Guilty Pleasure

I said in an earlier post that I’m not a fan of reality shows.  I. Do. Not. Like. Reality. Shows.  Usually.  But I found one I enjoy.  At least I think it’s a reality show.  Is there some way to tell?  Are there parameters or a definition somewhere? 

Wikipedia had this to say: 

Reality television is a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded.

There remains some disagreement over whether talent-search shows such as the Idol series, America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, and Celebrity Duets are truly reality television, or just newer incarnations of shows such as Star Search. Although the shows involve a traditional talent search, the shows follow the reality-competition conventions of removing one or more contestants per episode and allowing the public to vote on who is removed.

So my new guilty pleasure is not necessarily reality TV – cool!  I can’t recall how I discovered America’s Got Talent and I didn’t drop everything and immediately begin following it.   In fact although the show is in its 7th season, I can count on one hand the number of complete episodes I’ve watched.  Usually I would catch one act or an audition, often via an email from a friend.  For instance, I was impressed by the audition of Terry Fator (with his sidekick Emma Taylor).  Tell me this isn’t cool!

Over time I’ve seen other snippets of shows on Facebook (Godvine is a reliable source for moving auditions), looked up specific acts on Youtube and last year Hubs even saw a performance he liked so well he tracked the dancers down online to see them again.  I don’t know why this year I decided to check out Season 7 from the beginning but I just finished watching the first two 2-hour audition shows.  Let me just say – WOW!  These were only auditions!  Holy cow!  Here are some of my favorites:

Tim Hockenberry – the performance begins around the 1:15 mark.  He blew away the audience and judges!

David Garibaldi & his CMYKs – performance art that popped.

William Close -This guy designed and built something he calls an Earth Harp.  It turned the whole auditorium into an instrument. 

That’s only three!  There were so many others who were amazing!  Of course since these were the auditions there were some real bombs too.  It hurt to watch some of them, but it made me realize how brave you have to be to put yourself out there.  I could never stand up on a stage in front of people — NEVER!  So kudos to everyone willing to stand – first in the huge line and then to stand up onstage and sing or dance or whatever it is you do.  You all rock!

Off Their Rockers

Betty White has a new show.  It involves an ensemble cast of feisty seniors who prank young people in various ways with hidden cameras.  I’ll let you ponder the possibilities for a moment. 

Hums softly, inspects cuticles.

If your imagination didn’t kick in and provide you with some idea of what to expect let me jumpstart it for you. 

Small spoiler ahead.

Say an older gentleman comes up to you looking dazed and confused and asks if you know about “that texting thing.”  Then when you acknowledge you do, he asks if you’d mind sending a text for him because he can’t see the keyboard.  Absolutely you would help him right?  What if it were your dad?  Or granddad?  You’d want someone to be nice to them.  So you take his phone and wait for him to dictate the message:  “Honey, I have the wine if you have the whip and handcuffs.  Tonight’s the night!” 

Remember the old guy is probably in his 60s or 70s and the young woman who is helping him is somewhere in her 20s.  Now does your imagination paint a picture of her reaction?  I know, right? 

Then there are the nuns, who are nothing like any nuns I’ve ever met – um, not that I’ve met a lot of nuns.  Actually I don’t think I’ve met any nuns ever.  So to be clear, I have no idea how real nuns behave but I’ll bet it ain’t like that!

Some of the pranks involve hot young men.  Like Cris Leche. 

Yowser!  Would you get a load of those blue eyes? 

And then there’s this: 

Isn’t he awesome?!

The crew pull their pranks at Union Station, in various airports, at the beach and in the supermarket (pool cue + Best Foods = ??).  Of all the episodes we’ve watched there were a couple of pranks I didn’t like.  They seemed kind of mean.   But overall the pranks are silly and fun.  The only thing missing is that they don’t show the prankees learning they were pranked.  That was one of my favorite parts of Candid Camera and I would have liked to see it here too. 

