Month: March 2014

Girls Season 3

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Okay, Girls is over for the year and there is a huge hole in my heart and my Sunday night routine.  We’ll have to wait until 2015 for new episodes.  Season three is the best season to date, in my opinion.  What did you guys think?

Will Hannah go to Iowa?
Will Shosh graduate?
Will Jessa her life together?
Will Marnie figure out what she wants?
Do Adam and Hannah break up?

If you’re feeling the loss like I am, never fear.  I know once Game of Thrones starts I’ll be a happy girl again!   Until then, relive Girls season 3 from the beginning:

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12

Happy Birthday Amy!

Today is the birthday of the amazing Amy Sedaris!  If you don’t know who she is, you’re seriously missing out.  This woman is truly something special.  I don’t think anyone on this planet is more her own person than the hilarious Amy Sedaris.

I first read about Amy in the memoir-type short stories of David Sedaris, one of my favorite authors.  He writes of Amy , the pretty sister, wearing half a fat suit to freak out her father, and using voice imitations of the neighbors to make crank calls.  To get the best idea of Amy’s personality, I suggest a Youtube search for her numerous appearances on Letterman.  David Letterman announces her as a talented actress (and she is, as a former Second City Member who starred as Jerri Blank in the Comedy Central series Strangers with Candy, both alongside Stephen Colbert) and a best-selling author– her guide to entertaining, a coffee table book called “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence” is an essential part of my personal collection.  In these appearances you may here of her imaginary boyfriend, Ricky.  If this sounds crazy to you, let me assure you she’s not!  She’s weird and wonderful, and completely authentic.

with David, wearing a super normal dress with all the US Presidents on it

Here she is with David Letterman, wearing a super normal dress with all the US Presidents on it

To celebrate, let’s revisit her television appearances in some of my favorite shows!

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In Monk, she played Sharona’s sister, Gail.

In Law & Order: SVU, she played Charlie, the sister of a cyber peeping-tom.

In 30 Rock, she played this crazy visor lady!

 

Wishing a happy birthday to one of my personal idols, Amy Sedaris!

Yoshi’s New Island

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Yoshi’s New Island was released on March 14th.  I picked up a copy after work that evening, and played for a little while before going out to enjoy my Friday night.  On Tuesday, March 18th, I battled Bowser and beat Yoshi’s New Island!

First of all, let me shamefully admit that I don’t always beat games.  Unless it’s pokémon, I don’t typically have the time or attention span to play through.  I love video games, but I’m a 25-year-old with a full-time job and lots of TV to watch!

Second of all, this game is a joy to play, and truly, rather easy.  If I can do it, surely you can!

Gameplay:
Gameplay is definitely similar to Yoshi’s Island. I  hate the idea of Baby Mario and that first time I heard him cry out in Yoshi’s New Island, I decided to play the game without volume.  Yoshi is the star, though, and Yoshi’s cool.

The new addition is the giant Shy Guys who Yoshi swallows to create giant eggs.  The first time I saw one of the jumbo Shy Guys I was a bit alarmed, but they’re actually pretty harmless and this was a fun part of the game!

Yoshis:
As I mentioned before, I’m a sucker for colored Yoshis!  There are 8 different colored Yoshis in this game: classic green, pink, light blue, yellow, blue, purple, red, and orange.  Yoshi is able to transform into a helicopter, submarine, mine cart, bobsled, jackhammer, and hot air balloon.  These transformations came as kind of mini-games throughout the levels.  I enjoyed hot air balloon, mine cart, and bobsled.  Jackhammer and submarine were harder and I actually can’t remember helicopter… did I ever play it?

There’s also a new Super Yoshi mode, where grabbing a star basically turns Yoshi into Sonic the Hedgehog.  It’s not like Sonic, though, in that when Sonic gets dashing he’s able to fly through any obstacle.  Super Yoshi is harder to maneuver.

