Television

30th November
2009
written by Steph
Hello, internet friends!  We hope you all had a wonderful weekend, regardless of whether it was a long Thanksgiving break for you (as it was here at S&TI!), or just a regular two-day job.  Any time that can be spent in one's pajamas is always time well spent is my way of thinking!  Our Thanksgiving was rather quiet as we just celebrated as we traditionally do, with a huge feast for just the two of us.  I know many people wouldn't bother making a turkey for such a small number, but I think this is a real oversight, as it clearly neglects to consider the glory that is LEFTOVERS.  I ask you, is there anything better than leftover turkey sandwiches, crammed full with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy?  Clearly not!  So on Thursday I went to town when it came to our Thanksgiving feast, and consequently, I have had to do no cooking since then (though our microwave has gotten quite the work out), and probably won't have to for much of this week either... huzzah! I must say that this year's Thanksgiving feast was probably our most successful, as the timing of the myriad of dishes worked out well, and pretty much everything was cooked flawlessly, and nary a complaint was to be found.  Here's a snapshot of Tony's plate before we chowed down:

Yum!  Truly a feast to be thankful for!

Yum! Truly a feast to be thankful for!

Starting at the "6 o'clock" position and working clockwise, here's a rundown of what I cooked (with links to recipes where appropriate, though I freely admit that I didn't follow anything strictly):
  • Pioneer Woman's Sweet Potatoes (with marshmallows!)
  • Stuffing (following my mom's recipe, which is without a doubt the surefire way to get the absolute BEST stuffing)
  • Roast Heritage Turkey with Bacon & Cider Gravy (we used a little Butterball turkey as we aren't millionaires who can go and buy our turkey at Whole Foods and I skipped the Dijon in the butter concoction, but it still turned out succulent and delicious... and the gravy... oh, probably the best gravy I have every made!  We don't make turkeys often, but the next time I do, this is the recipe I'll follow.)
  • Carrot & Turnip Mash
  • Smoked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
  • Creamed Kale
  • Dessert (not pictured): Maple Pumpkin Pie (divine!  Though we didn't do the leaf lattice for the top because we are not actually Martha Stewart)
Everything was so scrumptious and paired nicely with the raspberry lambic we picked up on a whim at Trader Joe's earlier in the week.  Honestly, I love Thanksgiving meals so much that maybe Tony & I should start celebrating both Canadian & American Thanksgiving so that we can have this glorious feast twice per year! Our Thanksgiving weekend was predominantly spent snuggled on our couch (in pajamas, obviously) playing video games and doing some serious armchair traveling via Rick Steves' Best of Europe on Hulu and some episodes of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.  Also, imagine my delight when I discovered that episodes of The Two Fat Ladies have been released on DVD and that our local library carries them... The show is even better than I remembered (even if the food is somehow worse and more offputting), and I was definitely giving thanks for that long forgotten gem.  Sigh.  Such a good weekend, and I hope yours were similarly good even if they were not at all similar! 😉 Anyway, back to the last week our regularly scheduled programming!  It's time to announce our final winner for the last week of giveaways celebrating our one year blogiversary!  Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions of books to read, and it's much appreciated that none of you suggested books that you figured we would hate but for the resultant amusing review.  Lots of good ideas, including some titles I'd never heard of.  But a winner needed to be selected, and according to the randomness of this number generator, that winner is Nadia of A Bookish Way of Life.  Nadia selected Margaret Atwood's newest novel, The Year of the Flood, so a copy will be making its way to her very shortly.  Congratulations, Nadia!  We hope you enjoy the book! To all of you who entered our various giveaways, thanks so much for being a part of the celebrations and helping us brainstorm new and fabulous directions to take the site in our second year of blogging!  Here's to many more, and we look forward to celebrating with all of you in another year's time!
11th September
2009
written by Steph
Three things I feel compelled to post on a Friday: 1) First, a question to all of you diners out there (by which I mean restaurant patrons, rather than greasy-spoon dining establishments.  The difference is subtle, but important, I think.).  Two nights ago, Tony and I went to a newish Mexican restaurant, since our old standby switched management and we can no longer go there because the food is no longer any good (RIP El Palenque).  So we go to this new place and it's fairly busy for a Wednesday night, but keep in mind it is your run-of -the-mill Mexican place so none of the entrees require much finesse or time (read: most of it is probably pre-cooked anyway).  We wound up waiting for OVER AN HOUR for our food, and it became clear that either our waiter had neglected to turn in our order, OR the kitchen had overlooked it.  People who had been seated after us had eaten and left before we saw anything more than chips and salsa at our table.  After many apologies (and about 75 minutes after sitting down) we finally got our food.  In such a case would you expect your meal to be comped, or at the very least, for a free dessert to be sent out?  Is this not pretty much the universal way that it is understood any sit-down restaurant deals with snafus that are clearly their fault?  I wound up asking if I could speak to the manager, but he never showed... and we wound up paying for everything.  Needless to say, we won't be going back!  Sorry, Nacho's!  Your guac may be good, but your service was muy abysmal.

