I’m Going To Need Bigger Yoga Pants. And Probably a Cheeseburger.

Because this is my blog, and I get to do what I want, we need to talk about binge-watching. This has become a completely legit phenomenon in today’s society thanks to Netflix, Hulu, OnDemand, and even tv series on dvd. (If you’re old-school. Which sometimes I am. I need my Downton Abbey at my fingertips at ALL times.) Even our local cable provider is in on the deal now, hosting the brilliant “Watchathon Week” where they make seasons of hit shows available to marathon to my little introverty heart’s desire.

I can’t help but be both a little sad and relieved that this wasn’t really a “thing” while I was in college*.

On one hand, there’s no way that I would have been able to successfully juggle my 20+ credit semesters, practicing and performing ensembles if I knew that I had a couple of seasons of Dawson’s Creek waiting for me back at the dorm. (WHAT. It was the early 2000s.)

On the other hand, the idea of a lost weekend with my college friends watching smutty tv, not changing out of our pjs and imbibing some TOTALLY legal adult beverages with nothing else to worry about but maybe venturing to the caf for food is completely AMAZING. Kids these days, they’re totally not grateful for these opportunities. Back in my day, the most “social media” we got was posting angsty song lyrics as our AIM away message.

Oh yeah. I went there**.

Anyway, out of the blue I received a tweet on Friday from none other than XFINITY!

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What?! They noticed my obsession with the completely pants-meltingly  face-meltingly amazing “Outlander”?! I was intrigued, so I dm’ed them back.

And look what arrived for me in the mail!

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A complete Watchathon survival kit, including amazing Outlander Swag! Please imagine me jumping up and down for five minutes nonstop. Then texting Army Boy to show him, and resuming jumping up and down for ANOTHER five minutes.

Now, my only problem is deciding just what show to focus on.

Some of my favorites currently?

Outlander– OBVIOUSLY. I don’t even need to tell you how the story of a nurse from the 1940s who gets swept back in time through a stone circle and “rescued” by a clan of highlanders is my favorite thing right now. Ever. If you have feelings or want to have feelings, you should probably watch it. It’s on Starz, but the whole first half of the first season is available On Demand right now for Xfinity/Comcast customers. You can ALSO buy it on dvd wherever fine Scottish Men dvds are sold.

ER– Somehow Army Boy never got into this series! We’re buying a season at a time and marathoning it. Before tv doctors were Mc-Anything, this show set the bar high on medical drama. Noah Wyle! Young George Clooney! Alex Kingston! Anthony- do I really have to continue? Because I could. My college ritual involved putting on pjs and running across campus to watch every new episode with my bff Jeff.

The Only Way Is Essex– I’ve tried SO hard to get my friends as addicted to this UK phenomenon as I am! This show is available on Hulu, and is basically Britain’s answer to the Jersey Shore. Ridiculously attractive early-20-somethings hook up, fall out, and always look fabulous. I really want to hang out with them. Really really. There are 13 seasons available, so tuck in and enjoy!

Nashville– I KNOW. I have no idea why I’m so behind the curve on this one, but I’ve been watching it on Hulu and it’s just so juicy! Season one was a little slow, but season two picked back up with more music, more scandal, and loads of juicy relationships. Sometimes I find my eyes leaking from a particularly poignant performance. It’s so embarrassing.

The Originals– I never got into “The Vampire Diaries,” because I read the books back during Twilight Fever and was not impressed. The characters were flat, the setting boring, the vampireyness not too sexy… Needless to say I didn’t really give it a try. However, this spin-off series set in New Orleans with the “original” vampire family features witches and werewolves, and enough bitchy one-liners to keep me laughing. I’m watching this one on Netflix.

What else should I be watching on Netflix/Hulu/etc? Have you ever had a lost weekend due to marathoning tv? Pull up a chair, we’re all friends here.

This post was not really sponsored by Outlander OR XFINITY, I just got super excited. It happens. Now excuse me while I go put on even faker pants and resume sitting on my butt. For… science?

*- I just got invited to my TEN year reunion. From College. How did we get to this point?! Someone hold me.

**- since you asked, YES favorites did include Ani DiFranco, Jimmy Eat World and Dar Williams. Shut UP.

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Six Of One…

A quick update from our neck of the woods:

Our final working pc is on its last legs, making very angry noises as I type.  Please bear with me if posting is infrequent for the next weeks or so- we’re working on getting a new one, but it may be a couple of weeks before we’re back in business. *sob*

Some of you are amazing at posting on phones, and I wish I could count that among my skills. Know that I haaaaate being cut off from my online friends and am thinking of you constantly. Also I don’t think that I could quit Twitter and Instagram without a twelve-step program.

Cross your fingers that the Computer Fairy visits us very soon!

