Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Holy moly I did not expect it to take TEN MONTHS before I would update my blog rather than the family blog but hey that is life with two babies. (Not much life just lots of babies.)

So what am I going to be watching this fall well not much. Time is really limited so no watching what ever I want. I’ve dropped so many shows as I’ve either lost interest or don’t have the time to invest emotionally. Sure I’d love to give Game of Thrones a go but not yet. So it’s quality over quantity for the next few years and then lots and lots of box sets…

Sunday: The Good Wife and Homeland

Both shows left the viewer hanging at the end of their respective seasons. Will Kalinda shoot the shit out of her ex and will Carrie remember anything post electr0-shock treatment?

Monday: No Reservations/Layover, Castle and Revolution

I love me some Bourdain so will continue on with No Reservations slash Layover till he packs up for CNN (curious to see what they do with the show – hasn’t he been everywhere?), and he also has a new show with Nigella that is filming in LA at the mo. Curious but will his sardonic wit be too much for NBC? Castle is on the cusp as I am growing weary of procedural crime shows (shocker!) I don’t even bother to DVR just catch it thru On Demand if there is nothing else on. Revolution is new and by Eric Kripet who steered the first 5 seasons of Supernatural (if only they had ended then!) it’s about electricity stopping working and what happens. I assume the Amish take over, right? I’ve got one episode on the DVR so will give it a whirl.

Tuesday: Nothing

We dropped NCIS last year as it’s just too samey-samey.

Wednesday: Nothing

This is the new night for Supernatural but I dumped it at the end of last season as the plot had got too convoluted even for me and it should have ended seasons ago.

Thursday: Last Resort, The Big Bang Theory and Scandal

The Last Resort has submarines so I might be able to entice Alex to watch it; we are one season behind on TBBT so will be DVR-ing and catching up, and Scandal was trashy fun with a good cliff hanger.

Friday: Fringe

It’s the final season! Very excited to see how everything wraps up but if they pull the same stunt that X-Files did with the dullest final episodes every I will weep real tears.

Saturday: Date night!

Watch a movie via Netflix Instant or iTunes

So that’s it. The least amount of TV I have ever watched. The Cylonettes better get early admission to MIT for all this TV sacrificing.

Oh I wish that I was blogging about eating at El Bulli rather than just watching documentaries about it but since Chef Ferran has now closed its doors for good it’s all we got. For our first dose of El Bulli Alex and I watched the documentary ‘El Bulli – Cooking in Progress’ which followed Chef Ferran and his team for over a year. Including the six months of every year when the restaurant is closed so that the chefs can relocate to Barcelona to experiment and start devising the new menu. El Bulli was famous for Ferran’s innovative approach to gastronomy especially molecular gastronomy. But, what is obvious from the documentary is that it is not molecular gastronomy just for the sake of it they really want to push the boundaries and excite themselves and their customers. It is slow in parts but there are some great scenes as they take their produce (e.g. sweet potato) and compare and contrast various cooking techniques to see just how far they can transform it. Everything is painfully recorded in detail, and woe betide the chef who doesn’t back up or have a copy of Spin Rite to hand for when his hard drive fails.  There is a great bit at the market where the chefs have to buy just five grapes and three beans as that’s all they need to experiment with, and the stall holders hold them in such high esteem they let them get away with it! The documentary is definitely worth a watch if gastro-porn is your thing.

We followed up our viewing of the documentary with Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation episode focused on El Bulli. It was a perfect pairing (like mint choc chip ice-cream) and after the serious tone of the document No Reservation’s lightened things up though it was obvious how much Bourdain respects Chef Ferran. It was funny seeing Bourdain working the line (hands shaking with all the detail work), and the joy when he was eating his way through the tasting menu.  Made me wish we’d try to get a reservation there as it would have been worth the trip to Spain.

The Killing

I haven’t seen the original Danish series that AMC’s The Killing is based on but given the amount of buzz it got when it aired in the UK earlier this year I am guessing it’s better than the lackluster adaptation that just finished airing over here. I’m holding out ordering it from Amazon.co.uk in case Netflix gets the rights to stream it – which I think would be a REALLY good idea.

For a taut police drama there was a shocking lack of you know police work. The first few episodes built the tension and there were some nice twisty-turny bits but then it slowed down into a rainy kitchen sink drama about what a crap mother and finance Linden was and how shady her police partner Holder was acting. Ugh. The political sub-plot was far from gripping. Did we really care if the current mayor stopped the funding his rival candidate’s (Richmond) after school sports program? Er no.

