Archive for the 'television' Category


Another dessert

We’ve all become very enamored of an Australian television show called Little Lunch. This mockumentary-style show focuses on a group of six twelve-year-olds and what they do during “little lunch” (a sort of recess+snack time) at school. One episode is about a dessert called a Pavlova. So of course we had to make one. (And by  “we” I mean Jan prepared the meringue and whipped cream, and Sylvia was in charge of prepping and arranging the fruit. My job was to eat.)



Life update

Being: Mindful.

Remembering: Mister Rogers. Seriously, he was a truly awesome individual—definitely on my list of fantasy dinner-party guests. Lots of interesting stories about him (and a link to a great article-length profile of him), such as this one:

Once while rushing to a New York meeting, there were no cabs available, so Rogers and one of his colleagues hopped on the subway. Esquire reported that the car was filled with people, and they assumed they wouldn’t be noticed. But when the crowd spotted Rogers, they all simultaneously burst into song, chanting “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” The result made Rogers smile wide.

Chuckling: Over another way to remember Mister Rogers.

Wondering: Just how evil the Girl Scouts really are.

Contemplating: The paradox of satisfaction, and how it may be harder to be satisfied in a world that is producing an increasing amount of “good stuff.” The forecast is for a world in which we have access to all information but services (Amazon, Google, whoever) provide recommendations for us. What do you think?

Also contemplating: The Filter Bubble, in which Eli Pariser notes that the world we see is increasingly (and alarmingly) shaped by filters (again, Amazon, Google, whoever) that determine what we see (or don’t) based on assumptions and predictions (in turn based on Internet habits) about us. Want to pop your bubble? Here’s how to start.


Life update

Reflecting: On how the lottery of life placed me where I am today. How fortunate I am to have been born into a time and place where my basic needs are easily met and a wealth of opportunity lies before me. I do not have to worry about having clean water to drink, for example, nor must I scrounge for food or firewood every day. But millions of people do, and this site can give you a sense of what living conditions are like in other countries.

Watching: The HBO series Game of Thrones. For the most part, the casting is spot-on, though as a longtime fan of the book series I am already annoyed by some changes that have been made. I understand that when adapting a work of this scope and complexity for the screen, some changes must be made. But some changes just grate on me, especially as relating to character development.* One thing I love, though, is the title sequence. Very nicely done.

Laughing: At this image. And at another visual commentary on Stupid Ned Stark.

Looking up: At the sky and wishing the East Coast didn’t have so much light pollution. To get a really good view of the night sky, I’ll have to content myself with this interactive 360-degree image. The official description (“The Photopic Sky Survey is a 5,000 megapixel photograph of the entire night sky stitched together from 37,440 exposures”) doesn’t quite do it justice. It is pretty amazing. For more information on this project, head directly to the Photopic Sky Survey main page.

Eating: Lots of lettuce and arugula from our garden. The peas have just started to appear (Sylvia sampled the first one straight off the vine today), so i expect we’ll be eating lots of those soon enough.

Reading: Moloka’i, by Alan Brennert. It starts with a seven-year-old girl being sent, alone, to a leper colony in the 1890s. Her parting from her parents and family—knowing that she’d never seen most of them again—is heart-rending. She makes a life for herself on Moloka’i, though, and even finds happiness. In spite of the topic, this isn’t really a “heavy” read, and the narrative is compelling enough that I raced through it pretty quickly.

Thinking: About the Pledge of Allegiance and how, for the most part, it is uncritically taught and learned.[youtube][/youtube]



Why, for example, are Cersei and (especially) Jaime portrayed so sympathetically here? Why, for crying out loud, didn’t the actor playing Tywin shave his head? Tywin’s baldness is an essential part of his character! Grrrr. For info on a few of the (many) other changes HBO has made, look here.


Awesome . . . or terrifying?

You be the judge.


Today’s piece of brilliance

Star Trek plus Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I just finished rewatching the original Star Trek series (the flying leg kicks!), so coming across this mashup video now is a happy coincidence.




“Lost” reenacted by cats



Life update

Remembering: To say “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” as soon as I woke up on 1 March.

Reading: Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. This book is about naked mole rats, so even though it’s by an author whose other work I find fairly unimpressive, I was pretty sure I’d love this one before I even cracked the cover. In this tale, one naked mole rat who likes to wear clothes is criticized by other naked mole rats who think that clothes are weird and that everyone should be naked. In the end, they all agree that it’s okay to have different perspectives on clothing. The best part is that the book doesn’t fall back onto a trite ending in which everyone is wearing clothes. There are still plenty of naked naked mole rats around!

