The Vast Wasteland

Sheila's rantings, most likely of no interest, on TV, movies, books, music, etc.

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

I live in Seattle, am married, have two cats (one is a genius, the other insane), and am a mild-mannered copy editor by day. I love horseback riding, coffee, reading, TV, movies, music, playing (too much) World of Warcraft, and lying on the couch. This isn't a personal blog, but rather a place for me to vent about movies, TV shows, books, music, etc. Thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

V and B

Two interesting stories. First, TV Squad lists 5 similarities between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars. Second, The Watcher also compares the two (with VM coming out on top).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Boo Hoo

I'm cranky today.

Threshold. Good-bye, scary show about impossible-to-overcome aliens. I'll miss you--especially Peter Dinklage's acting and Molly Caffrey's kewl bracelet. Oh, and the lettuce with teeth. I'll miss the creepy veggies the most.

CANCELLED: Reunion. Good-bye, guilty pleasure. I'll miss your melodrama and your duh duh DUH moments. (Who killed Samantha?! Gah!)

Why couldn't it be Ghost Whisperer? WHY? Or Invasion, the slowest-moving show on earth? *sigh*

Monday, November 28, 2005

Book Review: The Historian

Contains Spoilers! (Sorry--can't thoroughly review without discussing what happens)

The Historian is a debut novel by Elizabeth Kostova. And what a debut! First, here's what I enjoyed about the novel. It's primary focus is on historical research--this is a novel about books, and researching, and scholars. However, what really makes this book come alive are the characters. Through minimal melodrama, Kostova makes you really like and worry about her characters--the narrator, her father, her mother, her grandfather, the other scholars who are researching Vlad the Impaler (Dracula). At its core, this is a novel about family. Also, despite the somewhat slow pacing (or perhaps because of it?), this book has great suspense. At one point, a librarian slightly tilts his head to expose the double puncture marks of a vampire on his neck--and it was horrifying. Even small gestures like this are full of terror; I think because they contrast so greatly with the rational, scholarly tone of the book.

I love how the book weaves small supernatural elements into the narrative--very subtly, keeping the tone very intellectual. Even though Vlad himself doesn't show up until the last 50 pages or so, he's everywhere in the book, either as a shadowy figure staring in the background, or as the power behind his evil minions, who distribute mysterious books to scholars (the books are what spark the characters' interest in Vlad) and attack people to make vampire servants for Vlad. Vlad is horrifying and depraved, yet like all good vampires, he's also hypnotic.

The Historian is a brilliant title for this book, because of the ambiguity about who the Historian actually is. The narrator is a historian, and it's her book--however, both her parents are historians, and their adventures make up the bulk of the plot. Yet Vlad himself may be the ultimate historian--not only studying, but living through, history .

The one complaint I have about that book is that it's about 200 pages too long (it's 642 pages long in hardcover). The last 150 or so pages fly by--but the middle section drags a bit. I'm also not sure why it's so hyped. It's a wonderful book, but doesn't seem to be the sort of thing most people would be interested in. Still, if you like sublte, quiet, suspense-driven vampire tales, give The Historian a read.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Turkey Day Wishes

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'll be pigging out, spoiling my kitties by feeding them turkey, and recovering from a cold for the next couple of days. I'll catch you next week!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monday Round Up

Harry Potter: Loved it. Yes, even with the frenzied pacing, massive scene cuts, and plot changes, I thought it was a good movie. Best parts: decreased adolescent whining (that made me grind my teeth in the book). Cedric = charming. Lots of funny Fred and George scenes. The ball scene. Scary He-Who-Can't-Be-Named (he had no nose!!!). The three trials. Snape in study hall. Learning to dance. Decreased "Draco is a jerk" dialogue (we get it already). Also, it was scary--leave the kiddies at home.

What I Watched This Weekend: Besides HP, I watched the first 4 episodes of Sex and the City Season 6 (good so far--love Burger; still dislike Big), two episodes of Viva Blackpool, and caught up on last week's DVR offerings.

ANTM Gossip: This is from E! Online's Kristin. Expect serious claws to come out on Top Model in the next couple of weeks. Besides the girls going nuts on Kim (which we saw last week), someone is going to get accused of stealing, which will result in some crazy catfighting. UPN is calling it a "series of escalating confrontations." Bring. It. On!" Whoo hoo! Drama drama!

Tonight's Medium (in 3D): I'm going to pick up my 3D glasses this week, and will wait to watch the episode until I have them. What a slightly cheesy marketing ploy--that I'm totally buying into.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sheila Hearts Harry

I'm very excited: tonight is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire! Whoo!

I got tickets last week and I'm THRILLED. Very thrilled. This is my favorite HP book so far (I love Cedric, and Viktor, and the whole competition), and the previews give me goosebumps. Will review on Monday. Happy weekend to you all!

*fights urge to wear big round glasses and paint scar on forehead*

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Oh, Veronica!

One word about last night's episode:


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Lost Speculation! (And BSG)

(Contains minor Lost spoilers)

This week's Ask Ausiello is mostly about Lost. Article here; snip below.

