My Fitness Pal: Blog Edition

I’ve tried using this app and another one previously, and they lasted…maybe about 3 weeks. So in an attempt to hold myself accountable (again), I’ve downloaded the app (again), and started logging my food yesterday. I didn’t eat the best yesterday (Monday), but it was at least an improvement:

Breakfast was a 16 ounce caramel latte. Unfortunately I don’t know the actual nutrition info because William in the lobby of my office building doesn’t have an entry in the app database. So I guessed with Starbucks. Anyway, that’s all I had until dinner (I know that’s not good).

For dinner we ended up at O’Charley’s, where I had the 6 ounce steak and shrimp scampi meal, with a side of broccoli and coleslaw. I also caved and had 2 dinner rolls because did I mention that I had previously only “eaten” latte?

So that’s exciting, right?! Today’s “breakfast” again is coffee, but it’s the controversial “Bulletproof™”/butter coffee. It’s not as gross as I thought it would be, but it’s also incredibly bland, and that’s with heavy cream and a teaspoon of vanilla added.


Okay. There was a time lapse, as I began this entry before work this morning. Now that I’ve had time to feel the effects of the coffee, I can tell you that I was not energized and was incredibly hungry all day. If I do this again, I’ll be sure to eat something, but I think the point of the coffee is that it replaces a meal. Well. It doesn’t.

At lunch, which I often do not eat, I couldn’t take it anymore and went to the Wendy’s nearby because between that, Taco Bell, and McD’s, if I’m counting carbs, they had the most meat with the fewest grams. So I got some spicy chicken nuggets and that was that. Right before I left work I had a handful of pistachios.

For dinner I’ve had a small plate of roast beef, and that’s it. I’m still hungry, but I don’t want anymore meat today. Whipped cream for dessert? What kind of dessert can I make with that? I do not have any fruit that would go well with it.

Damn, I’m hungry.

Reign, 2013

I apologize for the size of this image because I couldn’t find a LARGER ONE. Sorry, I can’t apologize for the size of this image. I can’t decrease the size of the picture when the two fabulous ladies in it have a presence so large.poster_reign2I. Love. This. Show.

I didn’t get to watch this as it aired last season, but Netflix added it not too long ago so I watched the entire season over the course of a weekend and now I’m watching the current season as it airs!

A friend described this show as Gossip Girl in the 16th century, and it is fabulous I never actually watched Gossip Girl, but I know the vibe she’s describing. I wasn’t really sure what direction this show was going to take–a period piece on the CW? Weird. But its look is surprisingly lush, the characters are REALLY good, and I love pretty much every principal female character on the show. Catherine isn’t just painted as a, well, bitch (if I must use that word to convey my meaning), which is what most shows would do with her. I was disappointed that there wasn’t more of Diane de Poitiers, but as that isn’t the real focus of the show, I can live with it.

Adelaide Kane does a superb job showing Mary’s innocence and her evolution into a ruler, both with her strength and missteps, and in her dealings with her future mother-in-law. The Four Marys are present but, for simplicity’s sake I assume, have all been renamed (Aylee, Greer, Kenna, and Lola).

Rounding out the primary cast of characters of course are Henry II; the dauphin Francis; and Sebastian (Bash), a fictional son of Diane and Henry, to vie for Mary’s affections; as well as Nostradamus, whose inclusion brings a somewhat supernatural element to the show. Amy Brenneman also guests as Marie de Guise, and she is equally fabulous in her brief role.

Historical accuracy isn’t something this show is terribly concerned with, and while there are some shows or films that I can’t stand for this sort of thing, Reign gets a pass. It knows its place in the canon of historical drama and it doesn’t apologize for it. The show is very female-centric with complex characters who have clear motivations. It’s positively refreshing. It’s The Tudors for network TV, but with more estrogen and less blatant objectification.

Another thing I love about this show is the wardrobe, particularly that of Mary, her ladies, and others of their age. The dresses are inspired by 16th century clothing but are in no way historically accurate–I feel like I’m looking at haute couture at the French court. They are GORGEOUS (as are the hair and makeup). The costuming manages to help add some levity to the show without being completely laughable, perhaps because the clothes are just so well done.

If you aren’t watching this show, then you definitely should start.