(The new job is going very well, btw. The timing of my departure couldn’t have been better, and I’m feeling like I’ve got my feet under me in my new role. I’m even adjusting to the earlier hours and longer commute. *gasp!*

In our time without a computer, we’re going to devote some of our time to continued nesting in the casa- the upcoming three day weekend is going to be fabulous for hopefully getting a couple of rooms painted. There’s something so refreshing about making a literal mark on your home and seeing it creep its way toward the vision you have for it.

Yeah, ask me about that again in a few days after we’re done painting and have aching arms and necks. I’m sure I’ll be all sunshine and butterflies then as well.

Also!! I am still delighting in my renewed association with the local library. We stopped on Saturday and I escaped with a treasure trove of FIVE books… I’m hoping that I’m not in need of another book-related intervention. Stay tuned for my review of “Seraphina”… [*gives computer deities the stink-eye*]Actually, don’t stay tuned. Read it NOW.  You will NOT be disappointed.)

(End segue that was longer than the actual post *facepalm*.)

TxtingMrDarcy Reads: “Stay Away From The Punch!” Edition

“Clockwork Prince”~ Cassandra Clare

Book Description (From Amazon): In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Soundtrack: “Be Here Now”~ Ray Lamontagne

 The shimmering strings in this one and the lovely message make me think of Tessa and Jem. (Those crazy kids!)

Best Enjoyed With: A cup of fizzy lemonade. Preferably not spiked with Warlock powders.

It was such a treat to return to Cassandra Clare’s version of Regency London, I have no idea why I didn’t do it sooner.  This book picks up immediately after the events of Clockwork Angel, and I have to admit that I actually enjoyed this book more than the first book in the series. (Considering my feelings about YA series in general, that’s high praise.)  The plot took off like a runaway carriage, keeping the reader breathlessly following the events after Mortmain’s attack on the London Institute at the end of book one.

It’s imperative that the Shadowhunters discover more about the infamous Magister in order to attempt to discover his motives and his eventual plan of attack.  Meanwhile, other Shadowhunters are questioning Charlotte’s competency of running the Institute.  The consul gives them two weeks to discover the Magister’s plans, or Charlotte will be removed as director of the Institute, and the unsavory Benedict Lightwood will take over.

Meanwhile, Tessa is caught in a whirl of uncertainty. Not only is she not entirely sure where her powers come from, she’s fallen in love with two young men who she just happens to live with. Cassandra Clare kicks the romantic tension up a notch in this installment, and does a fabulous job of it. While the love triangle could a bit overused in the young adult genre right now, Will and Jem (short for James, if you haven’t started this series yet) are both so totally dreamy that it’s understanding why Tessa is torn. Unlike Jace and Simon in the Mortal Instruments books, there really isn’t a “best choice” between the two of them, and I found myself just as confused as Tessa. With two equally vivid heroes to fall in love with, we’re reminded exactly why the love triangle is such an effective plot device.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a legitimate book boyfriend, and I might have to fight Angela for Jem.

Aside from gushing over the main characters, this book was a feast for the imagination. The characters leave London and travel by train to Yorkshire, where the stark beauty is described perfectly. There are plenty of grand manor houses and beautiful clothes, and what regency novel is complete without a masked ball? I think that writing within the Victorian conventions of propriety added some great dimension to the story. The love scenes were steamier because of it, and the exploration of character relationships on all levels were very authentic.

Another aspect of Cassandra Clare’s writing that I seemed to have forgotten was the humor she manages to sneak into various scenes. While her characters in the Infernal Devices series are bound by the constraints of society, there’s a degree of truth to the fact that they’re still teenagers, with all of the inherent snark that comes with that job description.  Revisiting some of the characters that cross between the two series is a delight as well.

I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Clockwork Princess, and not just for the drop-dead gorgeous cover art.

Four and a half automatons.

The Robsten Cheating Scandal: I Haz Thoughts

So… unless you live under a rock,* you’re aware that it’s come to light that Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson, her boyfriend of over three years, with the married director of Snow White and the Huntsman.

To which Twi-Hards around the world exploded into evil cheers of glee.

Both Kristen and said director, Rupert Sanders, have issued public apologies after being caught and photographed mid-indiscretion.

Aside from the obvious total awkwardness of the situation, there are quite a few things that, for me, just don’t add up.

First, WHO CHEATS ON EDWARD CULLEN?!?!?!?!?

Snarknaciousness aside, Kristen Stewart is really only “big” because of being cast as Bella Swan. She would have continued toiling away in relative obscurity if Catherine Hardwick hadn’t cast her in Twilight, opposite every woman’s vampire dreamboat. She then compounded that hand of awesome by dating Robert Pattinson. Unlike some of young Hollywood, they’ve been fairly private about their romance.

