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!

image

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.

In Which Nobody Puts TxtingMrDarcy in a Corner… Least of all Herself

Hello again Blogloves!

I have a confession to make. I’m sure that it’s going to surprise exactly .01% of you, but here it is:

I wrote myself into a corner.

After years of reading blogs, and loving blogs, and writing blogs, I felt the need to try to FOCUS myself.

“I should pick one thing and be really good at it!” I thought. “Every REALLY good, successful blog has an IDEA! Or a FOCUS! Or a THEME!”

Obviously, since I posted about books a great deal of the time, I pegged them as the thing that I am PASSIONATE! about, and started only posting about that.

And then? I got bored. SO bored.

If I didn’t love a book, I didn’t post about it. I got tired of trying to sound knowledgeable, and trying to formulate well-written opinions based upon my vast amount of reading. Even when I loved a book so much that I wanted to buy a notebook solely for the purpose of writing “Brooke + Life After Life” over and over again with pink puffy hearts? I still didn’t want to write about it.

I started to long to get back to just writing about LIFE again. Life, while it’s happening. Whether it’s boring and repetitious,  or fantastic and fresh every single day. That’s what I did when I started almost three years ago. (Holy crap) It worked for me.

(Example: I didn’t even blog about THE ROYAL BABY. Because I didn’t think it “fit.” How stupid is that?!)

(PS- OMG da widdle PrinceGeorgiekins and his widdle cheeks!@.)

Even while I didn’t blog for so much of this year, I tried to keep connected via Twitter, and Instagram, and other forms of social media. And even though it’s been A YEAR, the smoke has started to clear, and I’m ready to get back to interacting with all of you again. I miss the perspective that you give me- that whatever I’m going through here, there is a BIG world out there full of fun and laughter and amazing friends that I have yet to meet.

So, allow me to introduce myself, Internet.

My name is Brooke. I’ve been married for two years to my childhood sweetheart-of-sorts Army Boy.

We are parents to a devious beagle named Wesley (OF COURSE it’s after the Princess Bride.)

We live in a small town in Pennsylvania, with a lot of corn and cows, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We just sold our first home and bought our second, and I suddenly found myself a bit of a country girl.  Not, like Pioneer Woman -level country girl, but it feels close.  We dream sometimes of adventure, and when we do we do it big-time. See: Ireland in 2011 and Scotland in 2013. (The UK has my heart forever and ever.)

I am a completely unashamed book hoarder, but also share my affection with cupcakes, wine, travel and anything British.

Thank you for stopping by today, and I can’t wait to get to know you all again.

 

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: “Blogging Killed the News Media”* Edition

Plot Summary (from Amazon) : The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them

Soundtrack: “Song 2”~ Blur

This seems like the perfect track to ramp over a hoard of zombies on a motorbike to. ‘Nuff Said.

Best Enjoyed With: An Ice-cold Coke

WOW. Just WOW.

After reading the end of this book, I had to come in and share the whole thing with Army Boy, because I was having trouble wrapping my head around it. It was that powerful. Mira Grant proves that you can achieve a true horror novel with subtlety, and having some of the worst scenes happening “off-screen.”

Shaun and Georgia Mason are given the chance of a lifetime when they’re picked to be the media coverage inside the Presidential Campaign of Senator Peter Ryman. There are a few differences to our current political climate, however.

One: The country is overrun with Zombies. Scientists simultaneously developed a cure for the common cold, and one for Cancer. When introduced, those beasties mutated to bring about the apocalypse in the form of Kellis-Amberlee, a virus that causes the dead to reanimate.

Two: Due to number one, everything is done completely differently in the United States. Blogging has exploded as a viable form of news, because it’s frequently the quickest to pick up a potential story and run with it. No filters or network affiliations, just the truth. In a harrowing time, that’s exactly what people want most.

Sean and Georgia are two thirds of a blogging team (the third being their friend Buffy, fictional writer and tech-guru extraordinaire) who are chosen to present the inside scoop on Senator Ryman’s campaign. Little do they know, they’re entering dangerous territory even by daredevil Shaun’s standards.

I don’t feel like it’s too much of a stretch to compare this book to one of my post-apocalyptic favorites, “The Passage” by Justin Cronin. Mira Grant’s world is realized just as fully, and I found myself wondering what the characters were up to each time I had to put the book down. And oh the characters- Georgia is steely and super-saavy, even when diving into the shark-tank of politics. She’s my new favorite to join my zombie apocalypse Justice League of Awesome and Not Dying. (I so did not just make that up off the top of my head.)(Yes I did.)  Shaun wouldn’t be out of place on an episode of Jack-Ass, and the other staff of After The End Times are brought to life just as vividly.