Awesome Lady Characters: A Series

Gina Torres as Zoe Washburne
Gina Torres as Zoe Washburne

One of my primary areas of concern/interest when it comes to media has to do with the portrayal of women in television and film. Literature as well, but written works aren’t always so immediate in public consciousness, not to mention fandom (series aside; for this I mean stand-alone works). These Awesome Lady Characters posts will focus on some of my favorite characters from TV and film, many of whom have been criticized as being (often a combination of) stupid, whiny, emotional, and everyone’s personal favorite, a bitch.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers

The Strong Female Character™ is a phrase, an idea, that gets thrown around a lot in discussion of women in media. On the surface, it looks good: these characters are often seen in traditionally male roles, but they end up eschewing roles or activities that would be seen as traditionally feminine. All too often the Strong Female Character™ is a conventionally attractive woman in sexualized attire with a phallic weapon, all designed to appeal to the male gaze.

Renee O'Connor as Gabrielle and Lucy Lawless as Xena
Renee O’Connor as Gabrielle and Lucy Lawless as Xena

While the subversion of traditional gender roles in media is important, it is equally important not to demean activities, appearances, or behaviors traditionally seen as feminine. Not to mention for the most part, this subversion is women taking on traditional male roles; men very rarely take on traditional female roles in media without being met with ridicule or some reminder that the male character is taking on a role usually filled by a woman (Mr. Mom and similar titles, for example, and these are generally used to comedic effect). Zoe Washburne may be easily juxtaposed against Inara Serra, but she is never viewed as less of a woman simply for wielding a weapon (meanwhile Inara is derided as a “space hooker” by her would-be love interest, who is also the focal point of the show; i.e., the good guy).

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark
Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark

Unfortunately the SFC tends to fall into the same trap of glorifying the traditionally masculine as superior to the traditionally feminine. This is a problem. Androgyny doesn’t only mean that girls play with “boy” toys or women taken on roles requiring physical strength. If boys aren’t also free to play with toys marketed toward girls, or men aren’t free to pursue nursing or childcare or design without a) having their gender status called into question and b) being referred to as women/girls as an insult, then the SFC as a concept has failed.

(Stepping outside of media for a second, comparing a man to a woman as a way to mock him is saying that femaleness in and of itself is laughable, and that women are not worthy of respect. It’s misogyny, plain and simple.)

Tatiana Maslany as Alison Hendrix
Tatiana Maslany as Alison Hendrix

So let’s put aside the Strong Female Character™, and instead focus on good, complex, well rounded women who are capable of strength in their own unique ways; and for simplicity’s sake, I will be referring to them as Awesome Lady Characters. There will be women who have often been referred to as SFCs in my list of favorites, but let’s shed the implications that to be strong is to be masculine, or that strength of character is indicated only by how many men you can take out in a fight. Besides, being Awesome opens up much more room for inclusion of women who have been rejected as SFCs because of their traditionally feminine qualities. That’s not feminism; that’s a Trojan horse.

Packing: Phase 1

I’ve been queuing up a lot of media posts the past few days, trying to get my reactions down before they completely fade from memory, so I thought it was time to change it up a bit and talk about something that matters…my trip to Rome!

As I’ve mentioned before, when I was in the initial planning stages of this trip, one of the first sites I came across was Travel Fashion Girl. This was a really great resource I found while trying to plan how to pack, and since Alex Jimenez, the titular Girl, travels the world full-time carry-on only, it was exactly what I was looking for.

120247610As a child, my mother was a notorious over packer. Seven people on a weeklong trip and her bags took up half of the trunk. (She’ll tell you whenever anyone needed anything she had it, which is true, but a tube of Neosporin isn’t THAT big.) When I went to Europe right after high school, I managed to travel carry-on only, but looking back I still think I took way too many clothes with me. So I was looking for a way to scale back my clothes as well as figuring out the best way to pack them (rolling is key, which I figured, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything else). Anyway, I highly recommend checking out TFG!

120247671TFG is all about the capsule wardrobe. The site has lots of checklists available for download (free), and there are also a couple of e-books to help you along. It is geared primarily toward women, though there is this packing guide for men as well. There are different versions of what constitutes a capsule for different people and/or needs,  from 6 (minimal) to 15 items (“maximista”), not including shoes or accessories. The big key here is having a single, cohesive color palette so you can mix and match depending on weather, culture, etc. I’m attempting to do a 9 piece list (10 including a jacket) and 7 pieces for Ben (8 with jacket), 107774675but I’ll save that for another post a few months down the road.

