À la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

…posting to my blog for the first time in over a year, WHUT. There’s a few technical things I’ve been vaguely waiting to fix behind the scenes, and then there’s LIFE and all that, and… yeah. HI. ‘Sup?

Watching: OK, I was rewatching all of the original Charmed, but I got to around when SOMEONE becomes a SOMETHING (no spoilers)…and I just sorta stopped. I did miss those goofy witches. I watched the first couple episodes of the new Charmed (which is really what sent me back) but it really annoys me that they got such a cool cast of girls and then put this doofy white dude in charge of them a la Giles from Buffy and so yeah I haven’t watched it after the first three. In current TV, I still adore Blackish and Chicago Fire. New TV wise, I am liking A Million Little Lies, even though it 100% has party-of-five syndrome (too many issues in one small group of people), and New Amsterdam, which makes me break down almost every week. But it’s good. Best hospital show in absolutely years. I started watching The Patriot (TV show not the dumb old movie) on Amazon–but I can only watch it when I stay late at work on that laptop b/c neither my personal laptop nor my home desktop are updated enough to currently watch shows on Prime, yes I’m pathetic, and now that I’ve made a personal vow to leave with the kids every night, well, I haven’t been able to watch anymore of it. But it’s SUPER cool and SO quirky. Oh, but the best, best, BEST thing I’ve seen in absolute years is Killing Eve, which I completely inhaled a weekend or so ago and cannot stop thinking about ever since. So good! So so so sadly I have not been to a movie in at least a few months… I’m having a hard time even remembering what I saw last! OMG THAT’s SO HORRIFYING. 🙁 I’ll come back and talk movies in another post if it comes to me.

Reading: I’ve instituted a new system where I read a YA or middle grades book in the morning, on the way to work, and an adult book on the way home. It’s been working great until I get stuck in a book I don’t want to read and then the system sorta breaks down and I listen to tunes instead, HA. Anyway, since I haven’t posted here all year, I haven’t made a book list (I KNOW, DID YOU JUST DIE OF SHOCK!), but I do have goodreads COMPLETELY updated (it’s got an app, it’s easier…) so you can check there. Some recent reads I would recommend are: 

Adult:

  • Friday Black, by Nan Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, a short story collection, the first and last stories of which are just mindblowingly good.
  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik, a slow (slow) burn but it really pays off in the end, a modern fantasy fairytale.
  • Graphic novel series Saga by Brian K. Vaughn (I’m caught up to Volume 9) and Monstress by Marjori M. Liu (there are three volumes out, GO START!), I love them both so much.
  • Muse of Nightmares, by Laini Taylor, the sequel to Strange the Dreamer, both of which are amazeballoons.

YA/Middle Grades: 

  • Kendare Blake‘s sister queen series “Three Dark Crowns“, ALL of those books were fabulous.
  • Endling: The Last, by Katherine Applegate, the beginning of a new high fantasy series by the author of Ivan!!
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, a good kid book alternative to Spinning Silver mentioned above.
  • And anything by Jason Reynolds or Kwame Alexander, two of the hottest young authors out there. And by hot I mean happening and in the news, as I have now had to clarify to numerous groups of silly students!

Listening to: I have bought sadly so very little music this year. It’s actually really stressing me out. The three albums I have listened to the most this year are Kylie Minogue “Golden”, Meg Myers “Take Me to the Disco”, and Matt Nathanson “Sings His Sad Heart” (wow, what a step up in quality!!), and I’ve been dipping into Cat Power “Wanderer” in the past few weeks. I do have a list of four albums I think I want from various top-10 lists out there (the latest from Kasey Musgraves, Janelle Monae, Mitski and Lucy Dacus) and I want the boygenius EP (the boygenius that Lucy Dacus is a part of, not any of the various boygenius things that come up when I search iTunes) but not sure it’s out yet? I also want to check out No Name, a female rapper.

Eating: Cooking all my breakfasts and lunches every week, as I generally do during the school year, and particularly obsessed with Chrissy Teigens’ Cravings 2: Hungry for More book. Everything I make out of it has been delicious.

Drinking: Coke, coke and more Coke. Oh, Coke, why can’t I quit you?

