Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fall TV...meh

Usually this is one of my favorite times of the year but I am some what underwhelmed by TV's offerings this fall. Maybe it is because Showtime and networks like USA and FX have produced such great shows all year long that fall TV isn't the breath of relief it used to be. But even with that, I am still sure I watch too much TV.  Thank goodness for Dish Network's Hopper!

How I Met Your Mother - CBS - 9/23 - I have watched this since day 1 and even though the past few seasons have not been the best, I am committed to these characters and will watch this, the final season, where we FINALLY meet the mother. Update: I was recently asked "Haven't you grown out of that show?" Sorta, but I am two episodes in at got a little teary eyed at the last one...and that is why I still watch this show.
Almost Human - Fox - 11/4 - This new sci fi show features Michael Ealy as a law enforcement android who is partnered with a human to solve crimes.  I give this a 50/50 shot of making it, but I LOVE Ealy and have followed him since I first saw him in Sleeper Cell so will watch this and root for him.

Sleepy Hollow - Fox - 9/16 - OK to be fair I will NOT be watching this.  It is getting a fair amount of positive hype, but I just don't care.  But in case you do, check it out. Update: I lied.  I watched this.  It was OK.  I watched two episodes and the guy who plays Ichabod is charming and funny, but I don't think I will seek it out on a regular basis.

Blacklist - NBC - 9/23 - I am a fan of James Spader but was initially turned off and thought this show was too close to Hannibal. I've now seen more and it is certainly intriguing and possibly the show I am most excited about seeing. Update: THIS IS SO GOOD.  By far my favorite show of the season.  James Spader is excellent in this role as smarmy, evil-but-you-like him.  There are long term twists and mysteries but each episode is a one and done which I like.  Just great all around. 

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD - ABC - 9/24 - Despite an obnoxiously long name and really no idea what this is about, it's JOSS WHEDON.  JOSS WHEDON.  I'd watch people sleeping if Joss Whedon was involved.  Update: Yep, Joss is great.  This is good.  It's all there - action, humor, great dialogue, special effects, so it is totally worth watching. It's a bit of a super hero Warehouse 13.   I don't LOVE it like I have with previous shows of his (or Blacklist), but I won't miss an episode.

Brooklyn Nine Nine - Fox - 9/17 - Do I think this will be good?  Nope.  Not at all.  But I like 25% of what Andy Sandberg does so I will give it a shot since my Hopper records more than one show. If it didn't, I wouldn't care if I missed this. Update: Surprise of the season, this is really funny.  It reminds me a lot of Parks and Rec, and has delivered solid shows so far.

Supernatural - CW - 10/8 - you know who else I'd watch sleeping?  Either of the Winchester boys or Cass. Watched this from the beginning, will watch til the end.

Lucky 7 - ABC - 9/24- I don't have high hopes for this show since it is getting virtually no publicity, but I am behind in Person of Interest so have an opening at 10.  This is about lottery winners and maybe it will make me never want to win. Update: I had good intentions to watch this show...but there is too much else on.  Haven't watched a single episode of this yet.

Tomorrow People - CW- 10/9 - If you are looking for comedies,  there is another season of Modern Family and new contender Rebel Wilson's Super Fun Night. But I am looking forward to another guilty pleasure, Tomorrow People, about a high school (I said guilty pleasure) that learns he has special powers like teleportation.  This is based off a 70s British hit,so I will watch, (and probably not tell anyone I do).

Top Chef - Bravo - 10/2 - After watching Masterchef this summer, my love of cooking shows is renewed,  I took a few years off from Top Chef but am looking forward to seeing the show in the new location setting of New Orleans.

Thursday (Or Hopper Appreciation Day)
Parks and Rec - NBC - 9/26 - The funniest show on TV.  Period. Update: Still many funny lines in each episode, but with some key characters leaving, not sure how I feel about its future. But til then it is Lit-trally the best show on TV
Big Bang Theory - CBS - 9/26 - I was late to the Big Bang Bandwagon, but I like it.  Makes me laugh.

The Millers - CBS - 10/3 - I will watch this based on Will Arnett and Margo Martindale.  I have no idea what it is about but MARGO MARTINDALE.  That is all. Update: Only one episode in, but I really liked the pilot and that is hard to do. Margo Martindale is fantastic, Beau Bridges is a comedic surprise and I just love Wil Arnett.  There were a few laugh out loud moments for me and a solid "awwww" so I am in.

