Today’s song is Spent the Day in Bed by Morrissey off of his new album Low in High School. We just barely heard this song this morning and thought we would share it with you. Give it a listen and tell us what you think in the comments below.
Today’s Music Monday is a Christmas song! Is it too early for a Christmas song? Absolutely NOT! We love Christmas music and listen to it all year round. One of our favorite Christmas songs is Carol of the Bells by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
We love Macklemore, he is an excellent rapper who isn’t afraid to shy away from difficult subjects. Glorious is a great uplifting song and the video features his grandma who absolutely adorable!
We wouldn’t necessarily classify ourselves as huge P!nk fans but her latest album, Beautiful Trauma is awesome. There are multiple songs on this album that are great, but I Am Here has a great message a rockin’ beat. Listen to this great song below.
I discovered the 44 Scotland Street series while listening to Confessions of A Serial Novelist by Alexander McCall Smith, an obscure audio offering in the OneClickdigital App. I downloaded it because I had read The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency some years earlier and was curious to hear what nuggets of wisdom such a successful author as McCall Smith might have to share.
The recording turned out to be a one hour lecture given in New York City in 2006 and featured more humor than substantive advice on how to succeed as a novelist. (Although, perhaps that is a good lesson in itself. Perhaps humor is the secret to success as a novelist?) The highlight of the lecture came at the end: an excerpt from the second 44 Scotland Street novel: Espresso Tales.
The passage was about a six-year-old boy named Bertie whose mother forces him to learn Italian and play tenor saxophone. This was interesting. I immediately checked the app for the 44 Scotland Street audiobook and downloaded it. While the passage McCall Smith read focused on Bertie, the series features a much larger cast of characters, some of whom are listed here on his website.
The first book of the series focuses primarily on the residents of the building the book is named after. (While Scotland Street is a real street in Edinburgh, there is no number 44.) There is Pat, a young girl of 20 on her 2nd gap year, working as a receptionist at an art gallery. Pat’s flatmate is Bruce, a rugby shirt-wearing narcissist with a passion for hair gel who works as a surveyor (real estate appraiser in the US). Across the hall is Domenica: world-wise anthropologist, widow, advisor to Pat, and friend to Angus. Angus lives on a neighboring street: a 50-something portrait painter and companion to Cyril, a beer and coffee-drinking dog with a gold tooth.
There’s also Matthew, the somewhat dejected owner of the art gallery Pat works at, who often enjoys long coffee breaks at Big Lou’s. Before Big Lou purchased Big Lou’s, it had been a bookshop. After the purchase, Lou moved all the remaining book inventory to her residence. She reads them whenever she is not running her coffee bar, giving rise to thoughtful and occasionally spirited philosophical discussions over coffee with customers.
With all the characters and funny storylines, I am reminded of Julian Fellowes and Downton Abbey. The books are fun to binge on, another thing in common with Downton Abbey! I discovered the series in August, four months ago, and I am already on the fourth book of the series: The World According to Bertie.
I have plenty more to say about the books, their author, and the narrator of the audiobooks, Robert Ian Mackenzie, but I will save it for a later post. For now, I will leave you with this interview with Alexander McCall Smith that I discovered from The Guardian. In it, he discusses the 44 Scotland Street series in his usual light-hearted and modest style. Happy Friday!
Happy Election Day! Have you voted yet? Arizona is an early voting state, so we sent in our ballots about two weeks ago. If you already voted, you’re awesome! If not, please remember to VOTE!
Another benefit of living in Arizona is that we do not participate in the brutal institution known as Daylight Savings Time. So we wish all of you who live in affected areas: Congratulations, you made it to Tuesday! Al lived in Virginia for a couple of years where she had to adapt to the strange tradition after a lifetime of DST-free living. It took an entire week to recalibrate and it always felt like the LONGEST week ever. Now all we have to worry about is adjusting to the new times that our tv shows come on, a much better situation.
This week, we wanted to discuss Motive. Motive is a Canadian show that aired in the US on ABC for two seasons and then on USA for two seasons. It starred Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn and Louis Ferrera as Detective/Staff Sergeant Oscar Vega. It also starred Lauren Holly as Dr. Betty Rogers, the medical examiner, who we loved in Picket Fences and NCIS. RIP Director Jenny Shepard.
