July 31, 2011

212: Hoo boy.

via We Heart It
Do you ever have those days when you just feel like poor John Watson here?  Because this humid, ninety-degree Sunday is one of those days.  (At least this day ended with pot roast?)

July 30, 2011

211: Favorites XXIV

This week, I present some of my favorites of a dying breed: TV title sequences.  In addition to those listed below, I give honorable mentions to The Big Bang Theory, the CSI franchise (mostly for using "Who Are You?" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" to great effect, though "Baba O'Riley" isn't as good a fit), and Doctor Who (because I get giddy just listening to the theme song).  Any suggestions for other good opening titles?

Downton Abbey
First, the bit of score over the credits is just gorgeous.  Secondly, it's the prettiest montage I've ever seen that starts with a closeup of a dog's butt.  Incidentally, I also like that the cast is presented in alphabetical order, with no preference whatsoever given to bigger stars, bigger roles, or even the dame in their midst.

True Blood
Warning: there's some suggestive images, roadkill, a time-lapse shot of a fox being consumed by maggots and some close-up shots of weird-looking bugs.  But it's totally worth it for the "God hates fangs" sign and the general modern Southern gothic ambience.

Edward Gorey animations and the theme song that I miss desperately, now that it's Masterpiece Mystery.  I actually learned the Mystery! theme on the piano when I was a kid -- I loved Poirot that much.

Law & Order: UK
A nice update on the traditional freeze-frame style of the US franchise, with another piece of music that I love.  It's not the funky jazz themes of the American series, but it does go nicely with a show that has Crown Prosecutors instead of Assistant District Attorneys.

Mad Men
Great mix of animation, music, and vintage advertising for one of TV's best shows. (YouTube won't let me embed, so click the picture to go watch it on the site.)

July 29, 2011

210: Phonetic

Have I mentioned before how much I like old Victor Borge routines?  Because this never gets old:

July 28, 2011

209: I'll take One Year Ago Today for $600, Alex.

Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, CA, 2010.
This picture was taken 365 days ago.  It seems like much longer, and at the same time, like much less time has passed.  I've had two jobs and lots of unemployed downtime in that year, gotten one haircut, read seventy-eight books, and lost ten pounds.

(It's been an interesting 52 weeks.)

July 27, 2011

208: Bow ties and Cybermen

Posted without comment, because I am so full of squee that there are no words.

July 26, 2011

207: To the point

Montpellier, France, 2007.
More French stuff: crazy, awesome ironwork in the south of France.

July 25, 2011

206: Les nuits Parisiennes


I came across the 1920s-30s work of Brassai (or Brassaï), a Hungarian-born photographer who worked in Paris.  The photos were so Midnight in Paris-y that they practically gave me the vapors.  Between the deserted, misty Parisian streets and the backlit alleyway rendezvous, this set looks like storyboards for a Jazz Age film noir, the very thought of which makes me swoon.  See more here.

July 24, 2011

205: Secret identity

As a follow-up to yesterday's SDCC delights, have a cool graphic that's been making the rounds on Tumblr.
via HeroChan

July 23, 2011

204: Favorites XXIII, SDCC Edition

I'm not at San Diego Comic-Con, but I'm enjoying it vicariously through Twitter and various news sources.  Some fun things from SDCC 2011:

Muppet Mythbusters
From Mythbuster Tory Belleci's Twitter came this gem:

The Marbled Rye
In which Lost's Man in Black finally gets a name:

Spectacularly bad hair
via GFY
I understand that it's for a movie (evidently, the character runs out of a barbershop in the middle of a haircut), but that's not going to stop me from chuckling every time I see it.

Cosplay with Annarchy 
My favorite tertiary character from Penny Arcade made her triumphant return for the Comic-Con-themed run this week.  PA is rarely sweet in tone, but I think this one is just utterly charming and perfect for a Friday strip.

(click to view larger at PennyArcade.com)

July 22, 2011

203: Allons-y, Alonzo!

I shredded some old papers today, and came across the receipt for my copy of Pierrot le Fou, my favorite film from the French and Italian New-Wave film class I took in college.  Also, I had forgotten that "Allons-y, Alonso" is repeated several times in the movie.  Directed by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Jean Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina, it's a wacky crime caper with musical interludes and some existential contemplation.  It's also very, very French.  I feel a little pretentious when I watch it, but it does make me happy.

all photos via We Heart It

July 21, 2011

202: Tranquil

Tranquillity in the 'burbs
Maple Grove, Minnesota, 2007.
The humidity finally moved out, so it's nice enough to go out and enjoy the evening, like the fishermen on this pond in Maple Grove.

