television

What I Watch – à La Carte

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I’ve recently cut ties with my cable provider.  We switched to a cheaper, faster internet provider and are exploring the world of à la carte TV!  It’s forced me to really take inventory of what channels I watch.  Here’s my list:

BBC America

It’s at the forefront of my mind that Orphan Black’s final season is coming!  I know I can’t live without seeing this show.  Also, is Broadchurch’s new season going to come to America?  I need that too.  Thankfully, BBC America was offered by both Sling Orange ($20/month) and Playstation Vue ($30/month), our two top options.

Bravo

Watching Top Chef live is of utmost importance to me.  There’s not a show out there that I like recapping more than Top Chef!  I feel like it’s imperative that I have access to this show and this channel… for important reality TV reasons…  We’d have had to bump up to Sling Blue ($5 more per month) to get Bravo, but it’s included in Playstation Vue!

Cartoon Network

We are the Crystal Gems!  Steven Universe is my favorite thing currently on TV.  I bought seasons on Amazon just to stay current.  It’s no surprise that we started our Playstation Vue 7-day free trial the day the new episode premiered.  Cartoon Network is also available on Sling Orange.

HBO

Since Girls is over, we are currently living without HBO.  When Game of Thrones comes back, we will not be living without HBO.  Thankfully, HBO Now is a thing so we can probably just do that independently of any package we have.

MTV

This one I had to sacrifice.  I may have a Catfish addiction and I might enjoy a guilty pleasure or two on this channel (ahem Teen Mom OG), but MTV was not available on Playstation Vue.  We could add MTV for an additional $5 to any Sling package, but…

TLC

Ugh, I can’t help it.  I watch so much TLC it’s pathetic.  I love Say Yes to the Dress which is thankfully always on.  I guess this whole channel is my guilty pleasure.  At the end of the day, I couldn’t live without this channel and it was only available on Playstation Vue, not in any Sling package.

So we’re testing out Playstation Vue!  It’s more expensive than the Sling options, but I wasn’t willing to compromise on TLC.  The best part is, we can cancel at any time if we decide to test something else out!  I guess the actual best part is that there’s a Roku app– we can stream it on both the PS4 in the living room and the Roku in the bedroom, so for the first time ever, we have cable in both rooms!

Who else has made the switch to à la carte TV?

i m a g e s

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ANTM: A Tale of Two Virgins

Ben got best picture last week and chose Adam to share in the Tyra Suite. It’s nice that someone’s not using the Suite to try to hook up. Adam is growing on me, as he says his current career path is “sit in a cube and crush excel.” This, for some reason, is quite endearing to me.

Mirjana and Denzel are continuing their sickening flirtation. (Spoiler: she says they’re dating in judging.) I have no respect for this girl.

Tyra coaches them for a sexy photo shoot. Raelia (age 22) and Lenox (age 19) are virgins, which I inherently I find this interesting. Raelia does great at serving sexy, but Lenox has a lot of trouble.

“Lenox has no sexuality,” comments Tyra.

“Lenox has no sexuality,” comments Tyra.

Yu Tsai comes the next morning to announce the challenge. To test the skills Tyra taught, the models are paired up for a commercial… a sexy fragrance commercial with a black widow spider. It’s styled almost vampire-like. The girl (and in one case, Will) is the black widow and the guy a victim. The “Spyder Bite” commercial pairs are: Keith and Mirjana, Denzel and Kari, Ben and Raelia, Matthew and Will, Romeo and Lenox.

Romeo seems to warm up to other people a bit that evening. It’s his birthday, so some people stay up to celebrate with him— Adam, Matthew, Shei. Then he gets drunk and mean to Adam. He tries to entice Adam into hitting him. When Adam won’t play into it, he head-butts him a couple times leaving a small bruise. Yu Tsai and J. Alexander eliminate Romeo the next day for this physical altercation, as ANTM has a zero-tolerance violence policy. The remaining group trains for a stilt-walking fashion show.