Watching: All of Red Dwarf (the original version, not the let’s-cut-some-material-to-make-room-for-more-special-effects version that came out a few years ago) from start to finish. I love this show.

Resisting: An urge to call people who annoy me “smeghead.”

Speaking of smegheads: I’ve noticed that whenever I send an e-mail to my senators and congressional representative, the only one who requires a “prove you’re not spam” test on the submission form is the one Republican in the bunch. I wonder if this party-line divide is true elsewhere or just in my district.

Not caring about: The Olympics. In short, the Olympics are now nothing more than a huge expression of nationalism and competitions that are more between technologies than between skilled humans. How many millions of dollars go into, say, getting the strap attachment on a helmet just so in order to cut down on wind drag by 0.00000005 percent? It just seems like such a waste of money and effort to me.

Chuckling: About this joke: “Two cats decided to have a swimming contest across the English Channel. One was an English cat called One Two Three. The other was a French cat called Un Deux Trois. One Two Three cat won the race. Un Deux Trois cat sank. “


Life update

Reading: Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. For the past year or so, I’ve been part of a book group. We are far from hoity-toity in our selections: in the summer, anyone interested in leading a discussion proposes one or more books, then we vote on what we feel like reading. We meet only every other months during the school year, so the reading load isn’t heavy volume-wise. I am enjoying the opportunity to sit around and talk books with grownups every once in a while, and I also appreciate being prodded to read things that have long been on my to-read list (e.g., The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and introduced to things that would not have caught my eye otherwise–such as Water for Elephants.

This was an entertaining read–not particularly deep, with a fairly compelling narrative that kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next. On a scale from 1 to 100, I would have given it a rating of 85 . . . except . . . near the end of the book, the author does something that I think constitutes unfair treatment of the reader, and for that the rating gets bumped down to 65. I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say this: it’s a tomato surprise.

Watching: The Mighty Boosh. Oh my dog, this show is hilarious. (And, like most BBC series, is doesn’t go on forever and actually ends while it’s still strong. When, oh when, will American television ever learn this lesson?*) The first season is awesome, and the second season not quite as good, but in the third (and final) season the brilliance returns.

Here is one of my favorite moments (this one’s from the first season):


“Charlie was racked with guilt. He’d killed fifty Inuits–no one needs that.”

Getting into the holiday spirit: With one of my favorite Christmas songs ever, “Fairytale of New York,” by the Pogues. Because really, if such lyrics as “Happy Christmas your arse / I pray God it’s our last” don’t put you in the holiday mood, nothing will.**

*I am very much one of those people in the “Heroes should have ended after the first season” camp.

**Well,  Barenaked for the Holidays, by the Barenaked Ladies, would probably succeed. It’s a truly awesome holiday album. If you don’t own it yet, you should.


Monkey Magic

Ever since I was a kid, I have adored the tale of Monkey. I grew up reading Arthur Waley’s translation, which was simply called Monkey (many more recent other translations use the title Journey to the West). Buried in my basement is another translation of this tale, along with Mark Salzman’s contemporary retelling, The Laughing Sutra. I’ve also introduced Sylvia to this story through Ed Young’s Monkey King. She, Jan, and I even have Monkey King t-shirts (and sometimes she insists we all wear them together–very geeky, I know, but awfully cute). This is what they look like:


I heard about this television version only a few months ago. If I’d been able to watch it when I was a kid, I think I would have been in heaven.


Apparently, Neil Gaiman’s recent trip to China involved some research about this story, so I’m guessing that his next project is either a retelling of this tale or something that includes the character Monkey. I’m a tiny bit nervous that he’ll do something to screw up something dear to me; knowing how he writes and his fondness for old stories, though, my hunch is that the result will be pretty neat.


Mork versus the Fonz

I learned something new the other day: Mork and Mindy was a spinoff of Happy Days. Did any of you know that? I had no idea.

In one episode of the Happy Days, Mork arrived and planned to take one “specimen” (in this case, Richie Cunningham) back to his home planet. As you might imagine, the Fonz would have none of that and intervened:


The best part by far is when the Fonz’s thumb starts twitching. That is so cool.

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