Laziness has become my middle name, as well as my first and my last!

couch-potatoWhen I quit working a few years ago, I had visions of clearing the clutter from my house, learning new things, reading lots of books and becoming incredibly fit, (and keep up with this blog!), but alas that hasn’t seemed to happen.

There is definitely something in my nature that makes me a highly motivated person once I open the door of my house and venture out in the world, and conversely a procrastinating sloth once I open the door to my abode and cross back over my own threshold. It’s a conundrum.

One great contributor of my do-nothingness at home stems from my great love of television. As soon as I flip on that set I know that no matter what manner of gar-barge is on I will always find something to watch. I am totally ashamed to admit that I am probably one of the few people in this world that loves reality television equally as well as the admittedly scripted kind.  I watch the singing, fashion, cooking and modeling competitions, all the housewives, and some with celebrities (nothing with a Kardashian, uck). I love the current crop of Alaskan reality tv shows; house buying, state troopers, and life below zero, and then there are all those great series on the History Channel about storage units and pawn shops, and of course all the ghost and psychic claptrap on a whole slew of networks.  Shameful, but oh so entertaining!

As you can see, that tractor beam from the television to my brain has a way of making it difficult to extract my posterior from the comfy couch which in turn only fuels my propensity for dilly dallying and shilly shallying!

Okay, it’s time to wind up this confessional blog post ’cause “The Amazing Race” is about to come on.

…I think I need a support group…

Downton Abbey actor ~ handsome, talented and a writer!

There is a fan frenzy currently going on in America and it’s focus is on “Downton Abbey”. I’m not sure why this particular drama has caused such a stir when for years we have been the lucky recipients of so many other great British dramas, comedies and detective series on our PBS and BBC America stations but it has.

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I really enjoyed the first season because it put me in mind of two of my favorite shows, “Gosford Park”, another Julian Fellowes creation, and “Manor House”, a kind of Edwardian, “Upstairs Downstairs” reality show, but the two subsequent seasons just seem  too “soapy” and the writing has fallen way off. Of course that hasn’t stopped me from watching it mind you!

Today I learned something new about one of the most popular characters/actors on the show, Matthew Crawley/Dan Stevens.  Apparently the 28 year is not only a talented actor but is a gifted writer as well. He studied English Literature at Cambridge and has recently started a literary magazine called, The Junket. This article on the NBC news website talks about Stevens’ decision to start this quarterly magazine to help him get over his procrastination and get down to writing regularly.  He and four of his Cambridge friends originally were writing a blog, but decided this literary magazine venture would force them to be a bit more proactive and not dilly dally so much (this is my phrase not his!).

Matthew Crawley

The first edition came out in October and apparently they have been overwhelmed with submissions, due greatly in part to Stevens’ growing popularity. He was even appointed to the panel of judges for the 2012 Man Booker Prize and has signed up for next year’s judging as well. As the article pointed out, he has added “a large dose of glamour to the award”. 

I already liked him for his portrayal of Matthew Crawley, but I’ve gained even more respect for him because of his love of literature. No wonder he is so much smarter than Lord Granville, this explains a lot!

Hail to the Chef

Hail to the ChefI am a horrible cook. Well not horrible, just a lackluster cook. I don’t like planning meals, shopping for groceries or preparing food, which makes it absolutely nutty that I’m addicted to cooking and food shows! I love Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, MasterChef, and the Great Food Truck Race. And then there is Come Dine with Me, The Next Food Network Star and Restaurant Impossible. I could list probably a half a dozen more but I figure that you’ve already gotten the idea 🙂

What’s even crazier about these shows is that most of the things they prepare aren’t really things I usually dine on when I go out to eat. It’s kind of foo foo, fancy schmancy, small portions that are made with ingredients that my local grocery probably doesn’t even carry. Yet I’m glued to the TV, watching the chefs chop veggies with wild abandon, cooking with new techniques, like liquid nitrogen, and touching all the food while plating (yuck!).

I continue to be mesmerized while the “expert” panel of judges, taste, analyze and dissect each morsel, with a proliferation of flowery adjectives, and decide whether the bite of food was seasoned and flavorful enough for their discerning palates. Of course, we the viewer, have to take their taste buds word for it because we can neither taste nor smell the plates, obviously it’s a visual experience only!

I have to say though that the few times I’ve been lucky enough to visit a television top chefs’ restaurant (Gordon Ramsey, Emeril Lagasse, Rick Bayless) never once did I say, “Man, that was the best meal I’ve ever eaten”…never!  I don’t know whether that means I’m not classy enough to appreciate fine dining or whether those that do love it feel they must because they just forked over a weeks’ salary for their dinner. Probably a little of both!