Will rocks the runway like a model. Raelia falls right when she exits to walk and looks scared during her procession down the runway. Lenox definitely looks sexy during her walk! Mirjana, who had some much trouble during practice, did well, and even held up her partner, Adam. Ben had to walk alone with Romeo being eliminated, and commanded attention so well that he won the challenge.

 

And then there were 11 at judging. Kelly gives her first 10 to Raelia, who completely owns the Spyder Bite commercial! Tyra gives a startling 1 to Lenox, for giving up.

Also this happens.

Also this happens.

The rank this week:

  • Will
  • Raelia
  • Keith
  • Mirjana
  • Matthew
  • Shei
  • Denzel
  • Kari
  • Ben
  • Adam
  • Lenox

I have a brief moment of panic where I realize my early favorite is going home. But wait, Romeo already went home so Tyra is letting Lenox stay. As if the 1 from Tyra weren’t bad enough, Lenox only has 5 frames for the following week’s photo shoot. Do you think she can pull it out?

Summer Reading List 2014 (part 2)

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This post is a bit overdue, thanks to my vacation giving me ample time to read! When we last left off, I had just finished my first book of the summer, The Weird Sisters, and was working my way through Nabokov’s Lolita. Well, I finished that, then I must’ve gotten this title stuck in my head somehow, after making so many puns to myself when reading Lolita on the train, etc., so my next read was…

 

3. Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi

  •  Like I said, I basically wanted to read this book because its title was stuck in my head, but gosh am I glad I did.  Out of the three I had read to this point, its my favorite.
  • Subtitled “A Memoir in Books,” Reading Lolita in Tehran is about Azar Nafisi’s experiences as a Western literature professor in Iran as related to various literary works, such as Lolita.  The book is divided into four parts: Lolita, Gatsby, James, and Austen.
  • I was so glad I had read Lolita prior to this, because I had plenty of context for her references to this book.  However, other Nabokov works were drawn upon heavily as well, especially Invitation to a Beheading.  Perhaps I shall be reading more Nabokov now!  The literary analysis was a joy to read for me, my degree being in literature.  I love Henry James, so that was a plus!
  • The premise is that Azar Nafisi, fed up with the increasing restrictions of Islamic Iran, starts her own literature class with 7 of her best students.  These parts were absolutely the best– I loved hearing about each of these women.  The two middle parts of the book were largely political, and I enjoyed them less.  Still, it made me think, and I loved the book overall.
  • On an loosely related note, I started syncing up my TV programming with my reading at this point, turning my attention to Little Mosque on the Prairie, or Little Mosque as its known on Hulu, a Canadian series I love.  On Netflix, I’d been trying (with less success so far) The Witches of East End, which ties in with my next read…

 

4. A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

  • Siiiigh, I’d started this book a while back but life got in the way and I was so excited to read it.  It had so much potential in my mind.  I should, by all logic, love this book.  And I didn’t dislike it!  It’s just, everything I had read before it has such literary merit– albeit, varying degrees thereof.  This book, as my high school English teacher would say, was purely candy.  Now, there is nothing wrong with a good candy book!  A summer beach read should be candy.  I just wasn’t in the mood for candy when I started it.
  • Actually, when it started, I felt its potential to be super interesting.  The main character is a witch, check; she’s a history scholar at Oxford studying ancient alchemy texts in the stacks of the library, check check!  Then she falls in love with a vampire and things take a turrrrrrn.  I might as well have been reading Twilight at points.
  • Now, I was once the biggest vampire fan.  As a Buffy addict, I loved Angel and Spike and vampire romance was all part of that.  I love vampires– the lore and the romance therewith.  I think it’s all just been played out now.  Damn you, masses, for making me tired of this story.  I used to love this story!  I just can’t take anymore supernatural romance tales.  Ruined forever.
  • This book is apparently part of the All Souls trilogy, the second installment of which is currently on shelves.  I liked this book enough to continue the series, and will be seeking out its sequel.

