Category Archives: TV

Two more books and an explanation

Yesterday a group of colleagues (and friends) went to high tea to celebrate the upcoming birth of Lauren’s baby boy. Lauren is a HUGE reader – this girl burns through books, so we talked a bit about what we are reading. I mentioned that I’m currently reading Bird Box by John Malerman, and gave everyone a quick rundown on its terrifying dystopian plot. At this point, Sarah asked me why I would like a book like that, but have zero interest in the Game of Thrones series (which she’s currently burning through). game of thrones

It was a good question. Everyone loves Game of Thrones, right? Not me.

For me, books just don’t resonate if I can’t ground them in reality. I love books that twist and reshape reality, but I like to think about what could happen in the world we live in, and simply don’t really care about worlds that don’t really exist. Imagined kingdoms and lands just don’t do it for me.

So, Harry Potter? Yes. Lord of the Rings? No. Zombies? Yes. Aliens? Not really.

As with all types of art, this is purely a personal preference and something unlikely to change too much, though there are always exceptions to every rule. For Chad, the more hard core the sci-fi or the fantasy novel the better, which means it’s a rare and exciting book when both of us read it and enjoy it (which is currently the case with Bird Box. More on that when I finish it).

I’m sure I’m going to get an earful on how wrong I am and how I should give certain things a chance, and that’s fine…but it’s not likely going to happen.

Anyway, back to my latest reads. I’m up to 22 books read in 2014 and have two to talk about.

The first is Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen.  I’ve read a few other books by her back in the days when I was reading everything Oprah recommended, and thought she was fine, but not still lifetoo memorable. A few months ago I heard her interviewed about this book on CBC and really liked her as a person, so thought I’d throw this request into the library.

My memory of her writing was pretty bang on. This book is fine, but not too memorable. A once famous photographer with dwindling resources, sublets her New York apartment and moves to a cabin in upstate New York where she revives her career and begins a new life with the locals. Fine. Not too memorable. It took me too long to get through, not because it was a tough read at all – in fact, it’s an extremely easy read. I just didn’t really feel motivated or compelled to pick it up.

The second book, though…holy crap.

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia blew me away. This book was nearly impossible to put down.

It starts in the early 1980s with a 12 year old girl, bored of bridesmaid duties at her sister’s wedding, running around the Bellweather Hotel. On the seventh floor she stumbles onto a horrifying scene – a groom in a tuxedo shot in the chest, and a bride in her wedding gown, hanging from an extension cord in Room 712. Fifteen years later to the date, the weekend of a high school statewide music workshop,  this girl returns to face her fears, only to find that something else is going on in Room 712. Told from the perspective of several characters including Minnie (the bellweathergirl), a twin brother and sister (bassoonist and singer respectively) who have secrets of their own, their music teacher chaperone, the hotel’s haunted concierge, the orchestra’s conductor and the ice cold head of the music program, this novel is as close to an old-school Agatha Christie mystery as I’ve read in a long time. Great characters, a fantastic setting, and a plot that leaves you guessing to the end.

Love, love, loved this book.

As I said, Bird Box is on the go now. Should be done this weekend.

Cheers,

kp

Also…I hate the Game of Thrones TV series. There. I said it.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Book Challenge, Books, Toronto, TV

10 Things

Yeah, I’m back. I admit it: I’m a fairweather blogger. Actually, I’m more of a crapweather blogger, but what of it?

When life gets stressful, I make lists. As such, here are 10 things that I’m really looking forward to (in no particular order):

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Even though it’s in 3D (which I hate, thank you very much), I can’t wait for the final installment of the film franchise. Harry, Hermione, Ron, the final battle, Bellatrix getting taken down by Mrs. Weasley–it’s got to be amazing.

2. The Mother’s Day Tea at the kiddo’s school. Here’s her performance from last year:

3. The Royal Wedding. When Charles and Diana got married, I woke up in the middle of the night and sat glued to the TV in my dad’s La-Z-Boy chair. I obsessively collected Royal Wedding paraphenalia including Charles & Di paper dolls and every hardcover book on the couple to ever hit the bargain table at Coles. I am so watching this wedding.