This post is about accessories! So I’ve chosen my color scheme (and with Polyvore’s help I have a pretty good idea of what pieces I want as far as color or shade go), and thinking about the environment, activities I’m planning to do, and places I’m wanting to go, so I’m looking at my shoes and accessories around that. For instance, I know any churches we go into I’ll need my shoulders covered, and while I plan to wear sleeved shirts on those days anyway, I know my itinerary might not always go exactly as planned. So I have both an infinity scarf (which is REALLY big, by the way) and a more traditional wrap for those occasions.107668906

As for shoes, Rome is a walking city (and Florence is DEFINITELY a walking city), but I also don’t want to stick out like too much of a sore thumb, so I will be leaving the big white running shoes at home with my high waisted khaki shorts and fanny pack (I don’t 115415019actually own those things).  I think the Keds are innocuous enough and will do nicely some days, and meanwhile the other two pairs I’m bringing, when I want to dress it up, are Crocs. I know, I know, a decade ago I hated them too. But they aren’t just ventilated garden clogs anymore, and they are stupidly comfortable. When I tried them on, the wedges felt like those moon shoes that no one I actually knew had in the ’90s.

120085922The ring? Well, that’s my substitute engagement ring. I don’t really fancy the idea of losing my 120+ year old engagement ring on the other side of the Greenwich Meridian, so that will be staying with my mother while the cute three stone ring above serves its purpose. And the pearls, 119755458well, I like color and I like pearls, and those came as a set. And they’ll also serve in place of some jewelry with sentimental value. Then again, taking a piece of Treva (grandmother) to the Trevi would be pretty awesome. Then there’s the watch, which really I just wanted because I wanted it, but it will come in handy if for some reason our phones won’t show us the time (and it’s a lot more convenient than digging through a purse anyway).

92972749I’m still searching for a crossbody bag that’s big enough for my DSLR with the lens on while not being a monster, but for the most part I feel very accomplished with the first leg of my packing journey!

 

American Horror Story: Asylum, 2012

ahs-s2-art-2I’m just now getting around to watching American Horror Story. I still haven’t watched the first season because quite frankly I heard about some events in the series that I didn’t want to subject myself to. So I can’t speak to the series which has been retroactively titled Murder House (that’s a terrible name, by the way).

I’ll cut right to the chase: obviously Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson turned in wonderful performances. I don’t really have anything bad to say about the acting. I do feel the season had some pacing issues, and maybe it’s just because I binge watched and I ended one night on a particular episode which itself had some finality about it, but the last 3 or 4 episodes of the season seemed a bit out of place with the rest of the series. The major thing that bothered me though, as far as the story is concerned, was the alien element. It never really paid off for me and ultimately seemed incredibly out of place with the terrestrial science and the spiritual component (oddly enough I felt those two things worked well together). But the Kit/Alma/Grace storyline eventually lost its cohesiveness with the rest of the series for me.

There is a lot of violence against women in this series, which was much more difficult to watch than the gore (although they often went hand in hand). This is a problem throughout media in general anyway, but there were some especially egregious scenes here which weren’t wholly necessary to the story. There were also two rapes, and while one was explicitly referred to as such, the other fell into the standard, boring trap of ignoring the facts of what happened. Generally speaking I just wish these creative teams would come up with more original ideas than rape as a plot element.

For the most part I felt it was a strong series, but there was definitely room for improvement. I am interested to watch Coven (which I hope will be on Netflix soon), and I have been pleased to see the videos featuring the Freak Show cast telling their personal stories. I hope this bodes well for the series.

Emma, 2009

I found this little gem on Hulu. It’s only a few years old, but I had never seen this adaptation before. I was made aware of it by one of the many commercials the pay services makes its paying customers watch. Anyway, the first adaptation of Emma I ever saw, really, was Clueless. Then when I was in college, one of my roommates had the 1996 movie with Gwyneth Paltrow (I think I probably watched before I read), and I was really, really, really put off by Emma. I mean that’s the point. Austen specifically set out with that being the point. Cher Horowitz certainly wasn’t perfect, but somehow she’s more likable.

I did find Romola Garai’s version of the character more likable than what I remember of Paltrow’s portrayal–she’s more charming but still maintains Emma’s inherent snobbery. And to be fair, the book Emma is somewhat classist, so there’s only so much a film can do to soften that blow. I could make allowances for the Regency era, but…nah. A snob is a snob. Even Knightley has his moments but with him it’s more about actually knowing the world for what it is and which matches are actually likely to happen. He’s still nice to those beneath his social class.  Anyway. Tangent. Read this article. I’ll go on.