The Crazy Ones - CBS - 9/26 - Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Geller team up as father daughter Ad exec team. Something about this quote about the show really hit home for me: "Dad worries he is becoming irrelevant while daughter fears her pop may be going off the rails." Update: Two episodes in and this is a solid OK.  They give Robin Williams a number of options to ad lib comedy and those parts are truly inspired. Sarah Michelle Geller plays a nice serious foil and is called Kitten by her dad, so yeah, I will watch this religiously.
Reign - CW - 10/17 - Been waiting for a Mary, Queen of Scots teen drama?  Yeah, me neither.  But I will check it out for at least 3 episodes since I am sure it will be very different than the rest of my TV watching.
White Collar - USA - 10/17 - I love Neal Caffrey but the relationship between he and Peter was the part I loved the most.  Season 5 begins with Peter in jail so I am not sure how much I am going to love this storyline.

The Michael J Fox Show - NBC - 9/26 - How can you not want Michael J Fox to succeed?  This show parallels his life but promises to not ONLY be about Parkinson's. I have loved Fox when he has guest starred on The Good Wife and am rooting for him to do well.

Covert Affairs - USA - 10/7 - This show has been on this summer and it is getting increasingly far fetched, and that is saying something.  I love Auggie though because the actor that plays him personally tweeted me once (I know, it doesn't take much to impress me)  so will watch this until it becomes utterly unbearable.

Haven - SyFy - 9/13 - Yes, I am skipping Raising Hope, Enlisted and Shark Tank.  Sure if I am home and there is nothing else on, I might watch one of those. But mostly I don't care.  I DO care about Haven, which is creepy and sweet and odd and stars Eric Balfour, the hottest man with the longest face ever.  Add in Lucas Bryant and the show has some pretty awesome eye candy. Update: I am surprisingly hooked on Shark Tank and super geeky pleased when I see one of the products in real life. Haven is also really good this season with the addition of Colin Ferguson.

Sunday (I Love my Hoppa, part 2)
Revenge - ABC - 9/29 - Last season was decidedly eh, but this is truly brainless TV so I will watch for at least 3 episodes this season and see how it goes from there.Update:  It's just OK. If I miss it, I won't miss it. 
Good Wife - CBS - 9/29 - Another show with a less than stellar 2012-13 season, but the last two episodes were strong and I was surprised by the cliff hanger of an ending. Still a bad season of this show is still better than many shows out there, so I will watch for sure! First episode reminded me of the strength of this show.  Not sure how they are going to stretch out the secret all season, but I still am a fan.
Homeland - Showtime - 9/29 - Filmed in Charlotte, I will watch this show forever, just to support local film industry. It helps immensely that the show is great, with suspense, intrigue and a never ending gut feeling that you don't quite know who is good and who is bad.  Also, Damian Lewis is hot.Update: Episode 1 was so good and we never saw Brody! I have confidence that any doubts that may have risen in season 2 will be immediately dispelled in season 3.
Shameless - Showtime - January 12 -Just when you think that Frank can't be any more deplorable, he hits a new low. When we left last season, my favorite character Jimmy was missing (or dead) and Frank did something noble.

Masters of Sex - Showtime - 9/29 - Showtime produces great shows so I am looking forward to this new offering about Masters and Johnson and the revolution of sexual ed. Update: I could not be a woman in the 50s. Episode 1 was interesting and I will keep watching, if anything to see where it goes.
House of Lies - Showtime - January 12 - I am intrigued by this show and the end of last season was sad and shocking with most everyone turning on Don Cheadle. I am not sure where they are going to go, but I will watch and find out!

Episodes - Showtime - January 12 - Hands down the funniest, smartest show you've never seen.  Can't wait til January!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Martin Wentzel Hill: December 20, 1916-September 8, 2013

My grandfather, Martin Wentzel Hill, died last night at the age of 96.

The funny thing about being a 39 year old woman with grandparents still alive is that you tend to just kinda assume they will ALWAYS be alive. He has brothers and sisters older than he that are still living. I used to joke that my mom's side of the family is part roach...they were going to live forever. It may be irrational, but I started to believe that. It's strange to think he is actually gone.