4. The movie version of The Help. I really loved this book and can’t wait to see the movie. Emma Stone is a gem and I think she’ll make a great Skeeter.

5. Mommy/Daughter Week. Every summer, Scarlett and Chad spend a week hitting every theme park in the province. This year, I’m countering Daddy/Daughter Week with Mommy/Daughter Week. It won’t involve roller coasters, but it may involve manicures and fancy picnics. I can’t wait.

6. A visit from my mom. It’s been over six months since she was diagnosed with MAC, but she’s still not able to fly. We were hoping she’d be able to come for Easter, but we’re now keeping our fingers crossed for a May visit.

7. Berry season. I can’t wait for all of my favourite berries to be in season. I’m tired of paying premium for the only fruit that doesn’t make me projectile vomit or erupt into hives.

8. Tom’s weather. I bought two pair of Tom’s shoes last summer, and wore the hell out of them. Once I can feel convinced that it won’t snow again, I’m picking up two more.

9. Mad Men Season 4. We watch TV on Blu-ray or DVD, so we’re always way behind. I don’t have to wait long for this one, though–we’re starting it tomorrow.

10. The weekly meeting I attend every Friday at 2:00. It’s hands down the best workday hour of the week.

I feel better already. What are you looking forward to?

kp

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Filed under allergies, Books, Family, Friends, Movies, Parenting, TV, Uncategorized, weather

Lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

Mom in July

Mom in July

She’s home! 

After several weeks in the hospital, in no fewer than six rooms with seven different phone numbers, my mom has been released and is back home! I’m so happy for her. And for the rest of us. 

Honestly, even though we got the great news about her not having cancer, I couldn’t help but feel like the other shoe was going to drop the entire time she was there. What if there was a sample they hadn’t tested? What if she got sick with something else? Having her home has let me breathe a true sigh of relief. Not only does she not have cancer, she’s now considered healthy enough to not be under the watchful eye of nurses around the clock. 

Let’s just say I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. 

Now, to completely change the subject, can I tell you how much I love the fall? 

Not because of the crisp air or the crunchy leaves or the back-to-schoolness of it. I love fall because it means that all of the TV shows I’ve been waiting for all summer have been released on DVD. 

We’ve been watching a lot of television in a pattern that I don’t normally approve of–I prefer to watch comedy followed by drama, but we’ve been watching back to back comedies, given my rather grim real life situation. It’s a dangerous pattern, especially if you’re following a great season of comedy with another comedy. Some funny is funnier than others. 

The good news is that it hasn’t backfired on us. Over the past few weeks we’ve watched Season Six of The Office, followed by Season Five of How I Met Your Mother, and now we’re watching Season One of Modern Family

I know I’m late to the game on Modern Family, but it’s amazing. LOVE it. The characters are fantastic, the casting is perfect and the writing is hilarious. 

I’m actually going to watch an episode now, but I’ll leave you with my favourite quote of the season: 

“I’m sort of like Costco. I’m big, I’m not fancy and I dare you to not like me.” 

The best. 

kp

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Filed under cancer, Family, TV, Uncategorized

Why me? Why not?

In the September issue of Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens writes about his discovery that he has esophageal cancer. I read this a few weeks before my mom ever had that critical check up, but was struck with how honest, raw and unvarnished his piece read.

Specifically, I was stopped cold with this sentence:

“To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?”

Trust me, I’ve asked myself “Why me?” a lot, but looking at it in the context of Hitchens’ article, I’ve had a bit of a shift of thinking.

Sure: why me? Why don’t I have any grandparents or a dad anymore? Why doesn’t my husband get to have a stomach? Why do I have to wait 13 years to find out if my daughter gets to keep hers or watch her go through what Chad has? Why’s my mom sick when I’m across the country?