Not even cameo appearances from Battlestar Galactica’s Leoben (Linden’s fiance who is waiting for her in Sonoma) and Helo (her errant ex-husband) could pep things up. Perhaps it was all the overcast skies and rain that brought the writers and cast down as it was set in Vancouver Seattle. My take away highlight from the entire series was that for one scene they filmed in the gorgeous house that the Graystone’s lived in in Caprica – I was holding out hope that I might see Serge.

The pace did finally pick up in the last episode but the ending was so awful – it was not a cliffhanger it was a cop out. I don’t care who killed Rosie Larsen or is setting up the politician. I’m done especially since AMC cancelled last summer’s Rubicon which had a much more engaging cast and complex plot I guess they decided to dumb things down this year.

Top Chef Masters: Season 3

I love Top Chef, and the past two seasons of Top Chef Masters have been pretty good too but this season lost it’s mojo. There was a lack of contestants with personality – they are all good people but there were no Jonathan Waxman like characters. A big deal was made of Curtis Stone taking over hosting duties from Kelly Choi but let’s be honest neither of them are in Padma’s league so it’s something of a moot point. The challenges were interesting enough but what I think really let the season down was the changes to the panel. Happy that Gael Greene was parked but dropping the scoring was a mistake. In previous Top Chef Masters seasons the panel had to give proper critiques and score the chefs’ efforts. Maybe it was the editing but it felt like there was less talk of the food and techniques. I think it might be time to retire this spin-off.

Treme

Oh god Treme was just too fraking slow,  jam packed with really annoying characters, and felt like a dull social studies lesson. Set in New Orleans post-Katrina it follows way too many people as they rebuild their lives. We made it through three episodes and then decided to quit before we slipped into a coma. Didn’t care about John Goodman’s angry English professor or his wife (the overly earnest lawyer using her car as a mobile filing cabinet) or their daughter whingeing about having to go to boarding school in Baton Rouge.  I do hope the lady who owns the bar gets her roof fixed but she should probably stop paying the errant roofer until he finishes the job, and her ex-husband is such an arse why are all these women lining up to make him their baby daddy? And don’t even get me started on the hipster musician with ironic facial hair who treats everyone with contempt because they do not truly appreciate NOLA culture, and music like he does. Arrgghhh.

Last week I was searching for something light and fluffy to watch to help me unwind after a hard day of trying to understand silver epic (my current bete noir) and I stumbled upon Monarch of the Glen on Netflix Instant – perfect. Though if I am honest I much prefer Hamish Macbeth to MotG as it was a tad more subversive and had a stronger cast (SGU’s Robert Carlyle in the title role) but alas it is not available through Netflix Instant.

MotG is a bucolic fairy tale about the MacDonald clan and their crumbling ancestral home. The son, Archie MacDonald, is recalled from his exciting life in London to take on the role of laird and to try and save the family from bankruptcy.  It’s one thing to own half of Scotland but it is another thing to actually own it and not be in hock to the bank.  Archie is of course at first resistant to giving up London for the backwaters but eventually comes around, and works to try to turn their home and land into a viable business not only to save the MacDonalds but also the surrounding community. It probably doesn’t harm that all the local lassies are throwing themselves at him.

MotG ran from 2000-2005, and what I found interesting when re-watching it was how well it reflected the trends of the ’00s. It brought back so many memories. First there is the fashion. The men in Glenbogle are allowed to dress in sensible boiled wool sweaters, and thick hiking pants or kilts but the women. The poor women are forced to dress in skimpy fashions from the cities BUT in Scotland where it is COLD and DAMP all the time.  Mid-drift revealing shirts and t-shirts, short skirts, clam digger pants, kitten heels, and handkerchief tops. Everything is pastel (lilacs, pinks and baby blues) and made of thin cheap material. I shudder every time they cut to Lexie (the young and sassy housekeeper) as the poor actress must have been so cold when filming. At one point they had her get on a quad bike in a mini-skirt, crop top and kitten heels, and then they had her fishing in the same outfit.  Now it is true that those in the north of England and Scotland do not feel the cold like the rest of us, and girls will power through the cold to wear skimpy fashions because otherwise they’d never get to wear them. My years in London made me soft, and my years in NYC have made me even softer. Yes we have harsh winters but we also have the luxury of a proper spring and summer so we can hold off wearing the little dresses until we know we won’t be risking frostbite.