I can’t remember how we found this show – we don’t have cable or satellite so we don’t see commercials for new shows.  However it came about though, I’m loving it.  I think we – Grammy, Jo, Pamela – should make up an audition tape; maybe we can get a guest spot on the show!  You guys in?

Book Review – The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

I don’t know much about reviewing books, but I know what I like and I LOVED this!  Mr. Beddor is my new favorite author!  That isn’t the huge deal it could be I guess since my favorite changes pretty often.  But after reading my blogging buddy Dana’s review of ArchEnemy, I had to read the series.

The Looking Glass Wars is one of the best reads I’ve found in awhile.  It tells the tale of Alyss, a princess in Wonderland along with her tutor Bibwit Harte; her best buddy Dodge Anders; doofus Jack of Diamonds, and other assorted company.  I don’t want to give away anything but you have to know a little in order to determine for yourself if this sounds interesting.  So here you go: 

  • banished evil aunt
  • mutant card soldiers
  • top hat warrior
  • smoking caterpillars
  • morphing kitten
  • heart crystal
  • Pool of Tears – portal to ?
  • Victorian London (seriously, Victorian London)
  • checkerboard desert

There you have it!  Okay, I know that isn’t much.  Here’s a quick synopsis: 

Seven year old Alyss escapes from her evil aunt and for the next thirteen years is trapped in Victorian London.  She is “rescued” at the altar on her wedding day and returns to Wonderland to battle her aunt for the throne with the help of a motley group of rebels.  Throw in a double agent (or two), smoking caterpillars and steampunky inventions and you’ve got a fascinating tail of intrigue and action. 

You might enjoy this if you like fantasy or sci fi subjects.  It started a little slowly (for me anyway) but very quickly I couldn’t put it down.  Beddor creates wonderful, real characters complete with flaws.  Wonderland is vivid and not surprisingly, a little magical.  The story of good vs. evil has been done to death but Beddor has given it new life here. 

I can’t wait to read the next volume, Seeing Redd.   

Thanks Dana!

Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan

I discovered Lost and Found on the uncataloged shelves at my library.  It has a black Lab on the front and that sold me on the book before I even read the back cover.

From the back cover:

“But then she meets Lloyd.

“A large black Labrador retriever, Lloyd enters Rocky’s world with a primitive arrow sticking out of his shoulder.  And so begins a remarkable friendship between a wounded woman and a wounded, lovable beast.”

Getting to this part in the story takes a little while, but it’s worth it.  Ms. Sheehan’s writing is moving and emotional; I cried along with Rocky at her loss.  You care about Rocky from practically the first couple of pages, which is something new for me.  It usually takes awhile for characters to reach me but I loved Rocky from the start.

And Lloyd!  Lloyd is such a sweetie and Ms. Sheehan gives him his own voice!  Lloyd remembers his previous human with sadness and pain, believing that he failed in protecting her.  As he bonds with Rocky he joins her in her unsettling dreams, understanding she needs “extra watching at night.”

Rocky’s relationship with Lloyd eventually leads her out of her grief.  She is able to move forward, not forgetting her loss but no longer clinging to it instead of living.  I realize I’m not providing a lot of detail here but I’m reluctant to give anything away.  In the end, they save each other.

One of the ways I rate a book is whether I like it well enough to have my own copy.  This one is going on my shelf.

The Vineyard

Barbara Delinsky is one of my favorite authors.  I recently finished The Vineyard.  It tells a parallel story of Olivia Jones and Natalie Seebring, women from two very different generations but each are strong in their own way. 

Olivia Jones is a single mother of a dyslexic child, struggling to provide for her daughter not only the material necessities, but also the best possible education.  At the same time she’s searching for her own mother who left when Olivia was old enough to be on her own.  Olivia badly wants a family and even daydreams about discovering she’s the long lost [granddaughter, cousin, niece] of the Seebring family.