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8th September
2009
written by Steph
For people who own a television but who don’t have cable (or even rabbit ears), Tony and I do pretty well when it comes to keeping current with must-see tv.  Just to be clear, we don’t eschew cable because we’re those snotty folk who turn up their noses at television; far from it!  Mostly we don’t have cable (or as we refer to it, “don’t have tv”) for two reasons: 1) the local cable provider here is SUPER expensive (in Toronto, I recall not having to pay more than $60/month for cable AND internet; here a comparable package would set us back some thing like $100… I am not willing to pay that kind of money for tv... or really any monthly service); 2) it is probably for the best we can’t just watch tv whenever we want, because we would literally watch it all the time.  Buh bye reading time.  Say hello to the glazed look that I inevitably take on after having watched 5 hours of HGTV or Animal Planet straight. (Seriously, so little is my self-restraint when it comes to watching the idiot box, I will watch hours worth of “When Animals Attack”, which pretty much no one should watch.)  Essentially, it’s in our best interest to have our tv watching limited to what we can rent through Netflix, or watch online (and with Netflix’s “Watch It Now”, Hulu, and all of the major networks streaming their stuff, we’re not doing too bad!). Anyhoodle, normally Tony and I take the summer to purge bad shows from our repertoire that we no longer enjoy, and to seek out potential replacements.  Often times this involves us cottoning on to shows that are long since done, but that’s what DVD is for, right?  This summer found us watching: (more…)
12th June
2009
written by Steph
Growing up, I loved me some Saved By The Bell.  I watched it every Saturday morning, and had a huge crush on Mark Paul Gosselaar, who played the incorrigible Zach Morris.  Who didn't cry when he and Kelly Kapowski broke up while dressed as Romeo and Juliet?  And I hate to think of how many times I've seen their SBTB Hawaiian-Style made-for tv movie (where they work at a resort in Hawaii, and Screech winds up at some ill-fated pig roast), or my personal favorite, SBTB: Wedding in Las Vegas, when Zach & Kelly finally get married.  People, my brother and I even watched the ill-advised SBTB The College Years. I'm just saying, I loved that show.  Embarrassing confession time: recently my family was cleaning out the basement, and my brother claims that they happened upon a letter stashed somewhere safe (but not safe enough) that my best friend and I had written to good old MPG.  Clearly my love was true, only knowing the limits of postage at the time. Anyway, things change and most of the Saved By The Bell alumni are now safe in post-teen idol obscurity.  I had known for a while MPG was starring on some legal drama on TNT or something like that (there have been billboards around Nashville), and has suffered from terrible hair, but I didn't really think anything of it.  Until recently, when I stumbled upon this genius clip from a recent appearance he did on Jimmy Fallon's show to promote his new show.  Only, I think he wound up promoting his old persona way more, which has made me giddy like my 8-year old self once more. I have no idea if a SBTB reunion will ever happen, but honestly, I'm just happy MPG was such a good sport as this has to be one of the best interviews I have seen in a long time.  The only thing that would have made this better was if it were Ellen interviewing him instead of Jimmy.  If you were ever a fan of SBTB, you owe it to yourself to watch this interview!  Chock full of in-jokes and nostalgia, what more could you ask for? Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Flash video.
26th May
2009
written by Steph
Back during my senior year of undergrad, I got into the Ellen Degeneres show in a big way.  Whenever I could catch the show, I would (generally in my pyjamas, if at all possible!).  I loved Ellen's humor and her playful approach to her show, and really, she just came across as a really cool lady.  Her frequent references to drinking didn't hurt either... 😉 We don't have tv currently so I haven't been able to watch Ellen's show for quite some time now, BUT recently, Ellen gave the Commencement speech at Tulane University, and the results have been posted to YouTube.  Some of you may be feeling a bit low having to return back to work after the long weekend, so do yourself a favor and watch the speech below as she lauds the class of 2009.  It's both funny and touching and down to earth.  In essence, it is Ellen at her best. Also, I hope that when I graduate from Vandy that we get a commencement speaker half as cool.  Tulane gets Ellen; Harvard has had JK Rowling...  I realize Jane Austen is right out of the question, but come on,  Vanderbilt! Don't let me down! YouTube Preview Image
9th March
2009
written by Steph
Welcome to the Dollhouse...

