Monday, September 30, 2013

Morning Coffee (9/30/13)

Elsewhere: At TheTelevixen.com I recapped Haven, wrote about new shows Masters of Sex and Hello Ladies, and compiled the week's TV news.

Sad news: Cookbook author Marcella Hazan has died.

Why the Barilla Boycott Matters to Italian LGBT People

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a new coat of arms.

The Fug Girls are writing a new novel!

Fascinating: The Flight from Dallas

The Women Who Mapped the Universe And Still Couldn’t Get Any Respect

Revealed: the violent, thuggish world of the young JS Bach

Progress? George H.W. Bush Was A Witness To A Maine Lesbian Couple’s Wedding

Friday, September 27, 2013

Morning Coffee (9/27/13)

Happy Friday!

Elsewhere: I wrote about last night's new comedies The Crazy Ones and The Michael J. Fox Show over at TheTelevixen.

The rare good news in this area: That school district that banned The Invisible Man has reconsidered.

They found a lost Mary Pickford film in a barn in New Hampshire!

Sarah Rees Brennan fans, check out this new free short story set between Unspoken and Untold!

Tons of fun details: Key family brush up on etiquette for Balmoral visit

I love this: What the Monopoly Properties Look Like in Real Life

Writer/translator Tom Holland picks his five desert island books.

I adore these Grammar Grumble Mugs.

Oh my gosh, check out this Star Wars opening crawl dress.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Morning Coffee (9/25/13)

Elsewhere: At TheTelevixen.com, I wrote about the premieres of The Blacklist, Lucky 7, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Goldbergs, and Trophy Wife. And at Read the Screen, I wrote about this week's episodes of Bones and Sleepy Hollow. (Yeah, I'm pretty tired this week.)

Oooh: Popular Science is shutting off its comments. Because they're bad for science.

Want some of George Orwell's blood? Ugh, that's . . . a little weird.

Jason Segal in a Canadian maple syrup heist comedy? Yes please.

Hillary in Midair

Because of course this exists: 50 Shades of Grey wine. Sigh.

The mystery behind @horse_ebooks has been revealed.

How to Design a City for Women

The Guardian is doing a 100 best novels thing, but with explanatory essays, not just a list, and so I'm really excited.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Morning Coffee (9/24/13)

Me, elsewhere: At TheTelevixen.com I wrote about the premieres of Hostages (good!) and Mom (not good) and recapped the season premiere of Castle.

Give Me My Remote has some fun backstage Emmy reactions.

Ugh. Energy companies are taking advantage of the Amish religious rules against suing people.

8 Ways to Make a Movie About a Female Superhero Happen

You can stream Lorde's new album now.

Remember that librarian who said the kid who read the most every year should take himself out of SRP contention? The library aide who defended him was apparently fired over it.

The golden age of TV is dead; long live the golden age of TV

Ooh, they're releasing Tintin editions in Scots and Gaelic.

A Brief History of Slash

Friday, September 20, 2013

Morning Coffee (9/20/13)

Happy Friday!

Pope Francis did a huge, fascinating interview in which he suggested some quite liberal views. (I mean, for a pope.)

Here are the National Book Awards fiction and nonfiction longlists.

Matt Bomer is going to play Montgomery Clift.

West Wing fans, this is not a drill: Allison Janney performed "The Jackal" on the Arsenio Hall Show the other night.

Maru has a new kitten!

I love old maps with sea monsters.

And this cat wears a bow tie and works in a Russian library.

Rubik's Cheese Cube!

This Is How Many Kids Jennifer Aniston Has in a Parallel Universe

The Bloggess is always a fun read, but this entry was particularly delightful.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Morning Coffee (9/16/13)

Me, elsewhere: Eric Balfour Talks Changes, Duke’s True Self, & Haven Season 4; a recap of the Haven season premiere; the week's TV news in handy round-up form.

Foyle's War returned last night, and the AV Club has an interesting review.

Speaking of the AV Club, they've got some interesting new TV stuff going on.

Here's June Thomas on the delightful Last Tango in Halifax.

Here are the Creative Arts Emmy Award Winners.

