Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mad Men's family affairs, a taste of the American Baking Competition and a quick True Blood recap

 Last night was the debut of The American Baking Competition,
where ten home cooks compete to win a publishing contract from Simon & Schuster(for their own cookbook) along with a quarter of a million dollars as their reward for being the best baker in the US.

Hosted by Jeff Foxworthy and judged by Paul Hollywood and Marcela Valladolid, the first culinary challenge was pies and tarts. Round one was the "Signature Dish",where each contestant made a tried and true recipe out of their own collection. Most of the pies turned out well(with a few noted excepts) but the surprise of that round came from Francine,who wasn't sure how Paul Hollywood would take her chocolate peanut butter and bacon creation. Turns out that a little bit of bacon goes well with everything there:

The next round was a technical challenge, where everyone was given the same recipe(a meat pie) but only the bare bones requirements. Getting the crust right was tricky and the tasting was done without knowing who did which one at first.

The last round is the "Show Stopper" and 36 tarts were tasked to them all. One guy(Jeremy, a firefighter) couldn't get all of his tarts done on time but he still managed to stay in the game as another competitor went home.

 At the end, one person was chosen as the "Star Baker" and that honor went to Francine,who is already a favorite of mine. Her down to earth demeanor and joy of baking is what a show like this is all about and I'll be rooting for her for the next few weeks. Hopefully, I won't be alone in that but my best guess is probably not:

Mad Men revisited some old family ties this week, as Don ran into a newly vamped Betty while seeing Bobby at his summer camp. The two of them reconnected in more ways than one,with a one night stand that had Betty in the driver's seat for once.

 However, it was obvious the next day that it was meant to be a brief encounter on her part,anyway,which is just as well since Don has enough complications on his personal plate as it is:


He wasn't the only one trying to seek solace from a former lover, as Roger's reaction to being scolded about taking his toddler grandson to Planet of the Apes had him attempting to worm his way back into Joan's life.

She's also moved on,emotionally and would prefer that her son only have one father to acknowledge(even if he is a total jerk but then again, Roger is no great shakes in that department either).

 The one person I would keep on an eye on here is Bob,who has made his way into Joan's good graces and is trying to do the same with Pete. Something about that guy just makes me think of Eve Harrington but it's still not certain who he's wanting to replace at the still nameless agency(too many initials,gang-my suggestion, pick a general name like Mad Ad for the firm). We've only got a few more episodes left, so hopefully SCDP/CGC will have a proper title by the end of this run.

 The new season of True Blood will be starting up soon,so it'll a good idea to refresh our collective memories about what happened last year and boy,was there a lot going on!

 Let's highlight the main points; Bill(and briefly Eric) became a member of the Vampire Authority after Russell Edgington took over in a literally bloody coup.

Russell went back to his blood addicting ways with the local werewolves,which got Sam and his new girlfriend all tangled up in that power struggle which distracted Russell and his new boyfriend Steve Newlin from the growing madness at the Authority due to indulging in the blood of the vampire goddess Lilith.

Meanwhile, Tara adjusted to becoming a vampire,thanks to a reluctant Pam, and Sookie reconnected to her fae roots only to discover an ancestor of hers sold her to a mysterious blood drinker named Warlow. As the season wrapped up, open warfare was declared on vampires, Andy become a confused papa to a gaggle of faerie babies and Bill took the Nestea plunge with the last of Lilith's blood. Pretty complicated, I know, but this new go-round of True Blood should be something to watch there and I don't intend to miss one crazy drop of it:


 THE WHITE QUEEN:  In August,Starz will be airing this BBC miniseries based on Philippa Gregory's set of novel about the War of the Roses. I happen to be reading The White Queen right now and let me tell you, this is one summer series worth waiting for:

Monday, May 27, 2013

A set of seasonal reads to warm up your beach blanket reading

I know that today is a holiday and that most folks are basking in the glow of this unofficial beginning of summer instead of prowling about for book recommendations online,however, I did come across a trio of upcoming titles that are perfectly suited to this season to share with you.

First up is Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell, which is set during the scorching summer of 1976 in England. Gretta Riordan starts off one particularly hot July morning by finding her husband Robert has decided to leave for good,along with their bank account,and she calls in their three grown children for emotional(and perhaps financial)support.

