Amanda Gates
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A Musings - April 2012

I’m going to start a new recurring post where I can list some of the things I’m loving right now. I hope to post once a week, but you know how it is.

All Work & No Pay: The Great Speed Up. This is an older article in Mother Jones, but I only discovered it this week. It highlights the frustrations of your average employee in today’s workplace and tries to offer some solutions to the problems. (The fact that we’re one of only like six countries without a mandatory, paid maternity leave will always rile me up.) Talking about multitasking, which apparently no one can actually do well: “We need to believe there's a personal workaround for what we're conditioned to see as a personal shortcoming. When, in fact, the problem is the absurd premise that our economy can produce ever more with ever less.”

Jennifer Weiner’s post on how to be a novelist. While No. 1 & 2 don’t apply, I liked the parts about getting a liberal arts degree (done!), a job in journalism (done!) and having kids (done!). I think it’s always nice when big-time authors remember where they came from (nowhere) and share the secrets with the little guys.

Teachers on Hulu. Did you ever watch the show Teachers on NBC? It had Justin Bartha (I love him in everything) and Sarah Shahi. It was short-lived, but cute. Well, it was based on a British comedy (of course it was!) starring Andrew Lincoln, who I love from Love Actually and Walking Dead. The British version is on Hulu right now. I’ve watched a few episodes and it’s pretty hilarious and highly inappropriate.

Sidenote: Speaking of Sarah Shahi, I just finished re-watching Life (on Hulu & Netflix streaming right now), starring Shahi and Damien Lewis (love him in everything too). That show was excellent and NBC cancelled it too soon. Story of my life.

Chicken Apple Sausage Daybreaker at Caribou. I’m addicted to this sandwich and it takes all my strength not to buy it every damn day (because, um, it's not that good for you). The croissant roll is buttery and the sausage is the perfect amount of sweet. It’s just delicious. Beats an Egg McMuffin and any breakfast sandwich from Starbucks by a landslide.

Tilt World. I just discovered this cute little game for the iPhone. It’s ridiculously simple, and even a little slow-moving at first, but it’s also cute and addicting. It’s 99 cents, but when I found it they were offering it for free – so keep an eye out!

What are you loving this week?

Posted: Fri, 04/27/2012 - 09:15 | Comments: 1

See Part I here.

Winners on Cable

Southland: Another excellent season. Lucy Liu was a great addition for this season’s run. Ben had some major issues, but hopefully he can turn them around. When my husband, who’s a cop, can say it’s a pretty true account of the job (as opposed to Blue Bloods, Law & Order et al), that means something. I hope it gets on Netflix soon so everyone can get onboard.

Walking Dead: When I was writing about TV last fall, I never expected to watch this show. But my husband convinced me (it was a days-long discussion) and so, because I love him, I did. After digesting the first season on Netflix in one weekend (I do not recommend this), I’ve discovered I can handle the zombie apocalypse better on a one-episode-per-week basis, and even then it still gives me nightmares sometimes. (My irrational train of thought: "How would I take care of a two-year-old while running from zombies?!" It’s too much.) The dialogue can be way cheesy, the editing can be poor, there are certain characters who need to die or reinvent (Lori) and the storyline for the first half of the season was way too slow, but it got much better and ended with a bang. It's like a trashy romance or young adult series. You're like, "OK, why am I watching this? Ohhh yeah, because it's pretty awesome."

Mad Men: I was excited that right after Walking Dead ended, I was able to start watching Mad Men. I had caught up in the fall, so it was fun to join the rest of the world and watch it in present day. I’m really enjoying the season so far. It’s a slow-burning show, but that’s OK in this case. Still love Joan, still hate Pete, still think Don is destined to become Roger if he isn’t careful. Good stuff.

On the Fence

Community: The show keeps getting weirder and weirder, and this season hasn’t even been about school. They’re a study group for a class they never go to. It happens with lots of shows (see Friends/ Joey, The Big Bang/Sheldon), but here again the characters are becoming caricatures of their former selves from season one: Troy is dumber, Abed is weirder, Jeff is more of a douche, Shirley is more annoying, if that’s possible—it’s getting old. The part that make me laugh are so few lately and it's really too bad. I was a champion for this show when it first started.

The Office: Wow, this season went downhill for me. And I’m bummed. But, I think they should’ve just ended it last year with Steve Carell leaving. There are still some funny moments, but they’re few and far between. They're recycling old story lines (Oh, Andy has rage? I didn't know that! Oh, Ryan wants Kelly when he can't have her? That's new!). I don’t even really like Pam’s character anymore and that makes me sad. And with Dwight’s new spin-off (which, what? How will that even be good?), another reboot of The Office just doesn’t seem worth it.

