personal tweets. I take fiction as seriously as anyone, but at some point, we need to stop and remind ourselves: This is television. Entertainment. The stakes are not that high.

So, consider this a plea for sanity. Step away from the computer for a second. Take a deep breath. Remember that this is fiction. Remember to save your outrage for the many very horrible, very nonfictional things going on in the world right now. Remember that the people in the computer are, in fact, people. Remember that all the writers and actors and showrunners are people, too. Remember Wheaton's Law. And for goodness' sake, if a show is really causing you that much distress, turn it off and watch something else.

The National Book Award & Other YA Kerfuffles

You probably heard about what happened with the National Book Award announcements. If not, Libba Bray will catch you right up. I don't have anything original to say about this; I'm just joining the chorus of others in the YA community who are outraged at the way the NBA has handled the whole thing. So, two things: 1) Lauren is an extremely classy lady, as you can see from the first interview she's given about this, and 2) You should all go buy her book right now. I did.

And last week, we had this incoherent Salon piece about YA. (I didn't have the energy to deal with it then.) Let me break down this argument for you:
1) There have been a rash of stories about people being worried about "dark" YA.
2) They shouldn't be worried, because "dark" storylines are good for kids.
3) All YA is light and fluffy, so...
4) Teens should just read adult books and YA shouldn't exist.
This is so obviously internally inconsistent that I'm not sure I can be bothered to point out how objectively dumb it is, as well. (Authors Beth Revis and Zoe Mariott do a good job in the comments.) But seriously, HOW DUMB. And the worst part is that the writer's points about heavier themes being okay and necessary are good ones, but they're lost in his obvious ignorance of the genre he's writing about.

IN BETTER NEWS, you should read Malinda Lo's "Why I Write Young Adult Fiction" and Sarah Rees Brennan's first Gothic Tuesdays post.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Me Elsewhere: The Good Wife, Castle, & TV News

Elsewhere on the Internet over the past few days . . .

At ThinkProgress, my take on The Good Wife's "Feeding the Rat."

And at TheTelevixen, my recap of Castle's "Kick the Ballistics" and my latest update of TV news.

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/18/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8:30 p.m.:
Man Up series premiere, ABC
Yet another of these "masculinity in peril" sitcoms. Are we done yet? (Answer: No, actually, if they ever schedule Work It.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/16/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

9 p.m.:
The Walking Dead season 2 premiere, AMC
I know everyone in the universe except me is into this, but I am just not a zombie person.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Good Wife, "Get a Room" - Recap at ThinkProgress

And here we have it.
Eli and Kalinda finally met and realized they were kindred spirits last week, but this week, the fundamental difference between them becomes obvious: Kalinda deals in facts, while Eli uses facts as tools to affect the higher truth of image and perception. When Kalinda’s investigation shows that the cheese company’s culpability is far from clear, Eli is frustrated, and explains that it’s not that he wants their client to be guilty – it’s that he wants it to be over so he can pick up the pieces, fix things, and move on. And when Kalinda goes to Cary for information on the mediation case, he finally calls her on the way she uses people’s feelings for her to further her investigations. Cary sees through Kalinda’s manipulation of others’ feelings, but he has obviously bought into her illusion of having no feelings herself. That one is going to really blow up in her face one of these days.

Castle, "Head Games:" Recap at TheTelevixen

Sorry this is late, but here you go!
When Castle asks Beckett whether she thinks this was a crime of passion, Beckett says that it was a crime of love. Castle: “Though that would depend on whether Cynthia Hamilton was in love or insane.” Beckett: “Well, sometimes there’s a fine line between the two.” They look at each other a little too long just then, and I know some fans think the relationship anvils are falling a bit too hard and fast this season, I’ve been rather enjoying them.

Catch Up on Last Week's TV News

Today I'll be posting links to things I've written elsewhere that you might have missed this week. I usually try to post them here right after they go up, but my back injury messed things up this week. Have a great weekend!

Here's my Caffeine column of TV news from October 9.

Changing the Monarchy & Other Links

They might change the rules of the British monarchy so first-born daughters could rule. Wow.

Really, National Book Awards? Really?

Someone is transcribing her grandmother's diaries from growing up in the twenties. Fun!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Community: In Defense of Jeff and Annie

(Includes discussion of events through two episodes ago, but nothing specific about last week.)

Is this the season of Jeff and Annie? The musical number in the premiere (which was, of course, happening in Jeff's head) suggested that it might be, and their conversation in the Model U.N. episode made it clear that that's how they're thinking - but also that they realize it's kind of weird and icky. And Community fans seem quite divided over whether the ickiness outweighs everything else, whether the show should even go there at all.

