For Friday: Obsessed with Murder (mysteries that is)

August 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

BBC America - Luther

Image Source: bbc.co.uk, Idris Elba in “Luther”

Are you obsessed with intelligent, well-thought-out, character-driven murder mysteries?  I have come to realize that I am.  Here are the signs:

  • Police procedurals, psychological crime dramas, murder mysteries – you have the lingo down.
  • When a friend Gchats asking if you’re watching Des about to get the boot on “The Bachelorette,” you reply, no, you’re catching up on last night’s episode of “The Killing” OnDemand.
  • You know that some of the best “police procedurals” are produced by the Brits and the Danes.
  • You know that some of the best American “police procedurals” actually have their origins in Britain and Denmark: “Elementary” (Sherlock Holmes played by Jonny Lee Miller, though not a direct descendent, certainly inspired by the latest British go at the classic character), “The Killing,” “The Bridge.”
  • Though not a murder mystery, though certainly full of crime and drama, you’re aware that “Homeland” also began life in another country, in this case Israel. Can it please be September 29th already?
  • Sunday night’s PBS Masterpiece Mystery cannot be missed, starting with the Alan Cummings’ introduction of: “Inspector Lewis,” “Endeavour” (the prequel to “Inspector Morse”), “Sherlock” (Sherlock Holmes played by Benedict Cumberbatch and produced by the BBC), and “Foyle’s War.”
  • Over on BBC America, you are thrilled to see that “Luther” is coming back, loved “Ripper Street” and are watching “Copper.”
  • Having already heard great things about the new British series “Broadchurch,” you check and see that, although the first episode is not airing on BBC America until August 7th, it appears to already be available OnDemand.  You stop what you’re doing and watch – and by Jove, it’s as good as they say.  (It’s available to view online as well.)

No matter what you call them, I just can’t seem to get enough of them.  Perhaps you recognize the signs and you too are obsessed.  Welcome to the dark side.

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For Friday: Five Entertaining Bits You May Have Missed

July 26, 2013 § 1 Comment

Eating breakfast every day.

Image Source: OnlineColleges.net via Fast Co.Exist

It’s potluck this week.  In particular, five (actually, six) stories that caught my attention.  More specifically, stories on topics that The Epicurean loves to cover, including food, photos, music and television.  Enjoy.

First up, something near and dear to my heart – food – specifically, breakfast. Morgan Clendaniel, editor of Fast Company’s Co.Exist channel, published an attention-getting piece, “People Who Eat Breakfast Are Smarter And Skinnier,” laying out the rationale, with a colorful infographic to accompany it.

Eat Breakfast 2

Second, the one-minute ad for Google’s just-announced Chromecast video streaming device.  Priced at $35 (plus tax), it’s a game-changer when it comes to entertainment.  How hot is the Chromecast dongle?  Well, when it launched Google was throwing in three months of free Netflix service, but that offer was removed after all of 24 hours, due to demand.  The ad, Chromecast: For Bigger Fun, shows off the device’s many uses and the fun to be had, all to music from the movie “Zorba the Greek,” which as you know, starts slowly and picks up speed, until it ends in a frenzied whirl.  Creating excitement?  You bet.  Sign me up.

Third, one of Buzzfeed’s always entertaining and often insightful lists.  In this case “24 Ways We Should All Be More Like Scandinavians: They have so much to teach us,” prepared by @TabathaLeggett, which includes common sense suggestions such as: 6. We really should stop giggling about nudity;  11. We should stop working so hard; 12. And sort out our schools; and 22. Let’s get inventive with our jams.

Buzzfeed - Scandinavia better schools

Fourth, music, specifically, ex.fm, the self-proclaimed “best way to find and share new music.”  I consider it streaming on steroids, 25 millions songs!  Netted by the Webbys reports, “Now Exfm is really, really smart. It taps into your favorite sites where music is being shared freely and legally – think Youtube, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp – and organizes all the music into one huge, free library with playlists, favorites, trending albums, and more.”  I love listening to what’s trending overall, but you can select genre –  blues, jazz, indie, classical, rock, and more – and combine with your own collection.  There’s even an iPhone app.  Trust me.  Try it.  You’ll like it.

Exfm

Fifth, a blog I discovered via Twitter, “Highlighted Life,” by New Yorker @JamesNord.  Why this particular site?  Well, it’s a Tumblelog and, thus, highly visual.  And James Nord happens to capture pretty much all of the people, places and things that The Epicurean loves: Florence, the Tuscan countryside, London, Scotland, New York Paris, really good food (see below), nature at its best.  Need I go on?

