04/30/12

New TV Shows to Look Forward to

It’s that time of year again, our favorite shows go into hibernation and the networks bring out the B-role. These shows are packaged like tasty little amuse-bouche. Something to tempt the palette before they make the decisions as to who gets a full season. Lately, none of my favorite shows have been making the cut (Love Bites and Friends with Benefits I’m looking at you), but I’m always holding out hope for a new favorite show. There are about a million so I’m going to pick my top 10 and only the NEW shows – so no lawyers, doctors (ok I cheat here), or desperate housewives unless they shock me. I’m also going to use actor’s or director’s names instead of show titles since those are most likely to change and it’s easiest to follow them on IMDB this way. Get the full list on Hollywood Reporter.

1. Notorious – why it is called this I’m not yet sure, maybe it’s a Cougar Town situation, maybe the studio execs never saw the movie about B.I.G. or realize that this is where the minds goes, the show follows a cop who goes undercover as a maid’s daughter in a rich community to uncover the murder of a beautiful heiress. The twist – she grew up in the community (and has apparently gotten a hair cut and had a Sabrina moment) and the victim was her child-hood BFF.

2. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is going to LA (and just when it was recovering from the havoc Entourage created.) and kicking off an IT career but partying all the while.

3. Lucy Liu will oddly play the Watson character in a Sherlock Holmes derivative, I’m intrigued, and it takes place in NY :) .

4. I’m lumping these together as I have a feeling only one will survive. Three period pieces to choose from – an 1890s NY hotel drama (Shonda Rhymes so expect hot men and lots of crying) and a 1960s Denis Quaid vehicle about the sheriff of Las Vegas (did someone say Las Vegas? Where is Josh Duhamel!?). Finally, we’re also going all Oregon Tail with an 1840s Ethan Embry show.

5. – 7. There are a number of celebs I’m excited to hear from again. Martin Lawrence playing a newbie cop (a little Martin meets Big Momma’s House?) and Brie Larson (I’m still hoping US of Tara will somehow return to us) Kal Penn and Nick Zano team up in a Trading Places sort of deal (both good looking so it can’t be a waste of DVR space).

8. Justin Kirk is set to play a vet with a fear of humans – which means he’s off Weeds? Does that mean he’s the one who got shot in the season finale? If he jumps in front of that bullet to save Nancy I’m gonna be pissssssed.

9. Marcia Gay Harden will become the show mom of a teen with magical abilities, finally a show that doesn’t ask us to accept that the parents don’t ever ask “hey honey how was the mall? Why are you home at 3am with  a broken arm and demon blood on all of your clothes?”

10. Whoa, blast from the past Kristin Kreuk (Lana from Smalleville) has a new show! And it’s Beauty and the Beast

My mom will love this but I’ll be terrified: Kevin Bacon is going after a ring of serial killers and the mad man who controls them all.

Honourable mention: Mindy Kaling (the Office) is playing a quirky doctor, I’m really over doctor shows, but let’s face it she could make stirring soup funny.

Quizzical mention: I’m a bit flummoxed by the new show Gotham. It sounds like what I’ve been imagining in my head since I was a kid so I’ll definitely watch but isn’t that a Neil Gaiman novel? A “little” book called Neverwhere where London below is a magical realm based on London Above? It’s exactly the same, except for the accents and the taxi colour.

04/29/12

Covet: MAC’s Matchy-Match Cosmetics

Once upon a time women in cream dress suits, sensible heels, and matching gloves roamed the earth. These women were put together and stylish, they never pulled a blouse off the floor to give it the sniff test before putting it on and they all owned some thing called an iron. These weren’t your mother’s fashionistas – they were your grandmother’s. The trends of the 40s and 50s were set-up by the glitz of the 20s and the grime of the 30s. They’d already had depression, prohibition, Fitzgerald, and war.

If being unkept and free is the rebellious aesthetic of a generation kept in cages, what of the flappers? Those who spent their 20s in a stupor only to come to in an era where no matter how hard they worked they could not get ahead, what were they to do? Well, they would go shopping of course!

If the best way to boost our nation’s economy is to get thee to a shop than a new national wardrobe is just what the doctor ordered. Fast forward nearly 100 years and we’re here again, having slipped from the conservative 50s into the wild 70s, the acid 80s, the grungy 90s, the high-fashion naughts, and now the anything-goes-someone-give-me-a-job-I’m-so-bored-and-sick-of-living-with-my-parents tens. We have a recession, war, a lack of positive cultural icons, a complete change of life (Humans have grown as a civilization but not since the switch from nomadic to settled life have we changed worlds, enter the digital world where we live our lives  not in hours but pixels.) and as a people we’re just kind of all over the place. The 80s are back they say… so are the 90s, the 20s, the 50s, and the ‘future’ look. I’m waiting for hoop-skirts to start parading down fifth avenue. We look back because there is always some comfort in the past, we know how things turned out for the beatniks and the greasers and, in the end, we like to think it all worked out for the best.