Secondly, the technology is a hoot. The mobile phones are still on the large side, and they rely on faxes for “fast” communications. Though Glenbogle is fairly cutting edge as they have the early Apple PowerBooks in black with the inverted Apple logo but they transfer data via floppy discs. Nostalgia overload! But, the think that really brought home ’00s was when they designed the website to promote the stately home as a country hotel and corporate get-away – the ubiquitous web cams! I remember the trend in the ’90s and early ’00s for websites to have a voyeuristic aspect with web cams (or audio) streaming the “exciting” things that were going there. Hotels were guilty of this crime big time but I also remember art galleries and museums doing the same thing. Nothing as interesting as a web cam streaming an empty room or people walking very slowly from one side to the other.  Whichever marketing company kicked off that trend should hang their head in shame. Not only is it like the antimatter of content but it ate up your bandwidth – hello dial-up!

It’s fun re-watching them but I am definitely going to have to download Hamish Macbeth as I am missing Lochdubh and Wee Jock.

When I was in the UK in October I took a trip to Cambridge with my Mum, and we had tea at Fitzbillies. Fitzbillies is famous for its Chelsea buns, and I can confirm that they are amazing. Just as an aside a Chelsea bun is similar to a cinnamon bun but less cinnamony and just as sticky but with lots of dried currants.

When I came home I started looking for a Chelsea bun recipe and I came across this one at Let Her Bake Cake’s blog.  I tried it out over the weekend and even thought I screwed up the yeast I still managed to bake tasty (if a little heavy) buns. Next up I am going to try these sticky lemon buns (and also breakfast rolls) and fingers crossed I’ll master the yeast.  Can you tell which Chelsea bun is from Fitzbillies?

Last week it was announced that Fringe is moving to Friday night, and the Twitterverse let out a collective groan as it is where good TV shows go to die. Fringe is in it’s third season, we are only now really digging into the whole parallel universe thing and finding out just how truly evil Walternate is (and how totally awesome John Noble is for pulling off the twin Walters and showing hipsters how to rock the original boyfriend cardigan). So will Friday night really be a death blow to Fringe? Would it really be that bad if Fringe only had one more season? I’d much rather it end with a strong fourth season that wraps everything up than it morph into a so-so TV show that limps on into endless formulaic seasons.

My beloved House is in its seventh season and needs to be euthanized. It’s still strong in the ratings but story-wise it has entered yawnsville. Sometimes I’ll catch the early House episodes (especially ‘Three Stories’) in syndication, and they make me sad because the later seasons are such pale imitations. It is hard to pin point when things took a nose dive because every couple of seasons there’s an episode that hints at a resurrection. Most people think that it jump the shark when House fired his original team at the end of season three. But, I don’t think so – the addition of Cut Throat Bitch was a breathe of fresh air when she was alive and even more so when she came back to haunt House.  This season Alex has pretty much stopped watching it and I am probably not that far behind him especially after its recent treatment of guest stars. I got so excited about Dylan Baker but then the powers that be wasted him on being a CDC drone.  So disappointing considering that The Good Wife had him playing such a twisted character than everything else feels so vanilla and dull.

As much as I love House I really do wish they would either start winding things down at Princeton Plansboro or figure out how to get the snarky House back.

There are two things I need to clarify before I launch into this anecdote. Firstly, I am not a bad person I probably should have interjected into the conversation but there is something about indignant tourists that rile me. You know the type – the ones that take it as a personal insult that things aren’t closer together. You want an indignant tourist try being in Pompeii in July when it is a thousand degrees in the shade (if there was any shade) and all the guide books say that it’s only a 20 minute walk from the minibus drop to the top of Vesuvius BUT they lied and it is actually a good hour at a steady trot. Secondly, just to get your geographic bearings the discount store Century 21 is opposite the World Trade Center site.

So I am sitting in Starbucks in SoHo killing some time before I have my lunch date. Enjoying the AC and getting frustrated about not being able to get on the free wifi. Three tourists sit next to me. They are in their early 20s and are pouring over a subway map. It is obvious that they are tired, hot and getting frustrated with being in NYC (the sighing and eye rolling gave it away). Girl 1 wants to go to Century 21 but none of them know where it is. Girl 1 is adamant that she must go to Century 21 to buy discount jeans. There is no reason to be in NYC other than to go to Century 21 to buy discounted jeans, and visit the World Trade Center site. Girl 2 understands the importance of visiting Century 21 but does not see the point of going downtown to the WTC as aside from the building site there is nothing of any interest there just people in suits. Girl 1 and 2 then launch into a discussion about how they could ask someone where Century 21 is. This circular conversation of ‘I want to go to Century 21 but I don’t know where it is, and I want to go to WTC’ goes on for about 5 minutes before Boy 1 suggests they get a cab to Century 21 as the cab driver will know.

Imagine their joy when they discover the location of Century 21!