First, about that ick factor: yes, he's significantly older than she is and has a lot more life experience. The show often codes him as an adult and her as a child. To some extent, though, I think both Jeff's cynical world-weariness and Annie's determined naivete are personas they put on to preserve certain images and protect themselves. And by the standards of TV relationships viewers are asked to accept and often root for, this is nothing. She's well past the age of consent and he's not her teacher or her boss. Neither of them are running around killing people or hurting each other. Sure, one or both might come out of this with a broken heart, but come on, this is college. That's what's supposed to happen.

For me, the potential ickiness is outweighed by the reasons why their relationship seems natural and the ways that they actually seem to be good for each other. Again, this is college, and Jeff is exactly the guy a girl like Annie would go for. (And really, under everything, Jeff is a pretty decent person, so Annie could do much worse for her "bad boy" phase.) Other than perhaps Abed, they're the most intellectual of the group, so the pairing is natural from that standpoint. Sure, Jeff is presented as a slacker and cheat, but don't forget that on another show, this same basic character would be - and is, actually, hi Suits! - presented as a brilliant boy wonder who used his innate talents to con his way into a prestigious career.

But most importantly, they seem to actually care about each other and be good for each other. When Jeff is with Britta, she feeds into his cynicism and they fall into a spiral of negativity, but Annie calls Jeff on his nonsense and makes him admit that a lot of the cynicism is an act. And Jeff protects Annie to an extent but also makes her engage with the real world. They see through each others' acts, which allows them to relate in a more genuine way with each other than with almost anyone else. And really, that alone is reason enough for the show to give this relationship a try.

Book Recommendation: The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones

I had somehow never read Diana Wynne Jones - I know, I know! - so when Sarah Rees Brennan recommended The Ogre Downstairs I thought I'd give it a try. It's about two families of siblings who are suddenly step-siblings and trying to figure out how to make the new family work, and the new stepfather is horrible (they think), and there are magical chemistry sets wreaking all sorts of havoc. Honestly, it took me a while to get into it. Well, it was a perfectly pleasant reading experience from the start, but I would read a few pages before bed, put it down, and not feel any particular call to pick it up again until the next night. But I think that's more my problem than its, and when I finally got a decent stretch of time when I wasn't falling asleep, I read the last half of it in one go. The magic is very well grounded in the real world, and the way it comes to help the kids recognize that their new family members aren't necessarily as awful as they seem is really well done. My favorites were Malcolm, who comes across as mean but maybe is just shy and lonely and fragile, and the little one, Gwinny, who overcomes her fears with bravery and honesty and open-mindedness, and is much more of a real character than little siblings in YA books often are.

Sadly, this seems to be out of print, but I'm sure your library can get it for you!

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/12/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

10 p.m.:
Psych season 6 premiere, USA
This isn't my favorite USA show, but it's up there, and it's still better than most shows on other networks. I'm a little behind but hoping to be caught up soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/11/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

8 p.m.:
Last Man Standing series premiere, ABC
Tim Allen returns to TV! And yeah, this is supposed to be awful.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tonight's Premieres and a Note

I hurt my back in a way that makes typing painful, so things will be quiet here today. Enlightened and Bored to Death are premiering tonight on HBO - check their site for details.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Congratulations, Tomas Transtromer!

(This was supposed to autopost yesterday and didn't. Sorry!)

Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer has won the Nobel prize. I'll admit I didn't know much about him until yesterday, when I saw that his odds of winning were pretty high and looked him up. I don't tend to follow contemporary poetry very closely - I'll usually take Donne or Tennyson over modern poets - but my friend Michael Magras suggests starting with the collection The Great Enigma or with this site, where you can read several of Transtromer's poems online. Here's the beginning of "Allegro:"
After a black day, I play Haydn,
and feel a little warmth in my hands.
The keys are ready. Kind hammers fall.
The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence.
The sound says that freedom exists
and someone pays no tax to Caesar.
I shove my hands in my haydnpockets
and act like a man who is calm about it all.

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/7/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

10 p.m.:
Sanctuary season 4 premiere, Syfy
I am slightly bitter that this is replacing Haven, even though, you know, the Haven season is over anyway.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/6/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

10:30 p.m.:
The League season 3 premiere, FX
I've never seen this, but the tagline kind of makes me want to: "To be a fan of the show you don't need to know much about fantasy football. You just need to have friends that you hate."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Movie Trailer: The Ides of March

I somehow hadn't realized this was being released this Friday! Yes, the reviews have been mixed, but George Clooney and Ryan Gosling in a campaign thriller? I can't possibly resist.

Is A Gifted Man Really Good for Health Care Reform?

I really wanted to like A Gifted Man, because I like much of the cast quite a lot, but I finally got around to watching the pilot last night, and - no. The more I think about it, the more I hate it. And it wasn't the dumb premise or boring, unlikeable characters or use of my medical show pet peeve in the first scene that got me, actually. It was the portrait the show drew of what's wrong with health care in this country and how to fix it.

Other shows, please take notes.