Through the course of the political campaign, you get a real feel for the changes that have taken place across the country. There are nods of humor (Georgia and Buffy [real name Georgette] are both named after George Romero, considered one of mankind’s heroes for preparing them for the apocalypse via his cinematic work. Apparently “George” was the new “Katie” after the dead started rising), some truly harrowing scenes with the infected and some intriguing descriptions of the various necessary technical advances. Grant also doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to picking off her characters, something that when done well can be incredibly effective.

If you’re looking to start a new post-apocalyptic series, and in the mood for some zombie mayhem, this would definitely be the choice for you.

Four and a half super savvy bloggers.

*-And seriously, after the coverage of the Olympics, can you blame it?

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)

‘America, You Sexy Bitch’: Notable Quotes

(With relatively little elaboration/commercial interruption from yours truly)

“Unfortunately, the problem is that in America, women in the media are still treated as either Madonnas or whores… the easiest and most predictable way for a lot of men to deal with a strong woman with strong opinions is to automatically call her a slut and immediately call into question her morality and life choices…. I want women in this country to have the opportunity to be three-dimensional human beings. I want women to be accepted as smart, powerful, intelligent and in tune with their sexuality without automatically being labeled “sluts” for having those qualities.” ~ pp 54-55, Meghan

“So many other countries have mandatory military service, which I don’t think we need, but I wonder whether some sort of mandatory national service wouldn’t be a good idea for our country. Whether it’s military or educational or mentoring or park service, the list of needs we have is great and we certainly don’t lack for bored young people. I also worry that our culture is slowly becoming so fragmented that our national identity might get irretrievably diluted along the way.” ~pp 117-118, Michael

“Just as Elvis was probably inevitable, so was Obama… Both Elvis and Obama represent the collision of cultures, which is how America has always marked its own progress, from 1492 on…Both men were charismatic, inspirational figures who energized America and, then, the world…. Both were scorned and both did a lot to earn that scorn; hopefully Obama never makes any movies like Blue Hawaii.” ~p194, Michael

“So, is it fair that he won’t buy health insurance, but the public should pay for his appendectomy?

No. But it’s not fair that the government should tell him what he has to buy, either.” ~p 233, Michael

(Surprisingly, this is the section of the book that got me the MOST fired up. I can’t stand the arrogance of healthy people that refuse to buy insurance because “they’re young and healthy, and understand the risk they’re taking by not doing so.”

I had health insurance when I was getting paid $9.50 an hour as a technician at CVS. I went into the hospital to have my gallbladder removed as an outpatient, and left the hospital 3 weeks later after pancreatitis with a $76,000.00 hospital bill. Should the public have had to pay for that?)

“There’s something I sometimes forget when talking to [Meghan] about Obama. Her father lost the presidency of the United States of America to that guy. That’s got to be a tough pill to swallow… But here’s one of the things I love about Meghan McCain: even though her dad lost the election to Barack Obama, even though she has every reason to buy into the whole “Marxist/Kenyan/Socialist/Saul Alinsky/terrorist-loving crap,” she does not. Meghan McCain is committed to finding the good in her president.”~ p233, Michael

“I love a man in a Ford F-Series pickup truck, so much that my girlfriends and I have a running joke about how all men should just do themselves a favor and buy Ford pickups, because they automatically become more attractive when driving them. Seriously, I will take a man in a Ford any day of the week over a man in a BMW.” ~p244, Meghan

(She gets the Car Question, ladies! It never fails!)

“I think that ended up being the funniest part about our assumed divide. That our roles completely reverse when we step away from how we want our government run and look closer at how we live our own personal lives. Labels are stupid.” ~p308, Meghan

Thank you for joining me on my book club read of America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom for Mandy’s Blogger Book Club! If any of the previous posts have intrigued you at all, or if you just want to examine your political leanings before the election in November, I highly recommend you pick up a copy and give it a read.

“America, You Sexy Bitch”: A Review

America, You Sexy Bitch~ Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain

Plot Summary (from Amazon): She is a single, twentysomething, gun-loving, Christian, Republican writer and blogger, the daughter of a Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee. He is a married, forty-year-old, gun-fearing, atheist, Democrat comedian, the son of a lesbian former Social Security employee. Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black barely know each other. But they are about to change the way politics is discussed in America.

Or at least the way politics are discussed in their crappy RV.

In America, You Sexy Bitch, Meghan and Michael embark on a balls-out, cross-country tour starting in California, the heart of liberal America, and ending in the state of Connecticut, the home of blue-blood Wall Street billionaires. Along the way, they visit such cultural touchstones as Graceland and Branson, party in Las Vegas and New Orleans, pretend to be Mormon in Salt Lake City (only for a second), and go to a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan. They tour the nation’s capital; they fire semiautomatic weapons. But mostly Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black talk to each other: about their differences, their similarities, and how American politics has gotten so divided.

Soundtrack: “American Woman” ~ Lenny Kravitz

This was an obvious choice, since it’s Meghan’s karaoke song and a fitting track to the mental image of their RV rolling across the country during a summer heat wave. Something about sweaty car seats just screams Lenny Kravitz to me.