The final season of Motive ended this fall. We are very disappointed to see it go. We love a good murder mystery and this show was quite different from others. Every episode started off with a scene showing us who the victim was, followed by a scene showing the killer. Then they jumped to real time, after the murder had been committed. This style of mystery storytelling is called an inverted detective story or howcatchem. Columbo, another great detective show, followed a similar format.
Since most current police dramas are done in the whodunit style, Motive was exciting. You might think that finding out the identities of the victim and murderer at the beginning would ruin the show. However, it actually made the show more exciting because the writers would always put in a surprise that you totally weren’t expecting. You could be sitting there watching, thinking you know the connection between the victim and murderer but then there was a twist to the relationship that was completely unexpected.
We will miss this show and the characters. Kristin Lehman was fantastic as the lead detective. She always had excellent one liners to play off the rest of the cast. The relationship between Angie Flynn and Oscar Vega was an excellent example of friendship goals.
The other great part of this show was the location. Motive was filmed in Vancouver, Canada and it looks like a majestic city.
We hope to visit someday! Have you every watched Motive? What did you think of the show?
We hardly ever watch shows we haven’t seen commercials for, however there are exceptions. The Catch would be an exception. We were quite late in watching this show since it aired in the spring, however, it was only 9 episodes so it was easy to get caught up.
We hadn’t seen any hype for this show at all. All we knew was that it was a Shonda Rhimes produced show about a private investigator and that was the only reason we recorded the series. We love How To Get Away With Murder so we presumed we might like this show. But then time went on and The Catch drifted further and further down the playlist. We were surprised to see that one of the creators of the show was author Kate Atkinson, creator of the Jackson Brodie mysteries. At first, we though it might be a different woman with the same name, but this article from Radio Times confirms they are one in the same.
At last, we watched The Catch and we enjoyed it. We liked the cat and mouse story line between Alice Vaughn, played by Mireille Enos, and Alice’s fiancee (Christopher Hall, aka Benjamin Jones), played by Peter Krause. We were not familiar with Enos however we did like Krause in Parenthood.
The Catch starts off as what you think is the perfect relationship between Alice and Christopher. She is a private investigator and he is supposedly a venture capitalist. However, what Alice doesn’t know is that she has been part of a con for over a year and Christopher is a part of it. She discovers this when he disappears without a trace. We learn that the case she has been working, where some of her clients have had millions stolen from them, was orchestrated by Benjamin and his fellow con artists, Reggie, played by Alimi Ballard, and Margot, played by Sonya Walger.
FBI Special Agent Jules Dao, played by Jacky Ido, enters the story and tells Alice that he has been tracking Christopher across Europe and had followed him to LA. Dao believes that Christopher is a murderer and wants Alice’s help to track him down.
This show is upbeat and fun. What could easily be a tale of obsessive revenge turns instead into a light-hearted cross between Ocean’s Eleven and Romeo and Juliet. As the show progresses, you start to wonder how realistic the relationship between Alice and Christopher is. How can Alice still love a man who 1. Stole millions from her customers 2. Didn’t tell her his real name and 3. Continues to be a conman? Seems kinda ridiculous, but maybe love is ridiculous? What is going on in that girl’s head?
Towards the end of the first season, the series is saved by a pair of guest stars. The first guest star we loved is Nia Vardalos, of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, who plays a skilled counterfeiter. She brought more humor and another interesting storyline back to the series. The other guest star that we loved was Lesley Nichol, aka Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey, who played the mother of Margot and her evil brother Rhys. The addition of Nichol was a surprise, especially her little cameo as a chef. We love her humor.
Overall, we liked the first season of The Catch and we will probably watch the second season. We hope that the story picks up and has some more variety in the coming season.
Today’s Friday Reads post is about Inferno by Dan Brown. We are big fans of Dan Brown, we have read all his books including his first two, which are lesser known, Digital Fortress and Deception Point. Inferno is the fourth book that follows Dr. Robert Langdon, a professor of religious iconology and symbology, and was preceded by Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol.
Inferno was first published in 2013 and we bought it immediately. The paperback edition came out in May 2014 at which time Dan Brown gave an enlightening interview with CBS This Morning, which you can watch below. From it we learned that Brown’s father was a math teacher, textbook author, and was known to write codes to lead his children on a scavenger hunt on Christmas morning. Brown’s mother was a very religious woman who was also the church’s choir director. This explains so much about Dan Brown’s writing.
