Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Recommendation: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

This is another book that's a little hard to describe - it's fantasy, I guess, but reads like a fairy tale, more specifically. It's about a girl named Lexi in a town where there aren't ever any strangers, and what happens when a stranger shows up around the same time children start going missing. The plot is intriguing, but what really stands out about this book is the beautiful writing and how atmospheric it is. I'm not one to always picture what I'm reading, but I did with this book, especially (for some reason) Lexi's bedroom with its candles and piles of blankets. I kept wanting to cuddle up under lots of blankets while reading. And the wind, oh, the wind - it's practically its own character here, and Schwab did a great job with that. There was also more romance than I expected, which was a delightful surprise! This is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold, windy winter night.

Random Product Recommendation: Hannaford Eggnog

I know this is a kind of different post than usual for me, but apparently I feel strongly about it and WANT TO SHARE. I was visiting friends over the weekend and they had this Hannaford Old-Fashioned Eggnog, and it was delicious. I'm usually not a huge eggnog fan - I'll drink a glass or two per season, when it's served to me, because it seems seasonal - but this was so good that I went out and bought a whole carton. I haven't tried it warm or with liquor added yet, but just add a little nutmeg to the top and it's good to go.

(I was not compensated in any way for this post, but I would not turn down free eggnog. Hey, Hannaford, call me!)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Good Wife, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" - Recap at ThinkProgress

It's a little late - sorry! I was sick and then Alyssa was traveling! - but here's my recap of last week's Good Wife.

Book Recommendation: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

This book was way different from practically anything I've ever read, and I don't say that lightly. And while there are probably books I love better, I can't recall being so gosh darn fascinated by one in recent memory. A friend of mine is very picky about books, but after many years of friendship I know her tastes, so she relies on me to tell her if she'll like things.* As I read this one, she kept asking if she should read it, and I kept saying "I don't know! I can't figure out if you'd like it! I can't even figure out what it IS!" I knew I liked it from the start, though, partially because I had no idea what was going on - but in a very controlled way. I wasn't confused because it was badly written, but rather the opposite: I was confused because Hodkin did such a masterful job of deliberately confusing me.

And I've just realized I haven't told you anything about the plot, so: Mara (not her real name) survives an accident in which her friends die, but she can't remember what happened. And she suspects there's more going on than everyone thinks, so (with the help of a really hot guy) she sets out to recover her memories and figure out what's going on. And that made it sound a million times more boring and normal than it is. I just can't find the words to describe how awesome and insane this book actually is, clearly. (An aside about the romance: I have seen reviewers complain that there was too much time devoted to the love story, and that some things about the relationship Set A Bad Example For The Dumb Impressionable Girls or whatever, and I just want to say that I disagree wholeheartedly with both of those objections, but alas, I can't say why without ruining a big part of the plot.) Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, I wound up telling my friend she should give this one a try. So should you. Really.

* No offense intended to any authors or books here: this has nothing to do with the quality of the books. It's kind of . . . idiosyncratic. For example, she has Demon Issues. And issues with anyone who reminds her of Fanny Price. ANYWAY.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Castle, "Demons:" Recap at TheTelevixen

I'm a bit behind on my Castle recaps - sorry! - but you can now read my recap of the episode called "Demons" over at TheTelevixen.

Book Recommendation: Lola & the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I liked Anna and the French Kiss a lot, but I love love LOVED Lola. It's quite possibly the best YA romance I've read . . . ever? I can't think of a better one offhand, anyway. I loved that Lola had her own interests and strong personality completely apart from any relationship. I loved that her family situation was complicated but the fact that she had two dads was the simplest, most normal thing about it. I loved that it wasn't about falling for her first boyfriend, that she spent a good chunk of the novel with the wrong guy. I loved that the fact that she was with the wrong guy made perfect sense and was completely in character, but it made even more sense for her to be with the right guy. I loved that Cricket was a geek and a little awkward. I loved that he was so obviously a good guy, in the moral sense of the word. I loved that he had his own family and personal problems, aside from the romance. I loved that the girl was more sexually experienced than the boy and it wasn't A Big Deal at all. I loved that Cricket and Lola had history but that it also made sense that they liked each other in the present. I loved that Anna and Etienne were around so much. I loved it ALL.

