Monthly Archives: September 2010

TV: What I’m Watching

Ah, September… that time of year when, for a short time, we are filled with hopes of being entertained every night for the next six to nine months, only to have those hopes dashed within two months when most of the best shows are canceled. I’m happy that a few of my favorites from last season are back and I’ve watched a few new ones that seem promising. In no particular order…

Chuck (NBC) – This is a fun show. There were a lot of changes late last season and it looks like there are more to come. Changes on my favorite TV shows always make me nervous but so far Chuck remains fun and the surprises help to keep it fresh.

Castle (ABC) – Nathan Fillion. Need I say more? Well, I guess I could. This is pretty much a formula cop show but it has some great actors and writers. There’s drama, action and humor. If you pinned me down and forced me to pick my current favorite TV show this would be it.

Fringe (Fox) – Sort of an X-Files reboot. I enjoyed this show a lot last year but I’m not sure I like the direction the story arc seems to be headed. Less soap opera and more weirdness, please. And more Walter. I like Walter.

Warehouse 13 (SyFy) – It just finished a season and is on hiatus now. The whole “H.G. Wells was really a woman,” thing always bothered me a little bit and then first she was bad, then good, now bad again to keep us guessing but I’m still enjoying this show. It’s fun and quirky and of course I like the little steampunk touches. The season ended with a good cliffhanger. Hope that turns out okay!

Survivor (CBS) – Yes, darn it, I’m watching it again. It’s been several seasons since I’ve watched it and I think I only ever watched two seasons all the way through but I decided to start watching again because Jimmy Johnson is on it. Not that I like him exactly but I was curious. I’m already getting bored with it though.

Ice Road Truckers (History Channel) – A soap opera with eighteen-wheelers. Not as fascinating as the first season but still somewhat entertaining. Only one show left this season.

Swamp People (History Channel) – LeeAnn once referred to the people this show is about as “feral south Louisianans.” Strangely fascinating.

The Defenders (CBS) – A new show starring James Belushi and Jerry O’Connell as attorneys who fall somewhere between stereotypical slimeballs and selfless heroes of the courtroom. So far I’m really liking this show a lot. Fortunately, I have never had the opportunity to observe the goings on in a real criminal court but to me this has a feeling of realism. It’s more about the behind the scenes deal making than it is about tense courtroom drama and moving speeches. It has a generous helping of humor with enough drama to keep it realistic.

$#*! My Dad Says (CBS) – It’s been about 10 years since I’ve watched any sitcom. I got bored and disgusted with all of them but when I heard of this one with William Shatner I had to give it a try. So far I like it. Shatner plays the grouchy old man role disturbingly well and the writing is very good. He gets some very funny lines.

This is not an all-inclusive list. I’ve probably forgotten one or two I wanted to mention. There are several returning shows that I’m looking forward to including The Good Guys (Fox) and Memphis Beat. (TNT) I’ve been seeing ads for Stargate: Universe. I have mixed feelings about that one. It’s sci-fi; it has a starship. That’s almost enough right there to insure that I will watch it but, on the other hand, it’s dreary, not very interesting and often seriously annoying. So, I don’t know if I’ll waste my time on it anymore.

Random Linkage

Autumn People – a nice blog that I just discovered this morning. Occasional Tea Party politics, which I can overlook for more interesting things like 80 foot spider webs.

Origins of 13 Superstitions – Superstitions come from seeing connections when there are none. They’re idiotic. (But why take chances.)

Science journalism – Perfect!

Sad and Useless – funny and odd pictures and videos

Passive-Agreesive Signs – a subtle response

Married to the Sea – A comic. It looks like old illustrations. I’ve seen one so far that might be NSFW.

Quiet Babylon – a blog about cyborgs; fascinating and weird

Book kitty – awwww…

“Real” Pac-Man – What would Pac-Man look like if he was real?

Car Part Art – Amazing.

Yikes!

Look what’s on my dining room curtain! It’s still there, as I type!

Spider on Curtain

This is a problem. I don’t want to smash it on the curtain but if I knock it down it will fall behind the filing cabinet. I’ve decided to just live and let live. For now.

Driving Skills

I saw one of those gi-normous crew cab pickups in town the other day, driving in the right-hand lane, and I noticed that every time the guy shifted gears he would veer over into the left lane. Dude! I know you have this male need to play with sticks but if you don’t have the skills just do everyone a favor and buy an automatic next time. The only person who is impressed with your manliness is you.

Here For Now

I’m almost afraid to start this. My Internet connection has been down all day. It has come back several times but only for a minute or three and then it went down again as soon as I tried to do anything.

