Weekend Coffee Share: 12/11/16

If we were having coffee, we’d be bundled up in sweaters watching the snow globe that is the outside world.  Winter has been coming to us in spurts.  It snows, then melts.  Snows, then melts.  But I think it’s here to stay.  The temperatures have begun to drop and, as I write, we have five fresh inches of white fluff on the ground.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only a few weeks away.  I feel like I haven’t gotten into the seasonal cheer at all.  We only just got our tree yesterday and have yet to decorate it.  Hopefully, we will get to it this weekend.

It’s been a good week–life continues as usual at the library.  On Thursday, I had an all-day meeting with all the librarians from my region.  Our bosses gave us training, updates, and policy reminders.  For lunch, we had a Christmas potluck.  The apple pie I baked was a hit!  As for books, it was a GREAT week.  A stack of highly anticipated holds came in and I’ve been just waiting for the weekend to come so I could sink my teeth into them. Continue reading

Shows (I think) you should be watching

When it comes to TV shows, I’m fairly particular.  People are always giving recommendations for what to watch next, but I often struggle with their choices.  You see, I really struggle committing to shows.  Being a busy student, I only have so much time to devote to staying on top of TV.  I really hesitate spending time on a show if I’m not going to fall head-over-heels in love with it.  In general, shows that are character driven usually bore me.  Sitcoms, medical shows, crime dramas… it feels like the same thing over and over again.  I get bored quickly.  I tend to favor shows that are more plot-based where episodes build into a larger story arc.

Because I’m a tough-sell, when I for a show, I fall HARD.  That being said, I don’t make recommendations lightly.  If you’re looking for something new to watch, here are some shows I’ve been obsessed with lately.

Arrow

When my brother first recommended this to me, I was like “Eh, no thanks.  Not my thing.”  I gave the first few episodes a chance, but quickly lost interest.  Although I love superhero movies, the characters didn’t feel like anything special and the plot wasn’t anything to write home about.  However, this summer, I kept hearing people talk about how AMAZING this show is.  “Season one is good,” my older brother explained, “but it’s definitely something you have to push through.  Season two, though… season two is absolutely phenomenal.”

So I gave Arrow another chance.  And my brother was right.  Season one is a little rough, but it picks up and season two… Season two is one of the best seasons of a show I’ve ever seen.  Every episode is solid and the finale is absolutely incredible.  The third season is currently on and, although it’s less gripping than its predecessor, it’s still one of my favorite shows on t.v.

The Paradise

During my sophomore year of college, my roommate and I stumbled upon a Masterpiece Classic show called Mr. Selfridge about an American entrepreneur who sets up a department store in London.  We were immediately sucked in (mainly because we liked Henri, the French window display designer).  As time went on, though, the show was disappointing.  Our favorite characters made choices we weren’t comfortable with.  The story got boring.

When I was in England, one of my British friends presented an alternate option.  The Paradise is also about a department store.  Lead by the charismatic Mr. Moray, the show plunges into the workings of the store and its employees.  The show’s heroine is Denise Lovett, a sharp small town girl with a natural knack for business.

The Paradise, unfortunately, only has two seasons.  But if you’re a fan of BBC dramas, you’ll like this show.  The characters are endearing and the story is downright charming.  (Also, I’d like to note that the trailer below makes it look more racy than it actually is.)

The Musketeers

I grew up watching adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ novel.  I’ve always loved The Three Musketeers.  Each adaptation aims at capturing the heart of the novel and, although each does so differently, there are portions of the plot remain the same.  D’Artagnan always goes to Paris to avenge his father.  He always joins up with trusty Musketeers Athos, Aramis, and Porthos.  They always strive to protect the King of France against the wiles of Cardinal Richelieu and Milady de Winter. How the story goes depends on the adaptation.  The problem, though, is that none of them seem to succeed at telling the story right.  The 1993 version with Charlie Sheen is too campy.  The 2001 adaptation deviates from the core story too much.  The Mickey Mouse version is… well… it’s Mickey Mouse.  And the 2011 version with Logan Lerman is an absolute train wreck.

Then, last winter, the BBC came out with a television series based on the book that is ABSOLUTE GOLD.  It’s The Three Musketeers as I have always wanted it.  The acting is good, character development solid, and the story is exciting.  It’s got an excellent blend of political intrigue, romance, and swashbuckling action.  It’s an absolutely fantastic show and, for whatever reason, I’m the only one I know who watches it.

What are some of your favorite t.v. shows?  Are there any you think I’d like?  Let me know in the comments!

Reenacting Dracula (and why I’m never going to be an actor)

Yesterday in Victorian Lit, my classmates and I became actors.  In order to stress the important elements in a certain scene in Dracula, my professor (Brad) assembled a hand-picked cast and, after giving a few directions, let us work our magic.

I was given the role of Arthur Holmwood, the super-manly fiance of the now-vampire Lucy Westenra.  One of my classmates, Drewe, was cast as Lucy.  My roommate played Van Helsing and a couple of classmates took the roles of Quincy Morris and John Seward.