This is a four part miniseries, and I was so enthralled by it that I stayed up until about 3 AM watching the whole thing (when you reach your thirties, 3 AM is at least 4 hours past your bedtime, and that’s if you’re childless). In addition to Jonny Lee Miller, Michael Gambon plays Mr. Woodhouse, and you may recognize Mr. Weston as Robert Bathurst, who broke Lady Edith Crawley’s heart ON THEIR WEDDING DAY (the bastard) as Sir Anthony Strallan. (Incidentally, I followed Emma up with Mansfield Park, featuring Hugh Bonneville.)

This was a charming 4 hours, and as far as Austen adaptations go, I think it fits nicely beside the 1995 Pride & Prejudice. I’d really like to see more from Romola Garai, so I guess I’ll have to search that out as well.

Bed of Roses, 1996

Oh, I watched a lot of movies in September. This is where I try to catch up on writing about them.

Okay, so let me tell you about this movie. This movie came out when I was about 14 years old and full throttle into my Christian Slater obsession. It was the ’90s and I was a teenage girl with a pulse and an obsession with Anne Rice, okay? I was eating up every movie I could find with IWTV actors, and Slater really stuck out. My god, I watched Kuffs. Have you seen Kuffs? All I remember is an underage Mila Jovovich playing his girlfriend, and that it was my first exposure to this glorious piece of music. The point is it wasn’t good. Heathers had also become a recent favorite (and still is, thank you very much). I digress.

So Bed of Roses is one of those movies that was a default addition to my expanding Christian Slater catalog. I bought the damn soundtrack (to be fair, I think I was selling magazines and CDs for a school fundraiser at the time and I may have bought it from myself). So watching this movie nearly 20 years later…well let’s just say that time did not fog my judgment. In fact, time probably improved it, because I’m no longer suffering from Slateranity (see what I did there?).

This movie was painful to revisit because it’s painful to watch. The thing about this movie is that everyone just seems so constipated. Oh, Gina Torres was in a couple of scenes. She didn’t seem constipated. But Lisa and Lewis particularly…my god, they’re just tragic people.  Lisa doesn’t even know when her birthday is, and there are heavy implications that she was sexually abused by her foster/adoptive father, and so when she gets news of his death (these aren’t spoilers; the movie kicks off this way), she has one of those pained cries where she’s probably crying more from drudged up memories than for the lost life (can you blame her?). And then we have Lewis, who is basically a stalker. He sees Lisa crying while out on a walk and then follows her to work the next day. And then when she refuses him he sends her roses on the hour. THAT IS NEITHER HEALTHY NOR ROMANTIC BEHAVIOR. But of course it eventually leads her straight to him (why would you actively seek out your stalker without law enforcement by your side?) and they embark on a relationship.

I’m giving more a summary of this one than a review, but it’s so old it doesn’t even matter. The point is I’m rating it a C, and I feel like I’m being generous with that. At the same time, my personal reaction to the score and the soundtrack and emotional constipation of it all may be a bit more visceral than the film deserves. So rather than give it an outright F or even saddle it with a D, I’ll settle on C.

And now to 14 year old Stacy, I have to ask, what were you thinking? My god, you had bad taste.

A new leaf

Moving house can be tedious, even if “house” is just a bunch of code and data files. Since moving off the .com servers, I’ve had some days where I’ve just been too irritated by back end complications to the point where I haven’t even wanted to deal with content. Which I realize isn’t the greatest way to keep up a blog. So, here’s me, making an update.

I haven’t made a book post in a while, which is not good, because it means I haven’t finished the book that’s been up on the sidebar for over a month now. Life started going a little cuckoo bananas, and reading has fallen to the bottom of the priority list. I feel like I might be repeating myself at the moment, though, so I’ll move on from that and tell you what has kept me occupied and entertained as of late.

We’re heading into the six month window to our trip, and I’m excited/nervous. Nervous mostly over air travel, and that mostly due to the airports we’ll be flying in and out of. The route we’re going isn’t the one that was my top choice, but the time was reasonable enough and the prices were a lot lower than I had seen them, so I jumped–maybe too soon, but it’s done. It’s been done.  We also still need to get our passports, but there’s time enough for that.

So the thing that has had me excited lately has been the planning, and by planning I mean the packing. The original goal I had when I started this blog was to get into shape–and that’s still a goal, but it’s one that’s very easy to stray from, especially if you have a tendency to eat your feelings. So the trip is my motivation, because I’m going to NEED to be in shape for this trip. I won’t have a choice. Walking around shopping today really aggravated a lower back issue I’ve had for a while, and I need to really get on straightening that out. Anyway, that’s relevant because: new clothes.