July 20, 2011

201: Mane event

In the same vein as yesterday's True Blood gif party, this is another instance of a drama that knows how to be funny.  In what is quite possibly my favorite Cary Agos moment of The Good Wife's second season, Japanese (I assume) ingenuity makes an ordinary discussion of office politics unexpectedly hilarious.  Between this and almost every scene with Alan Cumming as Eli Gold, I can overlook even the most tiresome of soap-opera storylines.

July 19, 2011

200: A bloody business

I've heard rumblings that people aren't enjoying this season of True Blood.  I don't understand.  What more do you want from this show when you get Alexander Skarsgard doing what amounts to his own private amnesiac-vampire sitcom?
via We Heart It
via True Blood Gifs
I love nothing better than a drama that knows how to be funny.
via LJ

July 18, 2011

199: Paging Peggy

It's amazing what you find in closets that haven't been opened for decades.  Like this dress/suit my grandmother bought at some point when Dayton's department stores still existed:
Short sleeves, bow at the waist; that's a Peggy Olson outfit if ever there was one.

(Also, if you need a Peggy Olson costume for any reason, the dress is for sale on Etsy.)

July 17, 2011

198: How hot is it?

It's like a bad joke: "It's so hot..."
"...that the windows are sweating!"

91 degrees + dew point of 80 = heat index of 104.  That photo is the window on the interior door, since the storm door apparently does nothing to keep out the elements.  All the car windows fogged up as soon as we backed the car out.  Therefore, I didn't go to the Bastille Day festivities at Brit's Pub...because I didn't think adding beer to the equation would be a good idea.  Oh, well.  Maybe next year.

Stay cool out there, Twin Cities.

July 16, 2011

197: Bokeh

Sometimes I just like looking at pretty light patterns.  So sue me.
colorful hearts
via * Yumi * on Flickr

July 15, 2011

196: Harry

via We Heart It
It's a little strange, thinking that the whole Harry Potter experience is (for the most part) over now.  I got the first three books for my thirteenth birthday, so when Goblet of Fire (the book) came out, Harry and I were the same age.  (Of course, by the time Deathly Hallows was published, I had outpaced Harry and was in college, while the boy wizard was only seventeen.)  I think reading the series was a bonding experience for my generation.  I remember being at a family reunion the day Order of the Phoenix came out, and my cousin Kaylyn and I were both sitting on the couch, voraciously reading while everyone else socialized and ate.  We weren't interacting, but we were sharing the Potter experience.

When I got to college, my very first class on my very first day was a freshman seminar called "Harry Potter and the French Connection."  The professor was essentially a real-life Dumbledore for the eighteen of us in that class; he led us through early modern alchemical texts and gave us an assignment that essentially amounted to writing Potter fanfiction.  We all went to the Goblet of Fire midnight movie screening together, with matching homemade T-shirts that were only funny to us.  Also, I met two of my best friends in that class.

So, I could say more, but I think I'll let the found graphic speak for itself:
via We Heart It
(Thanks, Jo, for everything.)

July 14, 2011

195: Fête nationale

Eiffel Tower, Paris, 2007.
Sacré-Cœur devant les nuages
Sacré-Cœur, Paris, 2007.
Paris from a different angle
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, 2007.
Joyeuse fête nationale, tout le monde.  (That's Bastille Day to those of us in the anglophone world.)  Have some photos of tourist attractions to celebrate!

July 13, 2011

194: Earworm

Oh, Anderson Cooper.  I can't wait for his daytime show in the fall.  He was always an absolute delight when he sat in for Regis Philbin with Kelly Ripa, and if we get more backstage video gems like this, it looks like Anderson will be similarly delightful.

July 12, 2011

193: No, no, I'm a good sailor.

Dame Maggie Smith is an absolute treasure.

July 11, 2011

192: One of the greatest 4AM archers

How have I never listened to Wits before now?  It fills a portion of the QI-shaped hole in my heart.  Also, Neil Gaiman FTW.

July 10, 2011

191: Tumble dry

 Via We Heart It, this is the truest care label ever.

July 9, 2011

190: Fly me to Cruithne

Why, oh why can't we have QI on American TV?

July 8, 2011

189: Cheese

Why can't we still have those old-timey photobooths around?

all photos via We Heart It
If we had them in all subway stations in this country, then Amelie could, possibly, happen in real life.  Maybe?