The idea of wearing shoes that matched my purse never appealed to me. But why would it when my contemporary icons were Britney Spears and Destiny’s Child? Celebs whose “put-together” look was a neon mono-chrome jumpsuit with matching scrunchies.

MAC’s plan to match nails to lipstick is monochromatic in a classy way. Yes, I’ve watched their mono-faced tutorial suggesting you use hot pink blusher on your lips, eyebrows, cheeks and where ever else you can manage it. (Which I thought was very Hunger Games). This look is unrealistic for most of us – those who are unemployed and always looking to make a good impression, even if the artist/model did pull it off smashingly.

I like MAC’s fashion sets look mostly because it can go nicely with any look, I can put on a flapper dress, wake up the next morning and get into a cowgirl inspired outfit, then change into my LBD for night and my make-up doesn’t need to change. So, if anyone wants to offer me a job interview, I’m ready. (Even uploaded my CV to my iPad).

04/28/12

London Fashion

I haven’t incorporated this many flowers into my wardrobe since the 90s, then it was giant sunflowers on a denim “Blossom” hat – now it’s a daisy in my hair or small red roses on my leggings. Yes the 90s are making a come-back (isn’t that a bit fast?) but the flower prints in England are everywhere and it’s addicting. Floral china, flower power back-packs, flora earrings, even most houses have a small garden. My favorite thing about the city (which I may have mentioned already) is its phantom lilacs. These apparitions hit you when you least expect it, walking past a smelly dumpster, and make you think of childhood summers making bouquets and playing Indiana Jones. It all makes me want to get carried away.

04/28/12

Where Next? Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal was never at the forefront of my travel list, in fact I had never considered it at all. Not that I was consciously trying to neglect the nation, I just didn’t know what to see there. Growing up I had dreamed of walking the Seine, partying in Camden, and sneaking around Venice in a gilded mask for Carnevale – what does one do in Portugal? The I heard they had jungles there and my interest kicked up a bit. Then I heard of grottos and caves and forests. I’m not exactly the outdoorsy type unless it begins to sound like something from a Harry Potter novel. I’m like a nerd-adventurer. My roommate and I had been pondering a trip to India – something we’d both wanted to do for a long time – but had backed off because it was slowly flowing over the rim of our “extended” budget, and the trouble of planning and getting U.S. vaccinations while living abroad was too much work during midterms. Besides, by the time spring break rolled around we were exhausted and not looking for such a wild ride.

So we decided on Portugal. A little sight-seeing, a little hiking, a little r&r. Lisbon is small and lacking in tourist attractions. It rivals San Francisco on its hills and as for street signs, ha! good luck. There is a castle and a monastery you could visit but after the equivalent of a year traveling Europe those things kind of blur. (Besides the best ones are always the one’s you stumble upon like the cloisters in Adare, Ireland). We bumped into other travelers who went and said things like “oh yeah that’s nice”. Just nice? Instead we spent the days walking the river, buying antiques from the sweetest lady in the city, and riding the tram. The paella was excellent everywhere we went and the warm fresh air was rewarding after months in England.

We had been advised by a friend that Sintra was the place to go, and we planned to take the short train up there on our own, spend a day hiking and have a picnic. It would have been about 30 euros cheaper than the tour but honestly, the tour was worth every penny and it was my favorite part of the trip. We stayed at the Lisbon Living Lounge hostel which was just as nice as most “hotels” and had awesome decor. The lounge/kitchen was beautiful and friendly and the bedrooms were decorated by artists. (Although I do have to say if the place hadn’t been as nice our room’s CSI theme with police tape and a backdrop of the woods would have been CREEPY). They offered a Sintra tour – with lunch – for 40 Euros and we got talked into it by the charming clerk. (Doesn’t hurt that everyone who works there is attractive ;) ).

The tour – we went to the palace first and hiked it’s grounds which are extensive and amazing. Everything you want in a princess’s backyard, hidden grotto’s, golden sunshine, knotted trees – we spent almost all of our allotted time there and blew through the palace interior which was impressive but the outside was amazing. Then we went to Pena (I may be getting these names wrong I’ll get my roommate to check this) which I had never really heard of but it had caves! There are “cave walks” which consist of you taking long strolls under-ground. Some of the group wasn’t too keen on this, arachnophobia and all, but this was a highlight for me. Couldn’t really get any good pictures down there but it was the perfect place to hide from an evil queen. The cave let out under a waterfall and you had to navigate some teeny rocks to get to the other side. I’d suggest hiking boots although one girl in our group did manage it all in espadrilles.