I remember when I was a kid and early August rolled around how much I loved looking through the new fall catalogs (specifically the JCPenney Big Book). I’m sure I’m not unique in that, but when the seasons change, and it especially seemed like this from summer to fall, it was time for a wardrobe overhaul. Of course a lot of that had to do with the fact that children grow out of clothes pretty quickly. So in a way, emotionally, I’m treating this trip like I would treat a new school year.

Polyvore has been both a useful and dangerous tool in this quest.  Dangerous in that I am now pretty much fully accessorized for our trip. (I haven’t even started on Ben yet.) Today my second pair of Crocs in less than 2 weeks arrived. To be fair, they are somewhat seasonal and are about to be out of production (one of them already is, if not both), and we’ll be going when it’s warm, so I jumped on that. So I made several purchases over the past two weeks. Mostly over this past week.

I guess, though, right now it feels like this is one thing I can control. I can afford it, I have a plan of action for it, and also there’s a lot of color involved.  I want to expound on this more, but I also don’t want this post to be unbearably long. That’s what queues are for.

9/28/14

I’ve been a bit negligent here the past couple of weeks. Over the past month I’ve watched several movies that were in my queue, and had planned to write about them, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I realized I would need to devote pretty much an entire day writing and queueing, which I’ll do, but life has just been happening lately, so I haven’t had time. I’ll plan to tackle some of those this week, as well as addressing some of the television shows I’ve been watching (some series completed; others ongoing/returning for the fall).

I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time trying to work through this whole blog transfer thing with some issues I’ve been having on the back end. I’m in one of my phases where my mind is being particularly, contrarily overactive, and I keep having ideas about various spheres (blog, work, travel, home, health, the list goes on) without having the actual mental downtime to bring any of them to fruition. With all of that, my reading time has been nonexistent this month. I think I may have to just change my current book selection because I’m finding it difficult to focus, which makes it even more difficult to get back into the story each time I return to the book. Then there’s another part of me that wants to plow through because I worry that if I don’t, I’ll just end up in the same predicament I always find myself of having half finished books lying around only to return to them so long after beginning that I can’t remember what the story is even about.

And lastly, with all this, I think the fact that I’m still grieving the loss of my grandfather is sending everything I already mentioned into a tailspin because, well, it’s hard. Last weekend I went back to visit my mother for the first time since about a week after the funeral, and even then I couldn’t face going to my grandfather’s house. Next time I know I’ll have to, and I know next time will come soon, but breaking into tears in the middle of Costco over a pair of men’s shoes doesn’t really give me much confidence as to how well I’ll handle all of that. I don’t really know how she’s managing but ultimately there’s little choice that everything has to get done at some point.

I have to get myself back on track this coming week. That’s my plan, anyway.

Your Sister’s Sister, 2011

16918-series-header

I watched this not realizing Ben also wanted to watch it, so I’ll probably watch it again when he gets ready for it. Oops.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. I love Emily Blunt anyway, so it had that going for it, but I was a little hesitant and unsure of what to expect because I’m primarily familiar with Mark Duplass from The League and The Mindy Project. Thankfully he wasn’t as ridiculous here (don’t get me wrong, I enjoy The League, but I wasn’t up for a prolonged 2 hour episode of it). I’m primarily familiar with Rosemarie DeWitt from her role as Midge on the first season of Mad Men, but given that she was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing Rachel Getting Married, and I saw that this was also on Netflix, I was even more interested to give it a try.

I can’t really describe it in full, but there’s a feeling that many independent films have (like many of the ones I’ve been watching lately), which can vary depending on the genre or plot, but overall I guess the best descriptor is just that there’s a sense of calm you find in independent films that is often lacking from big budget Hollywood movies. This movie has it, and while it’s not as restful as Cario Time, it still gives me a sense of peace that I can lie back and enjoy a lazy viewing without worrying about grabbing the remote to turn down the inexplicably inconsistent volume.

To move on from that digression, Your Sister’s Sister is about Jack, who, after the death of his brother, goes to stay at the family vacation house of his friend Iris (Emily Blunt) for some calm and reflection; when he arrives, however, her sister Hannah is already there. After drinking their sorrows together (Hannah’s long-term relationship having ended), they end up in bed after one too many. The next morning Iris arrives, and Jack is hellbent on keeping the encounter secret. The story goes on from there, as confessions come out from all three. Again, much of the conversation in this film seems more organic than in bigger studio pictures, and the trio play off one another nicely. Blunt and DeWitt give particularly engaging performances as sisters (there’s no attempt to mask accents here, by the way; Hannah and Iris have different mothers), and Duplass’s performance allows the viewer to look past Pete Eckhart to an actor capable of more serious roles.

-the stacy project-