NEW TV: Thursday

My Name Is Earl (7:00pm CST, NBC)

Earl is in prison now. And the show is back on track. After a hit and miss season last year, I’m hoping that the season premiere is setting the tone for the rest of the year. With Earl in jail, I’ve read that the other characters are going to be given more screen time. Not that Earl will be ignored – they managed to strike a good balance between Earl and Joy, Darnell, and Randy.

In summary, I liked it.

My rating: My Thursday night of one-camera comedies remains undefeated.

The Office (8:00pm CST, NBC)

One word. AWESOME!

Michael hits Meredith with his car. All is not well between Dwight and Angela. All is well with Pam and Jim. And Kevin shows his true colors as a Jim/Pam shipper!

This is going to be a great season, I just know it!

My rating: Hell, yes!

And tomorrow night, last but not least, Midnight.

I guess I should tell you…

…that I’ve been posting from my new computer for a few days now. My new MacBook computer.

I didn’t say anything earlier because right now we are in the hate portion of our love/hate relationship. I know that once I figure out how to do things with it, we will move into the love phase of things, but right now it’s just frustrating to not know how to use it! I can’t even post a picture of it because I DON’T KNOW HOW!

But it is very pretty – white, to match my iPod, of course.

I’m hoping to get everything moved over on Sunday (going shopping on Saturday in Chicago with Jillian from work – and also meeting her fiance’s single, big-city-lawyer, college roommate at his housewarming party while we’re up there…). Right now all I can do is be on the Internet which actually gets old pretty quickly. So after I move everything over on Sunday, I’m going to make an appointment at the Apple store for my free half-hour, how-the-hell-do-I-make-it-do-what-I-want, introduction session after which hopefully everything will be hunky-dory between the two of us.

I just have to keep remembering that I used to hate my iPod and now I can’t imagine life without it.

Also, since my iPod has a name (Hadley Swain), I sort of feel like the iBook should have one, too. Anyone have any suggestions?

ETA: Aaaaaand, just over two months later, I realise that it’s not an iBook, it’s a MacBook. Really, it’s amazing that I can function in this technology-heavy world… 😉

NEW TV: Wednesday

Back to You (7:00pm CST, FOX)

Okay. So this actually premiered last Wednesday, but I hadn’t thought to write about the new TV programming until later, so here you go after two episodes. It stars Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton and Entertainment Weekly raved about it, so it had a lot going for it. After the first episode, I was underwhelmed, to say the least. The characters were cute, but nothing special and there was an annoying backstory involving Chuck and Kelly that I think the show could have done without. At the time, I gave it two more episodes.

After seeing the second episode, I think the characters are starting to settle into place and the writers, now that they no longer have to struggle with filling the audience in on everything, are getting their acts together. I’m still hoping the awkward backstory will just sort of fade away after a few more episodes because there were a few things (mostly Fred Willard) that actually made me laugh out loud. The one drawback is the standard FOX studio audience, full of overzealous laughers. I almost expect them to start going ‘Oooooh’ and hooting and hollering a la the old Married…With Children days. It might just be that all the classy, one-camera comedies on NBC have spoiled me.

My rating: I’m generously extending their trial period to two more episodes (not counting this one) for a total of four instead of just three which means right now they’re running neck and neck with Reaper.

The Bionic Woman (8:00pm CST, NBC)

Does anyone know if this is a remake of something? A TV show from, like, the 70s or a movie of some kind? I know there was a $6,000,000 Man and a Wonder Woman, but I can’t quite remember if there used to b a Bionic Woman. Anyways, I like it. There’s the whole discovering-her-powers aspect, the how-will-this-affect-her-personal-life aspect, and the oh-I-should-use-my-powers-for-good aspect. There’s also an ominous Bionic Woman version 1.0 and, of course, a potentially shady military program (is there any other kind?).

The characters are likable or at least satisfying if they’re not supposed to be likable and the plot looks like it’ll be fun in a primetime superhero drama way.

My rating: It’s no Smallville but I’ll give it a try!