This week's TV news!

Hope everyone had a great holiday! There wasn't much news this week, but you can read what there is at my column at TheTelevixen. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gifts for History Nerds!

My friend Beck is publishing gift recommendations from a variety of her blogger friends, and I've chimed in today with Gifts for People Who Love History. Enjoy!

This week's TV news!

There was actually a LOT of it this week, including a bunch of updates about the networks' midseason schedules, so head on over to TheTelevixen and check it out.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Music Break: "Silver Bells" by She & Him

Pilot Thoughts: Grimm

I finally watched the Grimm pilot last night, and I was pleasantly surprised! I had heard very mixed things, but I really liked it a lot. I liked the traditional procedural structure with the added bonus supernatural elements, and the way it seems they're trying to balance a full case of the week with Nick's ongoing attempt to figure out his heritage and what's going on. Since I'm a procedural fan, I think that aspect - and the way it grounds the show - is what makes me more likely to tune in every week to this rather than something like Once Upon a Time. And, of course, that format automatically gives the show a way to continue for future seasons, which can be a hard thing for high-concept shows to figure out.

The Mouse Battery Mystery

I go through a fair number of batteries for my wireless mouse. That's to be expected. What I don't understand is the way I can never, ever find any spares and have to buy a new pack every time. Where do they go? It's not like I'm possibly buying AAA batteries two at a time. They must be somewhere. There must be several partial packs of AAA batteries in this apartment, but they're not on my desk, or with the other spare batteries, or anywhere else I can think of. It's baffling.

I will buy more batteries on the way home today. I will put them in the linen closet with the flashlights and other spare batteries. I am putting this out there so that next time I have this issue, one of you can perhaps remind me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tessa Dare Holiday Novella & Other Links for Book Lovers

Tessa Dare's Once Upon a Winter's Eve is now out! You can download the novella for Kindle (or Kindle app) for less than a dollar!

While you're at it, pick up this new YA anthology for $2.99 too.

This YA Paranormal Drinking Game is basically the best thing the Internet has ever produced.

The Cordial Enmity of Joan Didion and Pauline Kael

Awesome story: These moms wanted "boy books" as good as the American Girl books, so they went and found Valerie Tripp. As you do.

The YA ALA Readers' Choice Nominations

Hunger Games nail polish! I actually really like some of these.

A Rebecca Broadway show? Yes please!

Music Break: "Better Days" by The Goo Goo Dolls

Trailer: The Hunger Games

I will say up front that I was more positive than most fans about this from the start - partially because I love Jennifer Lawrence - but wow, this looks GOOD.

Movie Review: Immortals

Oh man, was this movie a mess. And my expectations were reasonably low (I thought) to start with. I wasn't expecting it to be faithful to the mythology, but I was hoping the plot would at least be internally consistent, but it wasn't. And while it was visually interesting in some places, all too often, it just looked SILLY. Even aside from the ridiculous headgear. And it just . . . it made no sense. When it ended, my friend and I agreed: We had expected it to be bad, but it was just BAFFLING.

It's barely even worth calling out specific issues, but I will mention the two that are bugging me the most:
1. Zeus - ZEUS! - has a whole speech about how the gods created humans with free will and have to respect that. Zeus! Of all people!
2. The accents were completely inconsistent, in confusing ways. If they had had everyone use one type of accent, fine. If they had let each actor use his native accent, fine. But Henry Cavill's and Joseph Morgan's characters were supposed to be from the same village, and they let Cavill use his British accent but made Morgan adopt an American one. Why? WHY?
So . . . yeah. I had sort of expected to be able to say "Don't watch this if you care about the mythology, but if you just want fun action, go ahead," but I'm not even sure of that, because so many of the action sequences looked so silly they just made us laugh. I don't regret seeing it, because any $7.50 spent in support of Joseph Morgan's career is $7.50 well spent, but I certainly can't say I recommend it.