Here is the material we had to work with:

“Go on,” said Arthur hoarsely. “Tell me what I am to do.”

“Take this stake in your left hand, ready to place to the point over the heart, and the hammer in your right. Then when we begin our prayer for the dead, I shall read him, I have here the book, and the others shall follow, strike in God’s name, that so all may be well with the dead that we love and that the UnDead pass away.”

Arthur took the stake and the hammer, and when once his mind was set on action his hands never trembled nor even quivered. Van Helsing opened his missal and began to read, and Quincey and I followed as well as we could.

Arthur placed the point over the heart, and as I looked I could see its dint in the white flesh. Then he struck with all his might.

The thing in the coffin writhed, and a hideous, blood-curdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions. The sharp white teeth champed together till the lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur never faltered. He looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it. His face was set, and high duty seemed to shine through it. The sight of it gave us courage so that our voices seemed to ring through the little vault.

And then the writhing and quivering of the body became less, and the teeth seemed to champ, and the face to quiver. Finally it lay still. The terrible task was over.

(Bram Stoker.  Dracula.  Chapter 16)

First of all, isn’t the passage absolutely fantastic?

Brad read the text in a dramatic voice as we played the scene.

Drewe, as my undead fiance, was sprawled out on the table at the front of the classroom.  I towered over her, holding up my imaginary stake and hammer.  Van Helsing and company (my roommate and peers) stood next to me reading out of an imaginary prayer-book.  As Brad’s voice spelled out the portion about not trembling or quivering, I did my best to contort my face into an expression of boldness.  I don’t think I was very successful.  It was incredibly hard not to laugh.

Then, I drove the imaginary stake into Drewe’s heart.  She thrashed.  She flailed.  She wriggled all over the table.  I struggled to keep a straight face, trying to be as impressive and powerful as the Norse god Stoker compared Arthur to.  (Again, I don’t think I was very successful.)  I pounded and pounded on the stake.  The deeper it was pounded, the more Drewe’s writhing increased.

Then, she stopped.

And I got to go back to my seat.

It was a fun and entertaining experience, that’s for sure.  But if I learned one thing, it would be this: it’s a good thing I didn’t major in Theater, because I’m a terrible actor.

Festival Palomino

I love music.  I love good music.  I love good music live.

When I heard about this great new music festival in the Twin Cities, it only seemed natural to go.

http://images.publicradio.org/content/2014/04/08/20140408_festival-palomino_91.jpg

This year marks the first year of Festival Palomino, a day of music put on by Minnesota band Trampled by Turtles.  It took place at Canterbury Park in Shakopee and had tons of fun indie rock/folk bands.

Although the heavy crowds didn’t show up until later in the day, my friend Eva and I arrived around two, just in time for the first band.  Most of the afternoon was spent sitting in the grass soaking in the summer sun, talking and enjoying music.  We wandered around, looking at the merch tables and food vendors.

It was a great day for people watching, as events like this draw in all the hipsters.  I got a bit envious of all the lovely flannels (even though I have a healthy stock of my own in my apartment) and wondered at the meaning behind all the interesting tattoos.

At around four o’clock, a big thunderstorm hit that forced everyone indoors.  Eva and I parked on a bench for two hours where we chatted and did more people watching.  I ran into a guy I knew from high school, and she bumped into a former roommate.

At one point during the storm, a lady approached our bench.  Impatiently, she looked down at us and said, “We’re leaving.  Do you want our food tickets?”  Naturally, we said yes, and she handed over seventeen little squares of paper.  Later, we splurged on two pieces of pizza each and a shared Ben & Jerry’s cone.  Free food, for the win!

Now, if you remember my list of influential albums from a few weeks ago, you’ll know that I love The Head and the Heart.  You can probably imagine my excitement at finally getting to see them live!  Eva and I were right up close, about twenty feet from the stage.  They were PHENOMENAL.  Oh my goodness.  They sound just as good, if not better, live than on their albums.  One of my favorite things about them is that the main singer (the one in the middle on my photos) is a natural performer.  The way he gestured and sang certain words reminded me of the storytellers in old folk stories.  The sun was setting as they played, and I was sucked in by the words and the music.

 

 

The headliner and sponsor of the concert was, of course, Trampled by Turtles.  I will admit, I only dabble in their music.  There’s just so much out there that I’m never sure what to listen to.  During their set (which was over an hour) I only knew a couple of songs.  We were not as close to the stage this time around (having given up our spots in favor of food).  But I still enjoyed them immensely.  You can’t be a Minnesota indie folk music fan and not see Trampled live.  It’s something you just have to do, and I’m so glad I did!

Trampled by Turtles
Trampled by Turtles

Because it was so hot during the afternoon, Eva and I both forgot to bring our sweaters into the festival.  In the evening, after the sun set, we rather regretted this decision.  Standing in the crowd, pressed uncomfortably close to strangers, certainly helped.  But at one point, while shivering away, I said to Eva, “I know how to get warm.  We just have to knock out a hipster and steal their flannel.  Goodness knows there’s plenty of them to choose from.”

No hipsters were harmed, don’t worry.  But the temptation was real.