Carlton: And you should pay attention to Mr. Eko's stick.

Keep your eyes on Mr. Eko's stick.
That stick is an important ongoing clue.

Will we learn more about Monster this season?


We also got this little tidbit about Battlestar Galactica:
The first episode back in January is so big that producers had to split it into a two-parter, airing Jan. 6 and 13. And look for a major shake-up in the chain of command very early on.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Commentary on Surface

I am a posting MANIAC today. I shamelessly filched this Surface commentary from TV Guide's Watercooler (because it amused me and because I heartily agree).

As for the fate of Dr. Laura and Rich, all I can say is I'm not sure which is creepier — the idea of slowly drifting to the very, very bottom of the ocean, or doing it with Crazy-Eyes holding you in a death grip, whispering sweet nothings in your ear. Good luck with that.

Would you believe Nimrod's not back yet? Sure, we got to see a bizarro version of him in Miles' cold-sweat dream, but that's not gonna cut it...

Watch Threshold Or You'll Make Baby Jesus Cry!

A nice article about Threshold here. (Some minor, general spoilers--more teasing in nature.)

This show is smart and clever--I hope this gets picked up for a full season. Let's boost those ratings!

A Brief Conversation on Aquaman, and Other Notes

My husband is cute and funny. I sent him this clip:

WB's "Aquaman" won't be called "Aquaman"
The network has confirmed an "Aquaman" TV show is in the works -- one that will take the "Smallville" approach to the superhero, focusing more on character over cheese. Exec producer Miles Millar describes the spinoff as "a grounded version of the Aquaman mythology," focusing on an Arthur Curry who "knows what he wants to do with his life, which is protect the oceans."

His reply:

I pray it'll be called "Sea-Man." Also, they lie. They too are embarrassed about Aquaman that they have to change the mythos. Aquaman was born by an outcast from the underworld realm. He wasn't some land-dweller who...oh forget it, it's Aquaman. No one cares.


So I watched Grey's Anatomy yesterday, and people are right--it IS good! Funny and sad, and very melodramatic (in a good way). I also thought Sunday's Desperate Housewives was the best of this season--it only made me grind my teeth in frustration twice. (George is EVIL!) I just heard that Night Stalker has been cancelled, which will save me from having to delete it from my DVR's record list. Buh-bye.

I'm currently reading The Historian, which is (so far) really, really good. If you like history. And dry narration. And Vlad the Impaler. And lots of discussion of old manuscripts. (I do.)

Monday, November 14, 2005

A List of Movies Sheila Watched This Weekend

1. MST3K: Hercules Against the Moon Men. Well, actually, I didn't watch much of this--I was reading through most of it. My DH is the real MST3K fan in our house. (However, I do possess a somewhat unhealthy obsession with the MST3K episode "Jack Frost." It's a true piece o' crap, but I love it. But just that episode. I don't know why.)
2. School of Rock. Mildly entertaining but mostly meh. My kitten, however, loves Jack Black. He watched the movie for about 20 minutes (a record for his addled little brain), then jumped to the back of the TV and meowed. We think he was looking for Jack Black. Awwww.

Book Review: Twilight

(General review; mild spoilers)

Twilight is a young-adult vampire romance novel by Stephenie Meyer. Although I love anything supernatural, I usually stay away from vampires--I find them boring. Buffy and Angel changed my mind, along with Robin McKinley's Sunshine (best. vampire. novel. ever.), so I gave this a shot. And was pleasantly surprised.

What makes this book stand out is not the vampires (they're pretty standard--gorgeous, pale, superhuman strength and grace, mesmerizing--you know the drill), but the characters. Bella, the protagonist, is believable and likable. The romance is melodramatic, but isn't that what high school is all about? The other thing Meyer does well is atmosphere: this book takes place in Forks, WA (where I spent a weekend last fall--lovely), and the moody gray rain and silent trees add their ambiance to the plot.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Setting My DVR

All this talk about Dr. McDreamy has convinced me: I'll start recording Grey's Anatomy. Maybe in place of Desperate Housewives, which is very frustrating this season.

And a totally unrelated VM bonus comment: Joss Whedon worked at Lariat rentals on VM. Sound familiar, X-Files fans? That was the rental company that Mulder and Scully always used! Squee!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Everyone Who Was Made Happy by Last Night's Veronica Mars

1. The Logan Lovers. Lots o' snark
2. The Harron Lovers. I thought Harry Hamlin's gestures, inflection, and dialogue really mimicked Logan's--something I didn't pick up on before. Creepy! But well acted.
3. The Weevil Lovers.
4. The LoVe shippers.
5. The Duncan-Logan shippers. (Oooh, roomies!)
6. The Lamb Lovers. With lotsa Lamb-Logan wordplay.
7. The Cliff Lovers. (Including me!)
8. The Clarence Weidman Lovers. He and V almost got along--very strange. V is going down a dark road, I fear.
9. The Dick Jr. Lovers. Ah, Dick: horrible person, great character.
10. The Joss Lovers.
11. The Keith Lovers. He's gonna pwn V very soon. And she'll deserve it.