Natalie Seebring on the other hand is completely sure of who she is and where she fits in her family.  Having grown up in the Depression era she understands the value of hard work and has made the family vineyard her life’s work.  She also understands sacrifice, having given up the man she loved to marry a man whose family money would bolster the vineyard. 

Ms. Delinsky weaves their stories together along with a taste of the bittersweet, some laughter and blossoming love.  The historical snippets felt genuine and moved me while the descriptions of the vineyard and its management were interesting – I DO love my wine!  I’d highly recommend this book!  

Welcome back Marianne!

One of my favorite bloggers has been on hiatus for awhile.  A long while.  But as of February 2nd SHE IS BACK!  Woo hoo! 

Marianne Kirby’s blog, The Rotund is all about accepting yourself as you are.  Not to mention accepting others and teaching fat acceptance in particular.  And Marianne has some smokin’ style!  I couldn’t pull off some of her fashion choices but I love love LOVE the inspiration they provide.  (I actually wore a tie-dyed denim miniskirt last summer, size 24 –  because I’ve so enjoyed Marianne’s style!)

While Marianne’s been offline blogwise, she has been posting occasionally at xojane.com.  Her most recent post there, I Got Naked for Cancer was phenomenal!  In the few years I’ve followed her blog Marianne has always come across as positive.  This post at xojane reflects that attitude and dares the reader to jump in with both feet. 

From the article:  “You may not want to see me — but I want you to look. I want you to see all kinds of bodies, presented in all kinds of ways. I want you to see bodies that look like your body, no matter what your body looks like, so you know your body is fine just the way it is.” (Emphasis is mine.)  Hells yeah! 

If you feel a need for some life-affirming positivity or even just want to check out her fashionable self, tell her Bubbe sent you!  😉

Wow, check me out!  Two posts in one day!

The 1940s House

I’m not big on reality TV.  Truth be told, I’m not too big on reality either.   So when Hubs described The 1940s House (a BBC reality series from 2001) I was not exactly enthusiastic.  To be honest it sounded a little depressing … just what the doctor ordered, right?

I was hooked within the first half hour.  

Imagine you and your family travel back in time to 1939 London.  You and your husband share a lovely home with your daughter and two grandsons in a friendly neighborhood outside London proper.  In the evenings as you listen to the radio your husband smokes a cigar and plays with the grandchildren while you and your daughter knit or write letters.  Life is good. 

Then World War II begins and your world changes forever.

You must comply with the blackout every night.  This includes either hanging blackout curtains OVER EVERY WINDOW each evening before sundown or building blackout frames which can be fit snugly into the windows and removed every morning.  And remember not to open a door to the outside while lights are burning indoors! 

Also required was an air raid shelter and victory garden in your backyard.  The air raid shelter was delivered to your home in pieces and you had to put it together yourself, including digging a rectangular hole for it about 4 feet deep.  And you got to pay for this privilege!

Food is no longer abundant, hence your victory garden.  You can buy 4 ounces of ham each week, when it’s available.  Sugar and honey are in short supply.  You don’t know from one day to the next what the grocer’s shelves will hold.  Imagine doing laundry by hand in the kitchen sink with no soap!  Or bathing in mere inches of tepid water with no shampoo.  And forget about cleaning the floor.

I won’t recap the entire show, it’s much more impressive to experience it for yourself if it interests you.  I will say I was blown away by how genuine it was and how it impacted the Hymers family who participated.  Many times I found myself in tears – empathy for the women’s struggles, sorrow for the loss of life during actual war time, joyous when victory was announced. 

The series finished up by checking in with the family after they’d returned home and I was pleased to see the lessons the family took with them, including the children.  This article from prior to PBS’ airing of the show in the states describes it in a little more detail and also interviewed some of the family members again.  I loved seeing that the family was still positive about the experience. 

On one hand it was a fascinating look into life during WWII.  On the other, I’m sooooo glad I didn’t live it.  I am so grateful for my washing machine! 

And soap! 😀