Knitting, quilting, sewing: I’ve done a TON of sewing throughout 2018 (9 dresses maybe? tunic/dress types) and I’ve still got quite a bit of fabric and new patterns to try. I made two new ones from the Lou Box Dress pattern just last month–a knit dress version that is perfection (OK, maybe a little wide in the neck but perfection, srsly), and a woven tunic version that is basically a wearable muslin. I haven’t got the fit right in the woven for a dress yet. I’m knitting a brioche scarf, and I have a sweater I have sort of gotten back to that I believe I started in January (oops). I want to make that my Christmas break project… we’ll see. 🙂 No quilting has happened recently though. 

Focusing on: Separating home life and work life. Trying to leave with the kids or as close to it as possible. Not bringing any grading or work home AT ALL. I get it done at school, or I don’t get it done. I’m not going to get into an argument with people about the insanely overworked, underpaid status of teachers these days but let’s just say I’m done letting myself be a victim of a sick system that gets millions of hours of free work from its primarily female workforce. It’s sexist bullshit frankly and were the majority of teachers men there would have been a government-sanctioned revolt a million years ago. But then again, would we even still have public education these days, if it wasn’t primarily women doing all the work???? 

So, that’s me. How about you? Leave me a note and let me know what you’re reading!

Summer Television: The Glades

Wouldn’t you stop being that arrogant the 59th time you accused the wrong person of murder?

I try to like the Glades; Matt Saracen*’s [so to speak] wife plays the main female character, after all. But every week it is insufferably the same (and also: insufferable).

The lead detective, otherwise known as most arrogant portrayal of a cop ever in the universe, seems to accuse each and every single person he meets as he investigates the crime. He is 100% positive they are the killer, tells them that repeatedly, then gets a phone call while interrogating them, leaves the room and goes straight to accusing someone else of being the killer (now 100% positive it’s them). Somehow I fail to see that as an effective method of policework.

Every week, with every person, after he tells them “I KNOW you’re the killer,” he then tells them not to leave town in what sounds like the same exact wording every.single.time. Even Law & Order doesn’t make the audience listen to the Miranda rights with every single arrest.

It’s as formulaic as episodes of House, and quite reminiscent of them in fact. House decides it’s X insane disease no one’s ever heard of, gives the patient some horribly intense medicine, then figures out it’s actually X completely ordinary disease that the previous medicine actually makes much, much worse and he’s basically either killed or almost killed them by his overthinking of their possible illness.

In the Glades, he thinks A is the killer, nope it’s B, nope it’s A again, nope it’s C, nope it’s A again, nope B…ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Sure, it’s fictional, and I need to work on suspending my disbelief. But seriously: Wouldn’t you be less cocky after being wrong so many times in so many episodes?

*Zach Gilford, the actor who played Matt Saracen on Friday Night Lights, is married to the female lead on The Glades. See some incredibly lovely photos of their wedding over here.

À la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

Teaching: Sixth-grade language arts! It’s just a maternity leave position and I 100% acquired it via nepotism…but hey I am getting paid to be a teacher for roughly seven weeks (only 2 left) and that’s better than if I hadn’t gotten any teaching this semester at all, which is what is really looked like was going to be the case.

Reading: A very very LOT of things. Thank you, full-hour morning commute and sometimes-longer afternoon one. I’m just about to start Bitterblue, book three in Kristin Cashore’s series (books 1 and 2 were wonderful) and I can’t wait!

Watching: I just did an epic rewatch of all four seasons of Everwood in just a couple of weeks. I had forgotten how whiny whiny OMG SO WHINY the first season is but it does get so very good after that and it’s really worth watching S1 so you have the entire Amy/Ephram story at your fingertips. The Bright/Hannah stuff from S3 to S4 is still oh so very awesome as well. I still have a couple episodes of Awake and Once Upon a Time to finish out from the past season waiting in my Hulu queue. And I really want to watch Tiny Furniture (on Netflix) now that Girls is getting such buzzity buzz. (Not that I’ll be able to watch that. Did I mention I finally got all the way rid of my cable some months back when it became clear I would not have a teaching job? [I had gotten rid of all the awesome channels back when I quit my job to go back for MA #2.])

