There has been quite a lot of quality TV programs coming from America to Europe in the last couple of years, and as someone who really, really likes watching TV shows (not on TV though, I always end up missing half the episodes), it's not an easy feat picking a few to follow. This is why I chose to post a recommendation of 5 very different shows I like, old and new, and if you've missed any of these, you know you've got homework. So here they are, in no particular order.
- Sex and the City - An oldie, but more than a goodie. I am sure you've seen it, but perhaps you missed a few episodes. This is probably one of the most unique shows ever broadcast, for a variety of reasons. First, it deals with sex from a woman's point of view, and it's so good at it, Jane Campion herself would be proud. Secondly, it features razor sharp writing that will either entertain or offend you. And finally, the cast is more than amazing, especially when it comes to the lead character Carrie Bradshaw, played by the uber-charismatic Sarah Jessica Parker.
- True Blood - Another HBO series, True Blood is an unsurprisingly popular show about vampires. Although many would say it rides on Twilight's fame, the characters of True Blood are more flesh and blood, more human than the ones from Twilight. The thing I like the most about it are the cliffhangers, which are so well-done, I nearly have a heart attack after each episode. Finally, True Blood stars the one and only Anna Paquin and although it may seem like a silly supernatural story, it is full of cleverly hidden, outrageous commentaries on the world we live in.
- ALIAS - Fans of action-packed, twisted storylines may be surprised that there have been other good shows before LOST, but then they haven't seen ALIAS. The Jennifer Garner spy show is one of the most thought-through shows I have ever seen, and although it has been re-invented a lot of times during its 5 season run, it never forgot how to pack a punch. Be cautious though, watching this show may cause severe loss of sleeping habits.
- Desperate Housewives - Who could have thought a show about housewives could be a global phenomenon? But thanks to Marc Cherry's witty writing, as well as to considerable talents of the five leading ladies, Desperate Housewives is slowly becoming a cult show. A weird hybrid of Twin Peaks and American Beauty. Do not miss it.
- The Tudors - The sexiest history lesson is about to enter its forth and final season, and you should definitely tune in. Showtime's biography of the insatiable King Henry VIII and his many wives is both informative and attractive in terms of lush sets, costumes, etc. With considerable talents of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Peter O'Toole and the surprising appearance of singer Joss Stone as Anne of Cleaves, The Tudors is not a history lesson you should skip.
Other honorable mentions include: Brothers and Sisters, Queer as Folk, Will & Grace, 30 Rock, Gossip Girl, Scrubs...
Of course, I wanna hear from you too! Let me know if you love or hate any of these shows, share your favorites and let's see if your favorite shows make it to the second list of TV Shows You Shouldn't Miss Part 2!
Having seen and loved the film version of Zoe Heller's critically acclaimed novel Notes on a Scandal (What Was She Thinking?), I am not sure why it's taken me such a long time to read the novel. And I didn't read it - I devoured it.
The story is narrated by an older woman named Barbara Covett, a bitter aging spinster who works as a high school teacher. She tells the story of Sheba Hart, her colleague from school, who pursues an extramarital affair with a 15-year old student. As the various events unfold, Barbara tries to get as close to Sheba as possible, hoping they would have an everlasting friendship.
What is both astounding and unsettling about Notes on a Scandal is how nothing is as it should be. For a woman who fornicates with a minor, Sheba is surprisingly unhurtful and naive. The relationship she has with Barbara is also very out of the ordinary and could easily be understood as romantic, save for all the practical reasons. And finally, as Barbara shares the events with us, the readers will slowly witness her own predatory features that may be even more dangerous than Sheba's.
Shortlisted for Man Bookers Prize, Notes on a Scandal (What Was She Thinking?) is a book well-worth of your time if you can handle some really unusal characters, situations and perceptions. The novel has been turned into a critically acclaimed film of the same name, starring Cate Blanchett as Sheba and Judi Dench as Barbara.
Have you ever read a self-help book? I sure have! And no, I've never read "Secret", which is one of the best-selling self-help books ever, but I've read some similar ones. Of course, the reason I'm telling you this is because I am shielded by the distance the Internet can provide. There is a general opinion that self-help books are pathetic, not to mention the people who read them. I beg to differ.
