Hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas day.
Below are pictures of my geeky Christmas tree. It's a little skinnier than the ones I usually get, but it has a more conical shape than the nearly lopsided one I got last year.
The Star Wars section, front and center as always:
A mix of Star Wars and Star Trek stuff near the top (you can also see the Moravian Star on the top):
The Star Trek section, with Worf bridging the gap between the Deep Space Nine and Next Generation ornaments (Worf was on both shows):
The Spider-Man, Batman, and Kermit the Frog section (I think I'm retiring my Superman-related ornaments and all the comic book and Star Wars lunch box ornaments):
The North Carolina lighthouses and Wright Brothers plane section (there's actually one more lighthouse, but I accidentally left it out of the picture):
The angel section (these are the same five Hallmark angels on the 4-foot tree for my mom & dad -- see below):
Fireplace, Stockings, and Nativities:
This is a 4-foot tree I got just for my mom to decorate. It's mostly got angels to reflect my mom's likes (she collects Jim Shore angels). But, there's also a fishing jacket, work stepladder, and paint table for my dad. It's hard to tell but there's also a pair of small deer ornaments, one saying "Mom," one saying "Dad."
(Edit: Just to clarify... My parents and most of the rest of my family are from the NC Piedmont Triad area, where I still live. My parents moved to Morehead City, down at NC's "Crystal Coast," a few years ago, and they stay at my house whenever they are in town, including Christmas. Since they're here for Christmas, they don't bother getting a Christmas tree of their own, and since my tree is full of geeky stuff, I started a new tradition last year of letting mom decorate a small tree with ornaments that reflect her & Dad's interests, angels for Mom, home improvement stuff for Dad, and one fishing ornament for both of them.)
Over the years, certain Hallmark ornaments have become so big, heavy, expensive, or cool that I've decided to start displaying a few on my bookshelf year-round instead of on the tree only once a year. I'm guessing some of the 2007 ornaments (if I get any on sale before they run out) will end up here too.
Here's a little 2-foot, pre-lit, pre-decorated Christmas tree I found at an arts & crafts store in Kernersville for only $20. I love the blue & silver color scheme (which matches the blue, gray, and white in my kitchen -- although putting it on top of a red & green plaid tablecloth makes that a moot point). Couldn't resist it. There's also a 3-foot tree in the guest bedroom. It's the skinny tree I used last year for mom & dad's first batch of ornaments. It's not even lit, and I just threw some leftover ornaments on it, so it's not worth photographing. But, all total, I ended up with four trees this year.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
[s15 ep01]: "A Chicken's a Little Bit Smarter"
[s15 ep02]: "My Mom Is Going to Kill Me"
[s15 ep03]: "I Lost Two Hands and Possibly a Shoulder!"
[s15 ep04]: "Ride the Workhorse Till the Tail Falls Off"
[s15 ep05]: "Love Is In the Air"
We've been fortunate that the last couple seasons have been pretty good, but this season seems to be lacking interesting or likable players, and the gimmick of hiding immunity idols in plain sight at the tribes' respective camps doesn't seem to be panning out. Only Amanda and Erik are completely likable so far, although Frosti and Denise are okay in some ways too. The recent swap of two members per tribe might make things slightly more interesting, but I'm hoping there are more surprises to come.
[s2 ep01]: "How Betty Got Her Grieve Back"
[s2 ep02]: "Family/Affair"
[s2 ep03]: "Betty's Wait Problem"
[s2 ep04]: "Grin and Bear It"
When it comes to the possibility of sophomore slump, I fear for Ugly Betty the most. Its second season is by no means bad so far, but it's not that interesting or funny yet either. I think the newness has worn off, and the show may need to try harder to prove its potential longevity.
[s4 ep01]: "A Change Is Gonna Come"
[s4 ep02]: "Love/Addiction"
[s4 ep03]: "Let the Truth Sting"
[s4 ep04]: "The Heart of the Matter"
I already did not like Grey's Anatomy as much as the rest of the world, so the the fourth season will have to improve soon if I'm to keeping tuning in. The worst part of the show is the incomprehensible Izzie-George-Callie love triangle. It doesn't help that the character of Izzie is often given some of the corniest, most contrived dialogue. I'm also growing tired of Meredith and Derek's on-again-off-again relationship. It's been three years; they need to get married or move on to other people. Luckily, the medical stories have been somewhat interesting this season, redeeming each episode to a mediocre 3-star status.