The Good Wife: "Death Row Tip" - Recap at ThinkProgress!

Head over to Alyssa's blog for my recap of this week's episode, "Death Row Tip:"
In Alicia’s absence, Will’s main ally is Kalinda, which in turn calls into question Kalinda’s actual motivations in her escalating love triangle with Cary and Dana. Kalinda spends much of the episode flirting with Dana, and Cary is blatantly jealous, possibly of both of them. But after they have a close call when a suspect starts shooting, Cary and Kalinda finally kiss – and then he gives her a weird look and walks away. I suspect that Kalinda is actually letting herself feel things for once, but Cary has no reason to think she’s not playing him, so this turn of events should play interestingly into the investigation into Will.

Monday, November 14, 2011

This week's TV news!

Head on over for my weekly column at TheTelevixen. I especially enjoy the image I used this week.

Music Break: "I Saw Her Standing There" by The Beatles

SiriusXM Holiday Stations!

Whee! The first two SiriusXM holiday stations are live! Holiday Traditions is on 147 - that's full of Bing, Frank, Tony, and pals. And 17 is now Holly: a mix of contemporary and traditional, or what seems like that Mariah Carey song and "Christmas Wrapping" on a loop. (I tease because I love.) My favorite, Holiday Pops, doesn't start until December 2. You can see the whole holiday lineup here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Link Potpourri

Presidential Candidates Explained Through Dungeons & Dragons Character Sheets

I'm not necessarily convinced by this new approach to bullying, but it's an interesting read.

Remember that kitten an MP's wife stole from his mistress? It's okay!

Given the state of Italy at the moment, I guess it's not all that surprising that people are into Mussolini.

This profile of a woman who's been a principal in Brooklyn for 48 years is amazing.

Music Break: "Keep the Home-Fires Burning" by John McCormack

In honor of Veterans Day...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Music Break: Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, Movement 1

Trailer: Immortals

I'm not actually convinced that this looks good, but I'm also not sure I care. I some ways I like bad mythology movies better than good ones, and when a movie casts Henry Cavill AND Joseph Morgan, well, I'll forgive a lot. Immortals opens tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Punk Rock Criticism & Other TV Links

Ryan McGee calls for a punk rock movement in TV criticism.

Bones Finds a Brave Approach to Romantic Comedy and Motherhood

I love USA Network, but this parody article is pretty good.

Alyssa says everything necessary about Charlie Sheen so I feel comfortable continuing to ignore him. Thanks!

Music Break: "Bumble Boogie" by B. Bumble & the Stingers

Book Recommendation: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

I'd meant to try Kelley Armstrong for years, so I finally got the first of her young adult series, The Summoning, from the library. And I liked it quite a lot! It's about teenagers in a group home who are supposedly mentally ill but actually have supernatural abilities. The heroine, Chloe, is neither overly perfect nor overly self-deprecating, and I love that her well-meaning but distant father's reaction to her suddenly seeing ghosts is to assume that she needs treatment for some sort of mental illness. That seems extremely realistic, and it makes me happy when characters take a while to accept that there are supernatural things going on around them. The Summoning also features a pair of brothers who love each other more than anything, which is another of my favorite things. The ending is nicely twisty, and there's a cliffhanger but it's not a maddening one. (Though it definitely made me get the next book from the library ASAP!) It's a quick read, and the characters feel much more like real teenagers than supernatural teen characters often do. Give it a try!

The Good Wife, "Executive Order 13224" - Recap at ThinkProgress

Head over to Alyssa's blog for my recap of this week's Good Wife, in which everyone's poking bears.
Will is confronted by a reluctant Cary and an enthusiastic Dana, and though he more of less laughs at them for trying to intimidate him, he’s shaken enough to go confront Peter on the courthouse steps. I can’t quite decide how our metaphor of the week shakes out here: Peter is poking a bear by going after Will in the first place, but both men are very powerful, and Will is instigating in turn by taking things to a more personal level. Will tells Peter that he’s not buying new clean image, and insists that Peter’s still down in the mud with the rest of them. They then play an incredibly tense game of chicken as Will more or less dares Peter to accuse him of sleeping with Alicia, and I started hoping that they’d actually get into a fistfight, because wouldn’t it be great to watch Eli try to spin that? Alas, there are no fisticuffs or actual accusations regarding Alicia. They have to leave something for the midseason finale, I suppose.