James Nord Highlighted Life: Pizzas made in a wood fire oven

Image Source: James Nord “Highlighted LIfe”

And, a bonus for this fabulous Friday.  In case you missed it, on Thursday, there was possibly the best Today Show  (formerly Friday) “Ambush Makeovers” and fan reaction, ever.  The KLG and Hoda makeover team of Louis Licari and Jill Martin outdid themselves.  Fan Denise Williams did not recognize herself.  Check out the before-and-after here.

Today Show, KLG & Hoda Ambush Makeover, Denise Williams

Image Source: Today Show, KLG & Hoda

For Friday: John Mayer Returns With Paradise Valley

July 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

John Mayer - Paradise Valley

It’s music this week.  In particular, new music.  More specifically, new music from John Mayer.  The musician’s latest album, Paradise Valley, is set for release on August 20th and is already available for pre-order on iTunes.  I consider this cause for celebration.

Continuum and Born and Raised are in constant rotation on my iPhone.  I’ve pulled some singles for playlists, but my preference is to listen to them, from start to finish, each song in order.  They tell a story.  I like that.

To keep our musical appetites whetted, Mr. Mayer dropped his second single, ‘Wildfire,” via an upbeat, fun-loving, summer-concert-set lyric video. Watch, listen, enjoy.

For Friday: 6 Movies Every Human Being Needs To See

July 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s movies again this week.  In particular, not summer blockbuster fare.  More specifcally, a few movies that help show us what it means to be human, and reflect back to us our selves – good and bad, courageous and fearful, honorable and less so.  One in the theater, five available on DVD.

The catalyst?  “Fruitvale Station,” which opens today.  The film won the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  It tells the true story of 22-year-old San Francisco Bay Area resident Oscar Grant, who “wakes up on the morning December 31, 2008 and feels something is in the air.”  New York Magazine’s David Edelstein says “It will rock your world.”  In his New York Times review, A.O. Scott voices the tough questions this film asks: “How could this have happened?  How did we – meaning any one of us who might see faces like our own depicted on that screen – allow it?”  A must-see this weekend.

Fruitvale Station

Next, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the classic film based on the class novel by Harper Lee.  The performances, especially that of Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, tug at the heart and mind.  This is a fine movie, in the highest sense of the word, showing us what it means to be tolerant, compassionate, wise and courageous.

To Kill a Mockinbird

Third, “12 Angry Men.”  Another classic, black-and-white film with outstanding performances, this time anchored by the legendary Henry Fonda.  “12 Angry Men” teaches how to build consensus among a group of people with differing backgrounds, biases, viewpoints and personalities.  “In 2007, 12 Angry Men was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’.”

12 Angry Men b

The next three belong to Steven Spielberg, who I believe has become the historical filmmaker of our time.  And I think we need one.  Someone who documents history, reminding us (because we need to be reminded), and in some cases teaching us, about what has taken place.  “Schindler’s List” and “Amistad,” so that we never forget – about The Holocaust and about the history of slavery in this country – so that they never happen again.  “Lincoln,” so that we understand the insight, strength, cunning and politicking required of one of the greatest U.S. presidents, in order to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (abolishing slavery) and to end the Civil War.  All three warrant repeated viewing, on occasion, so that we don’t forget.

Schindler's List

For Friday: Summer and Sandy – Watch, Read and Listen

May 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Seaside Heights, NJ Boardwalk Reopening

Image Source: Today Show

It’s Memorial Day Friday.  The start of the first long weekend and unofficial start of summer.  Time to head off to see family and have barbeques and have some good weather (hopefully), so we can catch some rays at the beach.

To kick things off, the “Today Show” moved to the Jersey Shore for this morning’s broadcast.  Their location was the boardwalk of Seaside Heights, a beach community pummeled by Hurricane Sandy (think back to the images of the seaside roller coaster actually in the sea and the boardwalk that was no longer).

Over the last seven months, this community has fought back and recovery efforts have yielded results – the reason for this morning’s beachside broadcast was the official reopening of the boardwalk, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Governor Chris Christie.  During an interview, Governor Christie gave the recovery on the boardwalk an “8,” on the one-to-ten scale, which, as Matt Lauer noted, is a positive thing for local businesses and the state’s coffers (visit!).  However, the governor pointed out that other areas are only at a “4,”  and many of these areas are neighborhoods where homeowners are still struggling to rebuild.

