Tag Archives: television

Intentional television

Family watching television, c. 1958
Family watching television, c. 1958 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have some friends who disdain television, who believe that there is nothing on worth watching. I have some friends who are addicts, who fall asleep in their chairs, who channel surf to find anything worth their eyeballs. I have never been in either of those camps, although did give up television for a while when my children were younger and we were all spending too much time in front of it. For the past decade, I’ve been an intentional viewer, recording programming that I am interested in seeing, watching pretty much only that, and then flipping the box off, or leaving the room for the comforts of a book (or, lets be honest, a few minutes on some iPad games.) This system works for me, as I can organize my life as I wish, and slip in some TV viewing when I’m at loose ends, ironing, wanting to cuddle with someone close to me, or at the end of the day before sleep overtakes.

This system, if you will, is due to a revolution in broadcasting, or maybe a series of little revolutions. I think it started with the VCR, which in its own clumsy way allowed us to time shift our viewing. With DVRs and VOD technologies, the restrictive cord of the clock has been severed and we are free to watch what we want, when we want, without fumbling with tapes, remembering to set up the VCR each week, and all that. I no longer have to spend a second thinking whether I’d rather go out for an evening or stay home to watch something. (Yes, I did that. Years ago. Anyone remember Survivor viewing parties in the early days?) Plus, I can skip through the ads.

If you forget to set up your DVR, read a review or hear of a program from a friend, you can probably find it on-demand either through your cable package or online. There is really no reason you need to be in front of your TV at the moment a broadcast starts, unless you’re live-tweeting it or something.

It’s easy to criticize our baser viewing habits as mindless/mind-numbing/drivel, or whatever. But to each his own. Lots of the conversations I have on a daily basis are just that. I consume things that could be considered nutrition-free from time to time, and that’s okay. I read two papers every day, and certainly not all of that is high literature (not to mention the occasional beach read.) We bitch and moan about the cost of cable, but if you were to cost it out on a price per hour viewed basis, it’s probably a pretty reasonable.

So lets live and let live. I’ve learned that we each have our own vices and that regardless of how much I’d like to change someone else’s habits, I’d be better off putting away the rest of the bag of Twizzlers and going for a walk.

A pack of Twizzlers
A pack of Twizzlers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what’s worth watching this summer? A few of my faves (with new eps airing this month):

  • Orange is the New Black from Netflix (on demand)
    …because it’s well-written and Netflix is getting a great rep (think, House of Cards) (New Yorker review)
  • Endeavour (new season) (on Masterpiece Mystery, PBS)
    …because it’s all about Insp. Morse’s past
  • Amazing Race Canada (CTV)
    …because it’s the Amazing Race set in Canada (’nuff said)
  • Newsroom (new season) (HBO Canada)
    …because the characters all have twitter accounts
  • Switched at Birth (ABC Spark)
    …because despite the sappy storyline, the depiction of deaf teens and deaf culture rings true (to me)
  • The Big Decision (CBC)
    …because I love to see Jim and Arlene help small businesses
  • The Listener (CTV)
    …because it has a cute psychic ambulance driver and his cute Turkish friend and is set in Toronto

Happy summer viewing!

“Love, Marilyn”: Coming to HBO this summer.

I saw this film last fall at TIFF and absolutely loved it. Directed by Liz Garbus, it’s a documentary based on Marilyn Monroe’s own writings, read by actors.  It will be screening on HBO Canada this month and next (dates) and HBO (US). Set your DVR to catch this one.

Here’s Liz Smith’s take on the doc.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Man Men theme music…a different take!

For all you Mad Men fans out there, check this out! From Videos Recorded Live.

The notes accompanying this clip:

We loved the song “A Beautiful Mine” by RJD2 that plays during the opening credits of “Mad Men.” We wanted to put lyrics to it and realized that “Nature Boy” made famous by Nat King Cole, and written by eden ahbez, was the perfect fit. This was filmed in one take (this one, specifically, happened to be take 29 of the day)…no cuts, dubbing, lip-syncing or auto-tuning. More videos coming soon…This is a Video Recorded Live.