Happy Election Day!

Whee! Don't forget to vote! I point this out only because I had practically forgotten about these elections until yesterday, when I hurried to ask a better-informed friend for information about the candidates. And apparently the mayor of my city is running for reelection unopposed. Huh.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Music Break: "Walk Don't Run" by The Ventures

This week's TV news!

Here's the November 6th edition of my Caffeine TV news column at TheTelevixen.

Book Trailer: Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken

I'll admit that I'm not necessarily the biggest fan of book trailers, usually - books have lovely words! Why are you getting pictures all in them? - but oh my goodness, I am SO excited about this book, and this is a very nice trailer!

PSA for Jamie Bamber Fans!

Jamie Bamber of Battlestar Galactica and Law & Order: UK will be guest-starring on tonight's episode of House. It will air on FOX at 9/8c. He's going to be on ABC's Body of Proof starting sometime later this month, as well.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

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

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.:
Hell on Wheels series premiere, AMC
An historical drama about the Trans-Continental Railroad sounds like exactly my sort of thing, but advance reviews are . . . not good. So. We'll see.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Link Potpourri

14 Punctuation Marks That You Never Knew Existed

Black-Market Babies: Broken Families in China, Confused Children in the U.S.

A vampiric Sleeping Beauty? Interesting.

Someone did a quadruple lutz!

Things that will kill you: insomnia and stress. So good luck sleeping while you're worrying about that tonight!

6 Things Twentysomethings Are Afraid Of

How to survive power outages

Music Break: "River" by Joni Mitchell

Burn Notice: "It's unsettling when you're that sincere!"

(Mild spoilers ahead! But mostly just character analysis.)

Burn Notice had a solid midseason premiere last night with "Damned If You Do," and it seems we now know what obsession will replace Michael's quest to find out who burned him: protecting Fiona. For this episode, at least, this also became his priority over saving the world or helping random people, and . . . I think I'm okay with that. It makes the calculus of Michael's decision-making more complex, and therefore makes the character more interesting.

In this show's moral universe, the ends usually justify the means. Michael may hurt people, but he generally thinks he's serving the greater good, even if he's not entirely convinced he himself is good. His constant need to save the world is all the more powerful given that, at least some of the time, he thinks he's a bad person, or at least brings bad things down upon anyone he cares about. Michael has a touch of Josh Lyman syndrome ("He goes through every day worried that somebody he likes is going to die and its going to be his fault. What do you think makes him walk so fast?") but with him, this tends to play out on a larger but more impersonal scale. Sure, saving random strangers (or countries) is great, but it's also a symptom of what Michael says about not letting himself care about individual people.

Now, though, he cares, and everyone knows it. When you move your ex-girlfriend into your apartment, you lose all plausible deniability, both to your mother and to the bad guys out to get either or both of you. He's doing bad things, things that will hurt people, because that's what's necessary to protect Fiona. (And Fiona, as she herself points out, is no damsel in distress, which makes this all the more compelling.) If he were on Vampire Diaries, this is when someone would tell him to be careful - his humanity is showing. And it makes him a much more interesting character. Michael saving the world? Done that. Michael damning the world to save the girl? That's something different.

The Vampire Diaries: Don't Hurt My Brother! + Why I Hate Shipper Wars

(Very mild spoilers through last night's episode...)

Last night's Vampire Diaries episode made the essential truth of the show all the more clear: It's all about family, and especially love between siblings. Some people seem surprised by the idea that Stefan's love for Damon might be stronger than his love for Elena, and to these people I can only say, "What the heck show have you been watching for two and a half years?" Last night brought us some great sibling moments between the Salvatores and between the Originals, and geez, Elena, go hug your brother! Um, anyway.

