Mark Twain on Plutarch

Mark Twain’s annotations.

Classic Books Annotated by Famous Authors – Flavorwire.

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Arrested Development 4×11, “A New Attitude”

Attested Development: And listen to the sound…of SPOILERS.

This is the best episode this season.  This is what I expect of Arrested Development: the most messed up friendship beginning ever.  Also, Sally’s sly instead of perfect!  Ann’s conniving instead of egging!  Gob both makes progress, yet screws things up awfully!  Tony Wonder matches him wonderfully.  This episode is awesome.

OTHER THOUGHTS:

1. Okay, what is that stuffed animal in the corner of Tony’s place?  A bear?  If so, why is it so short?

2. George Michael really doesn’t have that much cause to complain here.  After all, this time Gob just kissed him, instead of getting to third base like last time they hung out.

3. I’m assuming Tony’s fake chin-hair is composed of lucky rabbits’ feet.  That might come off as he’s eating a frozen treat sometime and he can accost the sellers of said treat with the fact that “It tasted like a foot!”

4. Gob totally listened to Michael when he used to go on about being the only one with the “sweet sting of sweat on his brow”!  Aw, brotherly love surfaces.

5. Destroying Our Life is the name of Tony Wonder and Gob Bluth’s new DVD.  They will put their initials, WB on it all showily and then get sued by Warner Brothers.

6. Clearly, Sally is not the great marketer if she needs that much money to brand a magician gay.

7. Who wants to bet Tony likes to make love to “Your Body is a Wonderland”?

8. Ah, the Explaining-the-Fuck-Out-of-Everything disease.  Tony, I’m afraid you’ve been infected by Ron Howard.

Attested Development: Thoughts on Arrested Development Season 4 as a Whole

SPOILER-FREE:

My pleasure in viewing this season was like going up one of those tall, bumpy slides you love to go down.  The first episode left me just sitting on the bottom of the slide going, I’m FINALLY here-where’s the whoosh, the thrill?  Then the next two episodes pushed my pleasure up a bit.  “The B Team” leveled out for me a bit again, but then Tobias’s “A New Start” started curving up the slide again, although I was still really close to the bottom.  I wasn’t ready to declare disappointment but also not feeling it.  Luckily, “Double Crossers”  brought in a Gob who entered with bees, and from there things shot right up into whoosh/thrilling territory (for me and my viewing partner)!  This upswing got me up to the top of the slide (with little leveled-off bumps in parts of The Lindsay and Tobias episodes).  Then, ironically, “It Gets Better” just leveled it off at the top of the slide.  And after that, the episodes went down as the stairs leading up to the slide.  So, bit of a complicated viewing shape, with a less than satisfying beginning and end, but overall a really tall slide, fun, and thrilling.

 

A Few Reasons I Loved It:

-Gob’s always been the best with real character growth and his arc here tops them all!

-I’ve always wanted to see a Lindsay whose storyline is truly separated from Tobias’s.  I’ve felt that, while many of his transcended their relationship-the Blue Man Group, Kitty, etc.-even when Lindsay was trying to get away from him, she never really had anything that was wholly her own.  It was sad.  Now we get to see her figure things out without her husband and even, eventually, making decisions on her own.  It’s wonderful and I appreciate it to death.

-Obviously, the return of several missed and beloved gags.

-The satisfaction of noticing the details, creating theories, and always, always, always getting payoff.

-That special pleasure that happens when things things start coming together, because it sparks all the magic of when you realized that was Really Happening in the first three seasons.

-The acting, it feels just like what we’ve been missing.

 

A Few Reasons Not to Love:

-The real heart of the show before really lay in the dynamic between all of these messed-up characters and is, by definition, mostly gone from episodes that focus only on individuals.  One of the reasons the start of drawing all the connections made the episodes suddenly magical for me is that with the interconnections comes interaction between the characters, and that alone basically always pays off.

-While following the straight man is the obvious way to do it when you’re dealing with all the kooks together, having him without his kooky family will automatically lessen his comedic value by a lot.  Therefore, giving Michael the bookend episodes of this season was a huge mistake-we both looked to get the ball rolling and wrap everything up, with the character with the least humor in his arsenal.  Also, while I heartily approve of the new character in his storyline, we’re not going to care enough about any new character to truly want to end the series with them taking precedence over the other characters we’ve known and loved for years.

