Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One Season Wonders

Sometimes really good shows only last one season. This is sad. But at the same time, it makes it a lot easier to do a marathon of episodes.

1. Firefly

Joss Whedon space cowboy adventure. 14 episodes of about 45 minutes each plus a feature film.

500 years in the future people have expanded beyond "Earth that was" and live on other planets. The Central planets are very rich and live like a science fiction future utopia, while the Border planets are poor live much more similarly to the old western genre. Captain Malcolm Reynolds leads the firefly class ship, "Serenity" named for the battle that allowed the Alliance to win and create "unification", something he and first mate Zoey fought against. Rounding out the crew are Zoey's husband, the pilot Wash, Kaylee, the mechanic and Jayne, who basically gets paid to fight and help pull jobs. A companion, Inara rents a shuttle. During the first episode the crew is joined by a preacher, Shepard Book, as well as a doctor, Simon Tam, and his sister, River, whom he rescued from a government facility. Simon and River are wanted by the Alliance, but since Mal and his crew dislike the Alliance and make their fortune through criminal acts, they don't really mind.

My Favorite Episodes: Shindig, Jaynestown, Out of Gas, War Stories and Objects in Space

2. The Return of Jezebel James

Comedy from the people who created Gilmore Girls. 7 episodes of about 22 minutes each.

Sarah Tompkins is a children's book editor who wants to have a baby. When she finds out she can't get pregnant she asks her sister, Coco, to be her surrogate. The problem is that the two have barely spoken over the years, and are dissimilar in their personalities. Sarah is viewed by most, including their parents as the golden girl, while Coco is the wild child. Sarah's assistant, Buddy, man friend Marcus and Coco and Sarah's parents round out the cast. Mainly because the show got canceled so early, the main focus is on Sarah and Coco getting to know each other again, rather than the intended main plot of the surrogacy.

My Favorite Episodes: Pilot/Frankenstein Baby, I'm With Blank, Sarah Takes a Bullet

3. Wonderfalls

Bryan Fuller drama about a girl who has inanimate objects speak to her. 13 episodes of about 45 minutes each.

Jaye Tyler is "overeducated and underemployed" having graduated from Brown with a degree in Philosophy, but working in a Niagra Falls gift shop. She's unmotivated and sarcastic. Then a wax lion starts talking to her. Then other animal toys and images start talking to her. They tell her to do things, that usually lead to a good outcome. Jaye is constantly frustrated by her family, her sister Sharon an immigration lawyer, overprotective brother Aaron who is getting a PHD in theology and her parents Karen, a travel book writer and Darrin, a doctor. Her best friend Mahandra is a waitress in a local restaurant where Eric, a man who's wife cheated on him during their honeymoon to Niagra Falls has recently become a bartender. Jaye tries to deal with the directions from the animals as best she can while she and others question her sanity. Additionally, Jaye takes issue with the increasingly helpful things she's ordered to do, as it violates her policy of not being nice to people.

My Favorite Episodes: Wax Lion, Crime Dog, Lovesick Ass, Cadged Bird

Saturday, February 25, 2012

You Know You're Sick When...

...the girls who live next door ask your roommate if you're okay.

...the dining hall worker makes you swipe your own card.

...you wake up early to ensure that your cold medicine will be in effect during a test.

...you can't go to the bathroom without needing to use toilet paper as a tissue.

...you spend as much time at night coughing, trying to sleep, as you do sleeping.

...your roommate and mother are both trying to get you to make a doctor's appointment.

...you stop asking where the nearest tissue is and start asking what can be a tissue.

...when you talk about how much you drank last night everyone knows you mean tea.

...your method for waking up your roommate is to cough louder.

...your roommate comes in at 4 AM and you don't wake up because your cold medicine has knocked you out.

Just to be clear, I'm not sick, but one of my friends is. She suggested writing this based on her experiences. Feel better!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Think My iPod Has a Crush

I thought it might be fun to put my iPod on shuffle and write a story based on the first three songs that came up. These are the songs that were played:

Don't Look Back - Alex Day
This is Not Harry Potter - Hank Green
Love Me Do - Beatles

Ummmm. Let's try again.