Welcome to the Dollhouse...

In a real time conversation with me, it only takes about 40 minutes or so before I am likely to reveal my unabashed love for the tv show Buffy the Vampire Slayer (well, 40 minutes if you’re lucky).  It may not be on the air anymore, but it still ranks up there on my list of all-time favorite shows.  Seriously, one of my best friends and I bonded in highschool orchestra over our mutual love of the show, and our appreciation for it was even known by our Physics teacher (who ruined the ending to the season 5 finale for us, which we had not seen because of our attendance at the aforementioned orchestra practice which our unfeeling conductor ran opposite Buffy.  Mr Bell, you are still not forgiven for not yelling out “Spoiler Alert!” in class that day.) and we would routinely play “the quote game” which is far too geeky and involved for me to get into the rules here.  Suffice it to say we were those hardcore Buffyphiles you’ve heard rumors of on the internet.  We had board games, people! Anyway, given my fervent love of Buffy, I tend to track most Joss Whedon projects with interest (though truth be told, I didn’t really care for Angel, especially not once BtVS went off the air, and I still to this day have not seen a single episode of Firefly… but Tony & I did watch the first 2 out of 3 webisodes of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along when that was kicking about the net!).  I have this theory (it could be bunnies… bonus points if you get the reference) that no matter how über creative a writer and television creator is, none of them can sustain more than one show at a given time.  This is why BtVS began to suffer when Angel began airing, and Angel began suffering when Firefly (briefly) was on the air (For other examples, see: Abrams, J.J. and the travesty that was Felicity upon the inception of Alias, and the downward spiral of the latter when Lost showed up, and… well, to be honest, I just don’t know what his excuse is for Lost.  Good first season, ).  In order to pick up the reins on a new show, you have to let some slack arise in those of your current show, and I am pretty confident that without fail, the veteran show always suffers.  But Dollhouse is the first tv show Joss has had on the air in years, and he’s not really working on anything else, so it was looking promising that this show would be good. (more…)
26th January
2009
written by Steph
Will the real Tara please stand up?

Will the real Tara please stand up?