Listening to: Kishi Bashi “151A”!!!. NPR’s Stephen Thompson just kept recommending it over and over on what seems like every podcast I listen to and although he is not my favorite person on any of those podcasts I finally gave it a chance and holy toledo it is just beautiful. So beautiful! Dang, I guess I might like you after all, Stephen Thompson.

Eating: A metric tonne of berries. Blue, black, straw, rasp… I am berrying it up over here.

Drinking: Magic Hat Elderberry, Magic Hat Pistil, Shiner Ruby Redbird, Lefthand Good JuJu (probably my very favorite these days), Fat Tire Shift… There’s more in the fridge but I am too lazy to go look. Suffice it to say, the options seem to be particularly plentiful and yummy these days. Hopefully for you as well. 🙂

Knitting: Technically I am testing a design for someone but it took me forever to even get started so I bet all the other testknitters will be done before I’m even halfway through. There are a couple other things on the needles but I haven’t looked at any of them in ages and by ages I do really mean many months.

Quilting: Just finished a doozy. Have three baby tops ready and waiting to be quilted. Hopefully I’ll get to those right quick so I can make another one for ME ME ME.

Sewing: About to make a second Renfrew (short sleeved and V-necked this time) and then going to do some ‘muslins’ of skirts (but not out of muslin!) and see how that goes.

Getting: Not much sleep. 5:40 a.m. wakeup call means I have to really try hard to curb my nightowl tendencies and sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Speaking of…it’s 12:45 and I’m getting picked up at 8:45 tomorrow to drag some stuff to Goodwill. So I’d best be on my way to bed right quick now. Laters, yo. 🙂

À la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

Attempting: To study for tomorrow’s Chemistry final. It would be really hard for me NOT to get an A in the class at this point (technically I think I could even get a B based on points alone without taking the final, if the professor were to allow that), but I have this secret desire to get 100 and beat my score from exam 2 (98). It probably won’t happen as I always make at least one silly mistake, but we’ll see!

Making: Not much.

Reading: I have done almost no non-school reading (I mean, seriously) but I did JUST read “Divergent” by Veronica Roth and it was fantastic!

Watching: Oh, summer TV. Such a frustrating season, when I have the time to watch and yet nothing is on. I am liking Haven again this summer, tolerating The Glades and In Plain Sight*, and not really liking White Collar AT ALL right now (sigh. so sad! it’s one of my favorite shows normally!). But this summer’s [White Collar] plots have all felt super rushed and sloppy to me and I’m not thrilled with how they’ve handled almost anything! Boo. I guess I am also watching Burn Notice but it’s not really pulling me in this season either. 🙁

*I find I can watch mediocre shows with mediocre expectations and not get pissed unlike say The Killing for which there were SUPER HIGH expectations, some created by itself, and then it SUCKED so bad that it wasn’t even mediocre. And thus became unwatchable.

I HAVE seen a bunch of movies this summer though so I just threw up a post with quickie reviews. I mean, why are you here if you don’t want to know what I thought? 🙂 Heh.

Listening to: STILL obsessed with the new Bon Iver which I LOVELOVELOVE. (Especially after we went to Milwaukee to see him/them in concert the other weekend. Blew the roof off.) Not listening to much else, just an occasional spin through The Weeknd (that link lets you download their album, BTW). Oh and also the new Beyonce. I’ve been doing a lot of bus-commute iPod listening but mostly to super old playlists of my own (Airplane Alphabet Soup 2007 anyone?). Don’t know why but those are the songs I’ve been wanting lately.

Failing at: Losing weight.

À la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

Attempting: To drink only water. If you know how I feel about water, you know how horrifying this is.

Making: Lots and lots of quilt blocks. Would like to finish another quilt for ME ME ME and then two more baby cousins. Plus I have some other things percolating. Knitting has fallen off the radar for now.

Reading: I’m almost finished with One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick, which I am reading after reading Generation Kill by Evan Wright, after rewatching that HBO series (so fantastic). I am Oorahing around my apartment for every tiny accomplishment and berating myself for my lack of physical fitness. This is what reading about Marines will do to you.