Her kids happen to have plenty of troubles of their own,with elder son Michael's marriage being on the rocks, daughter Monica getting no respect from her stepdaughters and younger sister Aoife,who now lives in New York, appearing confident yet carrying around a secret that could easily shatter her new founded existence. O'Farrell is an award winning writer overseas and hopefully, this latest work coming to America in June will expand her growing audience of readers seeking engaging mature dramas to savor:

 Next up is Beatriz Williams' A Hundred Summers,where socialite Lily Dane hopes to enjoy her Memorial Day weekend of 1938 in the comfort zone that is Seaview,Rhode Island for her.

However, the two people she least wanted to run into have arrived into the neighborhood,Nick and Budgie Greenwald. Nick was her former fiance and Budgie her former best friend who ran off together and now eager to bring Lily back into their lives. Understandably, Lily is less than thrilled to reconnect but avoiding them all summer is not a realistic option.

 As they are thrown together,sparks do fly and unpleasant truths pop up that could change everything for all involved but the threat of a major storm may upend their social raft for them. If you're looking for an old fashioned story that is bewitched and bothered about the topsy turvy nature of love, this book(which is now on sale) could be your best bet:

Last and far from least is Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand,set during modern times at a Nantucket wedding.  The Carmichael family is bound and determined to use "The Notebook" created by deceased mother Beth as the guide for youngest daughter Jenna's upcoming nuptials.

Despite the seemingly perfect plans,the arrangements for the ceremony and the people expected(or not expected) to be there appear to be going the way of Murphy's Law. Secret romances,complicated family ties and a tree named Alfie are speed bumps to this path of true love running as smooth as it should.

Weddings are always a mixed bag of emotional goodies but Hilderbrand's style of weaving a carefully crafted quilt of family love promises to make this late June release well worth the wait as you listen to the wedding bell blues of others this summer:

Hope you're having a good holiday weekend and a great start to your summer as well. Finding fresh books to read that are nicely tailored to your tastes can be tricky but with most of your favorite TV shows taking a break this season as well,combining those two pop culture pleasures can be as sweet as a triple scoop ice cream cone or as quirky as peanut butter coated popcorn(haven't tried that but it doesn't sound too bad there). So, don't let book shopping overwhelm you,folks,that's actually supposed to be fun!:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tryion's bad joke on GOT,Mad Men crash harder than expected and Behind the Candelabra

With the next episode of Game of Thrones being a couple of weeks away, there's much to think about until then as Dany receives a new ally,Melisandre prepares Gendry for sacrifice and Arya is in the dubious company of The Hound.

The most major event of this past episode was the wedding of Tyrion and Sansa,with no real joy from either side of the aisle. Poor Sansa had the worst of it as Joffery took great delight in mocking both her and his uncle,from moving the step stool required for the cloaking portion of the ceremony to taunting the bride about visiting her on her wedding night.

  Things came to a head when Joffery tried to initiate the traditional "bedding" portion of the evening,where everyone drags the bride and groom to their bed chamber. Tyrion,being a bit drunk and fed up with his father's nagging about impregnating Sansa as soon as possible, was in no mood for such vicious folly and laid down the law to his nephew.

While he was entirely in the right in my opinion, it was a risky move to make and Granddaddy Tywin helped to smooth things over there(plus Tyrion amped up his drunken mood). As to the actual wedding night, Tyrion told Sansa that he would only make love to her when she wanted him to,a rather considerate attitude that hopefully will make her think better of her new husband. At the very least, she knows that he's willing to stand up to Joffery,who could use a little whittling down:

Things got surreal on Mad Men this week,as Don and several members of his creative team had a taste of the "vitamin shots" that one of their new CGC associates had to offer,courtesy of his own Dr. Feelgood.

Don was already a wreck,due to his break up with Sylvia and going on a three day mind trip didn't help him or the campaign for Chevy one bit. That neglect hit home, as Sally had to handle an intruder at her father's place all by herself which gave Betty ample opportunity to let Don have it(when did she turn blond again? Was it something I missed?).

 Perhaps some of this craziness will clear some of those cobwebs out of Don's brain and get him to properly focus on something positive in his life there. A slim hope,to be sure,but better than none:

Airing this Sunday on HBO is a new made for cable film about the secret love life of Liberace. Behind the Candelabra stars Michael Douglas as the charismatic costumed singer and is based on the memoir by Scot Thorson(played by Matt Damon),who was his lover for several years and wound up suing him for palimony.

 Steven Soderbergh directed this film and there's quite a cast on deck with the likes of Dan Ackroyd, Rob Lowe and Debbie Reynolds in key roles.