Suddenly, Kristen is off filming a movie in another country and decides that it would be a good idea to cheat with her married director? Whose wife and children are IN said movie?

via People.com

You are a 22-year old actress on a movie set, and you can choose between Mr Directorpants and oh, I dunno… THOR.

 

You chose wrong, Kristen.

Likewise, you are a Horny Director with low self-esteem, and you want to cheat on your model wife. You’re on a movie set with Kristen Stewart and Charlize-Freakin’-Theron. Who do you choose?

 

Here’s a hint: “Kristen Stewart” is the WRONG answer.

Not only did they commit said indiscretion, but they got caught. And now both are publicly apologizing to their partners via the press. Whatever happened to discretion and handling family problems privately? Are the apology articles really necessary, and are they really going to save face by owning up to their dirty laundry in such a public forum? To reiterate, Kristen has gained the majority of her fame playing the lead role in a series targeted to teens and young women, and she’s publicly admitting cheating on her boyfriend with a married man. Damage control, methinks they’re doing it wrong.

At least Robert hasn’t been faced with the same type of temptation since the two started dating. He’s done a few movies, but not worked with any real hotties.

OH WAIT.

(And even if something did happen, he was discrete enough to make sure that the world never found out about it.)

Look, I don’t think any of us are naïve enough to think that Hollywood doesn’t get up to its fair share of fooling around. Unnaturally attractive people are thrown together for months at a time on a movie set, sometimes in extremely intimate circumstances. I’m a theater vet, I know these things. It can become very hard to discern the fine line between acting and real life sometimes, hence why show/movie set romances are so common. And lets not forget that though she tries to come off as worldly and mature, Kristen Stewart is a very young 22. (*checks for grey hairs*)

Just to recap:

Is Dating

And cheated with

via People.com

And Not

DirectorPants could have cheated with

image via ew.com

But chose to get all lip-bitey with

And the Cheese stands alone.

Lovely, Lovely Sparkly Cheese.

*Under a rock = have an actual life and are not sucked into tabloid gossip like some of us**

 ** Us = Me.
(images from Google unless otherwise specified)

Who NOT To Trust As A Housesitter

This past weekend we made the trip up to New Hampshire for my cousin’s beautiful wedding. We sent Wesley off to the puppy spa, locked up the house, and turned off the water. We thought we had everything pretty well under control.

For some reason, I totally forgot to make sure that America, You Sexy Bitch was somewhere that it couldn’t get into any trouble.

And then I come home to these.

Sleeping pills + Twitter = BAD IDEA

Crocs Heaven ❤

Supporting Our Troops

Exercising Its Second Amendment Rights

I definitely expected this book to challenge some of my perceptions… but, erm?

AYSB, you are SO grounded.

TxtingMrDarcy Reads: “Gilt-y Pleasures” Edition (See what I did there?)

Gilt~ Katherine Longshore

Plot Summary (from Amazon):

In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free–

and love comes at the highest price of all.

 When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men–the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

Soundtrack: “Secret” by The Pierces

“Because two can keep a secret when one of them is dead…”

After finishing A Storm of Swords, reading Gilt was the literary equivalent of taking a bite of chocolate mousse- rich and light, and a wonderful treat. The story takes a closer look at the life and untimely death of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, as told through the eyes of her supposed childhood confidante Kitty Tylney.

Catherine Howard was, in essence, Henry’s midlife crisis wife. He had divorced his first wife for Anne Boleyn, only to turn around and execute her for treason. His third wife (and some argue the love of his life) Jane Seymour died shortly after giving birth to his heir, and his attempt at a fourth marriage with Anne of Cleves was a disaster. In his fifties and starting to face his own mortality, Henry sought to reclaim some of the sparkle of his youth, and how better to do so than to marry a woman less than half his age? (Uh, knock knock… I can think of a LOT of ways, bud.)

In this book, Cat is portrayed as always being the star of the show. From the “Queen of Misrule” at the Dowager Duchess’s house to the eventual Queen of England, all of Cat’s life was spent, well, thinking of Cat. She was the Blair Waldorf of Tudor England, and if she wanted to sit on the Met steps with you or bring you to court, you considered yourself lucky to escape the tedium of servitude in the country. She has never been portrayed terribly sympathetically, and Katherine Longshore does little to change that fact. She gives us a Cat who is self-obsessed, selfish, and not above trying anything to advance her own status. All of life is a game, and throughout the book we see Cat “practicing” her scenes, from the perfect curtsy to get her boobs noticed at court, to the most effective way to place her head on the block for her execution.

(Should I have thrown a “spoiler alert” there?? It’s history… there’s not much I can do to keep that little tidbit from you.)