I don’t have anything fascinating to say anyway. There are some guys here trimming trees for the power company. They’ve been here for a couple of hours. We have a lot of trees. They have to ask permission to trim trees which is why we still have tree related power outages every winter even though they do trim trees. Come on people! I love trees but I’m also quite fond of electricity.

The weather has been much cooler for the past two days. We turned the air conditioner off and opened the windows. I love open window weather. It’s back up to nearly 80 degrees this afternoon though so I reluctantly turned the a/c back on a little while ago.

Here’s a laugh for the day. I found that a week or two ago and just haven’t gotten around to mentioning it. That’s very realistic if the guy sitting at the computer is the boss. I’ve never seen anyone (who knows computers) who can just stand and watch someone at a computer and not tell them what to do unless that person is someone they dare not appear smarter than.

Non-News of the Week

Fruits & Veggies Are Just Not That Popular. No! Really? I actually like most vegetables but they are less satisfying than pasta, pizza, ice cream and pretty much anything they say I shouldn’t eat.

And speaking of veggies, I heard, from Number One Son, about a really funny t-shirt. It says “Vegetables Are What Food Eats.” I had to look it up. A Google image search came up with several different versions. It’s not appropriate for me since I don’t eat a lot of meat but I had to laugh at the cleverness and also found myself in agreement with the independent, freedom-loving “don’t tell me what to eat” attitude.

Quotes From Here and There

…Americans seem to every so often get themselves into this weird kind of mood where they get so angry that they decide to embrace lunatics as an expression of their anger.here

I’ve never found myself struggling which to pick, much in the same way that nobody is ever torn between having tea and going sky diving. They are different devices, for different purposes.there

The internet is improved pub conversation, not just “worse BBC”…here

Last Tuesday afternoon I came to the realization that I am not (in fact) an actual person, but a character in a William Gibson novel.there (Thought that popped into my head when I read this sentence: “It could be worse. Thank goodness you’re not a character in a China Mieville novel!”)

Our administrative costs are unusually low, since we still live in our mother’s basement.here

A fig roll has never passed my lips or been anywhere near them in 51 years.there

Not Exactly a Dream House

Here are some old photos of a house where I lived when I was eleven and twelve years old. We didn’t live there very long – less than a year, I think. When the house next door came vacant we moved there because it was a newer house, in better condition. I took these pictures with my first camera. It came with a roll of black and white film which, at the time, greatly annoyed me. I thought, “Nobody uses black and white film anymore.” Now I just wish they were better pictures. I fooled around with the brightness and contrast but this is as good as they get.

Old house, Lufkin, TX, early 70's

The room on the near end on the front was my bedroom. It was my favorite room ever. It was odd shaped, as you can probably tell. I regret that I never took any pictures inside. It was a large room. I got it because it was pink. It had floral stripe wallpaper that was in pretty good condition considering that it was probably as old as the house. The wainscoting and trim were pale pink. The chair rail was flat on top so it formed a two inch deep ledge all the way around the room. I put tiny knick-knacks (mostly just small toys, actually) on it. That was one of my favorite things about the the room, next to its shape and size.

Here’s another picture, showing how close the house was to the railroad tracks. The tree in the front yard was a pecan tree.

Old house and train, Lufkin, TX, early 70's

These were very busy tracks. Trains passed frequently all day and night and shook the whole house and rattled the windows. My room being on that side of the house, I guess you could say I got the worst of it but I didn’t mind. I liked the trains. I liked to watch them and to hear them passing by. I still like trains. I can’t remember if that started when I lived in this house of if I always liked them. I suppose my parents hated it. Also, the other side of the tracks was literally, “the wrong side of the tracks” but we never had any trouble from anyone around there. I even walked to school through the “bad neighborhood.”

It was a broken down old house that probably should have been condemned long before we moved in but sometimes I miss it. Or at least, I miss my room there. I still like very old houses. There’s a certain feeling about them. It’s hard to define – a comfortable, welcoming feeling. I had sort of hoped I might live in one again but unfortunately most old houses are on tiny city lots, which I do not want. As they say, life is full of compromises.

Hoarding

Fillyjonk mentions hoarding. I’m a little bit fascinated by those shows too. I’ve only watched a couple of times because I assume it’s something that my husband wouldn’t be interested in and when he’s not around I always have other things that I’d rather do than watch TV. I think my reaction to those shows is a little odd. It seems to me that I should think, “OMG, I’m nowhere near that bad,” and just relax and not worry about my very minor pack-rat habit. But instead it makes me start thinking about getting rid of stuff.

