Friday, October 24, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/24/14)

Happy Friday!

Austen fans, make sure you don't miss Death Comes to Pemberley starting on PBS this weekend. I have a lot of feelings about Matthew Rhys as annoyed!Darcy.

And here's a hilarious Pride and Prejudice refresher to go with it.

Look, footage from Into the Woods with people actually singing! I remain blithely optimistic, and fairly sure that just Chris Pine singing "Agony" will be worth the price of admission anyway.

YAY: Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski have been promoted to lead figure skating broadcast team for NBC for the 2018 Olympics.

Here's a trailer for the Hallmarkiest Hallmark movie ever. Christmas! Kittens! Hot firefighters! Brandon Routh!

15 Awesome Bookish Jack O’Lanterns

Fascinating: How the Met hangs tapestries

Hee: The organic genderless gingerbread debate

"I’m sure they’re not even aware of the latest technology in the mason jar pinterest scene."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/22/14)

Me elsewhere: Thoughts on this week's Sleepy Hollow.

Ben Bradlee has died at 93.

Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta has also passed away, and Go Fug Yourself has a great retrospective.

And in even more death news (sorry), I'm very curious to see what happens with the Duke of Marlborough's estate.

In case you were concerned, the Hallmark Channel has named an official commissioner of the Feline Football League.

Taylor Swift Just Went to No. 1 on iTunes Canada With Eight Seconds of Static

Interesting: What we get wrong about Lord Elgin

Your day could probably use these pictures of Prince Harry.

Hee: Songs From A Decemberists Album Where Nobody Gets Murdered

Friday, October 17, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/17/14)

Happy Friday!

So many things I love: Taylor Swift. Diet Coke. KITTENS.

If this Derek Jeter sweater were sold in knitting pattern form, I would probably buy it. Not sure I would ever get around to knitting it, but I would totally buy the pattern.

I am obsessed with these Christmas village sheets from Pottery Barn, even though a) I fear they would be too distracting to actually sleep on and b) I really don't need to pay $129 for Christmas sheets.

Princess Anne is semi-secretly really awesome.

Ooh: Crime writer Agatha Christies's lost diamonds to be auctioned

I've realized that when I think "tiara," Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik is the one I automatically picture.

Online quizzes usually have lots of questions that make me think "I don't like ANY of those answers" or "Why does everything ask about Beyonce?? I HAVE NO ANSWER." So I was super impressed with this one, because it seemed very thoughtful or maybe I just liked the questions better: Who is your TV vampire soulmate?

I just enjoy this headline: Japanese zoo fails to breed two hyenas after both turned out to be male

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/16/14)

Me elsewhere: Pilot post on Marry Me, which I hated.

All of Friends is coming to Netflix streaming on January 1st!

Here are the finalists for the National Book Award. Obviously my plan to read a bunch and blog about it didn't exactly go according to . . . plan . . . but I'm still hoping to get a few in.

HBO will offer standalone streaming sometime next year, but we don't know the details yet.

Yesterday was Baby Loss Day and my friend Miryam posted a powerful essay.

This obituary of David Greenglass was fascinating.

Christmas creep, explained: Do early holiday sales really help stores?

Interesting: Headscarf ban turns France’s Muslim women towards homeworking

The Onion: Facebook Offers to Freeze Female Employee's Newborn Children

Monday, October 13, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/13/14)

Me elsewhere: weekly TV news; pilot posts on Cristela and The Affair; thoughts on last week's Bones and Haven.

Sad news: author Zilpha Keatley Snyder has died.

The main thing that surprised me about this study is how late everyone apparently goes to bed.

When it is diversity that needs to be justified

Reza Aslan is always worth reading: Bill Maher Isn’t the Only One Who Misunderstands Religion

A fascinating read about Microsoft: The Empire Reboots

I agree that hug culture is out of control.

Apparently Danica Patrick is writing for Derek Jeter's The Players' Tribune, and her first piece is interesting and thoughtful.

The funniest thing I have ever read: Commenting Comment: A Magazine Dedicated to Internet Comments

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What I Read: September 2014

(Sorry this is a little late. Reviewing all the new TV shows is eating my brain.)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: I read this partially because of Frankenstein M.D., and it made me very worried about what's going to happen on the show. But anyway. This was very good, which I expected, but also very different from what I expected, somehow. It's clearly an essential book in a history-of-literature contextual way, but it was also an entertaining and surprisingly quick read. Give it a try, if you haven't!

Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #3): This was a strong entry in the series, with a mystery that spanned generations and yet all tied together in a satisfying way. Clare is a compelling, complex main character, and her relationship with Russ is developing in an interesting and somewhat unexpected - if excruciatingly slow - way.

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery (Emily Byrd Starr #1): An old favorite, reread this month for book club. Still love it!

Conversion by Katherine Howe: This one enthralled me from the start, with its combination of an historical Salem witch trials story and a contemporary mystery involving an outbreak of what seems like hysteria at a girls' prep school. I was slightly surprised to find that I liked the modern sections better - the historical chapters were fine, but I was always eager to get back to the modern story, and I think that's mainly because this was one of the most realistic-feeling portrayals of high school that I've read recently. I was also extremely impressed by both the book's fluency with social media - I don't think I've ever seen the term "subtweet" casually used in a novel before - and its depiction of a New England winter; it got the constant on-and-off of boots and coats exactly right.

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black (Magisterium #1): First of a very promising new series. Compelling, diverse characters, interesting magic system, and plenty of plot twists. Plus boarding school! I love boarding school books. Can't wait for the next one.

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy #3): A perfect end to the trilogy. Hilarious, heartbreaking, swoony. I already can't wait to reread them all. I don't want to say anything specific and risk spoiling the earlier books, because I want you all to read them. Start with Unspoken.

(Disclaimer: I know Sarah Rees Brennan, Holly Black, and Cassandra Clare. All books this month were either purchases or from the library.)

Morning Coffee (10/9/14)

Me elsewhere: Pilot post on The Flash.

An important read about women, the Internet, and harassment: Trouble at the Koolaid Point

And author Sarah Rees Brennan has some good and somewhat related thoughts about women taking credit for their work.

The culture wars are back, and this time, everyone can win

God knows I like data, but the Cancellation Bear is terrible, and make sure you read this for the amazing last line from Todd VanDerWerff.

Librarians won’t stay quiet about government surveillance

“A Woman Too Soon”: Rilla of Ingleside and World War I

I love this kind of thing, that just shows how people live: Student life in Russia – in pictures

Heh: Man Infected with Ebola Misinformation Through Casual Contact With Cable News

Friday, October 3, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/3/14)

Happy Friday!

More of my new show reviews: Happyland (cute!), A to Z (very good with one big caveat), Stalker (NO NO NO DO NOT WATCH).

I have never seen Murder, She Wrote, but this makes me want to watch it all.

Likewise, I don't have a waffle iron, but these latke waffles make me want to get one.

This is quite the combination of things I like: The creator of Foyle's War is writing a new authorized James Bond novel about Formula One.

They found a lost Sherlock Holmes film!

Would an excerpt from a Christmas historical romance by a writer I like improve your Friday? Of course it would.

Have they discovered "Dracula's Dungeon"?

This was a great read: Who Killed Bugsy Siegel?

The Reclusive, Doll-Collecting Copper Queen of Fifth Avenue

Secret societies are fascinating, even ones that sound terrible.

what if a duck was sad
i don’t know
what if a pine tree were lonely

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Vampire Legal Issues, Season Five: The Mystic Falls Exists in a Legal Black Hole Edition

NOTE FROM KATE: From time to time, I make/let my friend Christine, who is a real life lawyer, go on about vampires and the law. Season six starts tonight, so let's legally recap season five!

Vampire Legal Issues, Season Five: The Mystic Falls Exists in a Legal Black Hole Edition

So Season Five was a season of The Vampire Diaries that was on TV! I have to be honest, it wasn’t my favorite season (too many villains, too many doppelgangers). But there were legal issues! These are kind of picked at random from what I remember and some recaps I skimmed over the summer, so this isn’t at all comprehensive but is rather a table of light refreshments, if by “refreshments” you mean “1,500 words of Christine complaining about the imaginary undead.”