What Women Don't Want

Books for Boys and Books for Girls: Problems with Gendered Reading

New Popemobile Is a 1984 Renault With 186,000 Miles on It

Did you know the Vatican has an observatory? They were talking about it on the BBC yesterday. Their FAQ is pretty interesting.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Where I'm Writing About TV This Fall

Well, this sort of crept up on me. The first fall season show that I write about comes back tonight. So I figured it was time for a little roundup of where and about what I'll be writing this year!

At The Televixen, I will again be recapping each episode of Haven and Castle. I'll be aiming to have the recaps up either the night the show airs or early the next day, so by Saturday morning for Haven and Tuesday morning for Castle. I'll also be reviewing the first episode of almost every new show there, to help you get an idea of whether you should try it, and my Sunday morning TV news column and other occasional features will continue as well.

At Read the Screen, I'll be reviewing (though not recapping) each episode of Sleepy Hollow and Dracula. The Sleepy Hollow posts will probably be the first post on Tuesdays (so at about 11 Eastern), and Dracula posts will go up at some point over the weekend, depending on my schedule. I'll also be covering news about and occasionally checking in on other shows based on books or comics, including Elementary, Arrow, The Vampire Diaries, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and more.

At Vampire-Diaries.net, my colleagues and I will be continuing to cover all things Vampire Diaries, along with new spinoff The Originals. (We have awesome recaps there. I don't write them. That's part of why they're so awesome.)

And here? I'm thinking of writing about Beauty and the Beast, because I thought season one was really problematic in ways I didn't see anyone writing about much. I'm not committing to weekly posts on anything else, because I need to sleep sometime, but I'll probably write about whatever else strikes my fancy. But are there any specific shows you want my thoughts on? I'd rather write things people want to read.

And my other question: Do you want me to post links here to my reviews and recaps elsewhere? I don't want to be obnoxiously self-promoting, but I also don't want to expect people to check three or four different sites if they want to find my writing. So. Opinions? If I do post links here, should I give them their own posts or just throw them in the next day's Morning Coffee? Tell me in the comments!

Morning Coffee (9/12/13)

Happy Friday!

Robin Wasserman talks to Entertainment Weekly about her great new book, The Waking Dark.

Hilarious: A Day in the Life of a Troubled Male Antihero

Next in that X-Files TV writer interview series: Arrow's Andrew Kreisberg.

Men Dressed As Batman And Captain America Rescue Cat From Burning Building

IKEA Stonehenge Infographic

47 Years of Star Trek

A Perfect Storm of Cute: Cheetah Cubs Grow Up With Puppy

You Want to Watch Chipotle's Amazing "Scarecrow" Video

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Morning Coffee (9/12/13)

This essay by Jasika Nicole involve so many things - blogging culture, growing up poor and biracial, navigating adult privilege, Girl Scouts - that I'm not going to try to summarize it, but you should really give it a read.

The new Knitty is out!

That amazing Reuters adoption article I mentioned earlier in the week is complete now, so you should check it out if you haven't already.

The latest in Give Me My Remote's series on TV writers talking about X-Files is with Sam Ernst of Haven.

A Lord Nelson biopic? Yes please.

Mollie Katzen's 5 Essentials for Becoming a Great Home Cook

Heh: Formula Fed Baby Enters Medical School (Satire)

Home-Cooked Boredom

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Morning Coffee (9/11/13)

The Man Booker Shortlist is out.

X-Files fans: my friend Marisa at Give Me My Remote is doing a great series for the 20th anniversary in which she talks to TV writers about how the show influenced them. The first is with Hart Hanson of Bones.

Headline of the day: Angry moose vandalizes Norwegian school.

The Pope Gets on the Line, and Everyone Is Talking

Ooh, they're restoring Dickens's house.

Here's a great picture of what was happening under Julia Child's kitchen counter.

In case you also hadn't seen it yet, here is Tom Hiddleston gleefully tormenting Cookie Monster, and it's really worth the watch.

81 of Fall TV's Biggest Stars

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Recommendation: The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

They called it the killing day.
Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours.
Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed — or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander, Kansas — something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town — and in themselves.
(from RobinWasserman.com)

I like to say that Robin Wasserman's previous book, The Book of Blood and Shadow, is like The Da Vinci Code except actually good. Well, this one is like Stephen King's Under the Dome, except better. It deals with some similar themes of power and religion and drugs and evil in a small town that has been isolated by a sudden traumatic event, but the overall plot hangs together better here, civilization falls apart in a much more believable way, and the "solution" to the central mystery makes much more sense. (I sort of wanted to throw Under the Dome across the room at the end.)