After that episode all about sibling love, I woke up to this post from YA author Cassie Clare about love triangles and women in fiction, and though her examples all reference her characters, a lot of what she says is applicable to fiction in general and TVD in particular. Here, she gets at my main issue with 'shipper wars:
I think character love is a wonderful thing — where would we all be without the fictional characters we adore? — but it needn’t require that the character you love be flawless and/or blameless. I actually think trying to lay blame in this situation is a mistake. When you have three people all of whom would die for each other, they wouldn’t thank you for taking their part if it meant cutting the other ones down to do it.
YES, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES. This is what gets me about Stefan or Damon fans hating the other one, or anyone hating Elena for her interactions with one or both of the boys. They all love each other. They trip over themselves to try to die for each other, on a regular basis. And yet fans feel so . . . what, defensive? insecure? . . . that they have to tear one or two members of the triangle down instead of recognizing that they are all complex characters who need and love each other.

And I wish the Elena haters would think about this too:
Why is Tessa seen as responsible for the boys’ feelings, and indeed, their actions? She can’t help what either boy feels for her, and isn’t responsible for their emotions. If she acts in a way intended to protect herself from harm, acts as if she deserves and wants love, acts as her heart tells her — acts in any way at all as long as she doesn’t maliciously intend either boy harm — and it hurts either of the boys, that isn’t Tessa’s fault.
And this is something I just think everyone who complains about female characters needs to ask themselves:
But next time you find yourself deciding that such and such female character is a bitch because her actions, even when reasonable or inadvertent, have caused a boy character pain, pause to consider if you’d feel the same way if she were the boy.
But whatever you do, don't mess with my brother.

Bones: "The Memories in the Shallow Grave"

At long last, Bones is back, with the much-anticipated new normal: Booth and Brennan are having a baby.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

World's Oldest Christmas Pudding & Other Holiday Links

This Christmas pudding went to the Boer War.

Amazon has over 100 holiday albums for $5 each.

Traveling by plane for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Read this.

More holiday advice: Surviving Family Interrogations About Your Love Life

Christmas Music Break: "I'll Be Home for Christmas," Beach Boys Version

I was trying to hold off for a while before switching to Christmas songs, but I can't help it. I think this is actually my favorite version of this song; their pure harmonies are just perfect for it.

Recipe: Rotel Tofu Scramble

I haven't been posting many recipes recently, so let's fix that! Now, a few notes on this one. First of all, please meet Rotel, or RO*TEL, to be precise. It's canned diced tomatoes with peppers and spices, and it's delicious. And a nice shortcut when you want to cook but it's 8 p.m. and you can't deal with chopping a lot of vegetables. Not that that ever happens to me. Ahem. Anyway, I had never heard of this until it started showing up in recipes from some Texan friends, but once I looked, I discovered that there are usually a few cans of it in the stores here. Sometimes it's with the other canned tomatoes and sometimes it's with the taco shells and stuff. Costco occasionally has it. Give it a try!

The second note is that the picture I'm giving you here is really bad. I forgot to take one last night, so this is a cell phone picture of the cold leftovers, in bad lighting. And this dish is nothing to look at in the first place. It's healthy and quick and easy and tastes really good, but it's not pretty. (Insert rant about food blogs making us think pretty food is best.) But I'm showing you anyway because people are wary of trying recipes without seeing a picture and because it shows you what the crumbled up tofu should look like. Okay. Onward!