Why would taking a proactive action of sorting out certain things in one's life be labeled pathetic? These people take the time to evaluate their place in the world, their strengths and weaknesses. They try and be better people, and there is nothing wrong with that.
The author of this blog is not a big self-help fanatic. I have read "If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules" by Cherie Carter-Scott and "Sex and the Single Girl" by Helen Gurley Brown. The first one really struck a chord with me - it managed to break down many elements of life into simple notions, which made for an interesting read. Obviously, I couldn't relate to many things from "Sex and the Single Girl", but it was a true page-turner for me. Originally published back in 1962, the book offers incredibly progressive advice for single women.
On the other hand, there is the Internet, where you can now find any piece of advice you want. If you are into this sort of stuff, then you will love ZenHabits, a blog with posts that are ridiculously ambitious and ridiculously good, such as Simple Living Manifesto: 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life. Needless to say, it's in my bookmarks.
Lately, I've been thinking of what I wanna do in life. I wasn't thinking about it in practical terms, simply what I think would be awesome to do and how much fun it would be. That's when it hit me - not only did someone already do every single one of this things, I could actually name these people. It seems like our ambitions depend on our experience - in other words, when we see someone doing something we perceive as great, we naturally want to follow in their footsteps. So, here's my list of five inspirational people!
- Madonna -For someone to rise from the ashes like Madonna did, takes real courage and bravery. Many people say she had to use her relationships and connections in order to get to where she is now, but I say kudos. For someone who only learned how to sing halfway through her career, to be the queen of pop is no small thing!
- Jonathan Larson - The Broadway legend sports one of the most inspirational stories I've ever heard. A poor composer, he composed a rock-opera that embraces the concept of Carpe Diem, only to suddenly die after giving his first interview. But he still lives through his work, reminding us that there is no day but today.
- Rufus Wainwright - Not only my favorite male artist in the world, he is also a true example of how you can turn your life around and go through life no matter what you've been through. Sexually assaulted at the age of 14, a drug addict later on and the most critically acclaimed singer-songwriter of a new generation, he deserves to make my list!
- Frida Kahlo - An influential, bold Mexican painter who not only endured severe injuries in her life, she had the strength to turn them into pieces of art dealing with her own pain and sexuality.
- Michael Cunningham - One of the best living authors, winner of the Pulitzer prize, translated in many languages... His books touch me like no other, he understands the human sensitivities and fears and bleeds his emotions all over his novels. Highly reccomended!
Internet has become a mecca for people who love writing (hey there!), singing, acting, or just bitching, but have never before had a medium to use. And of course, it's a great place to go if you ever feel inferior - there's a whole bunch of untalented people out there, just waiting for your harsh comments.
Lately, I've been obsessed with a girl on YouTube, mirandasings08. As her screen name suggests, she is desperate to become a singer, but is really not that good. Her videos are full of rude comments aimed at her. She keeps telling the haters to "back off", and saying that she is conceited would be an understatement of the year. There are speculations on many of her videos that what she does is not real - that perhaps she is purposely being a terrible singer, but what would she gain by that? And if she is for real, is it okay to leave incredibly rude comments below her videos? Also, lately, I've had a little situation on my blog as well, where I mentioned another person's blog post in one of my posts. Needless to say, the person was offended and there was a huge debate in the comments section.
So do rules of 'netiquette' say anything about being critical of others' work online, or is that a taboo subject? My personal opinion is that if anyone posts something publicly, then the person should be prepared for both positive and negative feedback. I also believe that if one is unsure of whether he or she can handle criticism, then they are not yet ready to publish their stuff. What do you guys think?
And finally, a sample of mirandasings08.
I think the answer lies in the phenomenon of child stars, and what a curse it is to be one. And Britney is a perfect example - she was America's sweetheart at the age of 16, however, as she grew older, she evolved into a laughing stock, filling the pages with paparazzi photos of herself drunk, bald, and temporarily married. Finally, she even lost the custody on her children. And it's not just Britney - you also have Lindsay Lohan, Drew Barrymore, Michael Jackson and many more talented people who just failed to cope with it all at one point.