He was born in 1916 and would have been 97 this December. It's crazy to think of the changes he had seen in his lifetime.  He raised four children, was grandfather to seven and great grandfather to two.  To me he was Pop-Pop.

Cousin Bridget, Mike and me in the tree.
Strong, stoic, smart, kind, he was hilarious in a way I too late realized. Growing up we knew he was REALLY angry when he would yell the German phrase "verdammt sau donner wetter".   It wasn't til later I realized that the phrase I was so afraid of was "Damn Pig Thunderstorm".  He liked to kid me, a picky eater, "tempting" me with such fare as scrappel and chow chow.   He'd eat anything and the Pennsylvania Dutch's influence was easy to see. I passed on the "gross foods" but never passed up Shoofly Pie.  We always lived at least 8 hours from them but I remember spending most summers at the stone house he built, playing in the "crik" and climbing the big tree in their back yard. I remember catching fireflies in that yard, dancing in circles practicing being a ballet dancer in the basement, reading stacks of National Geographic magazines, getting pizza from Esposito's, sledding down the hill in the winter.  We moved around but Reading and the house at 1723 Friedensburg Road was my constant.  When I think of being a child, most of my memories happened in Stony Creek.  I still remember their phone number, neighbors, exact details of the street, the front yard, the back yard, though it is smaller than I remember (or I'm bigger).

With a full tuft of white hair on his head, he was always an imposing figure. But he softened as he aged, and while we generally didn't get along when I was a teenager (both of us stubborn and I was pretty much a shit), I am glad that I got to spend some time with him as an adult. On a summer road trip in 2008, I stopped in and spent the day with them. We  talked and talked and that was the first time I fully realized how great of a man he was; how smart, funny, stubborn and how much of an influence he has had on my family and of course, me.  On that trip he took me by the house he grew up in, talked about meeting and courting my grandmother, building the house I knew and loved, and his time in the Navy. I could have stayed up all night listening to him talk about his time in the war and one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't record every word he said.  We went by the local cemetery to see the graves of family members and I asked him if that was where he was going to be buried.  "Oh no" he snapped with such indignation I am sure I offended him with my question.  He will be buried in the national cemetery.  "I earned that" he told me. I don't think that is something my generation can appreciate- the pride of serving our country. As he aged, his body failed. He fought more cancers than I can remember, but his mind remained sharp.

The last time I saw him in person was in 2010. I drove to Boston for my friend Stacey's mom's funeral service and I stopped by on my way  back. I had to return to work so only stayed for dinner and again was reminded of how great of a man he was.  I wished I could have stayed longer, SHOULD have stayed longer, talked more, absorbed more and come to know him more for the man he was, than just my grandfather.

Today is he and my grandmother's 74th wedding anniversary. She doesn't remember much of anything; Alzheimer's has wrecked havoc with her brain. God surely has a sense of humor that my grandfather could be so mentally acute while his body failed him when exactly the opposite is happening to my grandmother.   But when I think of my grandparents, I will forever think of my grandfather sitting at the end of the table, my grandmother seated next to him, in her left hand a cup of coffee, in her right hand, my grandfather's hand on her lap.  Always coffee..always holding hands. The love he had for her is enviable and ever lasting.

There are too many memories to capture on on this blog; they flash in my mind when I think of him; the anniversary party we had in Maine with generations surrounding him (was that 50th?), the anniversary party we had in Reading, the week we spent in the Virgin Islands, him teaching me how to put up the flag in the front yard, shopping at Boscov's, the joy in his voice when I called him on Veteran's Day.

So to my grandfather, my newest guardian angel, thank you for your sense of humor, intelligence, your kindness, your nose (Ok, this I could have done without, or preferred a cute little one).  Thank you for the work ethic you instilled in your family, the love you passed along.  Thank you for being a Truly Great Man and showing me that honor, love and dignity exist. I am proud to be your granddaughter, to have Hill in my blood.  I love you and always will.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Music Update...from June - July and August

A few weekends ago I had a spend the night party with my friend Cara. I've been friends with her since 7th grade, when we bonded over silly teachers, bad puns and growing pains.  We've stayed in touch over the years and states and I was thrilled when she and her husband moved to Charlotte in 2001.  We've just gotten closer, proving that immature humor never goes out of style!  So on a Saturday night we each dragged out the old diaries and photo albums and had a blast reading what 14 year old us deemed important. There were lots of comments about boys ("When I danced with George our stomachs touched and it felt WEIRD"") but the thing I thought was the funniest was that every diary had a section where I listed all the songs I liked.  Nice to see that I haven't changed all that much,  though thankfully my taste has!