Women's Murder Club
[s1 ep01]: "Welcome to the Club"
[s1 ep02]: "Train in Vain"
It's hard to comment on this show. As much as I was looking forward to it, my interest waned both before the premiere and during each episode. The writing, casting, and acting are all very good, so my lack of interest is not necessarily the fault of the show. I'm typically not a huge fan of murder mystery procedurals, so this show may just not be my style. If it is your style, I would recommend the show as the dialogue is sharp, and the characters are likable.
[s1 ep01]: "No Such Thing as Vampires"
[s1 ep02]: "Out of the Past"
[s1 ep03]: "Dr. Feelgood"
[s1 ep04]: "Fever"
This is not as much of an Angel ripoff as some have accused. I like the show's unique take on the classic vampire mythology. I like that in this show vampires are weakened by sunlight but not burned or destroyed by it, and I like that wooden stakes paralyze vampires instead of killing them. The chemistry between vampire P.I. Mick St. John and reporter Beth Turner is pretty good. While there does seem to be a romantic tension between them, giving Beth a human boyfriend that she's loyal to is a natural way of dragging out the Mick/Beth scenario.
Men In Trees
[s2 ep01]: "A Tree Goes in Elmo"
[s2 ep02]: "Chemical Reactions"
So far, I have no concerns of sophomore slump for this show. They seem to be off to great start (although technically, five of the second season's 27 episodes were leftover from the un-aired portion of season one). I really like all of the quirky characters and the fun stories. In a way, this show is the new Gilmore Girls, at least it feels that way for me.
[s4 ep01]: "Adrift (Part 2)"
[s4 ep02]: "Lifeline (Part 3)"
[s4 ep03]: "Reunion"
[s4 ep04]: "Doppleganger"
The intricate and action packed two-part season premiere was a great way to conclude the cliffhanging finale from season three. Unfortunately, the two follow-up episodes after that have only been mediocre. Since they went to the trouble of bringing over Amanda Tapping from Stargate SG-1, I'd like to see more of her character, Col. Samantha Carter, interacting with the Atlantis group and having more to do action-wise. I'd also like to see more rivalry between her and McKay. Also, since she's grown her hair longer since the SG-1 series finale, I'd like to see Carter with her hair down now and then. I think in the next episode or two we'll be meeting the Travelers, a new race in the Pegasus galaxy, and I'm not sure whether they'll be a new enemy or a new ally. I look forward to finding out.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Beauty & the Geek
[s4 ep01]: "When Worlds Collide"
[s4 ep02]: "Opposites Attract"
[s4 ep03]: "Double Dare"
[s4 ep04]: "It's Not Rocket Sciece"
[s4 ep05]: "It's Good to Be King"
While the season premiere had a few tasks for the geeks that were more degrading than the show usually stoops to, this has still been a decent season. Bringing on one female geek and one male "beauty" was a good idea. Luckily, those two have survived the game long enough to make things interesting. Had they been voted off earlier, the premise would have been wasted. Perhaps in season five, they should have two such teams. Overall, both the geeks and beauties are more likable than in some previous seasons. To me, this goofy little reality competition show has surprising moments of emotional depth and still qualifies as the "social experiment" that it claims to be. It's one of my guilty pleasures, and with short seasons, I wish it was on twice a year like Survivor is.
[s4 ep01]: "Alone"
[s4 ep02]: "The Right Stuff"
[s4 ep03]: "97 Seconds"
The recent cast shake-up hasn't really felt like much of a shake-up at all, further proving that Hugh Laurie's multi-award-winning preformance as Dr. House is the heart, soul, brain, liver, kidneys, and technically even anus of this medical drama. It's been interesting getting to know the dozens of prospective candidates hoping to get hired by House and the tactics to which they'll stoop to get further ahead in the line. As always, House rises to the occasion with abrasive wit, degrading comments, and a virtually-deserved smugness. It almost makes you forget Chase, Cameron, and Foreman, but they're still there, in different ways, and probably returning to prominence in future episodes. A growing cast and new character directions may very well help the show, but it couldn't hurt it as long as House is House and is played by Hugh Laurie.
[s4 ep01]: "Beauty and the Beast"
[s4 ep02]: "The Innocent Man"
[s4 ep03]: "The Chicken and the Leg"
[s4 ep04]: "Do Tell"
David E. Kelley finally got the cast just right, by promoting two interesting & quirky recurring characters to full cast status and bringing on a beautiful, British, inexperienced counterpart for one of them. There's also Sapphron Burrows who plays off of Alan Shore, but she still seems stiff. Despite Alan's supposed obsession with her, I don't get a good sense of her personality. Then, there's John Larroquette as Carl Sack, the new managing partner, love interest to Shirley Schmidt, and subsequent rival of Denny Crane. Of course, David E. Kelley couldn't leave well enough alone (he never can) and, as of the fourth episode has already brought in another new cast member playing another new associate. She's not as endeering as the pre-existing characters, so I hope Kelley doesn't overshadow established characters with this annoying new girl.