Forever Yours (demo version) - Alex Day
Everything You Know is Wrong - Weird Al Yankovic
No Sacrifice - Alex Day

Sigh. I've got nothing. My iPod however seems to have a thing for Alex Day.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Things Other People Are Obsessed With

I fully admit to being a tremendous fangirl about a lot of things. I love Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Wrock, Trock, youtube, Nerdfighteria, books, knitting and way more. I realize I go on about these things a lot. There are however, things I've noticed other people are obsessed with. Some obsessions I understand, and some I don't, but here are, some things that other people are obsessed with.

1. Twilight

People tend to be obsessed with this series in one of two ways. They are either obsessed with it because they love it and need to be a crazy fangirl, or they're obsessed with it because they hate and need to bring the TwiHards down. Now I've read the books and I enjoyed them while I read them, but I never really saw the point to picking a team. I know that there was a big debate in the Harry Potter community about whether Hermione should be with Ron or Harry. While there are many fan fictions that explore Harry/Hermione, once the books made it clear that wasn't happening no one really went around saying they were Team Harry. Then again, unlike Twilight, the focus of Harry Potter was on a great battle between good and evil, not about what boy to make out with.

Which brings me to the Twilight haters. I realize that it's mostly people like me who are Harry Potter fans doing a lot of this but really, this needs to stop. The only reason there's really any hatred is that Twilight began as Harry Potter was ending. The fantasy elements and heft of the book caused some people to proclaim it as the next Harry Potter. This is an unfair comparison that has led to much strife. All the people who complain about Twilight do so under the impression that Twilight is being treated as great literature. However, my view of it is that the Twilight books are good snow day books. They're fun to curl up with on a snowy day while you drink hot chocolate. They aren't books you write papers about.

Both groups need to calm down and learn to respect each other's opinions.

2. Chipotle

Yes, they have good burritos but this restaurant seems to inspire rapturous praise from almost everyone I know (at least, on a university campus). Maybe it's because I had a negative experience my first time there (pretty much all their meat except the pork is at least a little spicy which I did not know, and was not informed) but I don't have the same obsession. I have nothing against them, and I will eat there, it just seems like when people are trying to figure out where to go for dinner, it Chipotle is mentioned, that stands out as the clear favorite. It may be that Chipotle has the familiarity of a McDonalds or Taco Bell, but is higher quality enough that it doesn't get the same negative connotations. I'm sure that I will be eating there more frequently over the next few years than I have in the past (considering that I've eaten there twice, once in eighth grade and once last quarter, I need only dine there once within the next four years to up my rate) I don't know that I'll ever really "get" it.

3. Football

While I have recently come to understand the rules of football more fully than I ever have in the past, I still don't experience the same obsession that others seem to have. When I went to the homecoming game, or if my school is playing, I come closest to getting it. It's a point of pride for "your" team to win. I still have trouble with understanding professional football. I support my school's football team as a way to support my school. I chose my school and I love my school and I want us to do well. As for professional football, do I support a team just because I happen to live nearby? Do I support them because I grew up nearby? If the team moves to a new city do I still support them? What if all the best players leave for another team? I just don't get what determines what teams I'm supposed to root for. Frankly, I don't care if I do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Simpler Pet

Hello blog readers. Happy Valentines day. Did you get any chocolate or flowers today? I didn't, but that's okay. Tomorrow I will go to the pharmacy and get SO MUCH chocolate for the price of SO LITTLE chocolate. And as for flowers....

Give it time. They're growing.

Yes, that's right I'm growing my own flowers. We aren't allowed to have any pet animals in the dorm but they said nothing about a pet plant. A few weeks ago I saw this pot, with a soil pellet and seeds selling for $1.00 at Target, so I got it and planted it. They will some day be forget-me-nots.

I think I shall name them Lockhart. Or Gilderoy. Or Dory. Or Lenny. Or maybe I'll name each flower that sprouts individually with one of these names.

Anyway, although I got the flowers for myself I like the idea of giving either a potted plant, or seeds,dirt and a pot as a gift for Valentines instead of a dead flower. I feel like a growing plant symbolizes the spirit of the holiday so much better than a dead one. In fact, it could be fun to stay in and plant some flowers as a date.

Of course, flowers are lovely no matter what. Especially the ones my Dad got for my Mom. That I haven't seen but have been assured are lovely.