Bosses:
A boss battle occurred every 4 levels.  I actually loved them!  They were classic in nature: three hits to defeat while avoiding a barrage of attacks.  The attacks never really escalated so once you found the pattern you were all set.  The final level’s boss is Baby Bowser, who the hardest fight of the game, in my opinion.  After defeating him, you play the final boss: Bowser.  The Bowser battle was actually really easy and super fun.

Have you beat the game yet?
What did you think of Yoshi’s New Island?

{image: videogamer.com}

Hell’s Kitchen Recap: 19 Chefs Compete

With the season premiere behind us, we’ve got a chance to get to know our contestants better. We start off with another hallmark of Hell’s Kitchen: the rude awakening. Three motorbikes ride through their sleeping quarters to jerk them from slumber. Outside, Chef Ramsay announces that their challenge today will be about teamwork— the three motorbike drivers demonstrate their teamwork by riding altogether in a spherical cage. The contestants will take a less extreme approach, demonstrated by JP, who rides out on a series of tricycles. Is this man delightful or what?

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The challenge is a relay, pairs from the Red Team and the Blue Team ride the tricycles to cooking stations were they must accomplish the following tasks:

  • Peel and devein 12 shrimp
  • Break down 2 chickens
  • Shuck 12 oysters
  • Fillet 4 trout
  • Prepare two egg white omelets

While the scoring is close, the Red Team’s poor communication skills get the best of them from the start. The Blue Team takes the victory and a trip to San Francisco; the ladies take the punishment and a trip to a carrot farm for some manual labor. They’re in the kitchen peeling carrots for the next night’s dinner service when the men return.

During prep, Nicole is once again being completely disrespectful. Because this chick shares my name, I am especially sensitive to the fact that she’s portraying herself to be a horrible human being. She’s disrespectful to her teammates and has absolutely no reverence for her craft. Girl, why are you here? LEAVE. Save my name’s reputation, okay?

Dinner service gets off to another rocky start. Simone and Nicole both fail at risotto, but Jason succeeds! The Blue Team is actually able to get appetizers out. Red is working on entrees, so they must have been able to get some out too. Kashia is able to ace a Wellington, neither team is able to stay in sync and get a whole table’s food out consistently. Red still struggles on apps, and Nicole and Simone get kicked out of the kitchen. After Gabriel delivers shockingly raw chicken twice, the whole Blue Team gets the boot. Ultimately, the service feels like another disaster.

For elimination, the Blue Team puts forth Demarco and Gabriel. The Red Team puts forth Simone and Beth. We’re seeing a lot of the same weak players from last week, huh?

Chef Ramsay says that there is one person who’s shown no passion, no fight-back, and no leadership. I knew it immediately. The person leaving Hell’s Kitchen is, say it with me: NICOLE. AND GOOD RIDDANCE. Maybe the Red Team can work together a little better now!

Any favorites yet? I’m partial to Melanie at this point. She’s flying under the radar which is good with the group so large and no one standing out yet. For now, I’m just glad the witch is dead.

Bingeworthy: Bunheads

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My friend Chelsea says that Gilmore Girls isn’t a show, it’s a lifestyle, and I have to agree. My vast TV on DVD collection does not include Gilmore Girls, sadly. I vaguely remember it being on Netflix for a while, but it disappeared long ago. Chelsea recommended Bunheads to me, “it’s not Gilmore Girls, but it’ll do.” As a former ballerina, there’s a lot about Bunheads that appeals to me on a level Gilmore Girls did not. Chels was a ballerina too, so I’m not sure where this doesn’t connect with her… but again, she’s living that Gilmore Girls lifestyle and it’s hard to stack up to that!