I Guess It Depends on What You Mean By the Word “Move”

In the finale, the Travelers decide to change the boundaries of Mystic Falls by MOVING THE SIGN. Oh, says Markos, “we’ve reset the official boundary of Mystic Falls” so that it’s the same as the boundary of the spell. Um, no you haven’t. Have you EVER worked with a planning board? THAT WOULD TAKE YEARS. I suppose the Travelers could have inhabited the Mystic Falls planning board, but what about the other towns’ boards? Mystic Falls certainly ACTS like it exists in a vacuum, but surely it has bordering towns. So sorry, Markos, no dice. You did nothing to the official boundary, and you're going to have a dickens of a time sorting out your tax base.

Clearly Markos is not a details man and has just had his minions mark his desired boundary by moving the sign. This is obviously an excellent plan, because all you have to do to make a new town is mark the boundary in some way- signs, a chalk line, breadcrumbs- and it will WORK and no other towns will be annoyed or even notice (though I suppose if Mystic Falls’s neighbors were going to be annoyed they’d have popped up by now, and on second thought maybe vampires have killed most of central Virginia).

Also, if they did the spell to extend to the boundaries of Mystic Falls, how does that work? Does MAGIC just KNOW what the boundaries are, or do they have to do something like, “[magic talky-talk] and this extends to the boundaries of Mystic Falls as recorded in Book 2, Page 2894, Mystic Falls County Registry of Deeds”? Hee. I’d love to see them translate THAT into whatever the hell language they’re babbling.

You Think Coming Back From the Dead is Complicated for Our Beloved Characters? What about for their LAWYERS?

I feel really bad for the lawyers of Mystic Falls, because the precedent on people coming back to life after their estates have been probated is pretty light. I mean, YOU try to draft an estate plan for someone who could come back from the dead over a year after they died. It’s happening ALL OVER!  Assuming that your client will stay dead is basically malpractice at this point and there are probably no sample wills that contemplate that situation. Someone go to the boardinghouse and give the lawyers all of Damon’s bourbon.

LAWYER: *Sits in office, reconciling client trust accounts and wondering why she didn’t become a marine biologist.*
PHONE: *rings*
ELENA: Hi, this is Elena Gil-
LAWYER: *opens office supplies cabinet, takes out bourbon*
ELENA: -bert, and Alaric has come back to life. Can he have all his stuff back?

Seriously: when someone dies, their estate has to go through a process called probate- that is, the court-supervised process of re-titling assets in the name of the deceased person’s beneficiaries. (This can also be done by trust, but let’s not complicate issues.) So Alaric dies, or Bonnie (and her dad!), and hypothetically their heirs should be probating their estates- you know, selling the house, getting rid of furniture, changing the names on their bank accounts. That stuff wouldn’t belong to the dead person anymore, because there’s no dead hand control in property law. DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T OWN THINGS. (See: all my former Vampire Legal Issues columns, in which I complain about this at length.)

But what happens when the dead COME BACK? Do their heirs just give their stuff back voluntarily? Even if they did, surely at some point all that re-gifting would trigger the gift tax.
Anyway, the closest situation I could think of was people who have been presumed dead (sailors who disappeared at sea, prisoners taken captive and never heard from again). However, in Virginia you have to be missing for seven consecutive years (cite) to be presumed dead, and I have no idea what TVD's timeline is but it hasn't been that long since any of these people died.

I looked for cases of people returning from the dead and wanting their stuff back, but had a hard time finding anything really relevant (especially with a search limited to Virginia). There is, of course, The Return of Martin Guerre (and Sommersby!), but that’s more identity theft than a return from the dead. Of course, people are kidnapped or run away and return, but I didn’t find anything recent involving someone who had a lot of assets; in those cases, people can go to court to be declared alive again, but I didn’t find anything about the property complications, and presumably many of them had no property. There is Guillaume le Gentil, an 18th-century French scientist who was gone so long in his attempt to chart eclipses that, when he returned to France eleven years after leaving, his family had had him declared dead, his wife had remarried, and all his property had been claimed by others. It took tons of litigation and even the king to restore him, and I have doubt he was completely made whole.

The problem with all of those situations is that there was never a body, as there has been on TVD. So honestly, I have no idea how that would play out because I have never heard of a single case of actual resurrection (er, barring the religious). My best guess is that there would a LOT of litigation. Or, you know, that Damon would take care of it in some non-legal way. (I know he’s dead but whatever, we all know he’s coming back.)