This is the piece that was sampled for the theme:

H/T to Kerry at Pickle Me This who retweeted these clips.

It’s been a bookish week.

I’ve got books coming in like crazy these days.  I won a couple of books from McClelland Books in their July Book Giveaway twitter-fest.  They sent me Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn and Thomas Trofimuk’s Waiting for Columbus, along with a bonus copy of Anne Michaels’ The Winter Vault .  

And then this weekend, I was notified that I’d won what I believe is the first extra challenge in the fourth annual Canadian Book Challenge (CBC4):  I read a book by an author NOT read in (last year’s) CBC3 (Terry Fallis’ The Best Laid Plans).  John Mutford, our CBC host will be sending me a signed copy of Roderick Benns’ Mystery of the Moonlight Murder. (I’m tracking my personal progress on CBC4 here.)  On top of a spate of holds from my local library, I am well fixed for reading material this month.

I also had a great weekend at the cottage.  I read Tish Cohen’s The Truth About Delilah Blue, Jessica Grant’s Come, Thou Tortoise, (reviews will be up soon) and made progress in Cory Doctorow’s For the Win and Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.  I’ve also started Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely.  These last three are on my Kindle.

Good thing that there isn’t much on TV these days (except for Mad Men and Pillars of the Earth)!

Seven Quick Takes Friday


Welcome all Company Girls!

The last couple of days have been rather nerve-wracking, health-wise.  The night before last, I woke up at 3 am with stomach pains that wouldn’t go away.  They continued all day yesterday and pretty much prevented me from doing anything….I only managed to take Wilson around the block, and I drove to the library to drop off and pick up books.  My blood pressure was also up. Quite a bit.

I kept reading these websites about how heart attacks in women can mimic indigestion, etc, and was getting a bit freaked out. We didn’t have anything in the house for stomach ailments, and I didn’t really feel like eating.  I forced down some plain yogurt and a couple of bananas over the day (and a cookie)  and basically lay on the sofa with a book.

My stomach was still bothering me last night when I went to bed, but it’s all better this morning.  I have a headache, and my bp is still up, but hopefully it will subside as I start to feel better.  At least I’m up for errands and housework today.  And dinner out with friends tonight.

One of the “benefits” of being under the weather is getting some reading done.  Yesterday, I read the Philip Roth novella The Humbling


.  Very dark and intense story of a successful, aging actor who can no longer work.

I also got NutureShock: New Thinking About Children:


by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman from the library (again).  This is the third time I’ve checked it out but I’ve never been able to get it read before having to return it.  I”m halfway through and it’s a book that I wish I’d had when my kids were young.  So many important insights, but mainly it’s a debunking of many of the prevailing child-rearing tenets.  Like praise.  Like talking about race.  Like gifted testing in the early years. Like TV makes you fat.   Highly recommended reading for all parents of all ages.

I have a couple of resolutions from the book above regarding Michael.  First, it is imperative that he gets more sleep every night.  To that end, the laptop, iPod, and phone will be turned off at 10 and  left outside his room at night.  Second, he needs to understand that his brain is like a muscle, and the more he uses it, the more it grows.  He needs to start doing more work at school, more than is required by his teachers, if he is to keep it growing.   He has decided to drop Japanese for the rest of the year….he was quite far behind and unable to catch up, so we have let him stop going.  In it’s place, we’ve registered him in the Saturday Science and Engineering Academy at University of Toronto.  Their spring program is ten weeks, starting next month, and he’ll be taking the Math and Physics for Engineering program for students in Grade 9 and 10.


There are a couple of new TV shows that we’re enjoying.  The Republic of Doyle is a charming hour-long detective show set in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  The main characters are a father and son, who share a house with the father’s lady-friend and the son’s daughter.  The son is going through a divorce and his soon-to-be-ex-wife is also featured prominently.  The dialogue is fast and funny, and the scenery is gorgeous. The show has a retro buzz about it and is thoroughly engaging.