Bunheads, like Gilmore Girls, was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino. You’ll find a lot of the similar fast-paced and witty dialogue and the same small town setting filled with crazy characters. Watching the first episode, you might find yourself thinking it’s too Gilmore-esque. This is worsened by the fact that many of the same actors are used. Kelly Bishop, the fabulous Emily Gilmore, plays Fanny Flowers, owner of the dance studio. An actor who I only know by his Gilmore Girls character’s name, Kirk, plays hipster coffee-shop owner Bash. Lisa Weil, or Paris Geller from the Gilmore world, shows up as Milly later too. Eventually, though, the show finds its own rhythm and for this former ballerina, the dance numbers really set it apart and make it something special.

Broadway sensation Sutton Foster stars as Michelle, a former ballerina-turned-Vegas-showgirl. Michelle had such potential, but followed whims to a life of depressing Vegas numbers. She has a kind of stalker, Hubble, who sees her show in Vegas over and over again, and one night asks her to marry him. Sick of her life, she agrees and follows Hubble to Paradise, the small California town. She finds out he lives with his mother, Fanny, who runs a dance studio. When he suddenly dies, Michelle and Fanny are left to forge a relationship and a business in the studio.

The storylines also revolve around four ballet students: Sasha, Boo, Ginny, and Mel. Their family and relationship experiences cause them to grow throughout the series. Sasha’s storyline in particular gets most air time in the first and only season. This complicated girl is the studio’s star pupil, but a rebel.

If you’re a Gilmore fan, you’ll like this show. If you’re a dance fan, you’ll like this show. I’m super sad that there’s only one season, but I think these 18 episodes are definitely worth a watch!

Bunheads is available on Hulu through certain cable providers.
It is also available on Comcast Xfinity’s app through April 1.

Check out this dance clip that I could watch over and over again, featuring the fabulous Sasha!

Amazing Race Recap: Can’t Make Fish Bite

You know, the more I watch this season, the more I remember how much I like this show.  It may have been Meghan and Joey that got me started, but I Hulu marathoned this thing for weeks with or without Team Youtube.  Anyway, on to Sunday’s episode!

Last week’s leg was non-elimination, so Brenchel will have to complete a Speed Bump since they were last.  All teams leave from Batu Caves to fly to Colombo, Sri Lanka.  There is one direct flight which gets in around midnight.  All teams aside from Luke & Margie and Brenchel make it on to this flight.  Brenchel takes a risk on a flight that connects in Singapore; the connection time is about a half hour and they have to switch airlines.  Luke & Margie do not take this risk, and standby for seats on the flight the rest of the teams are on.

Brenchel make their connection, and actually land a bit before the rest of the teams.  Luke & Margie do not get seats on the flight with everyone else and end up having to take a morning flight, 10 hours behind everyone.

The first stop in Sri Lanka is a Buddhist temple, where all teams on the first two flights meet up to wait for the opening at 5:45 AM.  In getting blessed by Monks, the teams got a nice opportunity to slow down and take in the experience.  A scenic train ride later, it’s time for the…

Detour: Fishing Pole or Spin Control

In Fishing Pole, teams wade out into the sea and jump up onto Sri Lankan fishing stilts.  Each team member must catch a fish to move on.  In Spin Control, they dress up and perform a traditional dance with balancing and spinning plate-like structures.  Now, this girl loves to dance, but I’d have to go fishing.  Just sitting there vs. spinning plates?  No contest.

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Flight Time and Big Easy are spinning pros, and excel at Spin Control.  They’re also apparently the only team that knows how to count music.  I can’t believe the way the blondes completed this task, aren’t they singers?

Jessica and Jon decide to ditch fishing are try out the dance.  They manage to catch up to the pack at the…

Road Block

Ever see “Made in Sri Lanka” on a tag in your clothes?  The road block takes place in a clothing factory, where one team member must machine sew a shirt to the manager’s specifications.  Even though sewing machines scare me, I’d have to do this one.  I’d obviously have to do the Road Blocks that involve no muscle, but beyond that, I’m pretty confident I could piece the pattern together.