Happy Valentines Day Mom and Dad!!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Book Suggestions

More laziness on my part.

So, I do a lot of reading. I was even president of my school's student book club. *waits patiently as people call her a nerd* As a result of this, I sometimes get asked for book recommendations. So here's a list of great books.

I am a huge fan of this author. One of the biggest things that appeals to me about his work is that unlike most adult fiction (as opposed to children or young adult fiction, not adult as in dirty. Get your mind out of the gutter!) it has beautiful illustrations, done by the author that help remind you that this story takes place in a special land. The premise of the novel is that Captain Bluebear is halfway through his 27 lives and has taken the time to write about his adventures throughout his life. These adventures range from being raised by minipirates to living in a tornado, to being champion of lies in Atlantis. The book is interspersed with encyclopedia entries that serve to explain the more strange and unfamiliar parts of this land to us, however the style in which it is done can make you forget that these are bits of pure exposition. Overall, this is a great book. I recommend it to everyone, of all ages.

This is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time. The premise is essentially "Lord of the Flies with beauty Queens". A plane carrying the contestants for the Miss Teen Dream pageant crashes on an island in the middle of no where. They're all alone... except for the secret military base run by The Corporation, the same company that owns the pageant (and everything else). There's a lot of satire in this book. My favorite parts are the little comments by The Corporation (or whoever) censoring things or trying to use product placement. The "commercials" that appear throughout the book are funny, mainly in how accurately they describe what commercials are like. This is primarily a YA book, but former teens can definitely also read it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Movie Recommendations

There are a lot of movies that I like, so I thought I'd spotlight a few that aren't as well known.

If you've every wondered what a boy and his dog movie would be like if the dog was a zombie, this is the answer. Fido is Timmy Robinson's family's zombie, and Timmy's best friend. When the collar that keeps him docile malfunctions, he eats Timmy's neighbor (but she's mean so it's not so bad). Timmy has to try to hide what happened to he can keep his best friend.

The whole movie takes place in a 1950's-ish universe, full of bright colors and picket fences. And a chain link fence to keep the uncollared zombies out of course. Other aspects of this world include children having a class in marksmanship where they are taught "In the brain and not the chest. Head shots are the very best." People who don't wish to become zombies pay to have funerals with a separate coffin for the head.

Overall this is a very funny movie. It is rated R but it shouldn't be. The reason given for the rating is that it contains "zombie related violence" but honestly, it's not that bad.

Now, I realize that based on the title this doesn't exactly seem like a happy movie, but I swear, it's a romantic comedy with a happy ending. It starts with the main character, Zia committing suicide. It is established that everyone who kills themselves goes to a world that's just a little bit worse. The colors are dimmer, there are no stars, and no one can smile. He makes friends with Eugene, a former musician, and upon learning that his ex-girlfriend, Desiree has also killed herself, the two set out on a road trip, picking up hitchhiker Mikal, who claims to be there by accident and seeks the People in Charge, so she can be sent back. Along the way they encounter broken headlights, anti-theft signs, some miracles and a dog. Seriously, check out this movie. The humor is a little darker than most romantic comedies, but that really is what it is at heart.

This movie is also rated R, mostly for language, though the opening scene is a little distressing. Last time I checked it was available for free on hulu, though you probably have to be signed in so they know you are of an appropriate age to watch the movie.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

An Open Letter to Daniel Radcliffe

Dear Mr. Radcliffe,

I write to you as a fan of the Harry Potter series. You may remember this series as the books those movies you starred in were based on. I truly enjoyed your performance as Harry Potter, and appreciate that you now wish to branch out. I've heard great things about your performance in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and sincerely regret not having been able to see you in the role. Furthermore, I found it encouraging that you branched out and appeared on SNL.

This brings me to your most recent role, as Arthur Kipps in "The Woman in Black". I realize that on the surface, this movie must have seemed wildly different from your previous movies. Those were adventure, this is horror. Those movies were intended for families, this one was decidedly not. However, having seen your new movie last night, I regret to say it seems that you have not branched out very much at all.