Rotel Tofu Scramble

Rotel Tofu Scramble

about a tablespoon of cooking oil, maybe a little more (I used vegetable. Olive, peanut, whatever would work.)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 can Rotel (I used the original flavor.)
1 lb extra firm tofu, drained and pressed*

1. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet.
2. Add the onions and cook until they're translucent and cooked through but not quite caramelized.
3. Stir in the Rotel.
4. Crumble in the tofu - if you have any big chunks, it's easy enough to cut them up with your wooden spoon as you go.
5. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until everything's hot and just starting to brown a little bit. Ten minutes? Maybe? I forgot to time. I know that's unhelpful. But it's not like anything here will hurt you if it's undercooked. The extra water from the tomatoes should cook off and the tomatoes should taste "done," basically.
6. Serve with some sort of rice. I made rice pilaf last night, and that was a good combination, but brown rice or whatever you happen to have around would work just fine! Enjoy!

* In case you haven't made tofu before, here's a quick way to get it pressed well enough: before you start cooking the onions, slit the tofu package and drain out the excess water. Then open it up and plop the block of tofu on a plate between several layers of paper towels. Press down on it - don't worry about the tofu breaking up a little, because you're going to be doing that anyway. Let it sit and drain into the paper towels until it's time to add it.

Why I Watch Procedurals

Over at Slate, June Thomas recently wrote about the way that a lot of the newer procedurals use gimmicks that mean the audience can't really play along with the mystery. (Alyssa Rosenberg responded here.) I corresponded with June about this a bit as she was working on the piece, and then figured I might as well share my view on things. An edited version of my emails to her is below.

I don't think any of the American procedurals I watch are up to the traditional fair play standards of mysteries, so these new examples seem like a greater degree of an existing issue rather than a new thing. The Mentalist and Psych both have the super-observant fake psychics pulling things out of thin air, Bones has surprise scientific breakthroughs that the viewer couldn't possibly predict, etc. I'm not sure it's possible to give a sufficient number of clues in the one-hour television format. I do prefer when they try, of course. (For background, I've been a big fan of mystery novels since way before I started watching TV, and it DOES drive me crazy when they don't give the reader enough clues.)

Unforgettable IS particularly egregious about this, as you say, but I think the mysteries don't have a lot to do with why I like it. It hits a few emotional notes for me, including the memory thing - my memory is nothing like hers, but is abnormally good enough that I've run into similar interpersonal issues because of it. More generally, though, I think I like these shows because I like watching smart people work together to make the world a little bit of a better place. I care more about solid character development than about the particulars of the mysteries themselves.

There are some shows - The Good Wife, The Vampire Diaries - that I watch very closely and spend a lot of time thinking and writing and talking about, but I like having a few procedurals as brain candy for when I'm multitasking or just tired. I use The Mentalist and Body of Proof and now Unforgettable for this purpose - characters I like but am not overly invested in doing vaguely interesting things and being clever for an hour. So it's more about which characters I want to spend time with than the actual mysteries. (My impression is that I use procedurals the way a lot of people use sitcoms - I've just always been less of a comedy fan.)

So, to sum up: I agree that Unforgettable is cheating, and would rather it didn't, but so far I like the show in spite of that because trying to solve the mystery isn't the main thing I get out of watching it.

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

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.)

9 p.m.:
Bones season 7 premiere, FOX
Wheee! Booth and Bones are finally together! They're going to have a baby! This could either be really fun or completely horrid! But I'm hoping for really fun! We'll see!

10 p.m.:
Burn Notice season 5 midseason premiere, USA
Another favorite! Back on the same night! Can you tell I'm pretty excited about tonight?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Names for Unwanted Girls & Other Gender Issues Links

Can you imagine being named "Unwanted"? These girls got to rename themselves, thank goodness.

Gender Equality in Quidditch (No, really.)

Good news: Judge says North Carolina can't force women to view ultrasound before abortion.

Women's rights in Saudi Arabia are taking a slight step forward - through literary clubs.

The Atlantic has a slideshow of Pakistani women living in a shelter to escape the risk of "honor killings."

What would Mary Sue do?

Music Break: "Ariel" by October Project

This Bones music video is just adorable.

Bones comes back tomorrow, and their promotional department has been going all out. It seems like the people who make these videos are really having fun embracing their inner 'shippers, now that they finally can. It's all pretty cute.

Are you looking forward to this season, or are you afraid of how the drastic changes will affect the show you've watched for years?