In Inferno, we are once again taken to a world that is dark and mysterious. It starts with a Prologue told from first person; we are to assume that this is the villain speaking, as is the pattern with Robert Langdon novels. Next, we meet a confused Robert Langdon, sifting through fuzzy memories and scenes that do not make sense to him. He finally realizes that he is the hospital, but has no memory of how he got there.
In usual Dan Brown style, Inferno starts with action and keeps it coming through the whole novel. We are taken on a wild journey through Florence and we also get a history lesson, another Robert Langdon novel standard. In Inferno, Robert Langdon and Dr. Sienna Brooks, his female sidekick in this book, must decipher a modified painting of Botticelli’s Map of Hell. The painting was based on the first part of Dante’s epic poem Divine Comedy, Inferno.
The pair collect clues along the way as to why Robert Langdon is in Florence and why he has no short-term memory. We also continue the adventure of what the modified painting and Inferno have to do with each other. In the end, Robert Langdon must solve the clues and save the world. As with the other Robert Langdon books, Inferno is very long (480 pages for the hardback edition), but with all the action and suspense it really doesn’t feel like it.
One of the reasons we chose Inferno for our Friday Reads post was that today is the American premiere of the movie version of the book. In the movie, Tom Hanks reprises his role as Dr. Robert Langdon. He is definitely the perfect actor to play him in our opinion. Tom Hanks is probably one of our Top 5 favorite actors. In fact, we just talked about another of his movies in Tuesday’s post: A League of Their Own. We have seen all of the Robert Langdon movie adaptations and we hope to see this movie soon. Here is the trailer, if you haven’t seen it yet.
Happy Friday and have an awesome weekend!
Tonight is Game 1 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. Technically, we don’t have skin in the game since neither of our two teams are in the series. Our teams are the Arizona Diamondbacks, but they were terrible this year, and the Washington Nationals, who at least made it to the postseason but alas, fell to the Dodgers earlier this month.
We visited Wrigley Field during a trip to Chicago, but didn’t get a chance to attend a game. It seemed like a lovely place and we enjoyed our time in a nearby store picking out plenty of Cubs paraphernalia. Consequently, we love the Cubbies.
That being said, we also like Cleveland. The Indians’ manager, Terry Francona, is a fellow University of Arizona alum, where he played baseball and along with his Wildcat teammates, won the 1980 College World Series. We have followed his career since his time at the Red Sox.
Baseball is not something that we grew up watching, but rather developed a taste for in college. However, we did spend a lot of time watching movies during our youth. Weekend mornings, we would wake up and eat our breakfast in front of the tv, watching either cartoons or movies. In those times, there weren’t 500 channels to choose from or internet programs to stream, so we had limited options. Movies were always being replayed and two of our favorite movie choices were Field of Dreams and A League of Their Own. Two great baseball movies.
Field of Dreams was released in 1989, starring Kevin Costner and the wonderful bass voice of James Earl Jones. This movie is great not only because it is inspirational, but also because it has some baseball history in it. We love the down on his luck, family man Ray Kinsella played by Kevin Costner who is also a novice farmer. While walking through his fields one night he hears a voice say “If you build it, he will come.” You can see this scene below. We think it is one of the greatest scenes of the movie and the tagline is so relatable.
Ray goes on to plow one of his fields and builds a baseball field. Nothing happens until one night he and his daughter see Shoeless Joe Jackson appear who then brings other players from the 1919 Black Sox Scandal to play in Ray’s field.
The other character we loved in this movie was Terence Mann, a radical author, played by James Earl Jones. At the time, we only knew James Earl Jones from this movie. We were too young for the Star Wars Trilogy and Darth Vader. Plus The Lion King had not been released yet. He is a wonderful actor with a very memorable voice.
The other baseball movie we enjoyed watching over and over was A League of Their Own which was released in 1992. This movie follows a fictional team in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The AAGPBL, however was a real league that existed from 1943-1954. During that time, over 600 women played in the league.
A League of Their Own has several stars in it, including Tom Hanks, Genna Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell. You can read this news article from Time that talks about a real life group of women who played in the women’s league.
The most famous line from this movie that we love to quote is “There’s no crying in baseball!” which was screamed by Tom Hanks’ character, Jimmy Dugan.
We hope these two movies get you hyped for the World Series tonight and may the best team win!
We made it through another week and we need some songs to get pumped for the weekend.
We hope you have a great Friday!