 

5. The School of Essential Ingredients – Erica Bauermeister

  • I picked this up off a Best Sellers shelf when helping my mom pick out some beach reads for herself a few weeks back.  There was some teaser that said something like, Food Network fans will love this!  Well, I’m a big fan of food and food TV, and the way the book promised to make food magical sold me.
  • This is Erica Bauermeister’s first novel, but it didn’t much feel like a novel.  It was more like a series of connected short stories.
  • Lillian runs a cooking school out of her restaurant where 8 students gather each Monday night to learn about food, and truly, life.
  • It was a very quick read, but enjoyable!  It was nice, and the format made it feel very approachable to writers.  Like, I think I could create something like this.  I appreciate a book that I find inspirational, no matter what the reason.

 

6. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

  • A friend recommended this to me, knowing I’d like it.  The accolades on its cover are pretty hilarious, including Willy Wonka meets The Matrix and a grown-up Harry Potter.  Having never seen The Matrix, I can’t exactly attest to this statement, but I will say: this book is fun!
  • This book reads like you are playing a video game.  The premise is a dystopian future where everyone is connected to the internet via a virtual reality device.  The creator of the device has hidden an “Easter egg” in this virtual land; the finder of this egg will receive the creator’s fortune.
  • Since I’m literally reading back to back, I have a bit of trouble switching moods from one book to another, and as you can see, I’ve read a variety already.  As expected, it took a little while for this to grip me.  Once it got into the story however, I was hooked!  This is also Ernest Cline’s first novel, and while I wouldn’t call his writing prolific, I found his melding of real life fiction works with his own fictional work amazing!
  • This is truly a love letter to geeks.  If you are a gamer, you will love this.  As a geek across genres, I appreciated this book so much.  It honestly made me feel really good about loving things (TV shows, video games, books) as much as I do.

 

I should’ve brought more books on my vacation, because I ran out before my last day!  I’m still reading, so look out for part 3!

How’s your summer reading going?

Clone Club Catch-Up: Who’s Your Daddy?

The latest episode of Orphan Black, “Mingling Its Own Nature With It,” gives us two important answers– (1) we get to find out what the hell Alison’s musical is all about, and (2) we learn who Kira’s father is!!  We also (kind of) meet another clone.  Here’s what happened, clone by clone:

 

Sarah:

Sarah and Fe are on the road and pull a con job with Kira so she can have something to eat.  Sarah knows she needs a proper bed and knows of a place they can stay.  They break into a house, kind of cabin-like and off the beaten path, to stay for the night.  As Sarah and Kira sleep, Fe hears the someone coming home.  In walks Cal, who we learn is Sarah’s old boyfriend slash mark from a con job.  Perceptive as ever, Kira comes out and asks Cal if he’s her father.

We find out that cute, bearded, and flannel-clad Cal is indeed Kira’s father.  Fe gets upset, knowing Sarah came here purposely so Kira could get to know her father.  He feels that there’s no place for him there, and leaves to support Alison’s opening night.  Sarah and Cal rekindle some romance at a completely inopportune time, and the little family seems to be getting comfortable with each other.  When Kira goes out to feed the chickens, Daniel, who has been snooping around, comes and grabs her.  She yells for her mother, and Sarah trades herself for her daughter.  Daniel forces her to drive.  He’s pleased having Sarah in captivity, but needs Kira too.

Alison:

Alison's antagonistic vacuuming might be the highlight of this episode.

Alison’s antagonistic vacuuming might be the highlight of this episode.

Angie is on Alison’s case, but thankfully Alison is suspicious.  She thinks she’s a second monitor now that she’s figured out Donnie.  Even when Angie comes out as a cop, Alison is evasive.  Good girl, Alison.

Opening night of “Blood Ties,” an apparent murder musical, is upon us.  You’d think Alison would be able to really connect with this character, but of course, she is drinking heavily.  She stumbles through her lines, and stumbles right off stage, collapsed onto the floor.