You know how premium cable shows have all sorts of sex and nakedness all the time because they can, and it loses all impact and often just seems ridiculous? Well, The Good Wife shows what you can do with two master actors (Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies), some well-placed dialogue, and very little skin. It stays classy, makes it past the network censors, and is much sexier than it really has any right to be.

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/5/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

10 p.m.:
American Horror Story series premiere, FX
I love a lot of this cast, but I don't like Ryan Murphy or horror stuff, so I'm skipping this one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: Monsters Need Love Too

"The End of the Affair" was another episode so awesome that I almost didn't know what to say about it. (And I put off writing about this for a while, obviously. Sorry! Will do better next week!) But then I realized what to say - poor baby monsters! They need love too!

Music Break: "Singin' in the Rain"

So, About The Secret Circle...

First: I'm still enjoying The Secret Circle. Absolutely. But I had planned to write about it every week, and now I'm just not sure I have that much to say. (This is partially because it's on right after The Vampire Diaries, which is my priority as far as both time and attention.) It's fun! It's intriguing! But the third episode didn't leave me with anything I felt I absolutely had to say about it. So I think I'm going to put this one on the "write about it as the spirit moves me" list.

(I'm still trying to figure out some stuff about the families, but I'm told it's explained in the books, which I'm currently reading. When I finish those, I will definitely do a post sharing those answers and giving any other thoughts I have on the book/show differences.)

Terra Nova: Sure, Why Not?

I finally watched the whole two-hour Terra Nova premiere (but not last night's episode yet), and I think it doesn't know what it wants to be yet, but I'm happy to give it some time to figure it out. It's possible that it will end up as an awful mess, of course, but it's possible it will end up as an interesting exploration of societal issues, and/or an intriguing mystery, and/or a fun, mindless family adventure story, and any of those options would be okay with me. There's an argument to be made that it's trying too hard to be everything to everyone, but it's too early to say whether that will end up being good or bad in the long run. Jason O'Mara is pretty, there's a nerdy older daughter to identify with, and, hey, dinosaurs!

Crop Circles & Other Miscellaneous Links

Now that premiere season is winding down, I'm going to try to get back to link posts. There are going to be some slightly old ones for a while as I catch up, but they should still be interesting. No theme today, but themes should return in the future.

Hey look! It's an article about YA that isn't awful!

This story about the FBI agent trying to clean up Newburgh is fascinating.

A united British soccer team for the Olympics? Not so fast.

A look at crop circle tourism.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Good Wife, "The Death Zone" - Recap at ThinkProgress

Good Wife fans, I hope you're in the mood to read, because I went on for quite a while about last night's episode over at ThinkProgress.
This second episode of The Good Wife is all about perception and the burden of proof, as Lockhart/Gardner defends a mountain climber whose book about his brother’s death accuses another climber of refusing to help his brother and stealing his oxygen tank. When the case is dismissed from an American court, the British plaintiff takes it to a court in England, where the burden of proof in libel cases is reversed — instead of the plaintiff having to prove that he was libeled, the defendant must prove that what he wrote was not libel. The book wasn’t published in England, but the plaintiff himself bought a few copies from Amazon, solely to have grounds to bring the case — and Will, whose sense of right and wrong crops up at interesting times, is outraged and accuses him of “libel tourism.”

Gossip Girl Reality Check: "Yes, Then Zero"

The Gossip Girl premiere was good overall, but I have ISSUES. Read about them after the break!

Castle Recap: "Heroes and Villains"

Get ready for tonight's episode with my recap at TheTelevixen. Enjoy!

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/3/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

9 p.m.:
House season 8 premiere, FOX
I spent years saying I'd catch up on this one eventually, but recent plot developments sound so loopy that I think I've lost interest. Of course, it's perfectly possible that the whole "driving a car into her house" thing was better than it sounds. I guess.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

TV News for the Week!

Head on over here for your weekly update on all the TV news at TheTelevixen!

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/2/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

9 p.m.:
Dexter season 6 premiere, Showtime
Colin Hanks is going to be on this season, so I'm determined to catch up. Eventually.

10 p.m.:
Homeland series premiere, Showtime
This is getting amazing reviews, so you should probably watch it. I'm looking forward to it.

Hung season 3 premiere, HBO
This is still around? Huh.

10:30 p.m.:
How to Make It in America season 2 premiere, HBO
This is about . . . "enterprising 20-somethings"? Okay. Obviously I don't know much about it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tonight's TV Premiere Reminders: 10/1/11

For these first few weeks of fall TV, I'll have quick posts up at 9am each day reminding you of which shows start that night, with times and channels and maybe a quick thought or two. Remember, you can see my whole fall TV spreadsheet here. (All times Eastern.)

10 p.m.:
Bedlam series premiere, BBC America
A British show about a haunted apartment building! Whee! I hope this is fun but not too scary.