We also watched the first episode of the HBO production of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, an adaptation of the Giller award winning book


of the same name by Vincent Lam.  The show really pulled us in, and is complex with flashbacks, fantasy scenes, and unanswered questions about why certain things are happening.  Another one for the PVR.

This Saturday, Z, Michael and I are heading to Koerner Hall to see Quartetto Gelato and Ethel.  Should be a high energy evening!  Check them out:


The online Declutter Group I’ve joined starts on Monday!  I”m looking forward to having a focussed approach to getting the house in order as well as the accountability of doing it in a group.  There are still spots, if anyone’s interested in joining me!

That’s all for today!  I”m off to get my house in order and run some errands.

Who knew? He’s Welsh!

Maybe I’ve been living under a rock or something…

I’ve been following ABC’s Brothers and Sisters since it started, and it’s a very interesting drama with a great cast, including Sally Field, Patricia Wettig, Calista Flockhart, and Rob Lowe.  It’s been getting pretty tense this season, and so when I noticed that my Tivo had picked up an episode of The View with guests Sally Field and Calista Flockhart, I watched it while folding laundry.

As part of the segment, they did a tour of the B&S set, led by Matthew Rhys who plays brother Kevin Walker.  I had never noticed his (real) name before, and when he started speaking with a Welsh accent, I though he was putting it on.  And then it became apparent that it IS his real voice, and his Kevin Walker accent is put on!  Holy cow! Another Hugh Laurie/Gregory House thing (although he’s a Brit, but you get my drift.)

I have a thing for accents.  Z initially won me over with his cute Lebanese-French accent.  And let me tell you, I could listen to Matthew Rhys lecture on particle physics and pay total attention.  Here’s a clip from the YouTube, an interview with ABC News, talking about his role on Brothers and Sisters.


Reading:  Just finished Blackouts


 by Craig Boyko and The School Of Essential Ingredients


 by Erica Bauermeister.  The first is terrific collection of short-stories, very astute, some rather dark.  The second was a light set of interrelated stories, or maybe a novel, set around a cooking school.  Each chapter gives the back story for one of the students (or couples).  It was moderately moving at times, but not hugely engaging.  Am now reading Country Girls Trilogy


 by Edna O’Brien.  I picked this up after listening to an interview with O’Brien on the BBC World Book Club podcast

Listening:  I’ve been catching up on a few Vinyl Cafe podcasts, the Two Edge Talk series on education, BBC Thinking Allowed, and the last few episodes of King Leary on CBC’s Between the Covers.  

Watching:  The two hour episode of Brothers and Sisters last night.  Sheesh!  What a roller coaster.  Wild Roses is also moving along.  Saw the season finale of (spoiler link) Top Chef  and, well, felt so sad for the person who was essentially out before the food was even plated.  

Cooking:  Nothing much new in the kitchen these days.  Tried this Southwestern Flank Steak in the crock pot to raves.  Very piquante, and great leftovers.

Knitting: I needed to darn a navy wool sweater belonging to Z…it had a hole right on the chest so I needed a good colour match.  I ended up buying a ball of sock yarn, so once I used the 10″ of wool required to darn the hole, I decided to start a pair of matching socks using this pattern.  Unfortunately, it’s using more wool than I thought, so I will need to buy another ball, which will require a drive all the way out to Michael’s in Mississauga (if I want to try to get the same dye lot on this inexpensive brand of wool.)

Food, frugality, and Dwight Schrute

For all you The Office fans, and even those who aren’t. This is a very funny post titled “11 Things Dwight K. Schrute Has Taught Me About Food and Frugality“.

For example:

DWIGHT SAYS: “My grandfather left me a 60-acre working beet farm. I run it with my cousin Mose. We sell beets to the local stores and restaurants. It’s a nice little farm … sometimes teenagers use it for sex.”
DWIGHT MEANS: Buy local.
Not only does it support neighborhood farmers (who need security to keep randy kids away), but food that’s shipped from nearby tastes better, is better for you, and is easier on the environment.