Non-fiction: Travel essay

Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz

I’m not even going to tell you how long it took me to read this book. It’s embarrassing. Even more so because I have no good reason for the delay – the book was perfectly good, it was just sheer laziness on my part. I can’t even blame the onset of new television because I was reading this book long before then.

So. In Blue Latitudes, Tony Horwitz decides to follow Captain Cook around the globe. Which is interesting enough, but really I think I had a problem with Horwitz’ writing. It seemed a little too journalistic to me, as though he was reporting rather than regaling. It makes sense, though, seeing as he’s a Pulitzer-winning reporter, that he would be more comfortable in reporter-mode. But it’s not what I was hoping for – I prefer my travel narratives more in the style of Bill Bryson, much more personal and personable. Tony’s own experiences seemed rather dry because they were just reported, a style which worked much better when he was relating Captain Cook’s actual experiences (which were very exciting and, more than once, I was glad when he turned back to the historical narrative line).

I’ll tell you a secret. I actually only bought Blue Latitudes because I really wanted A Voyage Long and Strange but wasn’t ready to pay hardcover prices not knowing if I’d like the writer. And, despite my above complaints about Horwitz, I think I’ll likely end up going back for A Voyage Long and Strange (though I can’t exactly put my finger on why I’m willing to give him a second chance).

My rating: B

New TV: Monday

Chuck (7:00pm CST, NBC)

I thought maybe we were going to have a new plot device for most of this first episode, but it looks like we’re back to the same old plot as last year. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing – I’ll still be tuning in (though not until Tuesday since it airs opposite The Big Bang Theory and HIMYM). Mostly because I like Zachary Levi (he wears the same shoes as me!) and I like Chuck and Sarah and, of course, it’s always fun to see Jayne around town. ๐Ÿ˜‰

My rating: I admit that it could be a bit better, but I still like it.

New TV: Sunday

The Simpsons (7:00pm CST, FOX)

It’s the Simpsons. Homer says ‘D’oh,’ Marge says ‘Hmmm,’ Bart says…well, you know how it goes. It’s been on a bit of a downhill spiral for the last few seasons (though when you’re in season 19, I suppose it’s only to be expected), but hopefully the quality will pick up again. At any rate, I’m going to keep watching in the hopes that it does.

My rating: It’s not Sunday without the Simpsons!

September Daring Bakers Challenge!

I left this to the very last minute, but I made it! This was a nice change from the cakes and pastries (not that I don’t love cakes and pastries). And it was an extra bit of a challenge because we were all baking vegan this month! And it was a savory recipe!! Or it was until I saw that someone had covered theirs with sugar and cinnamon instead of savory spices.

It was very easy to put together – only bowls and spoons – no mixers this time which means easy clean-up. And it was very tasty! I’m not usually a big fan of crunchy dessert things, but because these have more of a cracker texture than, say, a shortbread, I think that made the difference.

My dipping sauce is Strawberry Balsamic Buttercream. I still had the strawberry balsamic syrup from the cupcake attempts and was desperate to use it up (I may be making some more cupcakes soon if I can’t think of anything else!), so I used the raspberry buttercream recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and just substituted my strawberry balsamic syrup for the raspberry syrup.

Yum!

New TV: Thursday

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

Season 2 was a little bit of a disappointment compared to the genius of the first, but, as long as they keep going the same direction they are at the moment, season 3 is looking up! There’s no Alyssa Milano in sight and Earl is back to the list which was always the best part of the show.

My rating: It’s Thursday – if I don’t watch TV from 7-9, I don’t know what to do with myself!

The Office (8:00pm CST, NBC)

I love Holly. Let me just make that clear right now. I think she makes an excellent foil to Michael because she’s just as awkward as Michael, but, where I feel sorry for Michael, I identify with Holly. Maybe that’s just me? Anyway, we’ve got some conflict in the Jim/Pam relationship (BUT YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!) because they’re at a distance now with her in New York for three months (though if that doesn’t work out in the end, there will definitely be a TV-shaped hole in my window).

My rating: Even if I didn’t love it, I’d need a way to pass the time before 30 Rock. ๐Ÿ˜‰

ETA: OMG, NBC! TEST THE EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM AGAIN DURING THE LAST FIVE MINUTES OF THE OFFICE AND THERE WILL ALSO BE A TV-SHAPED HOLE IN MY WINDOW! D:

ETA2: Wow, ER has been on television for half my life.

New TV: Monday

The Big Bang Theory (7:00pm CST, CBS)

It’s easily the most embarrassing thing I watch on TV, thanks mostly to its raucous CBS studio audience (I swear, today when Leonard kissed Penny, they actually went ‘wooooOOOOOOOOoooooo!’). It’s perhaps not the most subtle comedy on television at the moment, but, for some reason, I love it. I think it’s because if Sheldon were a woman and short a few IQ points, he would be me.

Also, they have an awesome theme song – ‘We built the pyramids!’

My rating: I’m not about to tell anyone, but I’m setting my VCR to tape this as we speak.

How I Met Your Mother (7:30pm CST, CBS)

After 30 Rock (which doesn’t start until October 30 – Why, 30 Rock, WHYYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!), I think I might go out on a limb and say that How I Met Your Mother is the best comedy on TV at the moment. And no, I didn’t forget about The Office and, yes, I adore The Office. Everyone’s back and everyone’s fantastic! Lily and Marshall are hilarious, Robin’s cool, Ted’s earnest, and Neil Patrick Harris is giving Alec Baldwin a run for his money for Funniest Man on Television. I adore Barney! ๐Ÿ˜€

Stella accepted Ted’s proposal, but I can’t bring myself to believe that she’s The Mother. Which makes me sad because I like Sarah Chalke – I guess she’ll have to head back to Scrubs soon enough, though.

My rating: Legen–come on, how could I not do it?–dary!

Heroes (8:00pm CST, NBC)

I like Super-Powerful and Ruthless Peter from the future. I miss Matt and Mohinder playing My Two Dads with Molly. I still LOVE Hiro. I like his speedster chick much better than his Japanese princess. Sylar is back with a vengeance. I can’t seem to separate reality from fiction because I can’t stop thinking that Claire and Peter are actually dating despite being uncle and niece and am oddly un-freaked out by it…

What’s up with indestructible, evangelical Nathan? What about Ali Larter and Ali Larter and Ali Larter (are there three of them now or still just the two)? Will Maya be as boring this season as she was last season? How about Micah and his cousin who learns things? How will they get to the point where Claire is ready to shoot her boyfriend favorite uncle? Will Mr. Buggles survive a third season? Why is Mohinder always so sweaty (not that I’m necessarily complaining…)? Wait, is Sylar not the big baddie for this season?

Mostly, the main theme of my Heroes-watching evening has been ‘Bzuh?’ I didn’t buy season 2, uh, because it sucked, but I may have to now just to refresh my memory.

My rating: Season 1 was so great, I’m overlooking season 2 (it was all the writers’ strike’s fault, really) and giving them a hearty second chance.