Coming up next on My Blank Page: My Name Is Earl and the eagerly anticipated new Office episodes.

Also, Smallville, but they didn’t give me enough time betwen the release of the Season 6 DVDs and the season premiere, so I’m going to have to wait for the next set of DVDs. Which is okay because Thursday night is NBC’s single camera comedy night and nothing comes between me and my Thursday night comedies.

Not even you, Tom Welling, although it is a close call…

NEW TV: Tuesday

Reaper (8:00pm, The CW)

It’s obviously a Whedon-wannabe. It has dry humor, quick, witty dialogue (or attempted, anyway), and well-meaning losers. Oh, and escaped demons from hell. There are cute things (he captures the first one with a Dirt Devil mini-vac) and there are overly sincere things. It hasn’t really snapped into place yet, but I’m willing to give it a chance.

My rating: I’ll watch it for at least three more episodes.

House (8:00pm, FOX)

  1. House? Awesome.
  2. Wilson? Awesome!
  3. Dr. Buffer? AWESOME!!!
  4. The upcoming six-week reality show-style contest to hire his new staff, even though I’m pretty sure we know that Cameron, Chase, and Foreman will be coming back? AWWWWESOME!

My rating: It’s gonna be AWESOME. I am on board.

Tomorrow on My Blank Page: Back to You and The Bionic Woman.

NEW TV: Monday

Chuck (7:00pm CST, NBC)

So basically it’s geek turned spy. But I thought it was cute! Chuck works at Buy More as part of the Nerd Herd. When he receives an e-mail from his ex-roommate Bryce (who apparently not only stole his girlfriend, but got him kicked out of Stanford), Chuck inadvertently downloads the country’s secrets into his brain. Cue agents Sarah, from the CIA (Bryce’s partner and/or girlfriend) and Casey (who I thought was from NSA, but now I’m not sure) who come to track Chuck down. Escapades ensue. There is a funny best friend, Morgan who works at Buy More with Chuck. Oh, I forgot, Chuck lives with his sister, Ellie (or Elsie or something like that but is actually Gift Shop Girl from Scrubs) and her boyfriend, fiance, or husband, nicknamed Captain Awesome, who is, in fact, awesome. I’m not completely convinced the plot can actually sustain an entire season of entertaining storylines, but I’m willing to give it a chance.

My rating: I will watch this for at least 5 more episodes.

Heroes (8:00pm CST, NBC)
I know a lot of people were saying that Heroes answered all our questions last season and that, with so many characters, adding new ones would really weigh it down, but I don’t think so. Yes, there are new characters (especially interesting ones include a boy at Claire’s new school, a brother and sister in Mexico, an Irish dude, and Hiro’s hero whose name I can’t remember at the moment), but there are enough new plots to support them. There is a murder mystery involving someone who is hunting down the older generation, Hiro is now in ancient Japan, Mohinder is working for the Company, the very sinister figure that we got a hint of near the end of last season is haunting Molly’s dreams on a regular basis (and it’s so cute – she lives with Parkman and Mohinder!), Claire and her family are settling into a new life in California, and the aforementioned brother and sister are trying to make their way to New York to find the doctor who can cure her of her Hero-ism (I don’t remember was that Mohinder?). There’s no sign yet of Sylar although we all know that Zachary Quinto (who’s going to be young!Spock in the new Star Trek prequel) has resigned to another season so he’s contractually bound to show up eventually.

My rating: I’m in for the season.

Tune in tomorrow night for House and The Reaper (which should be a good trick seeing as they’re on at the same time on different channels)…

NEW TV: Sunday

The Simpsons (7:00pm CST, FOX)

Entertainment Weekly pretty much sums it up. I’d been hoping that the movie would mark a return to classic Simpsons (mostly pre-Season…8 or so), but it looks like they’re sort of stuck in their rut of occasional funny things amidst the same old, same old. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop watching, by any means. I think, even with its falling standards, that it’s still better than many things that are on TV at the moment.

My rating: I’m hangin’ in there, baby.