We are treated to a far more delicious character in Kitty Tylney, Cat’s best friend and frequent partner-in-crime. Of less prominent social status, Kitty considers herself lucky to be one of the ladies chosen to be in Cat’s inner circle. Unfortunately, she doesn’t realize exactly how thorny her life is about to become once she’s entrusted with all of the Queen’s secrets. She starts the book as a bit of a wallflower, but her evolution to a woman strong enough to stand up to the Queen and some smarmy courtiers is a pleasure to observe.

In addition to our main characters, Ms Longshore populates her novel with some other great historical figures- Archbishop Cranmer, the devious Duke of Norfolk, and Thomas Culpepper are among some of the notable ones. A great scene between Kitty and Culpepper colors the tone of their relationship throughout the novel, and gives a striking example of the darker side of court life. There is a pseudo-love triangle, though it is used more to examine the difference between genuine affection and the dance of courtly “love.” The knowledge of the inevitable ending lends a bit of knife-edged tension to the whole tale- the reader is just waiting to see what will lead to the Queen’s eventual undoing.

I think that this is a well-written version of tale of the ill-fated queen, and I hope that the fact that it’s Young Adult will grab the attention and imagination of a new population who may not yet have been exposed to historical fiction.

Four out of Five Emerald Brooches.

TxtingMrDarcy Reads: “TB isn’t just for Opera anymore!” Edition

 Wither~ Lauren DeStefano

Plot Summary: (From Amazon) At age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years to live. Thanks to a botched effort to create a perfect race, all females live to age twenty, and males live to age twenty-five. While geneticists seek a miracle antidote, the world is crumbling: Orphans roam the streets, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and polygamy abounds.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to escape. But then her husband, Linden, exposes her to a world of wealth and decadence she never knew existed. Even if she can’t quite hate her husband, though, she knows to fear her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote and who may or may not be hoarding corpses in his basement lab. At the same time, Rhine is growing dangerously close to Gabriel, a house servant. Will she be able to escape the mansion—before her time runs out?

Soundtrack: “Fever”~ Michael Buble

I came across Wither a few years back, was totally hooked by the premise, and then promptly forgot about it. Fortunately, thanks to Emily from Emily’s Reading Room, it found its way back to me in her Dystopian Grab Bag. The month of May has been FULL of dystopian lit for me (From Divergent, to Ashfall, to Wither and The Selection), and shockingly I’m still not tired of it. Seeing the way each author creates their individual dystopian world never fails to fascinate me, whether it’s from a natural disaster or the more insidious failure of human nature itself.

Wither falls firmly in the latter camp. Scientists believed that they’d found the cure to all the ailments plaguing humankind, only to realize that they’d unwittingly implanted all children with a genetic time-bomb that would lead to certain death at age 20 or 25.

I got on Goodreads the other night to updated that I’d finished the book, and was immediately shocked by all of the negative reviews. People were TEARING up Lauren DeStefano’s world-building in this one, and it totally shocked me. Especially with the current popularity of “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein, I was having trouble grasping why people didn’t immediately characterize Rhine as the Unreliable Narrator. Everything that we’re told about what the world has become comes directly from her, and her limited experience and exposure.

We don’t know why the entire world except for the United States is flooded. (My current theory: It probably isn’t.)

We don’t know what mutation is causing the premature death of all children born after the miraculous First Generation.

Why weren’t people’s life cycles changing to adapt to their shortened life expectancy? Um… Cecily delivers her first child at age thirteen. That seems pretty young to me. I don’t doubt that elsewhere people were voluntarily entering into marriage at a younger age, but Rhine’s personal experience is that of being kidnapped and forced into marrying a House Governor.

Everything that we are told is a reflection of Rhine’s experience. To immediately jump to the conclusion that DeStefano sucks at worldbuilding seems unnecessarily harsh to me.

In case you can’t tell, I really enjoyed this book. There were just enough futuristic elements to allow me to suspend disbelief and immerse myself in the story. What a creepy story she’s chosen to tell, too- three teenaged girls kidnapped and forced to marry a total stranger with no hope of escape. From that point on, their role is as brood mares primarily, and research subjects when they eventually pass on.

DeStefano doesn’t shy away from the gruesome implications of the virus that the characters are living with, or the sexuality implicit in a polygamous marriage. Throw in the isolated creepy mansion setting, and you’ve got a futuristic gothic tale with some hints of Margaret Atwood. Rhine is fiercely loyal to her brother, and spends most of the book plotting how to return to him, though she occasionally realizes that it might not be so bad to live out the rest of her limited life in comfort. Seeing her relationship with her sister wives develop is touching, though there’s always an uneasy feeling of “trust no one.” (Maybe that’s a result of watching too much X-Files lately too, who knows?)

Either way, I will definitely be reading the next installment.

Four out of Five June Beans.