-The lack of several sorely missed and highly anticipated gags.

-Without the strict timeframe of real TV, a few of the scenes felt too long and lessened the comedy of the moment while overall making the writing feel slightly less sharp.

-I may be alone in this nitpick, but I felt that Ron Howard got too much time and focus.  I love his narration and appreciate him appearing, but…he’s not who I’m here for and every time he’s onscreen he’s cutting out other interactions that I had stronger connections to and found funnier.

-The first few episodes really did feel like I, as an avid fan, still had to work to stay engaged and find the humor.  And while there were payoffs later, the true brilliance of the first three seasons was how the writers managed to have huge interconnecting story payoffs later while still giving full-on funny stand-alone episodes every time.  So without that second part I can still fully appreciate the long-game writing and acknowledge it’s still the best on TV, but…I felt it was more ambitious before.

More thoughts on individual episodes to come!

 

 

Lords of the Rings AND Other Things

In a recent birthday discussion about activities with the Lord of the Rings cast, in literary figures and then in actors, several things became clear.

1. If a magic school the equivalent of Hogwarts began in Middle Earth, its founders would be:

-Elrond for Ravenclaw

-Boromir for Gryffindor

-Samwise for Hufflepuff

-Saruman for Slytherin

2. When visiting a haunted house with a LOTR character, you should take Aragorn.  He’d totally have your back.

3. When on a whale-watching boat, the person to hang out with is Sean Bean.  He has the ability to engage in and enjoy shipboard merriment while simultaneously being aware of the environment and on alert for sightings, even if the other passengers include pranksters.

4. If one had to babysit with someone that someone should be Elrond or Hugo Weaving-can you see the expression on his face when they overhear things he hadn’t wished them to or started running the wrong way?

5. If one of the cast had to be your wedding planner, it should be Andy Serkis.  He’s got directing experience and the ability to make incredibly stressful, going-wrong things laughable.  If it had to be a character, your wedding planner is Faramir. 

6. If one of the cast were to give the first speech at your wedding, it should be Boromir.  He gives short, sweet speeches and appreciates the real life of the party.  Moreover, he’s good at directing everyone else to partake more in the merriment.

7. If one of the cast were stalking you, it should be Billy Boyd.  If one must have a stalker they should be a soulful Scottish singer.

8. The funniest charades partner would be Dominic Monaghan.

 

Other things have candidates.  For instance

-When going to a haunted house  with the actors, would it be more fun to go with Elijah Wood (reassuringly goofy, but into it) or Liv Tyler (loving the fear, but reassuringly on the brink of laughter)?

-Would the best character stalker be Pippin (hilarious and bearing food) or Legolas (most soothing stalker ever and pretty)?

-Would you rather play charades with Haldir (swishy, painstaking, and interpretive dancey) or Legolas (earnest, stiff, and hilariously helpless at guessing)?

-Who would you most like to maintain an allegedly fancy garden with?  Ian McKellan (“Good work, now let’s knock off and have some iced beverages in our hats”) or Liv Tyler (“All paths lead to beautiful”)?  In characters, would you partner with Elrond (who guarantees both serene learning and a flourishing garden) or Samwise Gamgee (who guarantees growing things and agreement to your plans)?

-Who’d make the best college roommate?  Frodo (quiet, reader, good for dancing at parties and rooting-for-you advice on crushes) or Faramir (quiet, reader, good for hiking and giving perspective on parental issues)?  Or acting-wise, Ian McKellan  or Liv Tyler?

-Who would you like to host a dinner party with?  Gimli (most enthusiastic foodie, good for rousing the carousing) or Bilbo (best thinker of food choices and used to putting up with the worst of manners)?  Ian McKellan or Elijah Wood?

-Would your favorite Middle Earth designer (if all of them became adept for an epic designing show) be Faramir (Symbols, shininess, whites, and blues) or Eomer (Soft cloth, warmth, golds, and burgundies)?