Writerly…things.

So. I’ve recently started a new book. Writing, that is, not reading. And it’s hard! I don’t remember Mary being this difficult, but she did sort of just take over the story and do whatever the hell she wanted to do.

And that probably gives you a hint that it’s not another Mary/Arthur story. I’m not saying it’s out of the question, but it would definitely give me more trouble than Mary Clockwork did and again, it’s all down to Mary.

The problem is that I think she’s honestly a psychopath.

I managed to sort of tone it down a bit in the first one. I mean, sure, she does commit a few crimes here and there, but it’s always against people who can afford it and she never really hurts anyone. It’s more about outsmarting a certain someone than actively committing the crime.

But it’s not like she learned anything from it.

And even if she did, what she learned is that she’s smart enough to get away with that sort of thing! The problem with continuing to write her is that I think she would eventually hurt someone. I don’t think she would plan to do it, but if somebody got in her way or threatened her somehow, I don’t see her hesitating to take care of it however she had to.

And that’s a line that Arthur would just never cross.

So if there were more Mary/Arthur stories, I think it would soon become clear that Mary really was a Villain and she would, at some point, most likely turn on Arthur. Probably after he pointed out that she’d taken things too far, but it would still happen.

But. I started to talk about my new story. Not in any detail, really, because, as you’ll see, I’m still trying to work lots of things out and I’m fairly superstitious about these kinds of things anyway. I thought I was done with the Pondering stage, but since I’ve put pen to paper (yes, literally), I think there’s much more I need to know before I can get started. And that’s due to two things…

  1. First person is REALLY DIFFICULT! I honestly don’t know if I can sustain it over a book (or three). I don’t think anything I’ve ever written has been in first person. Well, okay, a few pieces I wrote in a creative writing course at uni were, but, frankly, they suck. So I’ve never successfully managed a first person narrative before. It’s because I don’t do well with the chatty narrator who’s all buddy-buddy with the reader, so I have to keep it fairly impersonal which is hard to do when you’re stuck inside one character’s head. Which brings me to my next problem…
  2. At least two, if not all three, of the characters who will, at some point, be telling this story, are not reliable narrators. Which is EXTRA hard to pull off in first person because that means that your characters are censoring their own thoughts and that means they’re basically aware of the reader in some sense by doing so.

Plus I can’t quite work out who knows what and who’s manipulating who. I was hoping it would just become apparent as I went and, admittedly a few things did, but not enough for me to really get into the flow of things. Also, things are going to get fairly confusing at some point and I have yet to think of a way to keep the plot going but allow the readers to keep things straight.

But enough writerly rambling, I just wanted to get my thoughts out of my head to hopefully make room for new ones. Is anyone intrigued?

I know I am. 😉

Fiction

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

I am really enjoying these wordless graphic novels lately. This one is completely the opposite of The Arrival but just as lovely. If the drawings look familiar, it’s because her picture book (I don’t remember what it’s called, but it’s about a chicken and…a cat? Or a duck?) shares the same style and creatures.

Here’s the basic story: A dog builds himself a robot friend. They go to the beach where the robot, sadly, rusts and the dog has to leave him behind. That’s basically it. The rest of the book is about the dog trying to help his new friend and, when he’s unable to, trying to find a new friend. The robot, meanwhile, dreams of different ways to leave the beach and find his way back to his friend, the dog.

The illustrations are full of an innocence, probably because of their simple lines and expressive faces. The story is definitely on the bitter side of sweet, but it all turns out well enough in the end.

My rating:

Art: A

Story: A

Fiction

Mort by Terry Pratchett

I figured that, since I read the second Discworld book before I’d read the first and because the back of the books assure me that I do not need to read them in order, I would attempt to read them as out of order as possible. And I liked Death, who showed up briefly in The Light Fantastic and talks Like this, so when I saw that there was a whole book about him, I figured ‘Why not?’ or, as Death would say, Why not?