Work has been crazy, so here are my favorites from June - August.  When I get a chance I might list my favorites from when I was 15 so you can appreciate musical growth.

Land of the Gathering by The Ceremonies - Just a feel good, fun to listen to song.
Alive by Empire of the Sun- Toe tapping song, really funky video.
Afraid by The Neighbourhood - I continue to love these guys and am so glad I got to see them in person.
Royals by Lorde - This 16 year old New Zealand girl may be my favorite new artist in a long time.  I got my hands on 6 more of her songs and love all of them.  This was the first to hit mainstream US and the lyrics make me happy.
The Love Club by Lorde - seriously love her.
Biting Down by Lorde
Tennis Court by Lorde. OK last one.  I promise.  I just like her voice and the lyrics.
Thunder Clatter by Wild Cub - Great song.  Love how it picks up as it goes along.
Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Ray - the Cedric Gervais remix -Still pretty sure I am one of 4 people who like Lana Del Ray, but I won't apologize for it at all!
Head on by Man Man - Sure I like the song but fell in love with this band called Man Man when I found out their twitter name is ManManBandBand.  Gotta love a sense of humor.  And really,"Hold onto your heart, even when your body's bitter"  Yes.  Their album comes out 9/10.  Buy it.
Lost Generation - Rizzle Kicks - I am a big fan of pretty much anything Rizzle Kicks does. It just sounds like summer to me.  #trend
High Hopes by Kodaline - This is an Irish band that I love for their hautingly sad sound.
All I Want - the song that introduced me to Kodaline.
Brand New Day - Kodaline, kinda happy.
Little Games by The Colourist - you may be familiar with this song from a Samsung commercial.  I like it anyway.
Awkward by Fildlar - this is very 80s punky to me, but the lyrics make me laugh "Didn't know I'm really good at making you feel awkward"."
Doing OK by Wretch 32 featuring Jacob Banks - Bet you are saying Wretch WHO?  It's a British rapper/MC/DJ.  I love the sweetness of this song's melody.
Grow Old With Me by Tom Odell - Yes I did feel like I was punched in the guy when I heard this kid was born two years before I graduated from high school.  But 1990 birth date aside, I love piano in a song and this is both sweet and dirty.  And I've always loved the Robert Browning poem that has this line in it "Grow Old with me, the best is yet to be."  It's my inner romantic coming out.
Flaws by Bastille - Been a big fan of Bastille since Pompeii hit, but again, my inner romantic loves the "all of your flaws and all my flaws lay there hand in hand" line.  Seems such a realistic picture of a love;  "there's a hole in my soul...can you fill it?"
Things We Lost in the Fire by Bastille - since I am singing the praises of Bastille, might as well continue with this haunting and sad song and sadder video.
Kids by Mikky Ekko - No, this is not another little British boy, though you might think that listening to this. He is American and his claim to fame til this point has been that he was in Rihanna's song Stay. which I also like.   
Hopeless Wanderer - Mumford and Sons- It seems like you either hate or love this band and I happen to love them. I love the sound, their voices, the words and the meaning. And then there is this video which features Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, Ed Helms and Will Forte, which makes me love them even more!

Hope you enjoy the music.  I can't believe it is already September.  I need to start working on my Amy's Audibles list and this year is going to be another hard one. Music is trending in my favor.  LOVE!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Updates: No meat, running, camping, oh my!

It's been a bit since I blogged so you can correctly surmise that work has been slammed.  I've written many a blog in my head but haven't had the time to type them here is a summary blog of updates.

No Meat...No Problem.  It's been almost over two months and I can honestly say it has been EASY to go no meat. Between meat supplements like Tofurkey deli slices, Boca crumbled meat and Tofu, I have been able to replace the texture of most meats that I used. I just recently found roast beef and that makes me insanely happy. I feel great and thanks to a lack of fast food, I am down 10 pounds.  I honestly am really surprised that this is not a big deal, but it isn't.  Friends have been very supportive, even though most think I am crazy. But bottom line, I feel better, it isn't expensive, I haven't craved meat and I've lost weight.