-Who would you most like to bake cupcakes with?  Theoden (coziness, inept comedy, and victory announcements) or Samwise (earnest, peaceful, and up for most of the work)? Or Elijah Wood (goofy, messy, and everything-licking good) or Liv Tyler (calm, sweet partier)?

-Who would you like to ride a roller coaster by?  Galadriel (twinkle-in-her-eye) or Faramir (the light on the horizon is EVERYWHERE)? 

-Who would you most like to read your tarot cards?  Galadriel “(I see things that are, things that were, and some things that have not yet come to pass”) or Bilbo (“This is the most fascinating thing I learned from the elves, let me ponder, hmm”)?  Or Hugo Weaving or Sala?

-Whose self-help book would you most like to read?  Faramir’s “Resisting Rings to find Happiness” or Theodon’s “Getting out of the Ring in your Head”?

 

Feel free to weigh in with votes, other options, or more questions! 

(For example, ones with too many candidates to put here were With whom would you visit the zoo?  Who’d be the best partner in a non-dangerous but tricksy maze?  And so on!)

Fairy Tale Christmas Comforts

The Christmas tide is very near and things may seem very stressful.  That means it is once again time to keep things in perspective by noticing all the ways in which your holiday festivities will probably NOT resemble a fairy tale:

 

1. Even if you don’t get around to sending everyone their Christmas cards, you won’t have to worry about your children being cursed in retaliation.

2. The delivery people for your balls, toys, and treasures will not ask to share your bed as a reward.

3. If, instead of buying, you are spinning raw materials into gifting gold, you can rest assured that even big mistakes or delays will not result in you losing your head. (Or your baby.)

4. Any unwelcome visitors who trick their way into your house will likely settle for Christmas dinner, or perhaps even Christmas cookies, so your flesh is pretty safe.

5. The gingerbread men will not insult anyone.

6. No matter how sick you get of Christmas carols, even the awful ones will not have the power to lure your loved ones away from you.

7. At least you weren’t asked to build a jeweled palace overnight for anyone’s gift.

8. Even if you don’t have someone’s gift ready on time, you will not have to make up for it by giving up “the first thing you see” or “the first one who greets you” upon your arrival home.

9. Even if your family doesn’t allow you to sleep on Christmas Eve, at least you don’t have to face the big day with no sleep AND exhausted feet.

10. Reveling in your new possessions will not land you in hell or cause you to lose control of your limbs, even if those new things are red shoes.

11. No matter how mechanized the new toys are, none of them will carry your children off into the sky (even if you would like them to).

12. Don’t worry if a gift exchange seems uneven-even the presents that seem like small beans can show just how much magic there is in your relationship.

13. Even if you received a living thing, you won’t lose it if you don’t pick out the right name right away.

14. Even if a gift starts to fall apart, just remember: it has no control on anyone in your household’s looks, love, or ability to handle cutlery.

 

Happy 200th anniversary of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales and Merry Christmas!  Just remember, it could be worse-it could be a fairy tale.

There are 14 reasons today because the Grimms’ anniversary demanded 10 all their own, and there were a few non-Grimm fairy tale references I could not resist adding.  25 Points for every fairy tale reference.  55 for every new one added.

Happy National Hobbit Day!

I have been reliably informed by hallmark that today is National Hobbit Day!  Therefore, I did my humble best to pay tribute to this momentous work (as well as attempting to act more Hobbitably).

 

Bilbo Baggins meets Thorin at his home of Bagend:

 

Bilbo’s Trolls:

 

The goblin king stands over his hoarde:

 

Riddles in the Dark:

 

Invisible!Bilbo sneaks inside Lonely Mountain:

 

Smaug emerges from Lonely Mountain:

 

(Special guest appearances by Silast as Smaug and Rattafin as Invisible!Bilbo.)

 

 

 

Batman to Joffrey

 

Geekasaurus Rex, mountainduwe: FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUU— Oh my gods. .

 

From geekasaurus rex and tumblr: the real reason behind Joffrey’s psycho-ness, as foreseen by me in my review: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/garden-of-bones-got-2×4/!  He knew Christian Bale also starred in American Psycho and thought so long as he did SOMETHING Bale-ish he’d be keeping his promise to Bat-Bale!

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