Stopped Watching

Suburgatory: I actually enjoyed this show. I think the main characters are fun and many of the storylines were funny, but it kept stacking up on the DVR without us really wanting to put in the time. So, we canned it.

30 Rock: Here’s another show that just kept getting weirder on us. And while it was still pretty funny, like Suburgatory it kept stacking up on the DVR because we never felt in the mood to watch such a weirdo show. In the end, I only really liked Liz and Jack, but even Alec Baldwin was starting to get on my nerves.

Two Broke Girls: We gave this a couple of tries because we really watch nothing else on Monday nights but HIMYM. But the laugh track, the stupid dirty jokes and the blonde girl’s annoying voice made me turn the channel for good.

Maybe Next Year

Happy Endings:
We did catch several episodes of Happy Endings, just by watching it after Modern Family and it was pretty hilarious. I could see myself making this a regular watch next fall.

Posted: Mon, 04/23/2012 - 08:48 | Comments: 4

Last summer I made some predictions about the new fall shows. I think I was 3 for 5, with The Playboy Club, Charlie’s Angels and Pan Am all getting the boot. Once Upon a Time and Last Man Standing stuck around. And I can’t believe Whitney did too.

Then last fall I wrote my two-part thoughts on both the new and old shows I watched during premiere week. As the shows wind down (or since some already have), here are some season-ending thoughts.

WINNERS

HIMYM: This show has remained awesome this season. The finding-the-mother storyline has never bothered me; I just enjoy the show one episode at a time. I love how these characters continue to change, yet I still love them all. That doesn’t always happen with a show (i.e. The Office). And this week’s episode threw us a bone! As long as it’s not some trick, we know the mother will be found sometime before 2015. I can deal with that.

New Girl: Best new show of the year, by far. I thought it was funny at the beginning, but it only got funnier. It’s an ensemble show now (Nick is my favorite) and the subtle jokes and quirky personalities just make the show. The last couple episodes have been so funny, they’re knocking some of my all-time favorite Office and Friends eps off the list.

Raising Hope: We still love this show, too. It’s not quite as off-the-wall as My Name is Earl, but the recurring characters and references to the former show are fun to pick up on. While they’re quite kooky, they still have Hope’s best interest at heart. Martha Plimpton is excellent, and after seeing him in both Life and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (as a dramatic actor), I think Garret Dillahunt is most definitely underrated.

Parenthood: I love the Bravermans. They make me cry every week. I know there’s rumors the show might not come back next year, but I refuse to believe such nonsense. The fact that I can see Peter Kruase and Lauren Graham on TV (on the same show!) just makes me happy. (Even if Graham is getting way too skinny.)

The Middle: This show is still great for all the reasons I said so last fall: It feels more real than say Modern Family, because it’s about a middle-class family in suburban nowhere just trying to make ends meet. The kids aren’t gorgeous, the parents work three jobs between them, their house is a mess… That’s life. And they get by.

Modern Family: We’re still loving this show, too. Though, Julie Bowen’s thinness is worrisome and I wish Sophia Vergara's character didn’t have to wear belly shirts all the time. It doesn't feel nearly as real as The Middle, but the writing is still pretty darn funny.

Parks & Rec: I have to say that even though I was sad when they pulled Community for several months, I kind of forgot about it because this show is just so good. I prefer this and Up All Night on Thursday nights, hands down. I love nearly every character on P&R, and the campaign for city council has been pretty hilarious. Walking across the ice to “Get On Your Feet”? I died.

Up All Night: After the first two episodes last fall, I was a fan of Chris and Reagan, but not of Ava. Well, I’ve changed my tune. Maya Rudolph’s Ava has really grown on me and I love the whole cast. This show is hilarious, it has heart, it feels true to life (relationships-wise, not income-wise) and Applegate and Arnett have really good chemistry.

The Big Bang Theory: My husband loves this show and it still makes me laugh a lot. Though I’m worried the gross-out, homophobic, sex humor is leaning more and more toward Two and a Half Men, and well, there was a reason I stopped watching that show. But, those are only bits so far and entire episodes don’t feel out of control yet, so I’m still watching and laughing; but it’s always better when Penny, Amy and Bernadette are around.

Bones: I was one who was very pleased with the way Bones ended last season, and watching Brennan and Booth through pregnancy and a relationship, all the while still solving the crimes—it’s been a great season. I would like to see a little more PDA between the two, though. They’re supposed to love each other, yet they stay very hands off, even in the home.

Since this is already getting too wordy, I'll post my Winners on Cable, plus the shows I'm On the Fence about and the Losers next week.

What shows fall on your winners list?

Posted: Fri, 04/13/2012 - 14:16 | Comments: 5