Cosima:

Cosima and Delphine are at work at the Dyad Institute.  We learn, as does Cosima, of Jennifer, another clone who had been living in the US.  She was the first to show symptoms of respiratory troubles, even before Katja.  She died three days prior, but left behind hours of video footage from her time undergoing treatment at the Dyad Institute.  Cosima and Delphine autopsy her body to investigate the sickness.

Helena:

The Proletheans are intent on making Helena part of the family.  There’s some sort of handfasting ceremony, and the creepy indication that they want to see if Helena can get pregnant.  Well, this is certainly a different situation for Helena.  She’s not a threat anymore, for now anyway.

 

I find myself continuously forgetting that the talented Tatiana Maslany is playing all of these characters!  If next week’s episode is true to the preview, it’s sure to be an amazing one!  And guys, are you following Orphan Black on Twitter?  Whoever runs that account does an amazing job!

What did you think of “Mingling Its Own Nature With It?”  Any theories?  Let me know!

I heart streaming television

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On Thursday, amidst the Amazon Fire TV buzz, I read this Mashable piece about its 8 Greatest Competitors. If you didn’t know, I kicked DirecTV to the curb last year and now rely entirely on the internet for TV. My building isn’t wired for cable, so my options are limited. I get by with Netflix, Hulu, and a few select things on my iTunes and Amazon Instant. I also benefit from a Comcast subscription (thanks, Dad!) but am limited to its streaming content only. I have a lot of interest in products like Amazon Fire TV, so I thought I’d share with you how this cable-less girl is still a TV-freak.

 

Roku 2

My brother bought me my Roku 2 for Christmas last year, and I love it. I got the accompanying TV for my birthday, and thus have a new set up in my bedroom that’s basically changed my life. Roku streams Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, and a selection of channels. For example, Lifetime has a channel on Roku, so instead of watching Dance Moms on my laptop, I can watch it on a TV! The Roku itself is not a monthly subscription, you just register and account and you’re off. Some channels are free (like Lifetime, PBS, stuff like that) and some you need a subscription for— Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go. Unfortunately, HBO Go doesn’t steam on my Roku… it’s backed by Comcast and Comcast HBO accounts are not good to go for Roku.

Xbox 360

My original TV machine and the reason I felt confident enough to get rid of cable, Xbox Live Gold keeps me watching Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and Youtube! My Xbox sits in my living room on my big TV and thus acts as my main source of visual content. My internet connection is a bit rough (I have Clear as a service, because again, no wires in my building) so it tends to blink off occasionally interrupting my shows. That’s a bummer, and the reason I don’t play Xbox Live ever— I’d be impossible to get through a game! Xbox Live Gold service is necessary to stream and it’s a costly service itself.

iPad

I’m slightly in love with my iPad. I’m still in the market for a portable keyboard so I can take it to the beach house for blogging purposes this summer— the touch screen doesn’t make for easy typing! I bring my iPad most places in lieu of a laptop. It is everything I need for an overnight trip to my parents’ or a weekend stay at a friend’s. The following apps make this a lovable machine: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Instant Video, Comcast Xfinity, and Viki. The great thing is that every service has an app, so the iPad is the most universal of my devices. While there are some things I can watch only on certain devices/TVs, I can watch pretty much everything on the iPad! I sleep with it. It’s normal.

Wii/Wii U

I mention these because the article mentions Wii U. You all know that I just bought a Wii U, and I could certainly steam Netflix and such on this guy. It sits on the shelf below my Roku, so I don’t need it for those purposes. The same goes with my Wii, which sits in my living room next to the Xbox. I’m pretty sure it streams Netflix too, but I’ve never used it as such. My Nintendo devices are only for gaming, I guess. Does anybody know if there’s a subscription services to be able to stream on these babies? Perhaps it’s something to consider.

 

So it’s obvious why I’m interested in devices like Amazon Fire TV, but it’s also pretty evident that I don’t need any more TV streaming devices! As an Apple user, I am, however, still pretty interested in the Apple TV… we have them at work and they seem awesome. I don’t see an Amazon Fire TV in my future, but the price is low and the product does great things. Has anybody picked one up yet? I’d love to hear what you think about it!