Watching: I have rewatched a TON of stuff during vacation: all four seasons of BSG, the three (so far) seasons of SOA (Sons of Anarchy), the only one brilliant season of Standoff, Generation Kill, Life. I am really excited that White Collar returns on Tuesday because current TV offerings are definitely in the doldrums.

Listening to: The new Bon Iver which I LOVELOVELOVE. The new Death Cab which is good but pales in comparison to the Bon Iver. The new Submarines which is so! much! fun!
Failing at: Losing weight.

Perhaps this is a problem only for those of us who watch way (WAY!) too many hours of TV.

But when different shows all use the same actor for guest spots, man it can get confusing. Say, for example, this summer (when I meant to blog about it) when Max Martini, who I do really enjoy, was on Dark Blue, Lie to Me, AND White Collar…ALL WITHIN A WEEK’S TIME. I kept getting confused as to whether he was good or bad!! At the time, I had chalked this up to “it’s hard to find guests in the summer” until the fall season started and this phenomenon started hitting me over the head every week.

Michael Gaston was a recurring (but not ‘regular’) assassin on Rubicon on Sundays…and then OH HAI a recurring lawyer on Terriers the following Tuesday. Jennifer Morrison played a total nutbar on Chase one week…and a sorta nutbar on How I Met Your Mother the following week.

Given that they are mostly guest spots, and that the actor involved probably would not know when they were airing, and shows probably don’t ask a guest “hey, have you done eps for any other shows lately?” I guess I can see how it could happen. But then a series regular on one show (Bobby on Supernatural) shows up as a guest spot on another show (The Mentalist)? (And, I don’t watch it, but his IMDB page lists him as popping up on Law & Order: LA as well!!) It’s crazymaking for a serious TV addict like me.

I could carry on with this list but I know you’re already bored. I just think there are more actors out there who could probably use a paycheck. Am I right?

Give me more, I want more more more…TV, that is.

So yeah, I’m watching even MORE TV than ever these days. And I can’t believe that when I gave you my big summer TV roundup I forgot to mention White Collar!!

I mean, really, how could I? It was by far my favorite show this summer. It’s a mostly gun- and violence-free version of Burn Notice. The New York atmosphere is filmed in SUCH a fantastic way, it makes me CRAZY homesick. Super clever, super stylish, great relationships between the characters. I really love it. And the season finale had such great work from Matt Bomer. Even if I’ve had just as hard a time as anyone else caring very much about Kate (I mean, we’ve never seen any real evidence of them having a great relationship or her actually being either a) super in love with Neal or b) interesting in any way), Bomer’s portrayal of a man in desperation was fantastic. And the ending of the season finale??!?! I mean WHAT?!?!? I’m assured by things I’ve read elsewhere online that what appears to have happened could not actually have happened and I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed on that one… My ONLY complaint about this season would be that in the first four (at least) episodes, all the Elizabeth scenes were done with TERRIBLE CGI. I’d rather just see (or even only hear) the Burkes have a phone call than a badly CGIed lunch date.

Also I really liked this (what seemed like a VERY SHORT) season of Dark Blue. Tricia Helfer as a new cast member!! Ty gettin’ all messed up in stuff! There was a lot to enjoy.

But that was summer and despite Chicago weather’s insistence to the contrary, summer is o-v-e-r. [OK technically Haven and The Glades are not QUITE done with their summer seasons… Both are OK to watch but nothing wowza.]

Time for Fall TV!! What are you watching? I’m watching:

Sons of Anarchy. YAY YAY YAY so happy SOA is back. And so far, it’s been fantastic although each episode seems to have some devastating addition to the list of current problems. I am so worn out by the time the hour is over; it’s like I’ve been holding my breath the whole time. Clearly my emotional investment here is reaching dangerously high levels. I wish it was on every night but since it’s not, I generally rewatch each week’s episode at least two times (if not more).

Terriers. Almost a mock procedural, the world’s most unlikely pair of pseudo private detectives. I somehow seem to have missed the first half of the second episode (either that or I missed an entire episode) so I found some of this week confusing. But it’s got some charm and the dialogue is great.

NCIS. Somehow I just can’t quit this show. But I refuse to have anything to do with the horrific spin-off.