Big Easy has a lot of trouble here.  Flight Time brings out a basketball and entertains the crowd, reinvigorating him!  Even though the Globetrotters finished after Brenchel, they paid their bus to bring them directly to the Colombo Rowing Club, this leg’s Pitstop

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Girls Recap: Two Plane Rides

IMG_0417Ahh, the Girls season finale was great!!  This has seriously been a fantastic season, and this episode was a great note to end on.  For me, this episode has a lot to do with is timing, and at one point or another, each character makes a really poorly timed choice.

It starts with Hannah getting her mail.  Caroline makes a random appearance.  Apparently she’s been living with and dating Laird and they’re going to have a baby.  Weird.  Hannah takes her mail upstairs are literally rips into an envelope, severing its contents.  I do this quite often too, which is one of the many indicators that I’m not quite an adult.  After Hannah tapes the ripped letter back together, she is overcome with enthusiasm.  The letter is an acceptance into graduate school: the Iowa Writer’s Workshop MFA.

Jessa’s new employer, artist Beedie, asks her to help her die.  “Let me get this straight: you hired me so I can get you drugs?” she asks.  Though Jessa is compassionate to her struggle, she refuses.

Hannah tells Marnie, then her parents about the acceptance letter.  Her parents tell her to go for it– seize the opportunity now and figure out the rest later.  Marnie is thrilled for Hannah as well, but has a problem of her own to deal with now that the secret’s out about her and Ray.

Shoshanna goes to pick up her robe for graduation and is met with some unpleasant news: she is 3 credits short due to failing a sociology class.  Returning home, she trashes her apartment in anger.  This is when Marnie comes in to break the news to her.  “Is this an okay time?” she asks, seeing the wreckage.  Even though Shosh claims it is, and Marnie is able to calm her down about the school situation, the answer is really no, it was not the right time to tell her.  Marnie chooses to anyway.  Shoshanna reacts by tackling Marnie, pinning her down, and yelling, “I hate you!”

It’s opening night of Adam’s play.  Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, Ray, and Elijah are all here to cheer him on.  Shosh sees Ray and, fire burning in her eyes, lets him know that they are having a chat at intermission.  Hannah goes to see Adam in his dressing room before the show to wish him luck, tell him she’s proud of him, and announce that she got into graduate school in Iowa.  Was this the worst time to tell him that or what?  Marnie makes an equally bad choice of going to see Desi in his dressing room before the show.  She gives him a present, James Taylor’s pick, and they kiss.  Then they really kiss.  Marnie, giddy, comes out and tells everyone that Desi kissed her… even though it was definitely mutual.  “I can’t see this ending well for you,” says Elijah.  Hannah feels the same way, citing Desi’s girlfriend, Clementine.

At intermission, Shosh’s fire is gone.  She looks at Ray with such sadness, such sincere emotion, that I think this is Shoshanna’s best moment in the series.  She can’t bring herself to yell at him, so he starts.  He apologizes, and defends himself because Shosh broke up with him.  “I want you back,” Shosh blurts, tears in her eyes.  Clearly her year of freedom didn’t work out academically, and emotionally either.  She tells Ray she made a mistake and he makes her a better person.  Ray says he is grateful to Shoshanna for the way she pushed him to become a better person– he has a real job, a credenza, a cactus– but they are in different places in their lives.  “Please,” she breathes, tears welling, “Please?”  Ray stars, “It’s not a matter of–” and again Shoshanna sighs, “Please…” just as intermission ends.

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Adam’s part is in the second act, and Elijah wakes a sleeping Hannah to see.  She is deliriously happy to see him up there, and at the end she and Marnie clap and smile with pride.

Jessa has apparently decided to help Beedie.  She feeds her pills, holds her hands, and sits by her bedside.

After the play, Marnie is surprised to see Clementine in the bathroom.  The tension is palpable, and Clementine, knowingly, tears her apart.