Yay Alaric! He’s charming and also has been dead long enough for his estate to be probated. Didn’t he at one point give Elena the numbers for all his accounts and contact information for his family? Is his family dead? Who did he leave his property to? Does Elena just keep the loft for storage purposes? Did he own or rent the loft? What’s he living on now? Did someone save his license and passport or does he need new ones? Can you IMAGINE the paperwork?

Who the F*&$ Even Owns Those Houses Now?

I suppose this question is academic, since the gang can’t go back to Mystic Falls right now, but who owns the Salvatore house NOW? Did Damon have a will? Does Elena still own it?  Who’s managing his investments? (You KNOW he has some.) Matt invites Katherine into the Lockwood House! So he still owns it, then? I wonder if Tyler will want it back now that he’s human.

Man, the chains of title on these places must be INSANE.
Aaron Whitmore, Beneficiary of All the Trusts, Apparently

Remember Aaron Whitmore? Blond, Elena seemed to like him until her boyfriend killed him and she shrugged it off? What was his deal?
His guardian, Wes, ran the Augustine Society (which: vampires seriously couldn't escape some rural doctors? really??) and Aaron, once he finds out, pulls the funding by saying this spectacularly opaque thing: “My family’s trust came through.” Um, did it? What the hell does that mean? Was he going to get control over the trust at, say, 21, and he just happened to turn 21 in time to cut off Augustine’s funding? Was the Whitmore family PERSONALLY funding Augustine, or was it through the college? SURELY Aaron must have had a personal trust, entirely separate from the college’s funding.

I suppose that Aaron could have had Wes removed as trustee, but that process would depend on the terms of the trust. Perhaps he went to probate court, but I’d like to see him explaining that Wes was mismanaging the funds by spending money on vampire experimentation. Ha!

Furthermore, was Aaron living off the same money that funded Augustine? How does Whitmore College work? Did Aaron just own it, or did he control its funding? It was all very confusing. Anyway, I hope there was a residual beneficiary for that trust (trusts?)! It would be SUCH a shame for it to escheat to the state.

So that’s it for now. Season 6 starts tonight and I’m quite sure I’ll be back soon with more irrelevant questions about the legal arrangements of the imaginary undead. Find me on Twitter @twtrlessfriend or on my new blog, Reign of Terrible, where complain about TV, share history links, and generally babble.


Morning Coffee (10/2/14)

Me elsewhere: Manhattan Love Story is terrible. Don't bother.

A British troll was just jailed for his tweets. Here’s why that will (probably!) never happen in the U.S.

This review of A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide is worth a read.

The Difference Between Lena Dunham and Aziz Ansari’s Million-Dollar Book Deals

“He didn’t care if he destroyed himself as long as he hurt you”: The sad, disturbing case of Ed Champion

Frequent PM biographer Anthony Seldon takes a first look at David Cameron.

Here's Derek Jeter's new site.

The Toast's Recipe for Bootstrapping a Profitable Media Business

I am inclining more and more toward this point of view: Free Yourselves from the Shackles of Spoilers!

The Importance of Music to Girls

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/1/14)

Happy October!

Me elsewhere: The Karen Gillan/John Cho vehicle Selfie could be good if it ditches its entire premise; a review of this week's Sleepy Hollow.

Whoa: FCC will consider punishing broadcasters for saying 'Redskins'

Sigh: NFL penalizes Muslim player for praying; league says it was wrong

The Toast is hiring Roxane Gay to head up a sister site, The Butter!

‘Twilight’ Will Be Revived via Short Films on Facebook - but perhaps most importantly, they'll be made by aspiring female directors. I know a lot of people are scoffing at more Twilight, but I think it's wonderful that Stephenie Meyer is using her power and platform to help other women in a male-dominated industry.

Sports journalism doesn’t need a girl’s league

Some possibly good publishing news: Someone bought Angry Robot and says he will keep it publishing, save everyone's jobs, etc.

Someone stole an uninsured Degas in Cyprus.

My lawyer friend Christine nitpicks How to Get Away with Murder for you.

Remember the kid who wanted his cat in his yearbook picture? Now his principal (and her dog) are in on it.