Friday, August 29, 2008

What I'm Watching, v. 3.0

The fall TV season is gearing up earlier than I expected, which means it's time for one of my favorite recurring posts: the What I'm Watching fall TV catch-up, wherein I get to yammer about the shows I'll be watching and the shows I might be watching for the coming season (and, in some cases, why you should watch them, too).

This season is reasonably predictable, and far less full than I expected, schedule-wise--it turns out that three of my shows (Lost, Friday Night Lights, and the Joss Whedon's new series Dollhouse) don't start until January. Similarly, the crop of new shows isn't as diffuse or as magnetic as it was last year, so I only have one definite newcomer for the fall. Here goes:


Mad Men

Sunday, 10 p.m., AMC
Premiere: Already running (Season 2)
Premise: A look at the lives of Madison Avenue ad execs in 1960
This show is gorgeous and eminently grown-up--an unsentimental period piece with an ensemble cast of finely molded characters and a truckload of cognitive dissonance. Why does Don Draper commit himself so wholly to a lifestyle with which he's so uncomfortable? Does Peggy want to succeed or be seduced, and does she have to choose? When will Joan's boobs get their own storyline? (Kidding. Joan's boobs are their own storyline.) Some of these characters are a little stand-offish, but every single one of them is complex, interesting, and at least a tiny bit sympathetic. (Even Pete Campbell. I love Pete, insecure, self-important moron that he is.) AMC is running a second-season catch-up marathon this weekend, for anybody who's interested.


(Yep, this is about the level on which Bones functions.)

Wednesday, 8 p.m., FOX
Premiere: September 3 (Season 4)
Premise: A socially awkward forensic anthropologist and her hottie FBI partner solve murders using the victims' skeletons. Grossness, hilarity, and meaningful glances ensue.
This show pulled something of a jerkfaced move at the end of last season, but random rerun encounters over the summer have confirmed that I'm so not over my favorite silly police procedural. Somehow I just can't quit the Jeffersonian gang--not just Booth and Brennan, though I like where the writers have taken them, but everyone, especially when they're all together. (I even like Cam.) (Also, I must reiterate that although I object to the fate of one Zachary Uriah Addy, I am beyond pleased that my favorite ridiculous wunderkind therapist survived the season. I love Sweets.) Count me in for more goofy crime-solving hijinks, and possibly some genuinely strong episodes--they're more than capable when everything's firing on all cylinders.

The Office

(Surprise! The Office is not funny in still pictures. However, my sense of consistency requires me to include one anyway. Enjoy a Dwight acrostic.)

Thursday, 9:00 p.m., NBC
Premiere: September 25 (Season 5)(!)
Premise: An appallingly awkward and occasionally tear-jerking comedy about life at a paper company in Pennsylvania.
I frankly don't remember Season 4 all that well--I'm out of the rhythm of life in Scranton--but The Office rarely fails at being simultaneously hilarious and heartwrenching, and I have complete faith in the writing team behind it. (Oh, yes: Season 4. Jan and Michael broke up; Jan's pregnant; Jim failed to propose; Dwight and Angela: Part Deux. Amy Ryan--"Michael as a girl"--replaces Toby. TOBY!)

Pushing Daisies
Wednesday, 8:00 p.m., ABC
Premiere: October 1 (Season 2)
Premise: Ned the Piemaker brings dead things back to life, with consequences.
This is by far my best-loved new show from last season, and is rapidly becoming an all-time favorite, period. It's like nothing else on TV--honey-sweet, brilliantly colorful, randomly musical, and yet utterly macabre; it's also practically impossible to describe without visual aids. Therefore, this video effectively covers the "rules" of the show as established in the pilot...

...and this one makes me salivate over all that's promised for Season 2, while also showing off the extravagant visuality of Barry Sonnenfeld's direction and art direction:

I can't recommend the weird, wonderful kookiness of this show enough, especially for people who like mysteries, love stories, cute baker guys, nuns, funny dialogue, bees and honey, cool costumes, Alfred Hitchcock, musicals, pretty cinematography, synchronized swimming, personality disorders, fine cheeses, Kristin Chenoweth, and/or pie. has a bunch of episodes online; DVDs come out September 16. Learn it, live it, love it.

30 Rock

(And you wonder why I identify with Liz Lemon.)

Thursday, 9:30 p.m., NBC
Premiere: October 30 (Season 3)
Premise: Tina Fey plays herself, only single. (A behind-the-scenes look at the life of a female head writer on a sketch comedy show.)
Even when it wasn't totally consistent, this show was excellent and featured some pretty awesome performers doing peak-level work, namely Tina Fey as Liz Lemon (representative of an entire subset of the female population, if you were wondering) and Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy. Now that it's all Emmy-winning hot stuff, it's just as crazy and just as good, though in my opinion the stunt casting went a little overboard last season (except Carrie Fisher and Will Arnett, because I can never get enough of Will Arnett). There is practically nothing I don't love about Liz Lemon and her band of merry men (plus Jenna), and I can't wait to see what curveballs they'll throw and what new slang I'll learn. Say it with me now: By the hammer of Thor! (Actually, I am waiting and waiting for the day when I can say, in any context, "Gimme your fingernails!" "NO!" Oh, Kenneth.)