From there we headed to the park for lunch. Stephania, our tour guide, cooked up some chorizo, bread and cheese (I call it cheese but it was magic cheese made by fairies sooo good!), wine jam, WINE, spiritual cod (which is like a white fish casserole that the monks in Portugal used to make), more wine, and chocolate cake. I’m sure I’m forgetting something there was so much food. And the cutest puppy came and finished it all up for us.

The tour group was an awesome bunch of women which is part of what made it so much fun. (More on that later I’ll compare some tours for you, if your new to traveling alone that will give you an idea of what to expect – not the giggle fest movies give you).

Next was the Western most point of Europe. I have a serious bone to pick here because when I was planning this trip I saw pictures of this and was all “eh why go to see a sign?” Online, everyone’s photos show them smiling in front of a huge stone pillar when in reality, if they had turned the camera around, it looks like this -

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Way better than a sign right?! It’s actually prettier than that in person but photos lie.

The last stop was the beach where we watched hot surfer dudes, adorable surf puppies, oh yeah and there was an epic sunset too.

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This is a photo of cats following the fisherman out so they can steal his fishies… cutest little thieves ever.

04/24/12

Around the European Union: Study Abroad Advice

I’ve been reading a lot of Around the World Blogs and I’m a little jealous of the ATW lifestyle. Reading about new adventures every week always gets me on online, trying to see where I can afford to go, and while an ATW might be out of my financial grasp, an ATEU (around the European Union) is not.

I also realize that I’ve titled this as a travel blog and have been neglecting that bit. To explain: I’m living in London while finishing my schooling, but am originally from New York. While here it is UNBELIEVABLE how cheap it is to leave the country for a weekend. So to gear up for my travelogue I thought I’d jot down some things I’ve learned getting this far and then y’all can break out the passports and join me!

Doing an ATEU is pretty easy if you’re studying abroad in a European country, this is how everyone I know has gotten their passport stamps. You can get financial aid, family and friends are more willing to help out, and at the end of it you get class credit / a degree making the financial burden even more worth it. When studying abroad the first time (one semester) I was told to budget $5,000 and nearly threw up. Of course that immediately turned into $2,500 pounds upon landing and while I didn’t spend it all I was glad I had it. I was lucky and found one of those magical unicorns of New York City – a paid summer internship – so if you want to study abroad start saving immediately (even if your 12 and run a lemonade stand, actually most of my money came from well-saved cat city money).

Plan where you want to go early. Not only do rates go up but you will be making a slew of new friends upon your arrival – this is true if your backpacking or studying abroad – and those friends will have their own travel plans. It’s great to be flexible but if all of your new friends have already seen Paris and it’s your “destiny”, or whatever romantic notions you’ve been nursing, make sure it stays in your plan. You will have to wade through a bit of travel-snobbiness (You haven’t been there?! You want to do something touristy?!). Not letting someone bully you into a weekend in middle-of-nowhere Slovenia instead of seeing Paris for the first time is difficult.

Not wanting to travel alone isn’t horrible! Even though so many so-called “experienced” travelers make it out to be. I still don’t like it. I get bored, also who is going to take my picture? There are International Student Houses, Travel Clubs, and tours for younger folks in every city just for people like us who like travel buddies. (I’ve always been a wee bit skeptical of these too but just went on one I LOVED it so that showed me.) (This is also so much safer, especially for women, a friend of a friend spent 3 weeks in a South American hospital with dysentery (where she was robbed of her passport), this would always suck, but ALONE?! If things get all Oregon Trail it’s nice to have a friend.

Pack things you want to throw away. I brought a few junky old sweaters, jeans that were on their last legs, and cheap tanks. For a semester, this fit into one massive suitcase and my business carry-on, and for a year it was two massives and a carry-on. You always wind up buying a few things – either gifts, textbooks, or clothing; maybe even a blanket that you buy because you’re cold and you love it so you take it home even though it dominates half your suitcase, cough *Becca* cough. Yes, you want cute outfits for your travels but I’ve never met anyone who had trouble dressing themselves once they got here. Odds are you’ll get so into the style of your host city you won’t even want to wear the new clothes you got for the trip. Bring the old stuff and donate it before you leave. (I’m in an apartment here and am thinking if I sold all the kitchen and home stuff I had to buy I could finance another trip that way).