Elijah and Hannah wait for Adam by the actors’ door.  When he comes out, he is furious with his performance.  Though everyone thought he was great, he thinks he was terrible and blames Hannah’s delivery of the Iowa news. Elijah leaves quickly, sensing the tension.  The most articulate Adam we’ve ever seen asks her what now.  “I’m sick of trying to work it out.  Can’t one thing ever be easy with you?” he says.  “Congratulations on a beautiful opening night,” Hannah says cooly, and walks away.

“Call 911, I don’t want to die!” Beedie yells to Jessa, who springs to the phone.

Shosh picks up the mess in her apartment calmly.   Picking up a textbook, she hurls it in anger.

Marnie hides, witnessing Clementine and Desi fighting over their relationship rather publically.

While taking publicity pictures, a castmate cozies up to Adam and plants a big kiss on his cheek.

Hannah comes home, picks up her acceptance letter, and smiles.

Match Day ’14

Today is Match Day, the day when medical students learn where they will be completing their residency programs.  I know this not because I, nor anyone in my immediate or extended family has ever attended medical school, but because my brain is basically an external hard drive of information not readily useful.  I’m interested in a lot of things, okay?

In celebration of March Day, let’s talk about some of my favorite TV doctors.

Dr. Lahiri of The Mindy Project

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Name: Mindy Lahiri
Occupation: OB/GYN at Shulman’s Women’s Health Associates
Credentials: Princeton University undergrad, Columbia University for medical school.

Though her personal life sometimes seems to be a mess, Dr. L takes her job seriously.  She is warm, friendly, and strives to make her patients happy.  Well-educated and well-qualified, Mindy is the kind of doctor any girl would be happy to have.  Plus, I’ve never met a Mindy Kaling character that I wouldn’t want to be friends with in real life.  Are you supposed to want to be friends with your OB/GYN?  I don’t know how that works.

Dr. House of House

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Name: Gregory House
Occupation: M.D., Head of Diagnostic Medicine at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital
Credentials: Board certified diagnostician with a double specialty in nephrology and infection disease.  Graduated from Johns Hopkins University for undergrad, (which he then attended for medical school but was expelled,) then University of Michigan for medical school.

House has no bedside manner and he doesn’t trust you like at all.  Most of his patients don’t even see him with their own eyes.  Oh, he’s also a drug addict, which is not a quality I would tolerate in a medical professional.  However, how many patients has House lost, 2?  The amount of mind-boggling cases he and his diagnostic team have solves speak for themselves.  If there’s something wrong with you and you don’t know what it is, this is the man you want on the case.

Dr. Zoidberg of Futurama

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Name: John A. Zoidberg
Occupation: Ship’s Doctor for Planet Express
Credentials: questionable.  He practices human internal medicine, but his doctorate is actually in art history.

Dr. Zoidberg’s knowledge of human anatomy and physiology is lacking, which is a major detriment in a doctor.  The good thing about Zoidberg is that medical technology has improved so much by the year 3000 that he can reattach limbs or even your head if need be!  He may under-qualified, but with all of the crazy injuries the Planet Express crew has endured, the fact that none of them are dead is a ringing endorsement for Zoidberg in my book.

Are you a soon-to-be real doctor (or friend or family member thereof)?  I want to hear your Match Day story!

Is your favorite TV doctor not on the list?  Tell me who!

Hell’s Kitchen Recap: 20 Chefs Compete

the dawn of a new season in Hell's Kitchen

the dawn of a new season in Hell’s Kitchen

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m a huge Top Chef fan.  I think I’d love any long-format reality cooking competition show, because I’m also a huge Hell’s Kitchen fan.  A new season started last week, and I’ll be recapping for you before the new episode airs each Thursday!

If you’ve never watched Hell’s Kitch (I nickname everything…) before, you should know that this show is completely over-dramatic.  Everything is the most something, or the worst ever something else.  There’s a lot of Gordon Ramsay swearing, yelling, and throwing things.  Beyond that, every challenge comes down to the very last point.  You get used to it.  I keep on watching for the food challenges, and because I absolutely love the talented Gordon Ramsay… even if his exceptionally high standards are played up for drama.