The character of Doc Martin was originally born in the 2000 movie, Saving Grace, starring Vera‘s Brenda Bleythen, and former The Late Late Show host, Craig Ferguson. However, the Doc Martin of television fame, played by Martin Clunes, is completely different from his original big screen inspiration.
I first came upon Doc Martin while channel surfing. I saw a burly plumber resting and chatting away while his son fixed the plumbing and a man in a suit with piercing blue eyes and plump cheeks interrogated them in a rather rude way. The burly plumber was in no way disturbed by the man in the suit and the son was not disturbed by his father’s apparent slothfulness. Everyone was in their little own world; this was interesting television.
The plumbers turned out to be Al and Bert Large and the man in the suit was Doc Martin himself. But those three characters are only a small part of the big cast of Doc Martin. There is also Louisa Glasson, played by Caroline Catz, an elementary school teacher and Doc Martin’s long-suffering true love. Mrs. Tischell, played by Selina Cadell, is the town’s pharmacist whose zealous obsession with Doc Martin is apparent to all but her beloved.
Not to be forgotten are Doc Martin’s aunts: first Joan, played by Stephanie Cole, a farmer and later bed and breakfast proprietor through series 5; then Ruth, played by Eileen Atkins, a retired psychiatrist for the criminally insane whose dry wit adds a lot to the show. Both Ruth and Joan act as emotional touchstones for Martin, to whom social niceties and nuances are often viewed as irrelevant until he has a word with one of these matriarchs.
There is also the town’s policeman: Mark Mylow, played by Stewart Wright, in series 1-2, and then Joe Penhale, played by John Marquez, since series 3. Both police constables have a knack for incompetence at the worst possible moment. Lastly, there is Doc Martin’s assistant, played by Lucy Punch, Katherine Parkinson, and most recently, Jessica Ransom. The assistant is always a local girl whose big personality strikes a strong contrast with the Doc’s more stuffy and formal nature.
Doc Martin used to be available to watch for free as a perk of Amazon Prime membership and with that, I was able to watch seasons 1-5. Unfortunately, Amazon has since removed Doc Martin from it’s Prime list, probably due to it’s popularity. Luckily, last Christmas, I received the box set of Doc Martin from Costco, and Season 7 from Acorn TV before it aired on our local PBS station. That was a real treat.
Season 8 is set to air in 2017. It is supposed to be the final season, which of course is sad, but the show has really progressed over the seven seasons so far and it does seem it would be a good place to wrap up the series. The conflict between Doc Martin and Louisa can be quite wearisome to watch, perhaps because it is too much like real-life.
That being said, Doc Martin is a must-watch for any fan of quirky British television. It has changed my life for the better, allowing me to spend hours doubled over in laughter at the antics of life in a tiny town in Cornwall.
It’s FRIDAY! Woohoo! We made it through the week and that means it’s time for Friday Reads. Today’s Friday Reads choice is The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery.
As you can tell from my previous Friday Read posts, I really like books about dogs. I initially picked up this book because the pig on the cover looks very dog-like, just oozing personality.
The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery is part memoir of the author and part memoir of Christopher Hogwood, the pig she adopts as a piglet. We join Christopher’s adventure starting as the sickly runt of the litter, and follow him all through his life until the ripe old age of 14.
Ms. Montgomery lives with her husband in rural Maine in a house that is over one hundred years old and has an accompanying mini farm. After they nursed Christopher back to health, he became mischievous and would escape from his enclosure. However, he wouldn’t just escape and stay home; instead, he would take a jaunt to town and thus, everyone eventually came to know him and where he lived.
I read this book while still doing my bachelor’s degree. My school work at the time mainly focused on cattle. I took this book as a preliminary education in chicken and pig behavior. Ms. Montgomery paints life with chickens and pigs as a classic pastoral romance. Once I got to graduate school, and I met chickens and pigs for myself, I discovered that Ms. Montgomery’s chickens and Christopher Hogwood were very unique.
My experience with chickens was, in a word, AWFUL. Montgomery’s chickens just chilled in her yard and in their coop. The chickens I met chased me, scratched me, tried to jump on my back and wouldn’t let me take their eggs. Furthermore, all the pigs I have met are noisy, flighty and not very willing to go in the direction you want them to go. Christopher seems like a saint in comparison!
I definitely recommend The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery! After reading it, my respect for pigs grew tremendously and despite my unfortunate real-life experiences with pigs since then, I still harbor a secret dream to have a mini farm of my own with a saint-like pig like Mr. Hogwood.