kitsjay: (Book Reading)
Most of these are spoiler-free, but I do rant on a bit in The Big C, so be warned.

Awkward )

Seachange )

Todd and the Book of Pure Evil )

The Big C )
kitsjay: (It's a Curse)
My hair's been dry lately, but rather than spend money, I decided to use a combination of Google and rummaging through my pantry to find a hair mask. I found this one, which combines honey and olive oil and decided to give it a go.

I didn't have any Vitamin E capsules, so I skipped that step. Also, I played a little fast and loose with the measurements because I didn't feel like washing out a measuring cup. So this is more the "cheap and lazy hair mask" version of that recipe.


1. Be careful. I poured some in my hand to test the warmth and it seemed okay, but it apparently has a delayed heat reaction and I nearly burned my scalp. Ouch.

2. Do this while alone. I didn't have a shower cap--who has a shower cap?--and so am sitting in my apartment, my hair a sticky, oily mess, with a Wal-Mart shopping bag over my head waiting the twenty minutes out. This is not something I want to have to explain. Ever.

3. Also, I would recommend wearing a shirt you don't care much about.

4. You may also get a facial, considering the viscosity of this mixture. Be wary if you have an oily forehead. But I hear olive oil is good for the skin--or is that ingesting it? Hm.

5. They mean it about not doing this in a shower. Olive oil and slick surfaces really do not mix.


Well, my hair doesn't smell like a week old potato salad, but it doesn't smell good either, so 3 points there. As for its efficacy, my hair is noticeably softer, but not really more moisturized, which was the whole point of this mask. However, total points for not being nearly as greasy as I would have expected, and, like I said, soft! So four points there.

Final Score: 7/10
kitsjay: (Drink Heavily and Shout)
Okay, so a little note, too, because it's been bothering me. Re: Breakout Kings.

Normally this show has a pretty good balance, but occasionally they mess up. For one, Leverage, Criminal Minds, and now this have been picking on the Tea Party. Okay, fine. I think a lot of those people are racist, xenophobic nutjobs.

But that doesn't mean that they aren't right sometimes.

I'll tell you what I mean. In one episode of Breakout Kings, they had the "Patriot Front" (subtle!) and they confronted the fugitive's dad, whose farm was seized by imminent domain, which I happen to disagree with. I don't like the thought of government being able to seize property like that, but obviously, blowing up a post office is not the right way to fight this. The son planted the explosion, by the way, not the dad.

So they come onto the guy's property and start to search it, which he points out is trespassing. They cite the "in plain sight" rule, which, okay, they're kind of bending it, but I'm still willing to roll with it. Then they break into the guy's shed and he cites the fact that, HEY, they need a WARRANT to do that--and they shrug it off.

Um, no. That's a violation of due process, and I'm not going to root for the "good guys" here, because they're in the wrong. It skeeves me out because with the political atmosphere, including the Patriot Act, it's almost saying, "No, no, it's okay, because it's the bad guy, see?"

Yes, no one has ever been wrongfully arrested before!

There's a reason we have due process and why it's such a big deal. It's not "when we feel like it", or somehow okay because "we know it's him". Due process is important and I'm never going to feel sanguine about someone breaking it, no matter what their reasoning is; it really annoys me when shows try and make it seem okay, because it's not.

And knowing your rights and asserting them? That's okay to do. They make it seem like you're guilty if you ask for a lawyer; that you're hiding something if you make cops get a search warrant. No, it's not. It's a sign that you're a savvy person who happens to know their rights--it's called a right because you're allowed to assert it whether you're innocent, guilty, or not involved. Again, it's there to protect the innocent, not just the guilty people. I'm not saying cops are bad people, but they are people. They make mistakes. It happens.

So, shows? I'm not going to root for the people who blithely break the law, even if it's in pursuit of a bad guy. I'm not going to cheer that they ignored due process because they caught the guy. I get just as annoyed as you do when a guy who is clearly guilty walks away because of a technicality, but that doesn't mean the fault lies with the process itself. It's there to protect me, and I want to know the people who are supposed to be on my side are upholding it.

As a side note, not all Southerners are bigoted, chauvinistic hicks who talk slow and don't know what "exacerbate" means. We're not idiots, thank you very much.
kitsjay: (Screw Canon)
I've been watching a lot of TV recently and might as well make it (semi)productive. So, onward!

The Listener

This is a pretty obscure show as far as I can tell; I stumbled upon it accidentally, but so far it's fairly impressive. The premise is that a young paramedic, Toby Logan, has always been able to hear people's thoughts. He starts putting this into use by saving people/preventing crimes/etc. It's kind of that bland feel-goodness of Early Edition, for the two other people who watched that show.

Toby is a genuinely likable character, though I feel like he's a little too likable. He seems to be the perfect guy: a good friend, a decent person, all that jazz. I'd appreciate a little bit more development, either in the sense of flaws, or even more, backstory. They've dropped hints, but he's so underdeveloped right now that they should be dropping anvils to make up for it. Still, I hope that once they do start delving into his character, it will be pretty awesome.