So, as we head off for the long weekend…

WATCH:  Nonprofit organization Waves for Water is doing great work and partnering with like-minded organizations to keep the relief effort in all affected areas front-of-mind and to raise money, because really, we all know that’s what’s needed.

READ:  Carmen Petaccio’s moving New York Times Op-Ed piece about her Jersey Shore hometown, “Seaside’s Last Summer?“.

Sonny's & Rickey's Arcade - Seaside Heights, NJ

And LISTEN:

Lower East Side #9 – The Proximity to Brooklyn

October 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

 

The Brooklyn Bridge, Photo: tlc.howstuffworks.com

 

The eternal battle: Manhattan versus Brooklyn.  Which is hipper, more current, has a better quality of life and better food?  Since I’ve lived in New York, it’s been Manhattan for me, with only a few visits to the other side of the East River.

But now, unbeknownst to me at the time that I moved to the Lower East Side, I am two stops from Brooklyn on the F train.  Also, unbeknownst to me, is the benefit this happenstance.

Example #1The Brooklyn Book Festival – Even on a dreary, rainy Sunday in September, this festival drew tens of thousands of book lovers, including me, to downtown Brooklyn.  The line-up of authors and panels was impressive and informative.  My thrills included, Siri Hustvedt, T Cooper, Stewart O’Nan, Kate Christensen, Sam Lipsyte, Rakesh Satyel, and Monique Truong.  Three hours of brilliant conversation – all for 15 minutes, each way.  Time spent?  Minimal.  Value gained?  Priceless.

Example #2The Brooklyn Flea Market – I went on an insanely beautiful Saturday morning, which meant the outdoor location in Fort Greene (as opposed to indoors at One Hanson on Sunday).  There are over 150 vendors of vintage clothing, boots, and shoes, jewelry, rugs, furniture, you name it.  And, yes, there are some fantastic food vendors should you get a bit peckish during your visit.  (Who knew that a piece of Whole Wheat Spelt Nut bread with a smear of butter could taste so good?  The folks from Brooklyn based SCRATCHbread, clearly.  And you’ll also find fish tacos, and pizza, and burgers…)  I had no intention of buying anything.  Silly.  I left the Flea Market with two trade paperbacks ($5) and a fantastic vintage dress ($30).  And, I’ll be back.  To shop and eat …  I found a few restaurants on Dekalb Avenue that have my name on them.

Example #3 – The Brooklyn Academy of Music.  I ventured across the river to BAM even before I moved to the Lower East Side.  The Harvey Theatre is a fantastic space.  I saw Patrick Stewart inhabit Macbeth, and Ibsen’s The Cherry Orchard, as part of The Bridge Project.  It’s closer now, so I’ll be going again soon.

I may be a Lower Manhattan gal, but I definitely appreciate what Brooklyn has to offer, and there’s a lot.

“The Social Network” – Yes, It Really Is That Good

October 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

Image: ScreenCrave.com

Whip-smart dialogue, fast pacing, fantastic performances, a fictional account of a true story – one that examines the nature of friendship, trust, class, entrepreneurship, ambition – all of the necessary ingredients for a can’t-take-our-eyes-away-from-the-screen film.

Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) wrote the screenplay and David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and soon, the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) directed.  They have created a mesmerizing tale of the birth of the company that did nothing short of change the way a half a billion people communicate and develop virtual relationships.  You know you’re watching a monumental event, even if it is fiction, and even if it is recent history, and the story, ongoing.

The cast is uniformly excellent:  Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg is beyond convincing; Andrew Garfield, as Zuckerberg’s best friend at Harvard, Eduardo Saverin, gives us a glimpse of what we can expect when he assumes the role of Spiderman; Rooney Mara, in what is a small role as Zuckerberg’s Harvard girlfriend, has our attention now that she is slated to take the role of Lisbeth Salander in Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; and Justin Timberlake is a revelation (at least to me) as Napster founder, Sean Parker.

After seeing the movie, which I had been reminded was fiction by several reviewers, I was curious to know what was true and what was fabricated (or as close as you can get to these two poles), and I remembered that there was an article somewhere that claimed to get to the heart of the matter.  And I found it.  So, after you’ve seen the movie, read David Kirkpatrick’s Daily Beast piece, “What’s True in the Facebook Movie.”   Kirkpatrick is the author of The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World. While researching the book, he interviewed Mark Zuckerberg, as well as the Facebook co-founders, Zuckerberg’s friends, and a number of executives; and he studied all of the documents to which he was able to gain access.   Fascinating.

If you’ve not yet seen the movie, get yourself to your nearest cinema.  It’s one that’s worth the price of admission.

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