Even more importantly (at least to me), the depth of the characterization made me really care what happened to the teenagers at the center of the story. Wasserman does a great job of seeding the action with genuine character moments that make the horrors of the story resonate even more. She starts with some "types" you'd expect in a small town story - the high school football star, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, etc. - but then manages to turn them into real, complex people, making both the reader and the other characters question their assumptions and prejudices. No one is quite what they seem, but it doesn't feel like a trick - it's just realistic, sometimes horrifyingly so.

I will say that horror is not my genre - but/and also that this book wasn't as frightening, exactly, as I feared. (I only had a few nightmares while reading it.) But it's intense. This book is not for the faint of heart, which is either a warning or an encouragement, depending on your tastes. A lot of terrible things happen, and Wasserman is pulling no punches here. There were a few times when I literally stopped, said "Did that just happen?", and reread a sentence or paragraph. But it never feels like bad or scary things are happening just for shock value - it's all earned and meaningful, never gratuitous. And the tone manages to be simultaneously bleak and hopeful, which is one of my favorite combinations. Oh, and did I mention the creepy? Bleak, hopeful, and creepy - a combination that makes it a perfect fall read.

(Disclaimer: I know Robin and she gave me an ARC, so I can't say I'm unbiased, but I wouldn't say I liked something I didn't.)

Morning Coffee (9/10/11)

Reuters has a long investigative piece on the underground market for adopted kids. It's horrifying, but important.

This profile of the Mountbatten sisters is fascinating.

After the previous mysterious teaser, here's a full trailer for forthcoming book S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst.

They found a long-lost Van Gogh in an attic!

This football scouting report for Daisy Miller is hilarious.

When tech empires fall: 10 companies and products that dominated... and then didn't. Along the same lines: What happened to Radio Shack? Remember when they were the ONE PLACE to get accessories for your home computer? They . . . did not maintain that position.

Whoa: Dominic West, Bill Nighy, and Imelda Staunton are going to be in a movie about LGBTQ activists supporting the 1984 miners' strike. That sounds amazing.

Yankee magazine's foliage site: fun and useful!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Morning Coffee (9/6/13)

Happy Friday!

Ooh, check out today's Jane Addams Google Doodle. Love it.

Let's see if my dad is actually reading: Here's a great story about food in the Patrick O'Brian novels.

My friends at The Ladies Who (Make) Lunch are back for the new school year! Yay!

Check out the gorgeous cover of Libba Bray's next book, Lair of Dreams.

Happy Puppy Awareness Week!

I just thought you might like to see Matthew Rhys for British GQ. You're welcome.

Speaking of spies, you may also want to read the New Yorker Claire Danes profile.

Kate Aurthur's interview with Rachelle Lefevre is delightful and involves a lot of cake decorating.

Whoa: Awesome faux vintage posters for every Star Trek episode.

The Fug Girls: Who Looked Best on the Summer Movie Circuit?

The Onion: Group Of Friends Engage In Passionate, Incoherent Discussion About Current Events

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review: Wild (at Read the Screen)

Yesterday I reviewed Cheryl Strayed's Wild over at Read the Screen:
I can absolutely see why a lot of readers loved this book – it’s a survival story, a woman out on her own, mixed with a heavy dose of family drama and tragic backstory. But I had trouble connecting with it because, while I’m impressed that Strayed in fact made it through this, I spend the entire book mentally yelling “Why are you doing this? Stop making bad decisions!” at her.

Morning Coffee (9/5/13)

Rape Victim Consoled and Encouraged by Surprise Call From Pope Francis

They're recovering Blackbeard's wreck.

The Agatha Christie estate has commissioned a new Poirot novel.

Mary Gaitskill's takedown of Gone Girl is great.

I don't know if or when Anno 1790 will make it to the U.S., but I certainly hope it does.

I still buy CDs.