Rubicon. A carryover from summer (I think this may be its last week?). One of those shows where you really do NOT know what’s happening half of the time (moreso than something like Lost, I would say). Palpable tension and mystery. Sometimes the lack of clarity is frustrating but it keeps me interested. Although as with Lost or any of those type of shows, I, unlike most of my friends who watch, am FAR more interested in the weekly byplay between the characters than in figuring out the big mystery or even noticing the little tricks and clues hidden in the various storylines.

Chase. I decided to give this one a go and it’s at least a well-done procedural if nothing more. I’ve been a fan of Cole Hauser since Good Will Hunting so I’m always willing to watch his shows (I even watched K-Ville!), although I think he’s meant to be the #2 here. Sorry, the blonde girl is just not as interesting to me.

The Good Wife. I didn’t watch it last season but I caught up over the summer. I am not totally gaga about it but there’s some good acting and some interesting stuff going on (oh, Eli Gold, you are something else) and I find myself really interested while it’s on even if it’s not something I ever feel like rewatching later in the week.

How I Met Your Mother and The Office – the only two half hour, sitcom-y types I have on my schedule. They’re both a little tired out, some of the plot lines are going nowhere, but they both still make me laugh at least a little bit each week and at only a 30 minute investment, sometimes that’s the perfect amount of time to wind down with.

Chuck. I didn’t watch this show much in its first season. Second season I kept catching up via On Demand to the point where I finally had to admit I was watching the show. I still think it’s uneven. I still think it’s possible to do comedy without so many skeeeevy characters–Morgan is just gross sometimes. But there are some really engaging bits and oh hai Adam Baldwin and I love the Mission Impossible stuff that almost always turns into an almost failure saved by the Intercept kicking in.

Shows I’m on the fence about:

Blue Blood. I don’t know. I just got rid of two family dramas (see below), I’m not sure I need to introduce a new one. And I TOTALLY called that Tom Selleck doing the thing one of his kids saw him doing (I don’t want to spoil it for you if you’re actually interested in watching). I didn’t think the premiere was anything special, but I didn’t think it was terrible either (coughBONEScough) so I may watch it one more week before I decide.

Hawaii 5-0. So I think the casting of this show is insanely stupid and wrong. So you have Grace Park, huge star of BSG, and Daniel Dae Kim, huge star of Lost, at your disposal. HELLO THEY SHOULD BE THE LEADS. But instead they are the # 4 and 3 characters, respectively, and two moronic frat boys are the leads and the main lead is such a master of the stoic non-expression face that he can actually make an action scene look boring. (And the only show he’s ever been on was a huge failure. How (why?) would you hire him as the lead????) On the other hand – SURPRISINGLY the premiere was actually pretty solid and the filming isn’t bad at all. But I can watch this in 15 minute increments spread out over the week and not even remember that I didn’t finish an episode. Doesn’t really say much for it, does it. I love Grace Park, but I’m not sure this is worth it. Plus this BETTER NOT mess up her participation in The Border, the Canadian show I am completely obsessed with. (Which oddly I seem not to have written about here at all. It’s SO GOOD.)

Shows I’ve said goodbye to:

Bones. Wow, the season premiere SUCKED. Horrible dialogue, bad acting, and a completely contrived plotline. SEE YA!

Glee. I love the way they do the music on the show but even last season I was really not interested in what passes for the plot and the ridiculous number of twists and turns they try to work in every week–actually I would just prefer to see these kids do music/dance numbers for an hour with no plot whatsoever–and I find my patience for it has vanished. I’ll just check out the songs on iTunes and that’ll be enough for me.
Parenthood. The season premiere made me cringe a few times and I just can’t watch Lauren Graham and Peter Krause in their solo brother/sister scenes without wondering when they’re going to kiss (am I imagining hearing that they’re dating in real life?).

Brothers & Sisters. It’s hard NOT to get sucked into Berlanti’s family dramas (hello, Everwood, I miss you) but too many of these characters have become people I can’t care about and if Justin and Rebecca are breaking up then I’m really not interested.

