jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
The 9-to-5 gig is going well and turns out to involve some opportunity to practice information architecture as well as content strategy, yay! But it limits my time on social media, so I thought I'd catch you all up on what I've been watching and reading.

Based on Connie Willis' recommendations in the prologue to The Winds of Marble Arch, I've started reading the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. They're lovely, although clearly meant to be savored, rather than my usual breathless page-turning. I'm going to try the audiobook of Gaudy Night to see if that slows me down appropriately.

I recently started watching "The Librarians" again (having bailed on the first season), and decided it was worth showing to the kids. They love it. N is old enough to get a bunch of the jokes. K mostly likes watching with us, although she gets scared about the monsters sometimes. The writers have been giving Jacob some great lines lately. Paraphrased from And the Infernal Contract:

"Get ready for chupacabra jerky!"
"Ew, you're cooking him?"
"No, he's makin' it! He's awesome!"

And the classic moment (in "And the Image of Image") where two guys can't get a the nightclub, so the burly one's going to cause a distraction while the slender one sneaks in. But the fight that Jacob starts with the bouncer is a literature throw-down.

"Name me one poet or writer who can measure up to the best of Britain."
"You want 'em alphabetically or by century? -- tell you what, we'll just start with the twentieth. E. E. Cummings. Allen Ginsberg. You got William Carlos Williams, that’s a good one. I mean, you got Lowell, Sandburg, Plath, Frost, Sexton. And, if you will, my personal favorite, Raymond Carver."

So far the one "Librarians" episode I didn't care for was the rip-off of "Live Die Repeat" (originally released in theaters as "Edge of Tomorrow"). I like Ezekiel and Eve, but they're no Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Actually, Rebecca Romijin is pretty great in action movies, so she could substitute for Emily Blunt, but not in this role.

I watched one of the classic movies I got for Xmas: "The Bachelor Mother", with David Niven (who reminds me of Tom Hiddleston for some reason), and Ginger Rogers. It was wonderful. Sometimes these screwball comedies trip some kind of lever for me, and my brain rebels against all the stupid misunderstandings. But this one was perfect, I think because the Ginger Rogers character is also rebelling against the stupidity. And it's set around Christmas and New Year's.

A few weeks back, I had less fun watching "Jupiter Ascending", which I thought would be great fun based on the enthusiastic review of [livejournal.com profile] jimhines. I got about halfway through and was enjoying it a lot (I mean, how can you not love a werewolf with flying skates?). And then I suddenly realized the character we were watching was Elena fucking Gilbert, just in a different setting. I think Kunis is adorable, but I was just done at that point.

I've given up on "Gotham". The Man showed me about half of the first season. It has exciting plot twists. Everything with Alfred is great. Young Selina Kyle is annoying, but they did an amazing job of finding a tween who looks just like Michelle Pfeiffer. But the thing I can't get past is that Gotham is a bad place where everything is doomed to turn to shit.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
After I commented on the new Muppet Show unfavorably, a friend offered to send me the DVDs she had of the original show. We watched two episodes from the first season and some pieces of another, and it was kind of a shock. To be clear, I've re-watched childhood favorites before. I have all the episodes of the "Dungeons and Dragons" TV show on DVD, and they are bad. They're not fundamentally different from what I remember: it's just that when I was a kid, I didn't notice the poor plot, dialog, and animation. But my kids enjoy them, and it's nice to be able to share them with the next generation of nerds. Anyway, seeing the old Muppet Show was a different kind of experience. Time is short, so I'll just quote from the email I sent to the friend:

By the way, the Muppets discs arrived and we watched 2.5 episodes from the first season. Oh my god. They really were just as bad as the new one, or maybe even worse. It's fascinating: we watch a lot of Disney and Pixar movies, and those generally have multiple levels of story, depending on your age/level of sophistication. But the Muppet Show is schizophrenic. I can see how I remember it so differently. For kids, it's funny and lighthearted. Miss Piggy is karate chopping someone! Candice Bergen is breaking everything in a cabin! Ha ha! For adults, it's creepy stuff: some muppet body-shaming Miss Piggy and some other muppet singing a sexist song to Candice Bergen. The truly funny bits were the "dad jokes" in between skits, like some of Fozzy's lines and the quips in the ballroom dancing. But the skits were all like, "Why would someone choose *that* as the subject?" They ranged from strange and off-putting, to unfunny and off-putting.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Long time, no update. So of course, I am going to blather about TV shows. A lot of stuff has been piling up on the DVR, thanks in part to the new(ish) job, and also to the week in Disneyworld. It's interesting how things separate into three tiers:

  1. "OMG it's recording right now, let's watch it tonight!":

    • "Elementary"

    • "Major Crimes"

    • "Supernatural"

    • "Madam Secretary"

    • "Person of Interest" (which right now is on a streak of introducing a new female kick-ass character every week, which is a not-terrible way of responding to Sarah Shahi getting pregnant -- are you taking notes, Joss Whedon?)*

  2. "We'll watch it when we get around to it":

    • "Vampire Diaries" (lost its luster when we realized Elena will always be a victim, and there just hasn't been enough Caroline airtime to make up for that)

    • "Agents of SHIELD" (the writers' room needs a stronger brand of coffee)

    • "Covert Affairs"

    • "Forever" (watching only because of chemistry between Ioan Gruffud and Judd Hirsch)

  3. "We're deliberately letting this pile up so we can binge-watch it":
    • "The Originals"

Then there were a couple shows we let pile up and eventually gave up on, and deleted all the episodes. We gave up on watching "Sleepy Hollow" after reading [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine's increasingly trainwreck reviews. I will miss the man-out-of-time moments with Ichabod, but that's all. And we weren't big fans of where "The Mentalist" had been going lately, and once we read that two main characters were getting married, we looked at each other and said, "Time to delete."

*: Actually, every first-tier show seems to specialize in kick-ass female charactes with the exception of "Supernatural", which has had a few as recurring guest stars but is, at its heart, all about the bros.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Fall has arrived and with it the new TV season. The Man and I have picked up some new shows (and dropped one already):

  • "Constantine" -- Loving Matt Ryan in it; he seems perfect. I like how episode 2 introduced an artist, so we have an excuse to look at drawings of Constantine. Not loving how they have him and the artist stand super-close to each other, I guess for some false suspense about "Will they kiss?" (It's a bit like the emotional looks Abbie and Ichabod give each other on "Sleepy Hollow".)

  • "Scorpion" -- We dropped it after 3 episodes. Though the first episode was fun, the second one got on my last nerve (in addition to being a computer genius, Walter was also able to read gene sequences at a glance and know what they code for -- AAAGGGGH), and the third was just too little butter spread over too much bread.

  • "Forever" -- This mash-up of (1) "Elementary"/"Sherlock" (British guy who is incredibly perceptive) with (2) "Castle" (female cop with fashion-model looks is paired with a non-cop male partner) and (3) "Sleepy Hollow" (British man out of time tries to navigate modern society) seems likely to be cancelled. Which is a shame only because Ioan Gruffudd's charisma carries the show so well.

  • "Madam Secretary" -- I'm liking Téa Leoni in this role, better than Geena Davis or Sigourney Weaver (in previous iterations of floating the trial balloon). It's actually not just a trial-balloon show; I'm pretty sure it's also lifestyle porn for women who wish they could have a powerful career and a spouse with Jim Caviezel-type looks who is completely supportive and unthreatened by it (but manly, hence we have him doing a joint lock on a belligerent drunk in one episode and storming into a church full of righteous outrage in another). Plus beautiful house and kids, of course.

Also, we saw "John Wick" recently, and it was great fun. I felt like that movie should send notes to "Taken" on how a revenge flick should be done. Fun action scenes, great sets, non-crazy cinematography. My only nitpick would be that as I am now old and have never had great vision, I would prefer bright lighting. But I get that dark is probably de rigeur when you have a character known as Baba Yaga.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Having posted before about how awesome "Elementary" is and how the writers have excelled at writing strong female characters, I feel like I should really say something about series 3 of "Sherlock". Because this is where the writers, Moffat and Gatiss, learn how to do it too. The first episode of series 3 was weak for all the reasons [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine described in her writeup for the A.V. Club. The one thing I did like about "The Empty Hearse" (ep 1) is that when Mary Morstan, John Watson's fiancee, meets Sherlock, she does not have the reaction of Mary in the Downey Jr. movies. She *likes* him. And she sees Sherlock as being good for Watson, aside from the pretending to be dead part. I am so tired of the wife-as-wet-blanket dynamic.

So anyway, episode 1, not so great. But then in episode 2, "The Sign of Three," we get some great payoff. The Man and I were flinching through most of it and actually started covering our eyes during a particularly embarrassing moment, but by the end, Sherlock finally makes up for the crap he put Watson through. And we get a great throw-away line from Mary: "Sherlock, I'm not John. I can tell when you're lying." And she continues to support Sherlock and Watson's relationship.