[s1 ep01]: "Pie-lette"
[s1 ep02]: "Dummy"
[s1 ep03]: "The Fun in Funeral"
This show is the critics' darling of the new season, but I'm one of very few people who just can't seem to love it. There are definitely redeeming qualities, including the high production values and the good performances. But, the premise of the show seems morbid and full of logic flaws (even for a fantasy-based show), the constant narration gets annoying, and the show seems to drown in its own cuteness and over-stylized look. I gave the third episode only 1 star, not necessarily because it was bad but because it was a challenge to watch it. Parts of the episode annoyed me, and other parts didn't grab my attention. This show and I seem to be on different wavelengths so far.
[s1 ep01]: "I'm Trying to Be a Leader Here"
[s1 ep02]: "To Kill or Not to Kill"
[s1 ep03]: "Deal With It!"
[s1 ep04]: "Bless Us and Keep Us Safe"
[s1 ep05]: "Viva La Revolution"
Personally, I think having kids in charge of their own living enviroment, food preparation, rules, and decision making is enough of a social experiment; holding the experiment in an old west ghost town sometimes goes too far. For instance, instead of beds, running water, and their own tooth brushes, the kids sleep on the floor in sleeping bags, have a single external water pump, use the bathroom in outhouses, and used baking soda and their fingers for dental care before winning toothbrushes as a prize on day 16. Also bizarre is making the first two challenges water-based activities when the show was filmed during a cold time of the year. These nitpicks aside, the rest of the show is great. It's interesting getting to know 40 kids, and I'm proud of some of them for their determination, intelligence, maturity, and heart. It's that element of the show that keeps it entertaining and inspiring.
[s1 ep01]: "In Which We Meet Addison, A Nice Girl From Somewhere Else"
[s1 ep02]: "In Which Sam Receives an Unexpected Visitor"
[s1 ep03]: "In Which Addison Finds the Magic"
[s1 ep04]: "In Which Addison Has a Very Casual Get Together"
Personally, I thought the pilot episode was stronger than many critics gave the show credit for. But, since then, the show has remained steady and consistent but not spectacular. The worst part of the show is Addison, a character who seemed far less neurotic and annoying than she did on Grey's Anatomy. Of course, I also didn't find her interesting enough while on Grey's Anatomy to warrant her getting her own spinoff, so I guess they had to make her "interesting" somehow. (It didn't totally work.) Some of the other characters are pretty good though, and I like the performances. The scripts just need to be a little better. I'm already tempted to drops its parent show Grey's Anatomy. If neither improve quickly enough, I may be dropping them as a set.
[s1 ep01]: "Second Chances"
[s1 ep02]: "Paradise Lost"
[s1 ep03]: "Sisterhood"
[s1 ep04]: "Face Off"
The biggest disappointment of the season so far is Bionic Woman. The plotlines are boring, some of the performances are flat, and some lines of dialogue are shockingly bad. In general, the show just seems misguided. The Jaime Sommers character is not compelling, her relationship with her sister is uneven and unconvincing, the stunts look blatantly fake (wire work), and the secondary characters add little value (unlike the great ensemble characters of new shows Chuck and Journeyman). I still like the premise enough to give it a try a little longer, but the show will need to improve quickly to keep me tuning in for many more weeks.
[s11 ep08]: "Le Petite Tourette"
[s11 ep09]: "More Crap"
[s11 ep10]: "Imaginationland (Part 1)"
Sometimes, South Park is ingenious and poignant. Sometimes, it even finds a way of delivering a moral message that could be -- dare I say -- educational. Other times, it's just vulgar and immature. Unfortunately, this season (technically, the post-hiatus 2nd half of a season started earlier in the year) is off to one of those bad starts. The Tourettes episode could have been genius, but it was just an excuse to say hundreds of cuss words in 30 minutes. The crap episode was a little more bearable, but was not particularly funny. The Imaginationland episode appeared to be headed that same direction until it redeemed itself with a slew of nostalgib childhood entertainment references from the 1980s and by picking on Michael Bay for being a film director only concerned about special effects and explosions (as in the recent Transformers movie he hacked together). Now, I'm actually looking forward to the thrilling conclusion to this two-part episode.