Tuesday, 9:00 p.m., FOX
Premiere: September 9
I recently heard someone call this show a triple whammy: it's going to attract fans of Alias and Lost (because it's a J.J. Abrams production), Dawson's Creek (because of Josh Jackson), and The X-Files (from which it has stolen at least its basic premise and possibly its structure). I personally am in it for the J.J. factor--I never watched Dawson and don't need to revisit The X-Files--but if it's as good as his other work, and as good as the huge investment FOX has made in it (a $10 million pilot), all of these elements will fuse into something that rises above all three. Here's to hoping it rules, and that FOX doesn't cancel it before it gets to that point.

On the Fence: Things I Might Watch, But Probably Not

Dirty Sexy Money (Actually quite good; might re-incorporate if time)
Chuck (Ditched last season, but am reconsidering)
Kath and Kim (Abysmal previews, but I like Selma Blair and Molly Shannon)
Life on Mars (Fandom is peeing their pants over the original British version)

What are you all watching this fall?

Blessed are the patient, for they shall have sweaters that fit

Phase one of the Tangled Yoke Cardigan is done. This is the body, from the hem to the armpits, plus a few inches--I followed the pattern and then (with much impatience, and a fairly long chat with myself about sweaters that don't fit) tacked on extra rows to accomodate my ridiculous long-waistedness. It took a long time (with, you'll remember, a baby blanket in the middle), but I'm so pleased with it; I just love the way the fabric looks. I sometimes stop knitting and admire the flow of the stitches off the needles--the smoothness of the stockinette and the happy tweediness of the yarn I chose.

Now it's on to the sleeves, which I'm knitting using a new technique, the Magic Loop, which will allow me to knit both sleeves simultaneously on the same circular needle. My boss at work has been teaching me (best meetings ever), and I know it's the kind of thing that will ultimately change my life--i.e. eliminate the possibility of me finishing one sleeve and being simply unable to fathom starting another--but is currently not the epitome of ease and simplicity. Does this photo look like a random tangle of yarn to you? Because it does to me. But I'm slowly figuring out the mechanics of the Magic Loop--a weird study in kinesthetic vs. visual learning, if ever there was one--and I suspect I'll be patting myself on the back when I realize both sleeves are a) finished and b) identical. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Couch feet 2, actual feet 0

Question: What are the odds of spraining(?) not one but both of one's pinkie toes in one evening at home?

Answer: For normal people, probably fairly low. For me? Chance of departure 100%.

If you must know, I was watching Mad Men and winding yarn balls--walking laps around a hank of yarn wrapped around the end of a table, rolling it into a ball as I went. And the little carved wooden feet on my couch, I swear, jumped out and attacked, all "I am a (paisley antique) lion and your little toe is a cute baby grazing-type animal!" I fended it off in a spectacular show of tripping, hopping around, and moaning, you know, as you do. After the first incident (aka "the left one"), I moved my ball-winding apparatus away from the couch and walked in the opposite direction (exposing the other foot to harm), which apparently angered the foot-chomping monster even further. Cue second ruthless baby-toe attack; tripping, hopping, moaning.

I don't really think they're broken--it hurts to move them, but they do move--but the shade of purple they're sporting this morning is really quite pretty, so you never know. And at least I'm symmetrical; it wouldn't do to have just one invalid foot.

I gotta start wearing shoes.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The little things

Smallish things that make me smile:

- I have rediscovered my passion for the Tangled Yoke Cardigan and have either one or three rows left on the body. Next up: knitting the sleeves, two at once! It's magic! (Magic Loop, to be exact.)

- Rilo Kiley. Nothing new; I'm just loving them an extra lot these days.

- Joe Biden makes me nervous, PR-wise, but I like what he stands for. (If nothing else, he gives a killer law-school commencement speech, right, James?)

- BBC Pride and Prejudice: Never gets less funny, romantic, and all-around wonderful, if you've got six hours lying around.

- A lovely, foggy day at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, especially the Women Impressionists exhibit. I do love me some Cassatt, and others. (Nitpick: Shouldn't it be "Woman Impressionists"? "Women" is not an adjective or even a noun-type descriptor, guys.)

- Non-denim, non-khaki, non-fancy pants that fit. Thanks, Old Navy!

- British hip-hop, esp. of the girl-fronted variety. Why is it always so much better?

- Sunday afternoon + Gone With the Wind + friends + foooood.

I like my life.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Get me to the church on time

I just got back from a wedding. One of my oldest friends married the man of her dreams this weekend, and was nice enough to let me wear a polka-dotted dress, carry a pretty pink bouquet, and share the day with her.