Supernatural. I actually never watched this show until I buzzed through five seasons of DVDs in my month off school at the beginning of the summer. I think DVD watching has a way of keeping you engaged in shows that ride the mediocrity line because hey! instant gratification! you can see another one right away! and it’s hard NOT to get involved in storylines when you’ve just watched the character for 4 (or 8, or 12) hours and you know so much about what’s going on. But on a week-to-week basis, I just can’t seem to stay interested.

Castle. If Michael Trucco had become a permanent cast member, I would still be watching this. It was so much more interesting when he was added to the mix.

Shows that were too bad to watch:

Running Wilde. Couldn’t make it past the first 10 minutes. SO bad.

The Whole Truth. I really like both Tierney and Morrow but this show really wasn’t any good and I hate hate HATED the way they kept interrupting the summations with back clips. Like it had been several hours and we’d all forgotten what had happened earlier. No thanks.

I think that’s it. Heh. We won’t talk about the movies I watch (and rewatch) every week in addition to all this… If I actually spent ALL my TV time knitting (and other crafting) I would get SO much more done. But sometimes (during SOA for example) I am riveted to the screen and capable of nothing but watching. OK gotta go! 🙂

Trying out some summer TV: new and old.

The Bridge – sorry, Chief Tyrol, but this show isn’t good enough to keep watching. Too many corruption plotlines even for a two-hour episode. Choppy editing, bad dialogue.

The Glades – The character is a bit too arrogantly “I am so funny” for me. And I thought it was a little bizarre how many times he went back to the crime scene and found yet another clue. Don’t they have forensics down there? Wouldn’t that stuff have all already been catalogued and filed into evidence?

Rizzoli & Isles – Actually really good. Tightly plotted, well acted, nice chemistry between a bunch of the characters, not just the main two. Thumbs up. (Bonus = creepy backstory scars.)

Haven – Not great but definitely watchable. Like a less goofy/funny Warehouse 13. Plus several good-lookin’ boys. So there’s that.
The Choir – I liked it enough to keep watching, but not totally into it. But then I NEVER watch those reality shows y’all love. So maybe it’s just that it’s not my genre. The little Kenyan boy, Enoch (sp?), is not only so insanely adorable but dang, he may have the best voice in the choir. And I do love both the enthusiasm of the director dude and the fact that he’s young and actually able to do himself what he’s asking of others. Which is most certainly NOT the case on some of the reality shows I’ve seen an episode of here or there.
Also watching:

Lie to Me – It’s similar to House in that it all really falls on whether you can tolerate the main character but it’s different than house in that a) the main character isn’t such a train wreck and b) the storylines each week differ a LOT more than the ones on House do.
The Good Wife – I find myself a little taken aback by how much older Julianna Marguilies looks. I guess I just remember her in the Clooney ER days and haven’t seen her do that much between. It’s OK. I have only seen scattered episodes though. (Chawne, if you’re reading this, in another celebrity shoutout, I’ve actually played softball with [against] Chris Noth.)

Warehouse 13 – I thought the first ep was a little bizarre, didn’t really have the same tone as last year’s show to me. But I liked the second one better and you know I’m a) a big Eddie McClintock fan and b) a fan of any show with a purple-suited superhero. Come on now!
Burn Notice – The failing of this show this season for me is that they just never follow up on the Fiona/Michael relationship. The past two seasons were huge steps in him admitting he loves her, him being able to show it… and now every week maybe one tiny moment of flirting and that’s it?!? COME ON PEOPLE. I need my virtual relationships to actually BE relationships. Throw me a frakking bone, here.

Friday Night Lights – This show will never be what it was to me in season 1. But there are several quality storylines going on and it’s STILL some of the best truly real-life emotions (not TV emotions) acting there is out there.

Eagerly awaiting:

Dark Blue returns August 4. It’s not the greatest cop show but it’s all dirty and dark and sometimes that’s what you’re looking for.

Season 3 of Sons of Anarchy starts on Tuesday, September 7 and I’ll be jumping out of my skin by that time waiting for its return. I’ve already rewatched both seasons 1 and 2 this summer (as well as all 4 seasons of BSG. Hey, I had the month of May off!!) and I just can’t wait to see what happens next even as there’s some stuff I’m just sooo worried about MIGHT happen!!