The other characters are unremarkable. You have the stereotypical suspicious, jaded woman detective; the best friend and sidekick, who actually has some pretty funny lines; and the lusted after off-again-on-again girlfriend, who so far is the absolute blandest character. The only thoughts we hear from her are bitchy and since she has no further development... well, I tend to think of her as "the bitch". There's a professor who apparently helped Toby when he was younger control his power, but they haven't gone much into that (again, backstory people! It'd be nice).

I'm also psyched because it's the first show I've seen with something like this wherein the person-being-told-the-truth reacts like any other person would:

"You can read minds? That is so freakin' awesome!"

Exactly. Same goes for mermaids, H20!

Grade: B-

Breakout Kings

This show is basically Criminal Minds meets Leverage. It's about a unique team of convicts, each with their own special talents, who help to catch escaped fugitives under the U.S. Marshals.

The pilot and first few episodes were a bit rough, needlessly so. For one, the convicts aren't allowed to escape (um, duh) and so when one gets caught, he's immediately thrown out. Apparently they thought that wasn't enough, though, because they threw another one out by the second episode. I expected the first to prove the point, but the second seemed... awkward. Like the actress didn't test well with audiences or something. I don't know.

Anyway, since then, it's picked up. The leader of the group, Marshal DuChamp, is actually a well-rounded, interesting character without creating a "haunted past" or anything like that. The child prodigy and psychologist Dr. Lowry is the most interesting of the convicts, followed by Shea, then Erica. I've read complaints that said Shea wasn't "specialized" enough, which I can see, but at the same time, I really like his character. Your mileage may vary. For one thing, they tried setting him up to be an "entrepreneur", then inexplicably dropped this to concentrate on his "street smartness".

I would like to see more of a showcasing of their individual talents (so far, really only Lowry has done this; Erica's seems to be... running fast and being emotional about her daughter), but I feel like it's got potential. It's also got some pretty funny lines.

Grade: B

Breaking In

So far, this has been my favorite of my new finds. I love Brett Harrison, but he seems to be a bit of a bad luck charm. He was Lily's creepy neighbor turned boyfriend in Grounded For Life, then played the main star in Reaper (gone too soon; RIP, Reaper). He has a knack for finding brilliant shows, which then don't last out two seasons.

He brings his usual charm in this show about a slacker-hacker who is recruited by a "security firm" which tests security of homes, businesses, you name it through any means necessary. Christian Slater is absolutely hilarious in it, as is the resident office prankster and nerd, Cash, and the jock-but-still-sweet Dutch, played by Michael Rosenbaum.

The only problem is that poor Brett, though he's magnificent at it, seems to be typecast as the nice guy who always finishes last. He's pining after the girl of the group, who is so forgettable I don't remember her name. I don't remember the girl's name in Reaper, either, but at least she had personality.

Rather than show us this girl's personality, we're treated to multiple people saying, "She's crazy!" or "She's awesome!", while she has maybe five lines, two of them manipulative, in the first two episodes. When will TV writers get that Being a Love Interest does not count as characterization and development? Erg.

Despite that, it's very funny, very clever, and I'm sure this all means that it's going to be canceled soon, so watch it now.

Grade: A-


This show was awful. I barely made it through the first five minutes (in which there was a shot of a nipple, a dick joke, and a dollar bill wrapped around poop). The only reason to watch this shlock is if you have some burning need to know what would happen if third graders could join frats and someone turned their sense of humor into a TV show. None of the characters were likable, the humor was so low-class it was insulting, and I predicted the entire episode from the first two minutes (I looked it up later; I was being serious about the whole not being able to make it through the first five minutes thing).

It's trash, plain and simple.

The only thing it had going for it was the fact that I never knew my intelligence could be insulted so fast, so far in so few lines.

Grade: F-------
kitsjay: (Screw Canon)
But I heartily recommend a book in it, so hopefully you will deem it acceptable for reading anyway.

The book in question is How Not to Write a Novel by Mittelmark and Newman, which is just what it says on the tin. For those of you aware of my (ir)regular rants on fanfic authors and common mistakes, some of the problems discussed will be familiar. The Overly Psychotic Villain, for instance, who cackles evilly while killing puppies, because authors assume that this is what Evil People do; the sentences so overburdened with obscure vocabulary that the story effect becomes the same as opening a dictionary to random pages; the "Angel Effect", or as they refer to it, the "Too Good to Be True", wherein the main character (who in fanfiction has hitherto shown none of these characteristics) becomes a humanitarian who rescues kittens from the streets while selflessly dedicating their wages to pay for their ailing mother's medications; its close relative, the Unexpected Expert, wherein a hairdresser is surprisingly an expert in spelunking, string theory, and a sudoku master.

The authors of the book, who also worked as editors, happily and wittily point out the mistakes which immediately send aspiring author's manuscripts into the trash bin. What sets this apart from the myriad other books promising to tell budding novelists how to write is that this one is how not to write, which is infinitely more useful. Look at your bookshelves. Can you claim that every book on there follows the same formula? That they all use the same plot elements and characters? Unless you have, at best, two books on your shelves, then I doubt very much that you can. However, you can look and see what they don't do (or more accurately, you cannot, which is where this book comes in handy). Mittelmark and Newman provide a rough description of the problems and extremely amusing short examples demonstrating said problem, as well as a brief explanation of why it's a problem, if it's not already obvious.