Life as a Prayer: The Singing Nuns of Ann Arbor

The Football Star and the Wrath of his Would-Be Bride

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two Fun Ways to Follow Westminster

The British Parliament is back in session, which means that two of my favorite daily news sources are back too. If you're interested in keeping up with the day-to-day business of British politics, rather than the tiny bits and pieces that make it into the U.S. news, give these a try:

The Guardian's Politics Live with Andrew Sparrow: Andrew writes daily live blogs of all the political goings-on, and he manages to strike a perfect balance of just-the-facts straightforward narrative (and lots of links) with occasional touches of humor and whimsy - but never enough to annoyingly distract from the subject at hand. You can also follow him on Twitter.

The BBC's Today in Parliament: This is a daily podcast that provides a half-hour summary of the day's events. It's a great overview with interesting features and interviews thrown in, and it's particularly fascinating to hear the clips of the politicians themselves speaking, as I know I, for one, get the vast majority of my news in text form, so I never know what anyone sounds like.

Morning Coffee (9/4/13)

Huh: Nicaragua may try to reclaim 20% of Costa Rica in court

Big publishing news: Kindle MatchBook, in which Amazon will offer free or deeply discounted ebooks with paper book purchases. This is a fabulous idea.

Whoa. Guess how much money Candy Crush brings in.

The Young Adult Library Services Association has released this year's Best Fiction for Young Adults nominations.

Another, again, still: Alabama senator calls for removal of Toni Morrison novel aligned with Common Core

Bradley Whitford fans, you can now watch the Trophy Wife pilot for free online.

I can't believe this entire history of the coffee cup sleeve doesn't mention Patrick Dempsey or Made of Honor even once.

New Yorkers aren't rude. You are.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: The Heroine's Bookshelf


The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder
by Erin Blakemore

Memoirs of reading comprise one of my favorite genres - apparently if there's anything I like even more than reading, it's reading about other people reading. (Sara Nelson's So Many Books, So Little Time is my favorite, but I'm always looking for more - hit up the comments if you have one to recommend!) And I especially like them when I've been in a reading slump, as I have been lately, because even when reading memoirs aren't great, they always make me want to read. (I think part of getting out of this slump is going to involve posting more reviews here, so you've been warned.)

And this one is . . . not great, honestly. This is a book of essays about twelve literary heroines and their authors, focused around a specific virtue to be learned from each one. It was a quick, accessible read - I read almost all of it on the subway too and from my brother's new apartment this weekend. I definitely liked learning about some of the authors I didn't know much about, but I tended to get frustrated with the sections about the authors I have studied - and to some extent, I know, this will happen with any "entry level" work about a subject you know. Things are simplified or elided, and there were plenty of times when I disagreed with Blakemore's interpretations of the novels or some of her sweeping statements about the authors' lives or intentions. I think it would have been a stronger work had she been less concerned with fitting each heroine to a specific theme.

But at the same time, I really enjoy the idea of life lessons from books and authors - not so much the superficial ones like "Laura Ingalls Wilder teaches us to make do with little," though of course that's true enough, but the idea that we use books to figure out how to construct our lives. (If I ever write a reading memoir - yes, I've been thinking about one, I know you're shocked - that will probably be the focus.) So I enjoyed the sections in which Blackmore discussed the way the heroines' stories informed and were informed by their authors' lives and the events and culture of their times.

I've read nine of the twelve heroines Blackmore discusses, though To Kill a Mockingbird and Their Eyes Were Watching God were long enough ago that I should give them another look. She made me curious about the other three - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Color Purple, and Colette's Claudine books - and even more curious to read some decent biographies of all the authors. And in general, the book made me want to just read, so it served its purpose.

Morning Coffee (9/3/13)

Seamus Heaney has died. Irish author Sarah Rees Brennan has a nice remembrance of him.

No, “Twerk” and “Selfie” Have Not Been Added to the Oxford English Dictionary

So You Think You Can Impeach Obama: Here’s Why You’ll Fail (FLOWCHART)

The new show descriptions on the Hulu Fall Preview are really quite funny.

My friend Faythe, a teen librarian, did an awesome summer reading program at her library.

Fascinating: In Pictures: Writing a Torah Scroll

Whoa: Watch Gary Oldman go through 20 accents in 60 seconds.

The underselling of the movies