Showtime has just started airing a new show starring Toni Colette called The United States of Tara.  Penned by Diablo Cody, the scribe behind last year's indie hit Juno, the show revolves around a woman named Tara, who has multiple personality disorder, and examines the way it wreaks havoc on the family dynamic.  Tara is (seemingly) happily married, and has two children, both teenagers.  In the first episode, two stressful incidents involving her teenage daughter cause her to transition into two of her “alters”: one a 15-year-old girl named T, and the other a redneck, beer-guzzling man named Buck.  The ads for the show suggest there is at least one other alternate personality hiding in there, one who looks like she might be more at home on AMC’s Mad Men. Netflix is allowing subscribers to watch the first episode through their “Watch It Now” program (the pilot is also available to all individuals with an American IP address on the Showtime website directly... also at the show's page on IMDB, though I'm not sure what the restrictions are on that... see all the ways I'm trying to hook you up?), and I’d highly recommend you do.  I was really impressed with the acting (especially Collette… it’s quite amazing how authentically she embodies each of the wildly disparate personalities, which I think is kind of crucial for the show to work.  She is over the top, but not campy, and it's all very authentic.  You need to believe that Tara is legitimately inhabiting her alters (or rather, that they’re inhabiting her), and not that she’s simply acting and that “Tara” is ultimately aware and in control.), and it looks like it’s setting itself up for some interesting stories and dynamics.  I thought the show took an interesting route with Tara’s children, as I didn’t expect them to be so accepting and understanding of her problem (even if they have ostensibly been exposed to it since birth), and her husband (played by John Corbett) is also incredibly supportive of his wife.  Juxtapose this with her sister, who thinks it’s all an act.  I’ll be interested to see how much the show focuses on Tara, versus fleshing out and developing additional storylines as well as making sure all of the characters are fully nuanced.  Also, I’m still unclear as to whether the show ants to set itself up as a drama or more of a comedy (it’s only a half hour in length, which tends to bias one towards a comedy billing, but it’s certainly not sitcom-y in nature).  Whatever the case, I’m willing to give it time to further develop (since you don’t necessarily expect answers to all of these things in a pilot), because the pilot was remarkably good.  I generally find that pilots tend to be the weakest episode for any show, as they by necessity have to be very expositional and can feel rushed.  That being said, if the pilot for The United States of Tara is anything to go on, it’s highly suggestive that this will be a good show and one worth watching.  Also, who doesn't love Toni Collette? The United Sates of Tara airs Sundays at 10 pm ET/PT on Showtime.
12th January
2009
written by Tony
That's pretty funny, Wesley.

That's pretty funny, Wesley.

Last week I watched season one of Clone High. It was not  a mistake, Wesley (see, you have to be cool to get that joke!). This little gem has been kicking around our apartment for quite some time now, so at Steph’s suggestion I decided to give it a whirl. Why this show only made it through one season is a mystery to me. I suppose, like all truly funny shows, it was destined to fail. I mean, look at Arrested Development. That show was pure brilliance, and yet it didn’t make it. I suppose Family Guy did get a reprieve, but there are a lot of people (Steph) who will tell you it isn’t, and never was, funny, and I’ll admit that the new episodes are a bit self indulgent. So I guess my theory holds – anything that is actually funny does not survive in this world. (more…)
28th December
2008
written by Steph
The first ever (and likely last) Stylista.  Surprised?  No?  Ok, good.

The first ever (and likely last) Stylista. Surprised? No? Ok, good.

I admit, the title of this post might be overly optimistic – as of now, I am not aware of any talks of their being future seasons of this show, which is probably just as well given that it was not very good. Then again, my go-to guilty pleasure, America’s Next Top Model, has become nigh painful to watch (no longer campy fun, it’s just embarrassing) and it’s unclear when the next season of Project Runway will air, so Stylista was my fashion filler tv show. And so, as I predicted from about the second episode, Johanna wins the dubious title of Stylista. Is anyone surprised? I mean, she was going up against Dyshawn (sp? I don’t really care enough to look it up), who had already been taken to task at least three times for copy errors. And I don’t care what Anne Slowey & co. would have us believe, we all know a junior editor at Elle (or any fashion rag) ain’t gonna be designing the layout or styling the photo shoots, since those positions are held by people like “graphic designers” and “fashion stylists”. Junior editors are primarily going to be performing those menial administrative/secretarial tasks (i.e., getting coffee, picking up Anne’s secretary’s dry cleaning, making photocopies) and copy editing text. So if you’re not a good fact checker, don’t have an eye for details, and are a poor proofreader? You’re not going to be an effective junior editor. Ergo, Johanna had to take the competition, especially when it came down to her and Dyshawn. (more…)
9th December
2008
written by Steph
I wish I had put money down on this season, since it turns out my prediction of the winners (Nick & Starr) was right. Then again, the returns on such a proclamation were probably not great given how obvious this outcome was. I realize that one of the things about the Race is that elements as intangible as luck can come into play and twist things around (I love when irony comes to play!), which is part of the fun, but at the end of the day, it’s always nice when you feel like the team that raced the best independently of chance and all that stuff actually wins. (more…)
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