However, it's the relationship between Liberace and Scot that is the main attraction, particularly as Liberace strove to keep the true nature of his sexuality a deep secret from the world,regardless of the personal cost to him and others. This is definite must-see TV in my house this holiday weekend and I'm sure I won't be alone in that regard:


HGTV STAR: The name may have changed(yes, this is the show formerly known as Design Star) but the competition is still the same and the new season starts in June. Be there with your set square!:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Accessing some Random Memories with Daft Punk

Granted, I'm far from being a major audiophile but even a non-High Fidelity gal like myself can see the wave of enthusiasm that fans and critics are riding on for the new Daft Punk album,Random Access Memories,which is due out tomorrow.

 For those of you less than familiar with this group, Daft Punk is a electronic musical duo of French men (Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo) who have been on the scene since the late '90s and have a strong cult following.

Their distinctive style of computerized tunes,along with the robot masks that they wear for public appearances, have brought them an unique place in the pop culture pantheon. For the most part, Daft Punk hasn't been connected too much to mainstream audiences with the exception of a breakout song from their 2001 album Discovery,"One More Time":

 Daft Punk comes out with an album every few years,which made their being tapped to create the soundtrack for 2010's Tron: Legacy even more of a draw to their devoted fan base.

 The guys even appear in part of the film,as the DJs at the End of the Line club, and the Austin Film Critics Association gave the soundtrack a Best Original Score that year.

 It also received a Grammy nomination and the single release of "Derezzed" has become the standard go-to tune for this movie. In fact, I'm sure many people would love yet another Tron movie just to have Daft Punk make another soundtrack for it:

 What's making folks talk about Random Access Memories is the combination of past influences and present course of musical action. The theme of the entire album is the human factor involved in making such techno based music and Daft Punk pays tribute to those who paved the way for them by having on board such innovators as Giorgio Moroder(who contributes a piece that can only be described as a musical autobiography), Nile Rodgers and Julian Casablancas.

A series of videos featuring some of these illustrious music makers has been online for awhile now as part of the promotion for RAM. My favorite one features Paul Williams, who wrote the lyrics for his song "Touch" and sings it himself, a rather haunting number that his fictional music mogul Swan would've eagerly signed onto for a performance at the Paradise:

 In addition to the critical buzz floating around RAM, the first single off the album "Get Lucky"(with vocals by Pharrell Williams) has become one of the most downloaded songs on iTunes and has landed them for the first time on the Billboard charts in America.

 While mainstream acceptance does not automatically make one a major artist in any field, it is awesome to see truly talented artisans get the reception they deserve.

 I got to know Daft Punk through my sister Stephanie(who is way more of a music person than me) and it's one of the few pop culture interests that we share. In a way, I guess our mutual enjoyment of Daft Punk is what this album is all about, making and keeping human connections in an increasing advanced techno world. The song and album of the summer is here,folks and we're all getting lucky to have this ultimate next level in audio appreciation unveiled before us:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Scooping up some sweet reads for a tasty summer reading sundae

Granted,this is still the middle of spring but summer is only a few weeks away and preparing your reading list for the season is quite sensible to do now. I have a huge variety pack of books to get through but I thought it would be best to just highlight some of the main events of my reading scheldule.

I'm getting off to an early start with a reread of Jane Austen's Sanditon, one of her uncompleted manuscripts. Part of this haste is due to the good folks who brought us The Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series, who have launched a new set of videos based on this story about a small seaside town hoping to hit it big with the tourist trade.

The Sanditon series is set in modern times(as was the LBD) and Gigi Darcy has been brought on board,as a narrator testing out Pemberley Digital's Domino app. Since the original Sanditon doesn't have an expected ending, it'll be fun to see where this goes:

 All of my Austen reading won't so innocent this summer,as I tackle Linda Berdoll's spicy take on the Darcys for my Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge.

 First up is Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, which picks up not long after the wedding and then it'll be Darcy & Elizabeth: Days and Nights at Pemberley(sounds very old school soap opera-ish, doesn't it?).

The Berdoll titles were the first "notorious" Austen inspired books that I know of, due to the frank nature of the love scenes and for a time, most booksellers wouldn't stock it but in this day and age of 50 Shades of Gray, this might seem to be mild fare.

 Then again, maybe not. Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife(aka The Bar Sinister) was considered eye brow raising for a reason and I aim to find out just how shocking it can be, plus seeing if it's a good story to begin with.

I'm not a stranger to sexy writing yet I do prefer such things to be a natural part of the plot rather than an excuse for it. Oh, well, I knew these books might be trouble and with any luck, it'll be the sort of steamy fun that summer reading was made for:

  There are a lot of great paperbacks coming out this summer and one of them that I intend to have a front row seat for is Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub.  This showbiz saga stars Elsa Emerson, who flees her bleak Midwest life at 17 to find fame as a film star with a hopeful young husband at her side.