The contestants are broken into the two teams: Red and Blue.  From season two onward, it’s been men vs. women.  Each episode typically starts out with a challenge, similar to Top Chef’s Quickfire.  The winning team gets a reward while the losing gets a punishment.  The main event is the night’s dinner service where the chefs’ performances determine their eligibility for elimination.

Last week was the first episode, so we’re introduced to a crop of 20 new chefs.  Jean-Philippe, the maître d’, greeted the chefs as the pulled into Hell’s Kitchen.  (The seasons without JP were so lackluster; I love this guy!)  There’s a staged soft opening going on as the chefs walk in, which turns into a flash mob.  Then it’s time to cook!  Chef Ramsay starts every season by tasting each of the chefs’ signature dishes.

There’s minimal fuss in this tasting: no spitting out of food or smashing of plates.  Some dishes are indeed awful, but most, Chef Ramsay remarks, taste very nice.  The women end up winning it 5 points to 4!  They get to go to Chef Ramsay’s LA restaurant as a reward.

The men have to clean the dining room as punishment, and there’s already an annoying teammate— Mike.  While the rest of the Blue Team does some heavy lifting moving tables, Mike vacuums confetti lazily.  When asked to help with the tables, he storms out.

The next day is the first full day in Hell’s Kitchen, and grand re-opening dinner service.  I’ve got to agree with the announcer on this one; it’s one of the worst first dinner services ever.  The teams don’t serve a single appetizer.

Some low-lights:

  • Gabriel clearly only cooks his scallops on one side
  • Nicole has an attitude problem and gives up on scallops after cooking like, once
  • Gaurav struggles majorly with the risotto; he tastes with his finger (gross!)

Chef Ramsay kicks the entire appetizer section of the Red Team (Nicole, Sandra, and Joy) out of the kitchen.  He then kicks the entire Blue Team out of the kitchen.  Soon after, he shuts it down.  Sorry, diners.

Sandra, Nicole, Demarco, and Gaurav go up for elimination, as nominated by their teams.  Chef Ramsay gives Guarav the boot.  He can go no further with someone who can’t make risotto and tastes with his fingers then puts them back in the food.

Be sure to tune in tonight for a new episode, in which 19 chefs compete!

Frozen

Yesterday marked the DVD release of Disney’s latest animated feature, Frozen.

Unpopular opinion #1: I don’t really love movies.

Unpopular opinion #2: I don’t really love Disney.

I’m Sally Sparrow* when it comes to movies.  I can count the amount of movies I’ve seen in theaters since I graduated from college on one hand.  It’s basically a Fluke that I ended up seeing Frozen in theaters, but boy was I glad I did.  I absolutely loved it!  I am a big fan of visually stunning films, but the real reason for my love is the music!

The voice cast for this movie is insane.  We have the obscenely talented Idina Menzel providing vocals for Elsa, the ice queen.  The leading lady, Anna, is voiced surprisingly by Kristen Bell.  While I knew Idina was a powerhouse vocally, I had no idea that Kristen Bell had such pipes!  She impressed me first, because we hear Anna sing before we here Elsa, but for me, “Let It Go” stole the show.  (Enjoy that above!)

When I did a little more research, I learned Christophe Beck scored this film.  That’s my cosmic connection to this film, as any good Buffy fan knows the value of Christophe Beck!  We have him to thank for the Close Your Eyes, the Buffy/Angel Love Theme.

Frozen is available on DVD and for digital rental via iTunes.  It was actually downloadable via iTunes since late February, but I didn’t realize that until I sat down to write this.  I definitely think this is worth a watch– I’m not a Disney fan, or even a movie fan, so take this endorsement for what it’s worth!

*”You only own 17 DVDs?”