Month: August 2012

The Newsroom– Thoughts on the Complete First Season

In the old days we did the news this well. You know how? We just decided to.

So I guess I’ve had a sudden inkling for shows with a political influence, first with Political Animals (see my review of the first episode here) and now with The Newsroom. Mind you this isn’t a show about politicians per say but given the role of a cable news station, it’s almost impossible NOT to mix politics and the news.
Let me first just say I LOVE this show. Now from what I have read, the reviews have been pretty mixed; with some critics panning it as an unrealistic and idealistic take on the news whereas others sing its praises. The first critique is something that always bothers me. Do we watch Grey’s Anatomy and think all hospitals are full of over sexualized Doctors? Or that all widowed mothers are drug dealers after watching Weeds? These shows are produced for entertainment, if I wanted a realistic view into a certain workplace I would watch a documentary… Might I add that many of the critics that bash The Newsroom are in news broadcasting themselves….or have been shown in an unfavourable light in the show? Hmmmm could there perhaps be some bias in their opinions?

The Newsroom is a drama series on HBO primarily written by the series creator Aaron Sorkin. Now this series is in typical Sorkin style, so if you aren’t a fan of his previous work there is a chance you won’t like this offering. The series revolves around the fictional news network Atlanta Cable News (ACN) and their attempt to change the way the news is presented. After a very public tirade, Will McAvoy (a news anchor played by Jeff Daniels) returns to work to find a new executive producer, his ex-girlfriend MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) who criticizes the way he had previously been anchoring the news. She tells Will (who is currently leading in the ratings), that instead of reporting the actual facts he is just trying not to step on anyone’s toes. The changes they have made to the fictional station are brilliant. Will acts as both an educator and as judicator, both educating the public on real news issues while holding politicians and big-wigs to the words that they’ve promised.

Since the show is set at approximately 11 months in the past, Sorkin is able to use real life events which brings both authenticity to the stories (using real clips and quotes from previous broadcasts) and allows the audience to come in with some familiarity. Mind you a handful of these events are much more memorable to those who live in the USA. I’ve found myself scratching my head quite a few times trying to either figure out the event or recall how it had been reported.

I’ve heard many critics of the show argue that Will, who is an admittant Republican, focuses too much on the mistakes that members of the Republican party has made. And that he does not represent the views of a Republican news station or of many Republican voters. This is something that I personally love about the show, as a Canadian I am pretty apolitical when it comes to issues in the USA however because Will is a Republican, he is almost ‘bringing the politicians to court‘ since their views have become more and more radical throughout the years. On an international scale the Republican party is stereotyped as a group of stubborn Southerners who refuse to acknowledge any change whatsoever (and that is the polite way of putting it!). Many people (particularly those that don’t live in the south) tend to hide their Republican views since the party is generally looked upon in such an unfavourable light. Will is trying to show the public how far the Republican party has swayed from their initial stances and beliefs, no longer fighting for the rights of the American people in the name of the constitution but for sub-important niche issues.

I would highly recommend anyone watch this series. It’s on HBO so there’s only about 10 episodes, and the writing is so brilliant that I walk away from each episode still thinking about the events. That is a sign of good, smart storytelling.

 
Here is a clip from the first episode of The Newsroom (this is Will’s tirade), because personally I don’t think the promos have done the show justice

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Film: One Week

Life is too short. Live each day like its your last. Always live life to the fullest. We are constantly surrounded by saying and quotes either reminding us or telling us that a single moment can change the rest of your life.

One week is a 2008 TIFF film (theatrical release in 2009) directed by Michael McGowan and stars Joshua Jackson, Liane Balaban and Campbell Scott who narrates the film. Rather than a plot heavy film, in my opinion this was almost a love story to Canada. Here let me explain that a little bit. Joshua Jackson plays  Ben Tyler, an elementary school English teacher from Toronto, Ontario. The film opens with Ben receiving the news that he has stage 4 cancer with a diagnosis of less than 2 years to live. Understandably Ben doesn’t take the news all too well, and with what some would call signs from above, he tells his fiance Samantha (Liane Balaban) that he is going on a 2 day vacation before he ‘becomes a patient.’ Samantha, completely against the idea of postponing his treatment, refuses to go with him. The 2 days turn into much longer and so begins Ben’s motorcycle journey across the country.

The cinematography in this film is absolutely beautiful, demonstrating the beauty within the Canadian landscape. However with quirky nuances snuck in such as the ever so popular Roll up the Rim, this is truly a Canadian salute. I loved the way this film was set, I’m not always the biggest fan of films with narration but it really worked well here and I like how the narration aspect actually found a way to relate back to the story. Rather than having a narration just for the sake of a narration. The opening scene is just so strong and really set the tone for the rest of the movie. Cancer isn’t at all a light hearted subject matter, however the film truly carries a certain spirit. I didn’t walk away from the film feeling an overwhelming sense of purpose, neither did the film leave me toiling with my thoughts. The true star of the film was the landscapes and the scenery. I was literally awestruck when Ben had found his way to Banff (ironically I was headed in the same direction!).