I don't think this is your fault, as I mentioned the movies and roles seemed very different. However, I would like to take this moment to examine the similarities. Harry spends his nights gallivanting around a castle, and Arthur spends the night in an abandoned mansion. When Harry is told, not to do something, he immediately decides that this is the best course off action, examples include being told not to go after Sirius Black and being told not to pay attention to his insights into Voldemort's mind. Similarly, everyone in the town Arthur visits tells him to leave. Instead he becomes more determined to stay. Both Harry and Arthur view locked doors as challenges, particularly when there are strange noises on the other side, and both will go towards strange noises, rather than avoiding them, as when Harry heard the Basilisk in the pipes, and when Arthur heard the strange rocking sound. Both act foolishly, but with noble intentions, ultimately for nothing. Harry goes to the Ministry to try and save Sirius, and Arthur runs into a burning building to rescue a child.

Both Arthur and Harry are haunted by dead relatives, wife and parents respectively, and both think of death as a train station where they can be reunited with loved ones.

Other similarities abound. The opening to "Half Blood Prince" and "The Woman in Black" are similar. The character of Trelawney exists in the guise of Mrs. Daily. Mr. Daily, the man who provides reluctant assistance also played a similar role in Harry Potter, as Aberforth Dumbledore. I'll be frank here, and say I'm a little disappointed you didn't get out when you realized that this is basically a movie about fighting a dementor.

At this point I would like to simply say, that I do think you did a fine performance. However, I urge you to break out and make your next film something different. Perhaps a nice lighthearted romantic comedy. Or anything other than a horror film really. Please, don't make another horror film. I'm easily startled, so the hour and a half I spent in the theater was unpleasant, though, to be clear, I am very glad that I went. I respect the it was an excellent movie, but I would like to point out this this is part of the problem. It was an excellent horror movie. It was scary. Even as I muttered "Expecto Partronum" the whole time.

Please continue to be an excellent actor, but please, try to branch out to playing different roles.

Kara Greenberg

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Epic Saga of my Phone

This is a tale that began long ago. And by long ago, I mean early December. Wow, it really only started 2 months ago. It suddenly doesn't feel like so long. Wait, no, it technically began last summer. Okay, lets start for real now.

I got a new cell phone this summer. It was my first cell phone in four and a half years. As in, it was my second phone ever. And it was a smartphone, with a big touch screen that is used for everything. It was blue, so I named it Barry and all was well. I went from being someone who almost never carried a phone, to being someone who treated her phone like a second arm. And then, disaster struck. In early December, the touchscreen stopped working, rendering my phone nothing more than an expensive paperweight.

I went to the store and was informed that it could not be fixed, but that it could be exchanged through the mail. I waited until my parents sent me my old phone to use temporarily, and I mailed my phone off, to have it delivered to me at home, where I would be during winter break.

Lo and behold, after only a few days of vacation my new phone arrived, mailed to my home. I was ecstatic. Until I looked more carefully. There was no back cover to my phone, nor battery. What had happened? I called the company with questions and was informed that I was no supposed to have mailed those in with the phone. I explained that this was news to me and they said they would find the items and have them sent to me. I would receive a  confirmation e-mail within three days.

Two and a half weeks later I still had nothing, no e-mail, nor phone parts. I went to the store and was informed that I was not supposed to have sent in my phone on my own. I was told that the phone company was supposed to have sent me a box, with instructions on what to mail in and what not to mail in. They looked in the computer and told me that the missing pieces would be arriving within 10-15 business days. I would be back at school by then, but my parents promised to keep an eye out. In the meantime, my dad managed to find a new battery online as well as a case to protect my phone.

When the parts still didn't arrive, I went back to the store near my school. A new associate looked into the matter and gave me the bad news. The parts would arrive 10-15 business days after they were found, if they were found. She further explained that the odds were slim of them ever being found. She tried in vain to get the company to give me a new battery and back cover as it was not my fault they were lost, but the company refused. I left, upset, but glad to finally have a straight answer. I thought this was the end of my tale.

It's now a few weeks later. I received a voice mail from my dad telling me to call home. I did and was informed that a miracle had occurred. There was a package for me. It's return address was the city to which I'd mailed my phone and it had a sticker proclaiming that a lithium battery was inside. My parents opened it and found inside, the missing parts. And so, finally, the tale comes to a close.