I want to avoid saying much about episode 3, "His Last Vow," so I don't spoil it for those who haven't seen it. But wow, is Mary a powerful character. I like to imagine that the British writer, Moffat and Gatiss, have been hearing about the other Sherlock series, and thinking about how they can one-up the Yanks. "His Last Vow" was my favorite episode of the BBC show so far. Well done, Moffat and Gatiss.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I agree with this person who I don't know: I'm particularly enjoying the show with the two leads who are a tall, thin British guy and a short, somewhat sardonic woman of color. "Sleepy Hollow" is fun, especially the man-out-of-time bits ("A 10% levy on baked goods? How are people not rioting in the streets?" not to mention the entire conversation with the Onstar lady). And my regard for "Elementary" continues to go up -- no sophomore slump for that show. Continuing in the vein of strong female characters, I'm liking "Person of Interest" this season. The two newest female characters are both crazy, but the show opened with the main character living on the streets and Finch is only well-adjusted for someone who's spent his entire life hiding from the government.

Looking forward to "Almost Human" starting, since I liked Michael Ealy so much on the short-lived "Common Law" series. The writing seems like it's going to be funny, and Karl Urban continues to be a chameleon.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
It appears that some folks agree with me about Elementary being now the superior show:

jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
TL;DR version: If you're not already watching Elementary on CBS, you should probably start. Because feminism. Also, stuff about Star Trek: Into Darkness.

I've been wanting to write something about the display of women's bodies. Most recently, this has come up for me in media when we saw Star Trek: Into Darkness. As you know from the trailer, there is a cheesecake shot of Dr. Carol Marcus in her underwear, and you probably know that J.J. Abrams (director) and Damon Lindelof (writer) have taken some heat over it. (There's some great coverage of the issue -- no pun intended -- on The Mary Sue.) I also recently watched the season finale of Elementary, the CBS series about Sherlock Holmes. Up until then, I had preferred Sherlock, the BBC series. But Elementary is now the superior show, and I will try to tell you why without spoilers.

I will probably spoil Sherlock for you if you haven't already seen the 2012 episode, "A Scandal in Belgravia." I will try not to spoil Star Trek: Into Darkness. [ETA: Now, with a cut tag that actually works! Sticking to HTML mode editor from now on!]
Read more... )
jinasphinx: (Default)
"Elementary" looks promising. I love the BBC show "Sherlock" so much that I was prepared to hate this one as yet another clueless American rip-off where they get the style right but have no substance (lookin' at you, movies with Robert Downey Jr.). But the first episode of "Elementary" was quite good. [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine has great commentary about how Lucy Liu's character makes the show work, and I agree. I used to hate Lucy Liu when she was stuck playing the Bitchy Asian, but then she escaped Ally McBeal and got cast in the Charlie's Angels movies, and then got to be downright vivacious in "Lucky Number Sleven." Now I like her a bunch. I'm not sure that this show will achieve what "Sherlock" does, which is to make it as exciting as any action sequence just to watch Holmes thinking. But if they focus more on the relationship between Holmes and Watson, that's fine too, with this Watson calling Holmes on his shit.

"Revolution" is annoying me. I love the concept and the first episode was fine, but the 2nd was annoying. (Haven't seen the 3rd yet; it may end up being my last.) I love me some post-apocalyptic fantasy fiction, and Billy Burke with a samurai sword is probably the closest I'll ever get to seeing Boyett's Elegy Beach on screen. But our young female protagonist is pretty hard to take. She forbids Burke's character to kill a bounty hunter who's tracked and snuck up on Burke. When the guy returns to put their lives in danger again, does she apologize and say you were right, I'm sorry I put you in danger by keeping that dude alive? Of course not. Because gormless girl has the Moral High Ground, and everyone must respect that. The only way I could stomach her in episode 2 was to remind myself that clearly she grew up in a frakked-up family where starting at age 6, it was her responsibility to wake up 10 times a night to make sure her brother didn't die of an asthma attack. And the naivete coming out of her pores must be from brainwashing by the hippie enclave her dad raised her in, because there is no way else you live 10 years in that world and are still a sensitive idealist. I got nothing against idealists, by the way. The world of "Revolution" is horrible and she's right to want to change it. But for godsakes, be a practical idealist. If you're going to be all hurt and shocked by every injustice you see, that's going to take up a lot of valuable screen time which could be better spent by Billy Burke having sword fights. I'm just saying.
jinasphinx: (Default)
Recent media consumption:

  • "Seventeen Again". Zac Efron (if you don't know who he is, ask a tween girl) plays a 30-something man, a loser at life, who finds himself magically in his 17-year-old body. He re-enrolls in his old high school and in the process reconnects with his estranged teenage kids and his about-to-be-ex-wife. Maybe it was just my low expectations, but I found Efron to be a surprisingly good actor. And I found the plot to be a good-hearted comedy. What I mean by that is that a lot of comedies are at their hearts, mean. For example, Adam Sandler's "Click" has a similar plot, but the main character is a narcissistic, sex-obsessed a--hole up until the very end when he is forced by a higher power to learn a lesson. In this movie, Efron's character is a bit self-involved, but as soon as he finds out the problems his family's been having, he decides that his purpose is to help them. He's flawed and he makes mistakes, but he's basically a good person.

  • "Hope Springs". Romantic comedy about an empty-nester couple during a week of intensive marriage counseling. This type of movie works or doesn't on the strength of the acting, and in this case the leads were great. Meryl Streep plays a repressed people-pleaser very well, and Tommy Lee Jones plays a defensive, grumpy cheapskate with flashes of charm (gosh, I wonder how the casting director ever thought of him). I liked that their issue was more complex than one of them being right or wrong.

  • "The Bourne Legacy". Probably the second best Bourne film. Jeremy Renner plays Aaron Cross, a secret agent cut from the same mold as Jason Bourne, and hunted by the same organizations for the same reasons. Rachel Weisz is lovely as always (has she aged a day since "The Mummy"?) as a virology researcher helping him. The science sounds vaguely plausible, which is all you need in a movie like this (no "A, G, T, and P"). The role of Aaron Cross will probably invite comparisons between Jeremy Renner and Matt Damon, which Renner can't win. But he does a fine job in the role. I am a little worried that this is now the second role he's played in which he suffers some loss of mental abilities. It's a tiny niche to get typecast in. :) Some reviewers complained that there wasn't enough action in the movie; I don't know what they were watching.

  • Finale of "The Closer" and premiere of its spin-off/successor, "Major Crimes". A satisfying ending to a show we've loved. They managed to pull off some plausible character growth and a career transition that made sense for Kyra Sedgwick's character, plus she made a choice that was, for her, worth ending her LAPD career over. I love Mary McDonnell's character, Captain Raydor, for her attention to details and her compassion for others, so I hope they can sustain the spin-off.

  • "Common Law". USA Network's thing seems to be lighthearted escapist fantasy that looks really pretty (high production values, great locations, and of course pretty actors in stylish clothes) -- the TV equivalent of a take-to-the-beach novel. And hey, it works for me, since this is the 4th of their shows that I watch. This one is about two police detectives who have so much trouble getting along that their captain sends them to couples counseling. It's silly fun, and one of the leads (Michael Ealy) is a surprisingly good actor. I guess he's been around a while, but I don't watch "The Good Wife" or "Californication", so I hadn't seen him before.

jinasphinx: (Default)
Yesterday in Marshalls I found two pairs of Merrell barefoot-style shoes at half their regular price: a red pair of Pure Gloves (kind of sporty mary janes) and a fuchsia pair of Serene Gloves (ballet-like slippers, complete with ribbon for the ankles). I'm loving them so far. I adore my Keens but the brand runs too short and wide for me, so I need to wear thick socks to make them work -- fine in the cold months but not good now that it's warm out. The Merrells fit great for someone who likes a lot of room in the toe but has a narrow heel.

Anyone else watching the "Political Animals" miniseries on USA? Jacob Clifton on Television Without Pity wrote a guest recap of the latest episode. The Man and I enjoy some of the show but find other parts hard to take, like every time someone says something to Elaine*cough*Hillary like "all the country saw was your ambition, not how much you care". (*cue violins*) And just to be clear, I voted for Secretary Clinton in the primary; I don't have a problem with her ambition, just with schmaltzy writing. Anyway, as usual Jacob shines a light on the parts of the show that are worth examining:

What they want is a War Between Women so nobody can see what they're doing. If they didn't have you hating your body and your strength and your voice all the time -- if you didn't hear them telling you to quiet down and be less proud and be less angry, right there in your own head -- you'd start a fucking riot. The future would start very fast indeed.

August 2016



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