 Her career hits a snag that can only be loosened by Irving Green, a major movie mogul who becomes her lover and eventually her second spouse. As Laura, she finds cinematic success but the emotional costs of that climb start to cash in when the lime light no longer shines on her.

I adore Hollywood stories and this one is set during the 1930s, when the glitter was still believed to be gold. Straub's writing should live up to that promise,from what I hear:

 While many people will be inspired to read The Great Gatsby this summer,thanks to the shiny new 3-D film adaptation out and about in theaters right now, my pop culture themed pick is Stephen King's Under the Dome.

 The massive book will be seen on CBS as a limited run series,beginning in late June, and as with Game of Thrones, I don't mind reading ahead of the show. Since this is regular network TV, there will be some changes from page to screen that should offer a few surprises there.

Yes, I know the whole "The Simpsons did it" routine but I highly doubt that this tale of trapped townsfolk will have any other connection to the Simpson movie than the basic concept. Plus, Stephen King on the small screen should be the perfect chill for this hot summer:

 Whatever is on your reading list this season, the most important factor in choosing the right reads is enjoyment. Yes, expanding your mental horizons is a good goal as well but don't invest your time in something that holds no real interest for you. As for those Gatsby readers, I hope you're really loving the book as well as having enough info to talk about it at your local book club. Classics can be fun but don't take my word for it, as a certain Reading Rainbow trekker would say:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mad Men's merger troubles,graduation day on The Vampire Diaries and a couple of sweet Lannister moments on GOT

 Things kept moving along on Game of Thrones this week, as Dany prepared to free another city of slaves,Jon and Ygritte discussed their relationship and the most likely outcome for the Wildlings' attack plan and Gendry learned of his true parentage.

 Since George R. R. Martin wrote this episode(he does at least one per season), a lot of nifty dialogue was tossed around here,including a mini showdown between Joffery and his grandfather/Hand of the King Tywin. This scene wasn't in the book but you can't blame GRRM for having some fun with these characters, as Tywin elegantly managed to intimidate his psychotic spoiled brat of a grandson while still offering him the respect due to a king:

 The other major Lannister scene belonged to Jaime, who had gotten his captors to agree to bring him to King's Landing(on condition that he not blame them for his missing hand).

 That deal didn't include Brienne,however and when Jaime found out the vicious fate in store for her, he got the men accompanying him to go back for her.

 She had been tossed into a bear pit,with only a wooden sword to fight with and Brienne was doing her level best to fight off that big beast before Jaime showed up. Fortunately, he was able to save her from being ripped apart and forced the man holding her to have her leave with him. Jaime is still in my bad books but this was a nice redemption moment for him:

Mad Men dealt with the aftermath of the spontaneous merger between SCDP and CGC,with Don feeling the need to declare his dominance,as usual. While Ted is a more workaday type, Don likes to be the superstar and his power struggles at work extended to his affair with Sylvia.

 The two of them went a little 50 Shades of Grey, as they played a game of capture in a hotel room but soon enough, Sylvia got tired of it and called the whole thing off. Personally, I think that Don was worried about things getting too serious between them and sought to sabotage their love connection,yet still had regrets once it was over and done with. Being impulsive is a double edged sword and Our Man Draper had to take his cuts on the chin there:

It's graduation day on The Vampire Diaries but Bonnie may have a problem showing up, since she's dead. After taking her Expression powers to their breaking point in order to keep Jeremy alive, she woke up to find herself now a ghost.

 Fortunately, the power triangle that she set up to destroy Silas is still in play,meaning that she can interact with the living but so can the other Hunters who came back with Jeremy and who want to wipe out Silas themselves.

How anyone is going to get of this one,let alone have time for the whole cap and gown deal, is beyond me but rest assured, Caroline will use her super powers of determination to make it so:


FOOD NETWORK STAR: Season nine is set to start in June, with a fresh new pack of hopefuls ready to make their cooking show debut. Let's see if these foodie folk can cut the mustard and then some this summer, especially with the new twist thrown into the mix:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Paula Bryne's The Real Jane Austen paints a portrait in miniature of a larger than life literary icon

There have been many biographies written about Jane Austen,both fictional and factual, that most newcomers to her life and times might find daunting while established Austenites might feel that there is no need to add another one to their overflowing collections.