As a personal note, I consider myself a fairly competent author; not great, assuredly, but not awful either. Even then, I loved this book. It detailed some mistakes that I have made in the past, some I have made recently, and some I will probably make in the future, even as near as I am to perfect*. Additionally, despite its name, the book does provide some useful advice on how to write, from the highly specific, "Any scene in which a character is shown waking up in bed or getting into bed is deeply suspect, unless there is someone new in bed with her", to the generalities of character development I mentioned earlier.

It's fun to read, not only as a how-not-to manual, but also a look at some of those remarkable generalities which you think are unique. Named a cat after a Greek character? It's mentioned. The main character listens to your favorite bands/reads your favorite authors? It's mentioned.

It tackles the broad problems with plot, characters, and assorted other "big picture" issues, as well as things as seemingly inconsequential as word choice and sentence structure.

Even if you're not planning on submitting the Great Novel anytime soon, most of us enjoy and dabble in fanfiction. Some fanfic authors think that because they're only doing it "for fun", this entitles them to not pay attention to these things, but I believe good authors are constantly seeking for criticism, and as we are past the age where a teacher swoops in with a red pen, we must rely on outside sources. This is one of those sources. As I said, it's fun to read, and you just might learn something.

A Brief Excerpt, for the Doubters )

How Not to Write a Novel by Mittelmark and Newman (Available on Kindle)

Also recommended: Robert's Rules of Writing by Robert Masello

* I am not actually perfect or anywhere close to it.
kitsjay: (Oh No You Ditnt)
So, for those of you looking at e-readers, I provide my humble review of the Kindle. Mainly... I hate it. For the following reasons:

Kindle Review )

In short, the interface is absolutely hideous, there's not a whole lot of variety in the material available, and it serves a very limited purpose.

For my money, either stick with real books, or if you're absolutely dead set on having an e-reader, go with something that doubles as something else, e.g. the iPad*. The Kindle is made exclusively for reading books (seriously, I'm not kidding about how bad trying to surf the Internet is on this thing), and it's not even very good at that.

*I say this as someone who loves Amazon and hates Mac products with a fiery passion. That's how annoying I've found the Kindle.
kitsjay: (Default)
Warning: The links to the movies are reviews, which may include spoilers. Nothing too major, and most of it has been seen in the previews, but for those who like to keep themselves pure until the movie night, I would steer clear.

Chris is leaving tomorrow for field training, so I went with him to do some shopping for things he needed, then we saw Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer )

It was a fun, campy movie, about the same quality of the first. If you thought the first was an enjoyable romp, then you'll probably enjoy the second one as well.

Stef's birthday is June 30, so Rachael, Mark and his girlfriend, me and Stef all went to see the midnight showing of Live Free or Die Harder.

The Die Hard series is my mom's favorite movie set, so I grew up on John McClane. About a year ago, I introduced Stef to it, and she loved it as much as I did. Courtney also was introduced, by my endorsement of Die Hard as my favorite Christmas movie. Which is completely true.

The evening was fun, if not a bit awkward because Mark's girlfriend didn't know anyone but Mark, Stef insisted on talking only to Mark, and so Rachael and I were kind of left sitting there wondering what we should say.

Anyway, about 30 minutes before the ending of the movie, the screen went blank and an alarm went off saying, "There is an emergency in the building. Please exit the building."

Everyone filed out, and we were among the last. We were just closing the door when two random young men said that it was a false alarm. We went back in, and the alarm was still going off.

"Mark, who told you it was a false alarm?"

He grinned sheepishly. "Just two random guys."

"Remind me to haunt you if we die," I said.

"Wouldn't he be dead too?" Amber mused.

"Well. I'll haunt his ghost."

The alarm went off, then the screen came on for about twenty seconds, then went off again. Then sound came on, but not the picture. Finally, it came back on, but having the alarm in the middle go off again put quite a damper on the climax.

It resumed finally with no difficulties and we watched the final thirty minutes. As we were leaving, the theatre gave each person two free tickets to any movie they wanted to see with no restrictions. That was pretty cool.

As for the movie itself, it was pretty good )

So I hadn't slept in 35 hours and drove home from the theatre at 3:00 in the morning. There is something undefinably amazing about driving down deserted roads at that time of night. I blasted rock music to keep myself awake, but the three lanes of emptiness beside you reflect a peacefulness and serenity that you don't see in the midst of a traffic jam. It's like nothing in the world exists except for you, and the bumper-to-bumper lines never existed except in your imagination.

And now I'm home, and much too awake to go to sleep. So I suppose I'll stay up until this morning, then sleep the rest of the day.

And a super duper spoiler that I didn't want to add in the overall Fantastic Four review of things I disliked, but had to be said. )


kitsjay: (Default)

January 2014



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