So, what is it with these people? Is being in the spotlight as a minor really too much to handle? Judging by most people, it is. As soon as the person starts growing up and changing, the public becomes hostile - no one wanted the partying Lindsay, everyone was more fond of the 'Parent Trap/Freaky Friday' version. And no one was delighted when Britney tried to copy Madonna, and then failed miserably.
There are three ways to handle this transition, it seems. The biggest group, which we already discussed, goes crazy and although there is hope that they will eventually come out for air, they have changed so much under the media scrutiny, the public just loses interest for them. Then, there are those who completely disappear, such as Macaulay Calkin and Haley Joel Osment - both good, popular actors who are nowhere to be seen. And finally, there's the most interesting group - those who have disappeared for a while, but are slowly coming back. Anna Paquin, the second youngest Oscar winner in history, is a good example. After winning the award for her role in The Piano, she only appeared in smaller movies for a while, finally making her return as Rogue in the X-Men movies and is currently playing the lead character in HBO's True Blood.
Finally, I wonder what will happen to today's child stars in a couple of years. Dakota Fanning is already like a grown-up in my eyes - a fantastic actress who even shot a rape scene at the age of 12. Also, what about Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers and that lot? How do you think their careers will evolve, if indeed they do? Finally, do you have any favorites I failed to mention?
Take for example, The Flintstones. In the closing credits, they sing about having a gay old time. Now isn't this funny? Nowadays, no one in their right mind would use the word gay as a synonym for fun. And now when you think of other places this word has appeared, it's just awkward. The Gay Divorcee, for example.
Also, what about the word bitch? Not so long ago, this word was considered a full-on derogatory word, just like the f*word is today. But now, girls like to refer to themselves as bitches, they even call each other bitches out of affection. Being a bitch is a sign of empowerment, an indicator that a woman is self-sufficient and is not taking crap from anybody. Famous bitches include various celebrities and characters from TV shows, movies and books - Lily Allen, Samantha Jones, Regina George are all certified bitches and are proud of that.
Again, I find this mildly interesting and I don't have a strong opinion on the subject. So, you tell me - how does the way we perceive things change? Do you like being called a bitch, or do you even refer to yourself as one? Is this good or bad?
So, here's a list of 5 very different musicals, and I guarantee that you will like at least a couple of them.
- RENT (Chris Columbus) - My favorite movie of all time. If your idea of a musical involves nuns singing on top of Austrian mountain tops, think again. RENT is a modern story about a group of young people living in East Village, dealing with such universal issues as poverty, AIDS, estrangement from their parents and identity. The music is contemporary as well, blending rock, pop and gospel. The original Broadway production was a vehicle for today's stars like Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs, and the movie version also includes the majority of the Broadway cast, with newcomers Tracie Thoms (The Devil Wears Prada, Death Proof) and Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Death Proof). If you like it, check out: Fame.
- Evita (Alan Parker) - If you are more of an opera goer, you may find this movie starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas a real gem! Commonly known as the movie Madonna should have gotten an Oscar for, it is an emotional story of a young girl rising from poverty to become the first lady of Argentina. The film doesn't have any dialogue - everything is sung out and it resembles an operetta. Madonna also went into history as being an actress with the most costumes in the movie, followed by Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra. If you like it, check out: Phantom of the Opera, La Vie en Rose.
- Across the Universe (Julie Taymor) - From the visionary director of Frida comes a love story told exclusively by means of the songs by The Beatles. The new arrangements are superb, and the performances by Jim Sturgess (21) and Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen, Life Before Her Eyes) are thrilling. It is also a film for those who love lush, trippy visual effects. If you like it, check out: Mamma Mia!, Pink Floyd: The Wall
- Cabaret (Bob Fosse) - An almost-musical, this Liza Minnelli masterpiece is a story of two lovers and their life in the Nazi Germany. A moving, powerful movie is especially driven by its music and the title track and is also ranked as 63rd on the American Film's Institute's list of the 100 greatest American movies. If you like it, check out: New York, New York.
- Once (John Carney) - Once is an Academy award-winning Indie musical, about two struggling Irish musicians who fall in love. It is very naturalistic and low-budget, but a true gem for Indie film lovers! If you like it, check out: Les Chansons D'Amour.