I am aware of everything I have. “I forgot all about that silly thing” surprises are rare for me, though they do happen. It’s fairly easy for me to think about all the stuff I have and plan to get rid of some things. Some of it seems like it’s from another lifetime. But when I start going through stuff, seeing and touching all my “treasures,” it’s much harder to let go. And there are many things that I have gotten rid of that I want back now. The people who say, “You’ll never miss it,” are wrong! I do miss it.

Clothes are sort of an issue. Sometimes I feel like I have too many but at the same time I need more. And I really do mean literally “need” not just psychologically “need”. Pants, for example – I don’t have all the colors of pants that I need to go with the tops I have. I have given away almost all the stuff that doesn’t fit anymore. There are more things that I rarely wear but I can’t get rid of them because I really might need them. I rarely need to get “dressed up” but occasions do come along once every few years so I need to keep a few dressy things. (And I really love some of those clothes and wish I had more dress up occasions.)

I was thinking about sweatshirts yesterday and thought, I can get rid of some of those. So I went and looked at them and I don’t have very many; they’re just bulky and take up a lot of space. I still like all the ones I have and I did wear them all last year, just not as much as I had in previous years. The weather changes so frequently here we need lots of different kinds of clothes.

So, what all this boils down to is that I want to de-clutter but I still need all my stuff and I need more stuff. What I really need is a bigger closet. Not huge – only about 10’X12′ with lots of shelves and a hanging rod on one side should be adequate. Oh… and another one for the husband’s stuff.

Fall Sewing

I dread cold weather, and yet, I’m looking forward to wearing long sleeves. Strange, huh? I’m not even sure why – just ready to be wearing something different I guess. And long sleeves look nice. What I don’t like are the coats and jackets. It would be wonderful if shirtsleeve weather could last for several months instead of just a few weeks.

In past winters I have worn a lot of sweatshirts but they’re usually too warm for indoors so last winter I didn’t wear them much. I mostly wore long sleeved t-shirts and a few shirts that I made. This year I’ve decided I want more flannel and lightweight cotton long-sleeved shirts.

Here’s the fabric from my latest project:

Brown cotton floral

It’s a quilting cotton that I bought when I was in Branson. I used my favorite big shirt pattern, which I think is out of print now. It’s finished except for the buttons and buttonholes. I haven’t bought the buttons yet. I saw some I loved at Wal-mart but they don’t have enough of them. I asked and they are supposed to get some more this week but I’m worried that they won’t. I have not seen any other buttons that I like as well. I hate it when I get my heart set on something and then have to settle for something else.

And this is next:

Flannel Fabric

You can probably tell it’s flannel. I saw it at Wal-mart and had to have it even though it’s irregular and I probably won’t be able to match the plaid. It will be another big shirt. I already have some plain green shirt buttons for this one.

Wal-mart is responsible for most of my little stash. They have a small but very interesting fabric department. Besides the irregulars they often have fabric that was obviously not intended for home sewing. I once saw (but did not buy) the exact same nylon fabric that our shower curtain was made of. They also have quite a bit of nice, reasonably priced quilting cotton and some polar fleece, which I always find extremely tempting.

I sort of need more comfortable winter pants. I have one more piece of stretch corduroy (black) that I can use for pants. I might make those next. I’m not excited about that. Pants are very easy to make but sort of boring.

I also want to try wearing dresses once in a while this fall. I never do that but I think dresses are more flattering on me. I would need to get a few pairs of cotton tights. I already have some sleeveless dresses that would work as jumpers for fall and I have some printed corduroy fabric that I was originally thinking of for more big shirts but there’s enough for simple jumpers and I think the fabric might work better for that anyway.

So that’s my fall and winter wardrobe and I need to get to work on it. Right now I’m very interested in sewing. Hopefully the mood will last until I get some of this stuff done.

A Closed Library

I hate it when one of my favorite websites disappears. Actually, I haven’t been able to go to Access the Great Books for over a year but I keep trying once in a while. I get a “You are not authorized to view this page” and that makes it especially frustrating because it makes me feel like it is still there and they just won’t let me in.

I have Googled it, hoping that it had just moved elsewhere. Now I’m thinking it might finally be time to give up. It’s not really that great of a loss. There are other – and to be honest, better – book sites but I liked Access the Great Books. It simply had a list of authors in chronological order with links to their books. It had a plain white background with little else other than the list of links. It was a pleasure to browse. It also had sentimental value to me because it was one of the first book sites I discovered. Actually, compared to Project Gutenberg and some other sites, it was a rather short list but to me it seemed like I had stumbled upon one of the greatest treasure troves on Earth. And the chronological organization made sense to me and made it easy to browse.