July 7, 2011

188: Shameless self-promotion

Having gone from temporarily employed to unemployed to self-employed (part-time) within the last two weeks, even my deep-seated Midwestern modesty can't make me feel bad about promoting my newly-back-up-and-running Etsy shop.  If you like vintage and/or handknit goods, you might like this:

I'm trying to list, on average, an item a day.  All vintage items are available for four months, then get cycled out and donated to various charities in the Twin Cities, so at least someone will profit from the overabundance of stuff we have around.

July 6, 2011

187: Just a poor boy

Remember when this video made the rounds?  I still love it.  Muppets FTW.

July 5, 2011

186: Law

Life has a slideshow of the faces behind famous court cases, which is interesting, and not about Casey Anthony, which is a nice change for today:

July 4, 2011

185: Red, white, blue

Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans.

July 3, 2011

184: Laundry day

via We Heart It
My line-dried clothes aren't nearly this photogenic.

July 2, 2011

183: Favorites XXII, Southern Lit Edition

Favorites from Southern literature (of the things I have read in my lifetime):

To Kill a Mockingbird
Some writers are incredibly prolific and can put out a novel every couple years.  Some are like Harper Lee.  But if you're only going to publish one novel in your lifetime, you want it to be To Kill a Mockingbird.  I read somewhere that it was voted the best book of the 20th century, and between that, the Pulitzer Prize, and the author's Medal of Freedom, I wouldn't argue.  The book paints a vivid portrait of race, racism, and class in the Depression-era American South that was controversial when it was published in 1960 and is an important history lesson for modern kids.  (There is, of course, the issue of how the book is received by African-American readers vs. white readers -- but the fact that a book from 1960 can still be debated in 2011 is fantastic, plain and simple.)  Scout and Atticus Finch are two of my favorite characters in all of literature, and the book's film adaptation gave us Gregory Peck as Atticus, and for that we should all be eternally grateful.

The Secret Life of Bees
Not as iconic as To Kill a Mockingbird, with a mediocre film adaptation, but still well worth the read.  Sue Monk Kidd's narrator is no Scout Finch, but Lily Owens' deeply conflicted narration is teen angst through and through.  Part coming-of-age story, part civil rights chronicle, part beekeeping manual, the book is a female-character-driven look at acceptance and the relationships between families (both those related by blood and those bonded by shared experience).  There are some truly great images in this book, like the Boatwright sisters' bright pink house and Our Lady of the Chains, the ship's figurehead that sits inside that house.  Incidentally, I read this book as part of the girls-only book club at my high school run by the head librarian and my favorite English teacher -- admittedly, I came for the free pizza and lemonade, but getting this book for free was icing on the cake.

The Help
I just finished Kathryn Stockett's debut novel this morning, and it already makes a "favorites" list.  The book shifts between three narrators (a pair of black maids and a young white woman) and presents a picture of life in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi from both sides of the dividing line between the races.  There are a few truly shocking moments, and plenty of good, quotable lines throughout the book.  It's funny, sad, hopeful, frustrating, and suspenseful in turns, and was one of those books that I had trouble putting down when it was time to do other things.  Every time I closed it, I still wanted to know what was going to happen to Aibileen, Minny, Skeeter, and everyone else.  Was Skeeter really going to marry Stuart?  What did Minny do to Miss Hilly?  When was little Mae Mobley inevitably going to repeat something to the wrong person and get Aibileen fired?  The degree to which Stockett managed to get me invested in her characters' lives was almost ridiculous. Kudos, madam.  It was really the perfect summer-read-with-substance.

"A Rose for Emily"
Okay, yes, necrophilia is usually a part of discussions about this William Faulkner short story.  But the story is Southern Gothic at its very finest, and exactly as creepy as you'd want it to be.  I remember even being freaked out by the first-person plural narration, as though the story is being told by the town's collective consciousness, like they're the Borg or something.  Faulkner uses that unusual narration to take us through his three-part story about Miss Emily Grierson and the remnants of the Old South in a changing Mississippi town with bits and pieces of Emily's odd behavior and the town's pity for and fascination with her in life and death.  It's macabre and dark and dusty throughout, and it still gives me chills every time.  You can read (or re-read) the story in its entirety here or in various places around the web.

July 1, 2011

182: Halfway home

Champs de Mars, Paris, France, 2007.
Six months down, six to go.  This blog-a-day idea has deteriorated into, more often than not, just a photo-a-day, but I'm sticking with it.  I've made it this far with only one missed entry -- and that was when Blogger was down.  There have been Law & Order rants, the occasional update from the employment front, my favorite things in random sets of five, and likely too much information about my television habits.  I can't promise that it will get better from here on out, but I will strenuously endeavor to keep it from getting worse.

Also, happy Canada Day.