 However, in the latest Austen bio by Paula Bryne,The Real Jane Austen:A Life in Small Things, a sparkling new take on the material makes this book quite the must read for both sets of Jane Austen readers. Instead of taking  the standard chronological approach, Brynes uses everyday objects in Jane's life(as well as her characters) to talk about what may have influenced her choices in the personal and creative paths she took.

 For example, a card of lace leads us into Austen's enjoyment of shopping in such places as Bath and London,as well as the less amusing subject of one of her relations being arrested for shoplifting just such an item and spending a brief amount of time in jail(Jane's mother offered to send both of her daughters to the distressed aunt as company during her incarceration but that was politely declined).

Well known possessions of Jane Austen come into play also,like the topaz crosses that were brought for her and sister Cassandra by their naval brother Charles,purchased with money earned during one of his campaigns at sea.

 The British Navy and the impact that it had on society was a focal point for two of Austen's novels,Persuasion and Mansfield Park, with the cross given to Fanny in MP not only reflecting that generous gift given in real life but the true nature of the giver in both instances as well.

Jane Austen's health concerns(along with the accepted notions of the time period) are talked about in a chapter headlined by a bathing machine,popular at places such as Brighton where Lydia Bennet made her unfortunate choice of husband and political concerns regarding slavery in other countries is looked at through a portrait of a "Daughter of Mansfield."

Austen's playfulness with her nieces and nephews,plus the childish nature of game playing amongst her more grown-up characters is nicely highlighted in the chapter that opens with a box of letters,much like the ones used to pass certain secret messages in a pivotal section of Emma.

Some of the best chapters talk about Austen's writing career,with a royalty check from John Murray as the starting off point for her success at earning enough money from her published novels to allow her to continue onward with her work.

Another chapter showcases her laptop writing desk,that Jane received from her father when she was nineteen. It became as vital to her as the famous writing desk displayed at Chawton,for it was more than just a sign of his confidence in her talents.

That mini writing station gave her the mobility to take her work where ever her social and family obligations insisted that she needed to be and could be rightly seen as the Regency equivalent of the modern day laptop computer:

Paula Bryne is well familiar with Jane Austen's world,due in part to her earlier book Jane Austen and the Theatre,and that sure-handed ease with her subject makes the unusual set-up of this biography feel very natural and secure.

 Bryne gives the reader a guided tour into Jane Austen's life and times that definitely takes the scenic route,making the trip seem fresh and new for established fans and allows those new to the Austen scene a breezy yet mentally stimulating look at her world.

The Real Jane Austen is available at a bookseller near you and whether you're in need of a refresher course or a proper introduction, this lovely book fits the bill. The subtitle may say "a Life in Small Things" but as this book proves,Austen's life was quite the widescreen wonder:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Have an Austen-atious Mother's Day!

With Mother's Day blossoming up this weekend,thinking well of those maternal figures is the obvious train of thought to ride on,yet even the best of those beloved ladies do have a few flaws that in most instances, make them all the more lovable.

 Who better to showcase the adoring as well as amusing on occasion mothers(and motherly stand-ins) than Jane Austen, who treasured family ties but did not hesitate to enjoy a few moments of wit about her loved ones for the entertainment value,too. Here are a handful of some of Miss Austen's fictional mothers and their impact on their offspring:

MRS. BENNET: No discussion on this subject could be complete without this particularly passive aggressive matriarch whose eager urgings for her five daughters to be married are kindly meant,if not kindly carried out.

While Mrs. Bennet's methods are not what most "proper" women of her day would have her daughters do to find suitable suitors, she does at least make a credible effort to attract attention to her girls that does catch the notice of certain young men in the neighborhood(even if it's not the kind of attention a couple of them really want)and to make the most of any opportunity, even if that means nagging her husband to do his bit at the expense of her nerves:

MRS. JENNINGS: While the Dashwood sisters do have an excellent mother on hand to guide them in their respective romances, that does not prevent the jolly encouragement of their cousin Sir John Middleton's mother in law whose hints may be broad but her intentions are quite sincere.

 After all,as Elinor points out, Mrs. Jennings is a widow with two married daughters and has nothing better to do than get other young women around her married. One wonders what a meeting between her and Mrs. Bennet would have produced-even Mrs. Jennings might have trouble finding Mary and Kitty suitable mates but then, teaming up with other like minded matchmakers seems to be her strongest suit:

 MRS. BATES: Out of all the motherly types present in Emma,not much is said about this dear lady(or by her,for that matter).

Nevertheless,one can conclude that she must have been quite a devoted mother indeed,to earn such devotion from her remarkably chatty yet considerate daughter,Miss Bates. Such a generous nature and genuine humility must have been developed early on and by example,although the talkativeness is probably all of Miss Bates' own volition.