So, time to remove it from my list, I suppose. Nobody likes broken links. But I just had to post this on the one in a billion chance that the owner of Access the Great Books will see it. If so, whoever you are, so long and thanks for all the hours of pleasurable browsing.

Reading

Mary Shelley is best known as the author of Frankenstein. I did not know much about her or what else she wrote but I was browsing science fiction titles available for the Kindle and came across another of her books, The Last Man, and I was immediately curious to see what else the author of one of our most enduring tales had imagined.

The Last Man, after a rather silly and pointless introduction, apparently intended to give a sense of reality to the tale, takes place in the late 21st century. This is the only thing that qualifies it as science fiction. Technology and society are essentially identical to that of the early 19th century, though there are political differences.

It is written in the first person. The narrator is Lionel Verney. In the first half of the story he tells about his personal history, his wonderful family and near perfect life, in flowery and often highly emotional language. If you did not know that this was the reminiscing of someone who believed himself to be the last man alive on Earth it might be rather dull or even sickening, but I was surprised to find myself enjoying it quite a bit. It sort of reminded me of some of my early childhood fantasies of living in a castle, happy all the time and having nothing to do but read and have fascinating conversations.

Life isn’t all perfect. There are affairs and political intrigues but the overall focus us joy, joy, joy, joy. A strange plague, the nature of which is not fully explained, is at first far away but it eventually reaches England. When there are only a few hundred people left alive in England it is decided that they should all migrate to southern Europe where they think life for such a small population will be easier. This all takes place over a period of several years. Finally, as the title suggests, there is only one man left alive in all the world, though he still hopes that somewhere there might be others.

I usually don’t care for end-of-the-world stories but I liked this one. I think it helped that this book was written over 180 years ago and there’s nothing at all futuristic about it so it feels more like an alternate history than a possible future. Another reason is that in spite of the gloomy subject it was actually a somewhat hopeful and positive story and, it seems to me, presented an accurate portrayal of the human psyche. Even amidst the deepest grief and despair the characters are able to appreciate beauty and find moments of peace and even happiness.

* * *

I have never read Frankenstein. I’ve thought about it but it’s never been very high on my “Must Read” list. I think I will read it someday but not immediately. Now I think I will move on to something more recent – something from the last century at least. But I do want to read more classics – I mean the Great Books, the ones that everyone has heard of – but it’s hard to decide where to go next.

Not For Canon Haters

Obviously I’m not one of those people.

You might have noticed that I’m something of a traditionalist but messing with Pachelbel’s Canon is a tradition.

Quotes From Here and There

…the rice fields come to mean more to me in a spiritual way than if I were growing the rice myself.here (I really wanted to quote the last line but I didn’t feel right about giving away the whole point of the post.)

I’ve written about my fairly new-found admiration for The Beatles a number of times over the last couple of years. The main thing that has captivated me in exploring their music — and I’ve only done this in a cursory way as of yet — is its sheer variety.there

…spiders prefer the colour red and are distressed by the smell of peppermint…here

“As soon as I was alone, I rushed over to those canvases and turned them around, contemplating each one with increasing pleasure. They seemed to show nothing but childish daubs, but the colors were so unusually bright and gay that I had no other thought than to stay.”there

Never Give Up

I found this nice little story about us crazy Americans.

As the night went on, I found out that she really wanted to be a teacher, but the Government wouldn’t let her because “a cripple cannot take proper care of children.” I was outraged, and spent much of the next two nights encouraging her to fight back and not accept their stupid rules.

At one point, she told me, “You Americans are always like this. You never give up and you think you can have anything you want, just because you want it.” She said this with wonder in her voice, as if she was discovering that all she’d heard about us crazy Americans was true.

I guess that’s not a bad reputation to have but like most reputations it’s only partly justified. A lot of Americans do give up rather easily. The fighters are the ones who get all the attention. They’re successful because they do keep trying. I think most of us have some of that “never give up” spirit – we want to never give up – but we give up anyway after what is actually just a token effort. And that’s probably not entirely a bad thing for the country as a whole. Imagine what it would be like if every single person in America really tried to get what they want the most and literally never gave up. But enough people are like that to give us that reputation. We even believe it ourselves.

I don’t think I really know how to fight for what I want. The second someone shows signs of being annoyed with my persistence I retreat and quietly fume about never getting what I want. I get extremely angry but I don’t let it show because I’ve been conditioned from early childhood to “be nice.” And honestly, there are times when I wish I wasn’t quite so nice.

UPDATE: Actually, that’s not really true. Being nice is a good thing. It’s just that nobody ever gives you extra credit for being nice.