I have actually been wanting to watch this film ever since it was first released, however for some reason I put it on the back-burner and as those things usually go, out of sight out of mind. Would I watch this film again? Honestly I’m not so sure, the scenes were beautiful but I didn’t feel like there was all that much plot development. Nonetheless, as a Canadian and a lover of travel I have to recommend this film. If nothing else than just for a rainy day, at 94 minutes, this isn’t a film that you’ll feel restless throughout. Here again is one of my favourite bits in the film, a final quote courtesy of Ben

When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long… What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill?

Nail of the Day

Nail of the Day

Joe Fresh – Wave

I picked up two Joe Fresh nail polishes while in Alberta (this is my first time dabbling in the brand) and, with the polishes at least, I’m pretty impressed! Wave is a pale robin’s egg or sky blue, a shade that I have had my eye on for a while but have never found one that was just right. Who knew I could score one on a 3 for $10 deal!

This isn’t entirely a cream polish, there is a slight shimmer however it is only noticeable in certain lighting and even then its not like this is a metallic polish or anything. Application was good, not as amazing as an essence or essie polish but not terribly streaky either. I’ve been using my Revlon Topcoat over each manicure now so it’s difficult to tell how chip resistant this polish is since the top coat works like glue.

This polish comes with 6ml as opposed to the 13.5 – 15 ml of an essie or OPI polish. But hey, considering I’ve NEVER finished a polish, I’ll gladly take the lesser volume. 2 coats gave full opacity

Cold Spring Rolls

Food Geek: Cold Spring Rolls

An easy recipe that can double as an appetizer or a light dinner. These cold spring rolls were made with rice paper sheets, carrot, celery, cucumber, red pepper and thai basil. The key to cold spring rolls is giving them enough flavour and moisture so they don’t taste like a boring salad or raw vegetables. For these I layered the flavours with different sauces to make them more interesting. I used sweet Thai chili sauce, teriyaki sauce and a poppy-seed dressing. A great quick and easy summer treat

Monday Questionnaire

I was always a HUGE fan of surveys and personality quizzes growing up so I love these things. This poll was taken from one of my favorite blogs amarixe.com (check out the link to see her answers)

1.) Mood: anxious for all the work I have ahead of me for the next 2 weeks but relaxed since my body is just getting out of ‘vacation mode’. I also just finished marathon-ing ABC family’s Greek (you can tell my brain is still on vacation), a show with some cliches but a lot of heart. I was a bit annoyed how a lot of the law school components of the 4th season seemed very legally blonde -esque
2.) Can you say the ABC’s backwards without stumbling?: Nope, not at all! I can only get through a couple letters before hesitating
3.) What is the closest green object to you?: a striped green face towel sitting on my desk
4.) Current nail polish: Joe Fresh – Wave. A light sky/robin’s egg blue shade (and a recent purchase!) expect a nail of the day post soon!
5.) What is your favorite song at the moment? Gotye – Somebody that I used to know (listen here) yes this one gets a LOT of radio love (I swear radio stations go on a continuous rotation of about 10 songs now) and the video is…strange but I can never seem to change the station or skip over this song whenever it plays
6.) Current outfit: red and brown moose shorts I bought in Banff with a simple white tank top. Just relaxing in bed so changed into some sleep/pajama friendly clothes
7.) What coverage of foundation do you prefer most: light, medium, full, or none at all? Light. I hate the feeling of makeup on my skin and I never want to look like I’m wearing a mask.
8.) What color are the walls of your bedroom? A sunny pastel yellow. Re-painted my room last summer (used to be a soft sky blue) and love how much instant brightness the yellow brings.
9.) What is your zodiac sign?  Do you think its characteristics represent you? I’m a Libra so my sign is the scale (aka balance). I think some traits really suit me but some are completely off. I can be very indecisive when making a decision but once I’m confident in my decisions I never stray from them. I’ve heard from a lot of people that I always appear pretty calm (balanced?) even when I’m completely stressed out on the inside which can be both good and bad.
10.) Weekly goals: Organization. Organization. Organization. I have some big deadlines coming up so I really need to get back into the swing of things (quickly!) to make up for my lost vacation time.

Update: Where have you been? (cause I never see you… blog)

Hey, hi, hello all blog viewers! I know it probably seems like I’ve majorly neglected this blog these past 2 weeks but I’ve actually been on vacation in Alberta! Literally just got home about 2 hours ago! Alberta was amazing, some of the sites looked like they were straight out of a postcard. Which actually brings me to my next point, I’ve got a TON of posts I want to make so expect frequent and consistent blogging for the next little while. Then again since I’ve been gone for a week and a half I’m already dreading all the catch-up work I’ll be doing…..le sigh.

Some new post ideas I’ve been thinking of include TravelGeek/ Out and About/ Geeks Abroad… haven’t really finalized the sub-category but it will basically be pictures from day trips or vacations or just random things I see out and about. Expect some Film Geek posts as well, I’ve watched quite a few movies in the past week (pretty sure I’ve watched more movies in the past week than I have in the last month) and I have almost a back-order of FoodGeek posts. Basically I’ve got lots of blog posts I want to do and this is just a post to confirm that I haven’t abandoned this blog, somehow I’ve already started to miss blogging when I go on these mini-hiatuses 😉