But also, why me?  Why have I been lucky enough to marry my soul mate? Why am I blessed with a near perfect (okay, I’m being modest–perfect) child who fills me with pride and with joy every minute? Why did I have a fantastic childhood free of abuse, with parents  who loved me? Why do I get paid to do a job that I love in a place full of people who make me laugh and truly care about me? Why do I still talk to my best friend at least once a week 35 years after meeting her in nursery school? Why am I lucky enough to have a smart, responsible and loving sister who I trust to look after things with my mom when I’m not there? And why did I win the lottery in having the best mom ever?

Yeah, I’ve had my share of crap shoveled my way, but who hasn’t?

Last night, Chad and I watched an episode of House, and again a quote jumped out at me:

“People don’t get what they deserve. They just get what they get, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.”

I know it’s weird to take comfort from House’s bedside manner, but somehow I do.

It’s life. Let’s just make the best of it.

kp

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Why I’m a TV Serial Monogamist

 

HBO's Big Love

HBO's Big Love

This week a new season of 24 kicked off with Jack Bauer taking on…well…probably the world. I love 24 and I love Jack Bauer, but I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and ignoring everything I hear about him and the show right now. Why? Because I’m not going to watch it until next year.

And why is that? Because I am a TV serial monogamist.

I love TV. LOVE it. But I love my TV the way I love to read. I don’t read a chapter in one book on Tuesday and wait to read the next chapter a week later, while reading chapters of three or four other books throughout the week. I read a book cover to cover, put it back on the shelf and find something new to read. That’s the way I like my TV–I watch a season from end to end, getting an uninterrupted story arc and never missing an episode or forgetting pivotal plot points over a month-long hiatus.

It’s true love for a week or two as I devote myself entirely to a series, and then wait to revisit these characters when they return a year later.

Glee

Glee

Since mid-December, Chaddy and I have watched the following on DVD (or Blu-ray):

Looking back at this combo of series, I can’t even imagine watching these concurrently. Nerd humour + high school singing and dancing + mind-twisting time travel on an island + HBO polygamy + the scariest lawyer to ever  appear on TV just wouldn’t mix. Separately, though–amazing.

Are we the only ones to watch TV like this? And if we are, WHY?

kp

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Let the Games Begin

Love him.

Love him.

It’s mid-January, and I can feel tingles of excitement all around me. People starry-eyed with witnessing competition at its best, complete with moments of pride paired with those tragic and heartbreaking glimpses of unfair defeat.

If you think for one second I’m talking about the Olympics, you’re crazy. I don’t give a damn about the Olympics. I’m talking about awards season in Hollywood.

The Golden Globes air tomorrow night, and I can’t wait. In many ways it’s the perfect awards show–drunk celebs, the combo of movies and TV, and none of the boring technical awards. Plus, it’s going to be hosted by Ricky Gervais. Amazing.

To prep for it, I’m going to go public with my picks. Here goes:

Best Motion Picture: I’m going for Up In The Air, not only because I really loved it, but also because I really don’t want Avatar to win. I don’t care if it’s the greatest movie of all time, I continue to have no desire to see it. Yes, this skews my vote, but I don’t care. Oh, and if Up In The Air doesn’t win, Inglorious Basterds should.

Best Actress – Drama: Truthfully, I haven’t seen any of these movies, so this is a pure guess. Based on media saturation, I’m thinking Sandra Bullock is going to take it. I don’t get it, but I feel like she will.

Best Actor – Drama: Jeff Bridges. It seems like it’s already a done deal.

He's still The Dude.

He's still The Dude.

Best Picture – Comedy or Musical: (500) Days of Summer. It was quirky, but accessible, and more artistic than It’s Complicated and The Hangover, and better received than Nine and Julie & Julia.

Best Actress – Comedy or Musical: Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia. She’s competing against herself in It’s Complicated, Sandra Bullock in The Proposal, Marion Cotillard in Nine, and Julia Roberts in Duplicity. Seems obvious.

Best Actor – Comedy or Musical: This is a tricky category. I feel like it has to go to Matt Damon for The Informant!, but who knows? The other nominees are Daniel Day-Lewis in Nine, Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock HolmesJoseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer, and Michael Stuhlbarg for A Serious Man .  