I really think it’s going to be difficult to find a Terry Pratchett book that’s not enjoyable. After having to force myself to finish the last book, it was nice to go into a book knowing that it would be a light, fun, entertaining read. And it didn’t disappoint.

It revolves around Mort, who becomes Death’s apprentice. It’d really be kind of difficult to describe the plot, so I’ll just leave it at that. But it turns out Death is really a nice enough guy who likes cats. There is also a princess, two wizards, Death’s daughter, a mid-career crisis, and an alternate reality that is being slowly absorbed by the real reality. Mort is clever and sweet, Ysabell (Death’s daughter) is an unexpected heroine, and I don’t know if I just have a thing for skeletal men *cough*SkulduggeryPleasant*cough* or what that says about me, but Death is just plain awesome.

Another funny, fluffy book. I don’t know which one I’ll read next – maybe a Nightwatchmen one… Any recommendations?

My rating: A-

ETA: Claire, I know you recommended Wee Free Men but they didn’t have it at Borders when I went the other day, so I got Guards! Guards! instead. But I’ll keep looking!

Good morning!

It’s a beautiful fall morning here in central Illinois (despite the fact that it’s going to be in the high 80s next week, the weather has definitely been autumnal this past week), so I decided to enjoy it! I made some crepes with jam and a pot of tea and headed out to my balcony for breakfast.

It was very nice. I hope you’re all having a lovely, lazy Sunday morning wherever you happen to be…

As for me, soon I shall be posting a new book review (see how fast they go when they’re not terribly boring?) and then my goal for the day is to finish the bunny for my friend from work’s baby, so hopefully there’ll be some photos to share of that, too.

We’ll see how that goes…

I LOVE MY NEW SHOES!

OH, MY GOD, THEY ARE FILLED WITH AWESOME! Mine are actually the metallic brown, but I can’t get my camera to do them justice and the only photo I can find online is of the black, so imagine these but in metallic brown and with a brown ribbon. From Bobbi Blu – a designer I will definitely be keeping an eye on…

Seriously, I just want to sit and look at them! SO MUCH LOVE! I think I shall use them as the base for a new outfit to wear to the Beirut concert so as to attract all the intellectual, indie-music boys who will be there… 😉

IR Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The Book of Story Beginnings by Kristin Kladstrup

Well, here it is. The reason that the book reviews have come to an almost complete stop around here. I have been slogging through this book. This is another one that falls into the category of Nifty-premise-boring-book. Here’s the basic setup: In turn-of-the-century Iowa, a young boy finds a book called, you guessed it, The Book of Story Beginnings. There’s a convenient poem on the title page of the book warning him to be very careful about starting a story. He does anyway. It involves a sea suddenly surrounding the farmhouse of a boy not unlike himself. He closes the book and looks out the window, only to discover that it has come true. There is a vast ocean now surrounding his home and a little rowboat tied up at the edge. He rows away and is never seen again. Flash forward to a vague present. A girl, a distant relative no less, and her family are moving to the Iowa farmhouse. Will adventures ensue? Supposedly.

Now who hasn’t dreamt of that? Putting pen to paper and then looking up to realise that what you’re writing is actually happening. In fact, every time anyone writes anything, isn’t that what they’re secretly hoping will happen? I know that’s what happens when I write.

But somehow Kladstrup manages to take the most magical part of writing and make it…well…boring. And somehow inane. I couldn’t really tell you what’s inane about it, but that’s really the first word (after boring) that popped into my head just now to describe it. And it’s not that it’s bad. It’s really not. It’s just not great. It’s mediocre. Like a lot of books out there. Like I hope my book is not, but there’s really no way of knowing. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like this book. Because she took the best part of writing, and reading for that matter – don’t you sometimes look up after you have that moment of realising that you haven’t been listening to anything but the words on the page and expect to see Huck Finn or Harry Potter or whoever staring back at you, waiting for you to continue? – and made it seem commonplace.

I really didn’t set out to write what’s fast becoming a rather scathing review because honestly, this book is not bad. But I think I’m going to have to give it a rating that is more negative than it may seem at first.

My rating: C