 However, she is sweet enough to keep her dear mother in step with any conversation they come across during the course of their daily interactions,which gives some of her listeners a much needed break:

LADY RUSSELL: Anne Eliot's motherly replacement did want the best for her by talking her out of getting engaged so young,although it did mean a long time before anyone took notice of her favorite Eliot girl.

Despite the unintentional consequences of her interference, Lady Russell staid true to Anne and the rest of the Eliots,especially during their time of retrenchment. She did encourage Anne as much as possible to seek out other chances for love,provided that those possible suitors were worthy of her attention and the Eliot name.

However,even the most agreeable of daughters tend to go their own way in love and Anne had to do so,regardless of her dear friend's wishes. It's too bad the other Miss Eliot didn't take such well meaning advice,in that case, the benefit of it might have done some real good:

 I hope you all have a lovely Mother's Day and even if that special lady in your life is not a Jane Austen fan, I'm sure she would find welcome company amongst the maternal circle gathered in our Dear Jane's fictional families and friends:

Thursday, May 09, 2013

An unexpected meeting for Arya on GOT, dealing with Don on Mad Men and the winner of The Amazing Race is....

It was a two hour finale for this season of The Amazing Race this past weekend and the next to last stop was in Ireland. One of the Detour challenges was to serve a five course meal to folks celebrating the first and last voyage of the H.M.S. Titanic and several flights of stairs had to be endured to bring the food to the waiting diners.

Most of the teams that took up this challenge were thrown by the seating chart,which only listed the choice of entrees for their table. Instead of checking the posted menu, a couple of them went around in circles trying to figure why the meals were not what was ordered.

  After that leg was over,it was down to three teams-Hockey brothers Anthony and Bates,roller derby moms Mona and Beth and annoying newlyweds Max and Katie.

All of them went to Washington D.C. to finish up the final leg and after a switchback challenge that involved playing secret agent and fishing through a ball pit to find globes that highlighted the countries visited, the winning team was Anthony and Bates.

 Congrats,guys-you played the game well and weren't cranky(*cough*Max and Katie*cough*)or vindictive in your strategies. It would've been nice if Mona and Beth had won,but maybe they'll come back for a redemption run of TAR,who knows? All in all, this was a pretty decent season and I look forward to the next time TAR takes off:

Much has been set up on this week's Game of Thrones, with Jon and Ygritte climbing up the Wall, Rob working on a truce with the Freys and Sansa mourning her upcoming marriage to Tyrion.

 However, it is time that we looked in on Arya and at the moment, she's a hostage/guest of the Brotherhood Without Banners, along with Gendry who is eager to use his metal working skills on their behalf. That plan seems to have changed,since Melisandre showed up and paid off the BWB leadership to claim Gendry for her own sinister purposes.

This is somewhat of a change from the source material but I can see where this is going and it really won't alter the intended course too much(semi-spoiler; Gendry is taking the place of a minor character who will be offered up to the Lord of Light to further Stannis' cause but he'll be okay, I'm sure of it). Arya's anger at the Brotherhood and Melisandre for this betrayal is more fuel to the fire that will forge her true destiny and if I were Melisandre, I would not be wanting to run into this steadfast Stark maiden again, fate or no fate:

 Don upset the apple cart quite a bit on Mad Men this week, as he got sick of dealing with that creep from Jaguar and broke off business with him on a whim. That unexpected decision threatened to impact on SCDP's plans to go public,along with Pete's father-in-law deciding to take his business elsewhere after running into Pete at a brothel.

 Roger and Don chose to focus on the positive,with a golden opportunity to get the account for a brand new Chevy car. However,that deal wasn't totally in the bag for them which lead Don to make another game change by teaming up with a rival ad agency that just so happens to have Peggy on the payroll.

 Nice way to bring her directly back into the fold,so to speak and yet, the reception from the rest of the SCDP crew may not be the victory cheers that Don hopes to hear. Charm can only get you so far in life and with people, no matter how long they've been together:


RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE: Condragulations to Jinkx Monsoon as the winner of this season's Drag Race and props to Ivy Winters for getting the Miss Congeniality nod. As always, it was fun to attend the church of Rupaul and will be happy to give an amen when called upon for it next drag time,same drag station:

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Some remarkable reads and a couple of pop culture surprises from a spring rummage sale

Twice a year,the church near my house has a rummage sale and this past weekend was their spring outing. I tend to pick up a few books at each sale(who am I kidding,the book tables are the first ones that I hit and sometimes the only ones) and while I add a couple of new titles to my home library,the bulk of my purchases were pop culture related.