Best Supporting Actress: I’m sure the Vegas money is on Mo’nique, but I’d love to see Anna Kendrick win. She’s got a great future ahead of her.

 Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for his chilling portrayal of a heartless and calculating Nazi in Inglorious Basterds. No question.

 Best Animated Feature: I’ve seen all of these, some of them more than once. Up is bound to take it (and it was amazing), but I really, really loved Fantastic Mr. Fox.

 Best Director: I’m really rooting for James Cameron to lose this one. Again, I don’t care if he reinvented the wheel, if I have to hear another “I’m king of the world” speech from this man, though this time in some made up alien language, I’ll lose my marbles. Please. Anyone but him.

Best Screenplay: As with Best Picture, I’m putting In the Air and Inglorious Basterds in the one and two spots. I’d love to see Jason Reitman win—he’s adorable.

The non-obnoxious Canadian director nominee.

The non-obnoxious Canadian director nominee.

Best TV Series – Drama: This is a really tough category as I’m obsessed with all of these shows. I think it’s going to be a tossup between Dexter and True Blood with True Blood taking it. But with competition like House, Mad Men and Big Love, there are no losers.

Best Actress – TV Drama: I’m a big fan of the women in this category, but for me nobody can touch Glenn Close in Damages. Her character puts the fear of God into me. Runner up: January Jones for Mad Men. Best Actor – TV Drama: I’d like to see Michael C. Hall win for Dexter. Amazing.

Best TV Series – Comedy: The general rule is to never, ever bet against 30 Rock, but this year the feel-good sing-along-fest Glee is going have everyone singing “Don’t Stop Believing”.

Best Actress – TV Comedy: See above. Never, ever bet against Tina Fey.

Best Actor – TV Comedy: Also, never, ever bet against Alec Baldwin.

Best Supporting Actress – TV: Jane Lynch for her tracksuit-wearing cheerleader coach with an acid tongue in Glee. Obviously.

Go Cheerios!

Go Cheerios!

Best Supporting Actor – TV: I’d love to see Neil Patrick Harris take it for How I Met Your Mother. Just think about how awesome the speech would be.

I’ve skipped some of the categories for which I have no valid opinion (mini-series foreign language film, etc.), but I’ll stand by these.

Who do you want to win? And more importantly, who do you want Ricky Gervais to mock?

kp

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We All Live in a Capital I

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?Last week Sesame Street celebrated its 40th birthday.While I’m late to the game, I’d still like to tip my hat to a show that left an indelible mark on my childhood, and I think is doing the same on my own kid’s. Disclaimer: she watches some “new” Sesame Street, but she’s as familiar with Mr. Hooper and David as she is with Telly and Elmo, thanks to Sesame Street: Old School.

Here are a few of my all time favourite Sesame Street moments with commentary:

1. Listen My Brother, 1970.  There is so much that is great about this performance, I can’t choose what I like best. The chick in the yellow dress who looks like she’s ready to take someone on? Or the dude in the white pants who jumps up and down the stairs? Or maybe the guy who goes ballistic on the cowbell towards the end? Or the lyrics “boys and girls, you can earn plenty, but you’ve got to learn how to count to twenty”? How could I ever decide?  Please enjoy and leave your comments. I can’t stop watching it.

2. Daddy Dear. This vignette served as fodder for my dreams and my nightmares for the majority of the 1970s.

3. Ladybugs’ Picnic. For whatever reason, my daughter demands that my husband sing this to her every night before bed. After almost two years it’s a normal song in our house. As is the next video…

4. Capital I. Seriously. My hubby sings this to our kid every night before bed. It’s awesome.

5. Paul Simon singing “Me and Julio”. The best example of no editing, no rehearsals and no screening of the kids on Sesame Street. Also of no hairstyling.

Obviously missing dozens of greats including the Pinball song by the Pointer Sisters, and the great modern performances by people like Feist and REM. What are your faves?

Happy birthday, Sesame Street!

kp

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