I always think that being a bridesmaid is kind of like going to boot camp, minus, you know, the running and push-ups: it's an intense period of collaboration, often with complete strangers who will soon become your closest allies. (Also, there are matching outfits that you probably didn't pick out.) For four days, I shared a one-bedroom apartment with five other women; we started out various levels of strangers, but you can bet that by the time the bride had to pee between the ceremony and reception, we were a well-oiled machine. You'd think that kind of people-time would have forced me into some kind of fit of introversion--I certainly thought so--but you'd be wrong: I loved it. Fun girls to hang out with, whenever you want! Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version, obviously) playing in the background! Who knew I'd miss having roommates?

I guess I'm something of a habitual bridesmaid--well past the three-wedding limit that's supposed to keep me single forever--which I think strikes other people as odd or maybe a nuisance, but instead reminds me that I have a lot of amazing friends, who apparently like me back. I sort of like the singleness of purpose that comes in the days before a wedding ("We must write 80 gazillion place cards, organized by height and middle name! We must tie perfect bows around the heart-shaped cookie cutters! We must watch Newsies and get massages!"), and spending time with my closest girlfriends JUST at this key moment in their lives, even if this key moment in their lives involves running a million errands and keeping the hot-glue gun running and thinking you'll never wear a bra with straps again. In 25 years of memories of the bride, some of my fondest will probably include hanging out in her new, un-air-conditioned apartment, with no place to sit, just being us. (Also, I now have a comprehensive list of To Dos and Not To Dos for my own [theoretical] wedding. Don't think I'm not paying attention, people with your crazy metaphorical unity exercises!)

Anyway, it was a delightful wedding (and I should know, with all my pretty-smiling, bouquet-holding experience); the ceremony was personal and meaningful and dotted with laughter and tears, and people actually danced at the reception, and the music was good, and the cake had mousse swirled into it, and the bride and groom were absurdly happy and are now married, and that is what counts in the end.

Congratulations and best wishes to the bride and groom. Thanks for letting me be there, and call me the next time you want to share some french toast casserole.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

12 of 12: August

Live from Oakland, it's...August 12! For background info on the 12 of 12 project (and 12s from fine folks all over the world), check out Chad Darnell's blog.

For info on my 12 of 12, keep reading.

7:11 - Wow. I'm scary in the morning. Sorry about that. (These waking-up photos seem to be getting progressively worse. This is not encouraging.)

7:53 - Somehow, choosing a pair of shoes was a major undertaking today. Can't we all just live in the Land of the Almighty Flip-Flop? (I ended up wearing the gray Chuck Taylors, which probably isn't better professionalism-wise, except that you can't see my chippy toenail polish.)

8:17 - Breakfast was improvised at work (ooh, bad shopping habits), but at least I got my fiber: one packet of oatmeal and leftover granola.

10:40 - Check out the new trailer for Pushing Daisies! I...cannot wait until October 1 for this, for Olive (and Lily) in a nunnery, and for Lee Pace being adorable, and for unorthodox urban honey pioneers, and for more of the nameless morgue guy. And for everybody lovin' somebody they shouldn't be lovin'. I just can't. Also, I think "I wake pies and make the dead" would be an amazing subtitle for a blog. (Note to friends: Please don't let me start another blog.)

12:00 - Sneaking (or perhaps "going" is more the word) home for lunch. Sometimes the Key kitchen is just too much of a wasteland to believed. But so early in the week? Bah.

12:22 - AHHHHH. White pizza and Jon Stewart (who...okay, is President Bush here) in my happy, shady, quiet apartment. Not at work. Brilliant.

12:48 - Ooh! Getting snippy, Grand Lake Theater sign! "For a good time, call 415-556-4862." Heh.

5:25 - Heading across the erector-set bridge to my hometown, to pick up a bridesmaid's dress.

5:45 - Rebecca and an ice-cream cone from Double Rainbow: Best time-killer ever? You decide.

6:30 - I was initially skeptical about the whole "polka-dot bridesmaid's dress" concept, but have now been completely mesmerized and mollified by the poofy, shiny adorableness of this dress. I would kind of like to wear it every day, with white string gloves. That wouldn't be weird...would it?

8:32 - Home to fresh Netflix. It's the end of Series 2 of (new) Dr. Who, which I suspect is going to make me bawl my eyes out, as I am horribly, uncharacteristically spoiled and know what's about to happen. So, naturally, I plan to Handbrake it, put it on my iPod, and watch it on the plane later this week, where I can freak lots and lots of people out with my emotional anguish over Rose Tyler. I'm awesome, what can I say?

9:25 - I constantly want to mock synchronized diving, but then I know that any personal "diving" experience from that kind of height would only involve lots of pushing and falling and screaming, and a belly flop at the end. So if anybody wants to try and choreograph that, let's talk.

Good times, good times. Next month: September 12! Surprise!

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Cold soba noodles with soy/mirin dipping sauce?

Or lemon-pepper pappardelle with olive oil and parmesan?

At least I picked a genre: noodles + two ingredients.


Monday, August 04, 2008