Starting with the books, I did get two hardcovers,one of which was The Help( the copy I did share with my mother awhile ago was a rented paperback) and the other was Maeve Binchy's Nights of Rain and Stars. The story is set on a small Greek island called Aghia Anna,where several unlikely to ever meet up strangers connect with each other at the local taverna.

Since I just finished another Binchy novel recently(Heart and Soul)that referenced some of these characters,I was happy to scoop this sweet looking book up. Even though Maeve has gone to that great library in the beyond,it's nice to discover more of the wonderful work she left for all of us to continually enjoy:

 The one paperback I did buy was Nefertiti by Michelle Moran,about the infamous queen of Egypt as told by her younger sister Mutnodjmet. Sounds like The Other Boleyn Girl set on the Nile and I hope it's as enticing a read as that book was.

I've heard of Michelle Moran before but haven't had the chance to read any of her other historical novels such as The Heretic Queen,Cleopatra's Daughter or Madame Tussand. This book seemed a good place to start as any. The edition that I now have is from Target's book club(didn't even know Target did that sort of thing)and has a special intro by the author,a nifty little bonus there.

Granted,I have a lot of historical fiction in my TBR piles already but this portrait of a legendary Egyptian lady known best by many for her portrait in statue should be a nice change of pace:

 Now for the surprises-the first being a press kit for the miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's Bag of Bones for A&E. I did read the book a long time ago but didn't get around to watching the TV movie version when it aired in 2011.

 Well, I have my chance now and in quite a package. The press kit is in the form of an old phonograph player with a secret compartment containing a booklet that has the two disc screener of the film and a bonus disc of PR extras.

 You can imagine my startled delight at finding such a treasure and am looking forward to watching the movie later this season. It'll be good for when the summer TV season starts to lag,I'm sure:

 A discovery like that is a pretty rare gem at a rummage sale but it wasn't the only one to be found. Nearby was a black book that turned out to be AMC's mailer for the Emmy voters in 2011. It has gorgeous glossy "For Your Consideration" photo layouts for such shows as The Walking Dead,The Killing and Mad Men,plus a brief bid for Breaking Bad.

The back pages,however, were chock full of DVDs-season one of The Walking Dead, the first five episodes of The Killing(with pilot included),the first three episodes of the short lived series Rubicon and the complete fourth season of Mad Men. Talk about your pop culture bonanza there,folks! True, the discs don't have any extras there but with the limits on my home entertainment budget these days, this was quite a blessing from the TV cable gods and I am most grateful for it.

I haven't seen The Killing at all but will give it a try(especially with season three on the way) and while the current season of Mad Men is underway, looking back to year four should be a sweet supplement indeed:

 Well, it just goes to show that you can never tell what can be found at any rummage,tag or yard sale. One person's trash is another's treasure and sometimes even the trash is worth treasuring,not to mention being able to come back in style or never go out of it:

Friday, May 03, 2013

Some rocking road music for Lindsay Lohan's latest on the lam caper

*sigh* It does get tiring at this point to hear about the never ending court room drama with Lindsay Lohan,who was supposed to check into a lock down rehab facility today but decided to simply stop in and not stay for awhile.

She's out and about yet again,trying to shop around for a better bargain,I guess, although I seem to recall she also has a problem with paying for things before she leaves the store. With the constant state of chaos that Lindsay prefers to be in,it's one of those situations that you can either laugh or cry about and I chose to chuckle here.

 Since our dear Lindsay wants to be on the run from the law,she might as well have a few themed musical picks for her soundtrack album. Here's a small sample of what should be playing on her car radio(which is hopefully being driven by someone else):

BREAKING THE LAW: This Judas Priest classic would be a crime to overlook as you head out on the highway to freedom and certainly Lindsay has enough hair to headbang properly to this tune. How familiar she is with heavy metal I'm not sure but certainly many of her fellow inmates know this one by heart:

INVINCIBLE: Pat Benatar's anthem for the 1985 cult movie The Legend of Billie Jean may be well before Lindsay's time but since she still considers herself an actress( although it wouldn't be surprising if they revoked her SAG card after the horror that was Liz and Dick on Lifetime),perhaps she can relate to this troubled teen drama.

While the main characters in this movie are fleeing from the authorities due to a couple of major misunderstandings,their cause was much more just than any of Lohan's flings with the law.