Running alone sucks. I remember when I was training for my first half I constantly thanked my running partner Cindy, telling her I could not have done it without her. She would always tell me I could.  Welp, no. I can't.  I set my alarm. I lay out running clothes. I wake up...wide awake...and lay in bed. I don't even go back to sleep.  I just lay there thinking "I should get up. I should run.  I will feel better if I run."  And yet I stay in bed. But I guess there is something in knowing one's weaknesses, right?  I reached out to my neighbor and a co worker who also runs. I have NO PROBLEM getting up when I am meeting someone else. I am usually awake anyway. I AM always glad I run, but need the accountability.  So thanks to those people, I have gotten a few runs in.  My mileage is still low, but thanks to my co worker, my time is faster. So there is that.  My friend Kelly recently reached out so hopefully I can get longer runs in on the weekends. I am slow and feel so far away from the person that ran a marathon last year.  It's so frustrating...I know the only way for me to get better is to run, but I am so horrible, I hate running.  Ugh.

Our Blazin Buddy
My Cute Tent!  
It seems like such a silly thing, but I decided a few years ago that I wanted to try camping. It seems like such a great idea, but was told I wouldn't like it so could never get anyone to go with me. FINALLY I went camping this weekend!  My friends Mike and Jon along with the Gaddys joined me on my maiden voyage to Julian Price Lake off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was so much fun!  We met for lunch at Macado's in Boone and then headed to our campsite. We originally had a lake front site reserved, but after being told we could only have one tent there, we splurged and bought two other campsites nearby.  It rained when we first got there, but after an hour, it stopped and we ended up having perfect weather. We set up our tents as well as a pop up tent over a picnic table. The people before us left a fire going with some wood so that hurdle was handled. Mike and I went to a local store to buy firewood but they were out so we ended up getting a Blazin Buddy We kinda laughed at it, and even one veteran camper stopped and asked us if we liked it, but it ended up being great. We cooked dinner.  One really good thing about being a vegetarian.... I don't have to worry as much about food being cooked!  We got meatless burgers and basically just needed to heat them up.  We wrapped them in foil and threw them in the fire. Perfection!   There was a lake and originally I wanted to go canoeing, but honestly that just seemed like too much work once I was there. So we sat around our picnic table, drank, ate and played a hilarious game that Jen brought. Once it got dark we made smores, had a light saber battle (because why not?!) and since the entire campground seemed to quiet down, we headed to bed.  I had the cutest tent, inflatable mattress with color coordinating sheets and quilt of course!  

Mike and I slept really well but Jen, Charlie and Jon all reported less than two hours or sleep total. I did wake up earlier than expected thanks to some rowdy and very loud cub scouts at the campsite next to us. We all agreed next time we would try some place a little more remote (and congratulated ourselves for not maiming them in anyway). But laying there, in the cool mountain air, with the birds chirping was pretty perfect for me.

The Happy Campers
View from Campsite
The only really bad thing was the bathroom, or as they called it, the "Comfort station".  I had  read Trip Advisor reviews saying the facilities were in really bad shape so I was expecting the worst. In fact, I brought my own toilet paper just in case. We had to walk a little bit to get there, and there were only two toilets.  Apparently one had a "trick to flushing it" as one lady told me, but I could never get it to work, and neither could most of the other campers apparently.  Most of the time I went, that toilet would not flush.  So....there was one toilet for all of loop A.  Really this didn't end up being a huge deal though. And while I would never use the words Comfort Station, it was about what you would expect for a common use, outside toilet. It flushed. The toilet paper was cheap.  There were bugs and the floor was constantly muddy and wet.  BUT, the toilet paper stayed well stocked and I have seen far worse bathrooms in gas stations and it was still way better than a port a jon.  So....toilet crisis averted!   I do go to the bathroom frequently so that is one thing waking up three times a night, stumbling to the bathroom and then stumbling back in bed. I can usually fall right back asleep.  But getting up, unzipping the tent, putting on shoes, getting a flashlight, walking down the road to the "comfort station" and then reversing the process fully woke me up. So getting back to sleep was not as easy as home.  But given the alternative of not drinking or being closer, I'd still choose getting up and walking!

So basically things are going pretty well.  Work is slammed, but in a good way.  Overall I am feeling really happy and that is a very good thing.  Consider yourself updated!