So I will continue to indulge my love for cooking and food television shows from the comfort of my couch with my PB&J sandwich on my plate, a bag of chips by my side and a beer in my hand. Just because I don’t like cooking, shopping or preparing food doesn’t mean I don’t love eating it!

My newest guilty pleasure

Since I find myself with a bit of time on my hands and a lousy cable plan I’ve discovered a new TV show that I really love…..GCB.

Now when I saw this show advertised I thought it looked PDS (pretty darn stupid) but I was wrong! It’s funny, clever and has a great bunch of actors playing a hysterical cast of characters.

Based on a novel by Kim Gatlin, it’s the story of Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb) a widow and a mother of two, who comes back home to her old neighborhood in Dallas, Texas to live with her Mama. Amanda’s Mom (played by one of my favorite actresses Annie Potts) is filthy rich, as are the rest of Amanda’s old friends and neighbors.

Amanda’s no longer the Queen B and is on the outs with her previous click, headed up by Carlene Cockburn played by the delightful Kristin Chenoweth. Sharon Peacham (Jennifer Aspen) and Cricket Caruth-Reilly (Miriam Shor) are the other deliciously, malicious, CB’s who spout bible passages by memory, while sticking the knife in the backs of their “friends” all with a smile on their faces and a cocktail in their hands.

It’s a whole lot of fun and my newest guilty pleasure!

The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

I became aware of this book when I was searching on Amazon.co.uk for a different title. By the way this is a great way to find titles that aren’t available in the States, but I digress…

Anyway, during my search I decided to look at some of their bestseller lists.  A trio of books by Jennifer Worth were near the top of the memoir/bio category and their synopses intrigued me. I hurriedly flipped over to my public library’s website to see by some chance if we might have a copy of one of them. Low and behold the first book in the series, The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times was available!  Yippee!  I love when a book I want to read is available for free at my local library. Aren’t libraries wonderful?…again I digress..

I must admit that when I first started the book, I kind of read a bit and then put it aside to read something else, mostly because I’m a squeamish sort and the opening chapter about a woman giving birth kind of put me off.  I’ve been there done that, I don’t really need to read about it in all it’s graphic glory! But then it came down to the fact that I had just this one library book at home left to read before my Alaska Adventure so I plowed on and I’m glad I did.

The more I read this book the more it put me in mind of James Herriot‘s vet series, except with humans instead of animals. That sounds awful, doesn’t it?! But it’s the truth. I guess maybe it was Ms. Worth’s weaving of anecdotes about her mid-wife profession and the colorful characters she met throughout her career. That is why I loved all of James Herriot’s books after all. It’s kind of like sitting around the kitchen table listening to my aunts’ telling tales out of school and gossiping unabashedly, do you know what I mean?  You can’t help but listen and feel part of the setting.

The story does well to mix the good, the bad and the ugly (sorry for stealing the movie title!) while injecting just enough levity in to the mix. Her descriptions of 1950’s London are very vivid and capture a snapshot of a specific time and place that might otherwise be forgotten. After all how many people want to wax nostalgic on living poor in horrid conditions?

I see that the BBC recently premiered a TV series based on Jennifer Worth’s memoirs. I hope that eventually the series will wash up on American soil  either on BBC America or DVD, like so many other great British series.
I would love to see this book serialized!

Steampunk

I love the idea of Steampunk! When I was still working at the library I can remember the first time a book came in to be catalogued and it had a subject heading of Steampunk. We were all going, huh? what the heck is that. I think we all thought it was yet another “phase” and would soon die out. I honestly didn’t quite “get it”. But now I do and I think it is so cool.

I have to say I’m much more familiar with the jewelry and art that’s come out of Steampunk than I am with the literature. Etsy has some great Steampunk items on their site.  What also came to my mind, when I finally understood it a little more, were a couple of older TV shows that I watched when I was growing up…The Avengers and The Wild Wild West.  Both of these shows mixed a little bit of science fiction and fantasy. The Avengers was more of a spy/espionage show while The Wild Wild West was part western and part spy show. I loved them both!

When I think of Steampunk authors, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells  immediately jump to mind. To me they are the forerunners of modern-day Steampunk.  As far as contemporary fiction,  I have read a few stories out of an anthology simply called Steampunk by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer and I have another one called Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology on by TBR list. I am most definitely not up on what is currently popular reading material.

But I do know one thing I love, the creativity that has sprung from this new genre! And I have even succumbed and purchased my own little piece of Steampunk ~~ this beautiful clockwork necklace.