Best Enjoyed With: Anything Alcoholic. Preferably a Bourbon Slush, because those sounded delish.

Let me start off by specifying that there will be more than one post on this book, because I flagged waaaaay too many quotes to be contained in one blog post. That said, this post is solely intended as a review of the book as a whole.

One night, Michael Ian Black decided to check Twitter after taking an Ambien. While not the most common recreational activity, this enabled him to pitch a book idea to Meghan McCain: Let’s take a cross country road trip to talk to Real Americans about politics and the state of our country. To his surprise she accepted, and this book was born. Spawned. Created… whatev.

A great deal of this book challenged my perceptions of the main political parties in this country, though I can’t say that I will necessarily change the way that I perceive my own affiliation. I certainly understand more what the two parties’ ideals are, and I found the juxtaposition in the last chapter to be fascinating- Meghan McCain, Republican, heading off to a new life in the city, and Michael Ian Black settling back into his lovely home in the suburbs. It just emphasized that certain people are drawn to particular lifestyles, regardless of what the stereotypical “affiliation” of that lifestyle may be (ie the wandering free-spirited Democrat or the nuclear family-centered Republican).

I greatly admire Meghan McCain for what she is trying to do for the Republican Party, moving them away from the radical and updating their image to appeal to a wider range of people. She’s an ardent patriot, staunch in her belief that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world. She’s also a woman in her 20s, dealing with the scrutiny of being in the public eye from a very young age. She’s also brassy, sassy, and lays it ALL out there. She’s a walking contradiction- a voice of the young Republican party who is a supporter of gay marriage and believes the government should stay out of women’s girlybits. But why should that make her a contradiction? She states multiple times that she sees the world in shades of grey, not black and white, and that is EXACTLY what we need in politics right now. I also desperately want to put on some slutty heels, drink some whiskey and listen to country music with her. (Only if she keeps her hands off my girlcrush, Jennifer Nettles.)

(Hear that, Meghan? Call me! *wink)

Michael Ian Black comes off as being a bit more distant, at least to me. He is the cynical observer, making note of the reactions of those around him. To that point, when he does experience a strong emotional response, the reader pauses and takes note. He is actually extremely responsible and respectful of what they’re trying to accomplish, making him the surprising “straight guy” among the RV crew.

They definitely accomplished a trip through an interesting cross-section of America- trekking through the southern US and hitting such notable destinations as Memphis, Nashville, Austin and NOLA. They made a point of travelling both to Salt Lake City and the Muslim capitol of the US, Dearborn, Michigan. Their journey concludes in Washington, DC over dinner with Senator John McCain himself, and provides a unique look at the current emotional climate on Capitol Hill. My only gripe with their journey was that I actually felt that some of the more liberal states were under-represented. That’s entirely a personal opinion, but I would have liked to see a visit to the Pacific Northwest, or perhaps to New England (which traditionally swings more liberal and where gay marriage is legal in a number of states).

I’ve read some criticism of this book as being an overblown road trip, just a series of vignettes mostly taking place in bars. However, I do think that Michael and Meghan set out and accomplished exactly what they were aiming for- they proved that two polar opposites could spend an extended period of time together and foster an open, honest dialogue about the state of American politics right now. No, they’re not going to save the world or fix global warming. That’s not what they set out to do.

I admit, I found myself wondering toward the end if the book would get to the point, and Michael knocked it out of the park for me on page 295:

“My cynical view on our nation is simple: we’re fucked. Before leaving for the trip, I thought our current fuckedness was a temporary aberration… But after diving deeper into our problems, I realized that America has some serious, perhaps fundamental, troubles.

If you start to talk about healthcare, for example, you have to talk about the poor. If you talk about the poor, you have to talk about jobs. If you talk about jobs, you have to talk about globalization….and pretty soon you’re not talking about anything because you’re talking about everything. Each issue is so hopelessly entwined with every other that they’re like a ball of yarn the cat’s gotten into.”

That, my friends, is it in a nutshell. That’s what makes it so difficult for us to have a civil political dialogue at this point in American history- everything is so interrelated that it’s difficult to choice one point of discussion without inevitably offending someone’s view on a related topic. YES. Michael and Meghan proved through their trip that it CAN be done, as long as we all seek to dig deep for understanding and turn off our egos.

Perhaps most striking to me was the book’s (perhaps unintentional) comparison of Meghan McCain to America. Sometimes they’re both a sexy bitch. Sometime’s they’re both a hot mess. But America has always been one to go her own way, and nobody is a better example of that than someone who is attempting to blaze a new political trail.  Meghan is a die-hard patriot, and America needs someone like that in her corner for future generations.

This book certainly made me laugh, made me think, and made me dog-ear more pages than I’m proud to admit.

Four and a half out of Five Stinky RVs.

*Disclosure: I received this book from in exchange for an honest review and participation in Mandy’s Blogger Book Club. Many Thanks to Mandy for this experience!*