Think business traveler when you think luggage. My parents got me a new suitcase before my semester abroad that has fold out backpack straps, wheels, and fits in an overhead (FYI: use Easyjet’s dimensions when buying as they’re one of the smallest and most frequently used for European student travelers). I can’t even tell you how many trips have met with crisis because people don’t have a carry-on size bag. Lots of crying and screaming, “how can I go to Milan without these shoes?”

Carry-on is always best, it saves you time and about $80 on the cheap airlines. The only thing my bag doesn’t have, which I’d suggest -hence the business idea – is a laptop case. Odds are you’ll be using this for any academic trips and at the very least on your way home, be prepared to remove your laptop at security. P.s. Laptops are HEAVY. I never realized how heavy until I was lugging it all over Europe.

Take photos! I know everyone is a photog these days but so many people never step out in front of the lens. Recently, a friend visited me and didn’t get a picture of herself in front of Big Ben! You don’t even need to look at the picture ever again but maybe one day you’ll want to and wouldn’t it be nice to have?

Coming up:

Hostels vs hotels, transportation, tour groups, money and more! Feel free to ask questions or request topics!

04/22/12

Double Covet: Nina Ricci Perfume and E. Arden 8 Hour Cream

Perfumes are one of those things that are fun to buy but never used up. No matter how much BCBG Star I dumped on myself in high school I never ran out. Now I’m frantically trying to work my way through L’Occitane’s Jasmine (which I only bought because of the fun compass inspired bottle and it’s very cheap price tag at the outlet) so I can get back to the more expensive perfumes by Floris (Amaryllis for winter) and Kenzo/Tocca. I’m always on the quest for the perfect vanilla scent, something that smells like your hands after needing pie crust but that isn’t childish or over sweet. I also hate grapefruit and everyone just loves to mix vanilla and grapefruit. Nina Ricci’s Fantasy is made up of cherry blossom, rose, vanilla, and brown sugar notes. I hate rose also but when well mixed its hard to detect. It comes in a cute white apple bottle and is playful in a manner that does not require crayons.

 

I’m also coveting the Elizabeth Arden 8 hour creme. This I haven’t gotten to try but I’ve heard wonderful things. People tend to overlook E. Arden as one of their grandmother’s beauty products, but if it works it works. (Plus, my grandmothers both made it through those golden years with some tight epidermal layers so if it worked for them…) The company just launched a fragrance free version, which also excites me. How many products can I wear that all have a different scent? (This is also the beauty of a vanilla based perfume. It’s super easy to find vanilla or cherry blossom shampoo to match, or just the smell of soap goes nicely.) I think I’ll save up my Boots points and use them on this seeing as the 25 pound price tag will almost double when I return to American and then will most likely scare me off.

To the Shops!

04/18/12

Girl with Gadget- The iPad Review

I have an iPad! I’m so excited for my new little darling, I’ve synced her with my iTunes and have named her Hatshe after Hatshepsut, my favorite Pharaoh. It’s an iPad 2 with Wi-fi and I got it to be used to read and write school stuff, travel with massive textbooks, word process (yes it’s a verb now) at coffee shops, and generally substitute for a laptop since this one is in its diamond years.

How it lived up to the hype: For reading books it’s perfect. There is no E-ink which I thought would bother me but there are enough light settings that I can read it fine. The only draw backs are I miss feeling the weight of how many pages I have left in my hand, and it’s a bit too easy to buy books. I find myself spending a lot more on books now that I can instantly get them and not have to waste precious shelf space. The space saving aspect is amazing. As a grad student I have to read tons and am often traveling. EVERYTHING, including my notes and dissertation in progress, is on there. Packing for home will be much easier and moving into an itty-bitty Manhattan apartment will also be much lighter lifting.

Taking notes has also been easy. I like being able to type, although the internet can be a distraction. But it’s also nice to have a professor reference an article and then instantly retrieve it. This also helps when you forget to read an article he recommended for you. Opps.

I’ve also been writing most of my papers on it. The spell check is better than on my laptop, the auto-correct is awful, especially since buzz words aren’t in there so for an anthropology student I had to do a lot of re-writing which is hard when taking notes, but since turning it off and simply spell-checking later my own writing has improved and it works fine. Typing on the screen is an odd angle for the wrists so I just broke down and bought a 15 quid keyboard. It’s Bluetooth which is AWESOME but I’m not thrilled with my model (the bottom weighs less than the iPad so it shakes and tilts and the space bar is pathetic.)

When it comes to the iPad I’d say its love. There is no USB drive or Disk drive so that means you do need access to a laptop/desktop somewhere, there’s just not enough memory. But now I mostly use my laptop for internet surfing and movie watching.

iPad is a BUY!