Everyone Who Was Not Made Happy by Last Night's Veronica Mars
1. The Wallace Lovers. Please be OK, Wallace! Come back soon!
2. The Jackie Lovers. (If there are any.)
3. The Duncan Lovers. (I hear crickets.)
4. The Beaver Lovers. We want Beav!

A very good episode. Very creepy weasel-rat thing on the bus. Ewww.

ETA: Just found out that the creepy hotel guy was Larry from Larry, Darryl, and Darryl! Hee!
ETAA: Dang, just found out he wasn't Larry. Oh well.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A List of Movies Sheila Watched This Weekend

1. Ella Enchanted. My DH described it as a "live-action Shrek," and that's not far off the mark. Strange yet...enchanting.
2. The Ring II. Bleh. Totally different plot from the first one--this was about an evil spirit (Samara) possessing a child, and had almost nothing to do with the videotape.
3. The Innocents. A lovely b&w version of The Turn of the Screw. Great costuming; nice untrustworthy narrator. After watching two movies the same night about evil children, however, I dreamed that night about evil twins. Eek!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Weekly Round-Up

1. Mini-Review: I love the Fox show Reunion. Yes, it's embarrassing, but I feel better now that I've confessed. It's badly acted and even more badly written, but the drama is fun and over the top. And, since every episode covers a year, it moves along very quickly. Any show that has a teenage pregnancy scare within the first two minutes of the premier has to be good! It's dragged out all the soap-opera cliches, except the coma and the evil twin (but there's still time! Oh yes--there's still time). It's also very amusing to see them try to make 20-something actors look older. It doesn't work very well, but it makes me smile. I wonder about future seasons, though--if there will be any. Presumably we're going to solve the mystery this season, so where do they go next? My thoughts: a new group of actors, and an entirely new plot (that still uses the year-an-episode format). That would actually be interesting. Dragging on with the same actors? I don't think I could stand more than one year.

2. Yes, I'm still reading The Fiery Cross. My goal is to finish this weekend. *sigh*

3. TV Tattle is a good gathering place of the day's TV gossip. My other favorite TV sites (besides those listed in the left column) are TV Guide and Tee Vee. Just in case you need something to do.

4. I'm looking forward to watching The Boondocks premier this weekend (well, I'll probably watch it Monday--11 pm is too late for me). I've heard mixed reviews.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

TV Review: Medium (or, My Husband is Nicer Than Allison's)

(General review--no real spoilers)

I only started watching this show this season (though I've managed to see a few from last year), and I really like it. I've said before, I'll watch anything supernatural, and this show combines everything I like: ghosts, mystery, family drama, and a strong female lead who is smart and tough yet very human at the same time.

Patricia Arquette is fabulous in an understated way. Her performance is very subtle--she almost mutters her lines. Her face conveys haggardness (the character has a lot of sleepless nights) and also vulnerability.

The plots sometimes fall apart and are often rushed, but the real strengh of the show is the family dynamic. The daughters are wonderful. I especially love the middle daughter--she's cute, sassy, and stubborn. (The kids are fabulous actors.) The family's home is chaotic yet warm. Joe, Allison's husband, can sometimes be cranky or impatient, yet their relationship is honest and realistic. (I would have booted him to the curb long ago. But relationships are individual things, and theirs works.)

I also love when Allison's dreams are conveyed through animation, dance routines, or other surreal techniques. It adds depth and style to the show.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Lost Novel?

Lost is out of control--but in a good way. Linky here; snip below.
In an eerie synergy, scribes for ABC's "Lost" will soon be writing a subplot about a character named Gary Troup who didn't survive the crash but left behind a manuscript he was working on.

Troup is fictional, of course, and so is his supposed novel. But ABC sister company Hyperion Books will publish the "found" manuscript, in the hope of turning a fictional product-placement into a real one.

TV Review: Martha (Or, Time in the Pokey Can Drive Ya Crazy)

I love Martha Stewart, criminal conviction notwithstanding. I enjoy her superior smile, her cool East-Coast smugness, and her ice-queen competence. That's why her new show (called simply "Martha") is so distressing to me. It's supposed to show us a new side of Martha--the warm, friendly side. However, I don't want Martha to be my girlfriend. I don't want her to be warm, chatty, or bubbly. I'd watch Oprah if I wanted that, thanks. Martha can't quite pull it off anyway--she's too controlling, too rigid, not good at "chatter."

The first few weeks of the show were incredibly painful. (Rapping with Diddy, anyone?) She's mellowed somewhat, and is more used to the live show format now. And I've gotten a couple yummy recipes from her. Still, though, I miss her old craft projects. I don't like her new interviewing segments or guest stars (especially the self-serving segments where she interviews the "Apprentice: Martha" losers). I miss the cold smile that didn't reach her eyes. I miss her telling me what to do and how exactly to do it.

A List of Movies Sheila Watched This Weekend

1. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (It was OK. Kind of cute, but not earthshattering.)
2. Batman Begins. (Ugh. Overlong, muddled, and Batman is a big jerk.)
3. Bride and Prejudice. (Adorable.)