Why I Didn't Like Google Reader's Sharing Functions

Google Reader unveiled a redesign this week, and a lot of people are up in arms about the fact that they got rid of Reader's sharing features. I'm sorry that people have lost a tool they liked, of course, but I'm mostly shocked to discover that people liked it so much. When Google Reader first introduced the features, I tried them for a while, but quickly stopped using them regularly because I didn't like how narrow and randomly exclusive they were. I don't mean that they were designed to be exclusive, necessarily, but more that they wound up that way because so few people used them. There is virtually never a link that I want to share specifically with the tiny subset of my friends and contacts who use Google Reader. If I want to share a link in general, I'll tweet and/or blog it; if I want someone specific to see it, I'll email or IM. If I care enough about a link to share it publicly, I don't want it restricted to people who happen to use one specific site or tool. (This is the same reason why I find the Blogger "follow" button ridiculous.) I know not everyone will look at my blog or Twitter feed, but at least they're completely open to anyone who goes to a certain URL, with no login or friending required.

(As I was writing that, I remembered that I did, for a while, use the Reader Share widget to have links in the sidebar on my old blog, but I stopped that too, for a different issue of narrow exclusivity - I got annoyed that it was hard to put in links I found from other sources. My link posts are usually a mix of links I've come across on Reader, on Twitter, and in random other places, and I like being able to integrate them without having to think about the source.)

Starbucks Red Cups & Holiday Drinks Are Back!

Their site hasn't been updated yet, but yesterday Starbucks sent out an email confirming that it is in fact the most wonderful time of the year - red cups and holiday drinks have returned! Wheee! Once again, they have Peppermint Mochas, Gingerbread Lattes, and Eggnog Lattes, and this year they've added a Skinny Peppermint Mocha. The Skinny Vanilla Latte is my default, so I have high hopes for this new drink. I'll try one this afternoon and report back tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Much Ado about Joss & Other Movie Links

What if Joss Whedon secretly got a bunch of your favorite actors to film a Shakespearean adaptation at his house? Yeah, that happened. (And now there's another movie, too> Does the man ever sleep?)

Finally! A darker-skinneed Heathcliff.

Get excited: Magic Mike, a.k.a. "the Matt Bomer stripper movie," is coming out June 29.

Moby Dick in space? I have no idea what to make of that.

A retrospective of film versions of Elizabeth I

Here's a new set of Hunger Games posters to excite/enrage you.

Music Break: "November" by The Wilderness of Manitoba

The Good Wife, "Affairs of State" - Recap at ThinkProgress

Head over to Alyssa Rosenberg's blog for my recap/review of Sunday's episode of The Good Wife.
By this point, I think Will is pretty aware of his own feelings, but does Alicia really know what she wants? If she honestly just wants a temporary rebound relationship, using someone who has loved her for years just seems cruel. But if she’s saying she wants to keep things casual because she thinks that’s what she should want or what Will wants, then there’s an even better chance of all of this exploding in someone’s face – probably Peter’s, once the next campaign gets going, and Alicia’s own, if she’s actually considering that political career Eli suggested.

Book Recommendation: The Cut by George Pelecanos

I'd somehow never read anything by George Pelecanos, though I'd always heard he was good, so when I read that he was starting a new series with The Cut, I figured I'd give it a try. And I'm hooked. Pelecanos's new hero is Spero Lucas, a military vet turned freelance investigator who specializes in finding lost things. He reads and kayaks and mourns his father and worries about his mother and casually kills people when necessary, and he's one of the most interesting and multi-dimensional characters I've come across in quite some time. The mystery plotting is tight and the language is descriptive but spare. It takes place in the DC area, and while I don't know enough to say whether it's realistic, it certainly has a strong sense of place. This is the sort of book that made me want to go back and read all of the author's previous work. Highly recommended for mystery fans who like their books to be hard-boiled but still character-driven.

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

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.:
Covert Affairs season 2.5 premiere, USA
This isn't my favorite USA show, but it's fun.