What would really appeal to her here is the title of the song because that is what she thinks she is,apparently, when it comes to any form of incarceration:

BEEN CAUGHT STEALING:  Granted,this Jane Addiction's song is rather obvious but then again,so are most of Lindsay's film performances. Given how flip she's been in court(remember that little fingernail flip off to the judge a while ago?), it's not hard to imagine Lohan humming this song to herself on her way out of the court house:

FREE BIRD: While no one wants to see Lindsay go down in a literal blaze of glory, you do have to admit that The Devil's Rejects showcased this song as an excellent last stand tune.

In fact, it might be good for Lohan to watch this movie,as director Rob Zombie is no stranger to wackiness on set. If she's looking for a real career comeback,RZ would be a great choice. He could be the Tarantino to her Travolta,maybe?

 After all,this is a guy who managed to make the gruesome likes of the Firefly family somewhat sympathetic by the end of this flick and if he can make pop culture referencing murderous maniacs worth cheering for onscreen, the cinematic possibilities for redeeming Lindsay Lohan with both audiences and critics could be endless:

Oh,well,most likely,Lindsay will scrounge up another lawyer to wiggle her way out of another fine mess and rely once again on razzle dazzle to save her from lock-up. It's too bad that she seems to be happy playing the role of celebrity criminal these days(and I consider Charlie Sheen to be the worst sort of social support she can get) and perhaps one of these days,she'll truly decide to straight up and fly right. All I know is that Judge Judy wouldn't put up with any of this nonsense,not even if Lindsay had Billy Flynn himself at her side:

Thursday, May 02, 2013

A TAR team undone by a double U-Turn,GOT wedding plans and a sad day of reflection for Mad Men

This next to the last of the legs on The Amazing Race was in Scotland and it kept two teams firmly at the back of the pack,Team Roller Derby(Mona and Beth) and Team YouTube(Joey and Meghan).

Try as they might,these two couples just couldn't surge ahead in order to avoid running neck in neck with one another. There was a Double U-Turn for the Detour challenges,which were to either stuff a haggis(and then taste the final product) or to roll a batch of whiskey barrels over to a dance hall.

 Naturally,both teams fell prey to the U-Turn(more of a strategic move on the part of the other front runners than a personal vendetta this time around). It was the barrel rolling that did Joey and Meghan in,causing them to be eliminated but you can't say that they didn't give it their best shot. Buck up,kids,there's always the All-Star version of TAR to shoot for:

 A lot of set-ups were made on Game of Thrones this week,as Jaime gave Brienne an earful of the real story behind his nickname Kingslayer, Dany got to know her Unsullied a bit better and Jon Snow got to know Ygritte a whole lot more in the flesh,so to speak

However,the person who got the biggest surprise was Tyrion. After a productive conversation with Lady Olenna regarding the expense of the upcoming wedding between Joffrey and Margery,he had a sit down with Tywin and Cersei about what to do with Sansa.

The plan to wed her to Loras was discovered and since Sansa may be "the key to the North"(given that if her brother Rob fails in his quest to conquer and things are looking bad on that front,she's the heiress to Winterfell),Tywin wants to nip this in the bud by marrying her off to Tyrion.

 Cersei finds that amusing until her father also demands that she marry Loras in order to quell the "disgusting rumors" about her and Jaime. Sansa is not going to like this and the only one who cares about her feelings on the matter is Tyrion,ironically enough. It's also ironic how Tywin takes no responsibility for how his kids have turned out,especially since most of their issues started on his watch:

Another real world event was depicted on Mad Men as the assassination of MLK made an impact upon the mostly insular lives of the characters. Folks did their best to respond appropriately(except for Harry,what an ass!) but were quite shaken up there.

 Don seemed to keep his usual cool for the most part,distracted only by his concerns for his mistress(who went to Washington D.C. with her husband just before it happened) and pretty much forced into checking in on his kids. Megan scolded him about his lack of interest in that department(echoing Betty's complaints that he never makes time for the children),which which rebounded in reflection for Don.

An unexpected bonding moment occurred with him and Bobby,as they went to a screening of Planet of the Apes. Bobby felt the need to reach out to a movie usher,which touched Don more than he anticipated and as he later drunkenly confessed to Megan,made him see his son as more of a person than just a responsibility thrust upon him.

 How much this new revelation will affect Don's future relationship with his off spring is yet to be seen,especially as they are growing up and away from him,but if he plans to change that status quo,he should get a move on:


THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: With most of the Originals off to New Orleans(looking forward to that spin-off next year),Stefan and Damon have more time this week to concentrate on awakening Elena's locked down humanity. Their methods,however,are bound to backfire in a rather bloody way: