Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: Babe in Boyland

My Summary: Natalie always wanted to be a an actress. But when that failed, she joined the school paper instead, deciding that she now wanted to be a writer. She takes the position of Dr. Aphrodite, the romance advice columnist. At first, when she finds out about a journalism contest, she can't think of a good topic. When her credentials are called into question, she starts to doubt herself as a writer and as a person, because she only tells people what they want to hear. Eventually, she decides that, in order to actually understand romance and boys she will go undercover at an all boys boarding school. During her week undercover she falls for her roommate, sees how to hard it is to be unpopular, and learns a lot about herself.


My Review:

This book was exactly what I needed. It was light and fun and clever and earnest, almost everything I wanted it to be. It was a nice distraction in a weekend where I had a history culminating and math and history exams to study for. Exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.

The first fifty pages were a little bit of a struggle for me. The characters, most notably Natalie and her best friends, were a little too cliched, a little underdeveloped and annoying. The first fifty pages pretty much detailed the lives of three very popular and very pretty best friends. Yeah, thanks, I don't need that.


Once the ball got rolling and she actually started attending the boy's school, things got much better. Natalie became awkward, but also very insightful, finally filling out her character. All the male characters introduced at this new school were also dynamic--Tyler, the adorably geeky guy, Josh the idiot jock, and Emilio the sensitive hottie roommate. Finally, I had someone to like, something to root for.

I love this picture. Do you get it--root for romance?!? CLASSIC!

From there, the book only got better. I thought Natalie's observation were, on the whole, quite interesting. She had a really hard time hiding her girlishness--not only the physical attributes, but the mannerisms and personality. I had never really thought of that. I really connected with this part of Natalie's struggle. I'm not much of a girly-girl, but I have feminine tendencies that I would have a hard time hiding.

I also found the insight in males quite intriguing. There was a little bit of the predictable "they're actually human beings" type of thing, but there was also a lot of study of how boys communicate differently then girls. How boys are (generally) less physical and less verbal, but no less communicate just as much as any girl. How boys are limited just as much as girls, just in different ways. Girls are expected to be skinny. Well, guys are expected to hide their emotions. Which one would you prefer?

The main problem that I had with this book is its similarity to the movie She's the Man.


The minute I read the synopsis, I thought of the Amanda Bynes movie. The review I read of it even mentioned the film by name. Part of me feels like I have no right to complain about the similarities, since I knew what I was getting going in.

The other part of me has a few, somewhat minor complaints. Obviously, if you're going to write a book about this topic in this day and age, you would have seen the movie. If it were me, I would try to distinguish my book from the movie as much as possible. The author, though, takes an opposite approach. As a result, a handful of scenes feel like they're stolen right from the screen. In She's the Man, Amanda Byne's Viola is crazy about soccer. In Babe in Boyland, soccer is replaced with Theatre, but the obsession plays out the same way. There's also the prerequisite girl gets hit in the groin and has to pretend like it hurts scene, and girl has trouble showering with boys problems.

By the end, though, the similarities stopped bothering me. I realized that yes, they do share the same core idea, and yes, they do even share some scenes. But each has different strengths, and, as a result, each can take up a different compartment in my brain.

She's the Man is really, really funny. It has a million different stories going at once, all intertwined a giant web of deception and misconceptions. It's a hollywood production--go big or go bust. It is silly and ridiculous and really cliched and a ton of fun.

Babe in Boyhood is very different. It is less laugh-out-loud funny and more amusing. The plot is less complicated, but the characters are more unique. The purpose of She's the Man is make a sellable movie. The purpose of Babe is to sell books, but also to make the reader think, and provide insight into girls, boys, and life in general. She's the Man is funnier, but also fluffier. Babe in Boyland digs below the surface, providing more than comic relief. In that way they compliment each, instead of being in competition with each other.

One thing they do have in common is the romance problem. When the girl is pretending to be a boy, how can another boy fall for her without being gay? She's the Man handles this issue by having Duke meet Viola and develop a relationship with her, outside Sebastian. Babe in Boyland takes the harder route, which, ultimately, I found more rewarding.

My Final Thoughts: Babe is Boyland will not change your life. But it will brighten your day. It will make you smile and make you laugh, and even make you think. To me, there's nothing more I could ask for in a book, especially right now.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Playing Teen Book Bingo

I am currently in the process of applying for a summer job. I've applied at the school board (because I want to be a teacher), the library (because I maybe want to be a librarian as well), and, now, my local book chain, Chapters (because, well, I love to read). In doing so, I had to look through all the job postings, and I found one I just loved: Children/Teen Book Sales. Oh mon dieu! It's a dream come true.

If there's anything I know in this world, it's teen books. I've either read it myself, have a friend who's read it, read a review of it, or at least heard of it from one source or another. I've read most of the major books, hit most of the major authors. Just this last week I finished up The Hunger Games trilogy, another square on the YA bingo board:


Made by yours truly. With a (huge) slant towards YA romance, and a few classics thrown in.

In addition to The Hunger Games, I also got another chip this week by reading a ton of Elizabeth Scott books:


It scored me a double bingo on my self-made bored! And, of course, it gave me a lot to think about...or, rather, critique.

Elizabeth Scott is a considered something of a YA romance god. Not like a Jesus/Christian God who created the genre and influences all books within it, but more like a Greek or Hindu God, where she is one of many who all the readers and writers look up to. This week was something of a conversion class for me, an initiation into a new church.

I'm sorry to say this to all you worshippers, all you believers, all you fans. But I am not her disciple, and I don't think I will ever be. She is a good writer, who crafts slightly above-average stories. All the power to her. But she's not Sarah Dessen. She's not Deb Caletti. She's not even freaking Simone Elkeles. She's good. But she's certainly not great, in the God-like sense of the word.

It really comes down to a quality vs. quantity issue. Either a writer can choose to go for quantity, like in The Hunger Games, where there's so much going on, such a complicated setting, so many strong supporting characters, and many plot threads all charging forward at once. Or, they can take a more qualitative approach, like Sarah Dessen, focusing on a few specific characters and a handful of plot lines, and slowly building to a strong and satisfying ending. Both approaches can work. Both approaches can make great books. If they're done the right way.

Elizabeth Scott is obviously going for quality. Her world's aren't overly complicated, her mythology non-exsistent, her plot few and far between. But she doesn't do it with awe-inspiring skill. She aims for quality, but it simply isn't there. Her main characters are too bland, her supporting players too under developed and cliched. Her settings are mundane and forgettable. Most of all, her plot lines are just too bare.

My english teacher is a very excitable person. When someone gets an answer she particularly likes she yells out "bing!". If no one is digging deep enough, she tells them to go for the meat, the good stuff. Sarah Dessen is a bing. Elizabeth Scott needs to go for the meat. Her stories, while perfectly pleasant, lack a substance, a real heart. They are stable skeletons, well plotted and thoughtfully executed, but they lack the meat that would really make them a good meal.


Something, Maybe really attempts two story lines, and only really pulls one off. The successful story is the romance between the main character, Hannah, and the goofy guy Finn. It is easy, enjoyable, sweet, and predictable. The other story, with Hannah's father, is flashy and obvious and never particularly interesting. It's a semi-original idea, but it's pulled off with little finesse or believability.


Bloom is better. It too attempts only a couple plot arches, once again pairing the predictable romance with the abandonment issues. The romance is slightly more engaging, and the character's seem to have some type of chemistry, this time being allowed to develop beyond basic cliches. The parental storyline is also superior. This time I actually felt connected to the character, felt something beyond basic empathy. The story was realistic, charming, and, once again, pleasant.


Perfect You is the best of the three, developing three whole story lines. There is, of course, the prerequisite romance, which is often frustrating and rarely rewarding, because it centres on a male character I never much came to care for, and unfolds in a less than ideal way. Then, there is, once again, a parent story, about the father who quits his job to sell vitamins. The characters involved are rather flat, but are all together fine. The stand out storyline is the decaying friendship between Kate and her best friend Anna. Their relationship was painfully realistic, and actually brought me close to tears at many points.

Out of three books and seven plot lines, only one really got me. That's not God-like quality. Elizabeth Scott is not a saint; she lives among us mere mortals, and that's more than alright. Her books are pleasant, enjoyable, fine, but nothing more. I would be less disappointed, expect my sights had been set so high.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dear Diary,



I'm scared. I don't want to go back to school. This next part is going to be really hard.

Monday is going to be hard. I'm going to have to talk to my french teacher about missing the test. I'm going to have to give an english presentation. I'm going to have to get a awful math test back. I'm going to have to find a way to pass my lunch without anyone to eat with.

I'm going to have to talk to people who pretend to like me and laugh with friends who pretend to know me. When I talk, they don't hear me. I'll be in the middle of a sentence, middle of a word, and they'll get up and walk away. They don't care what I say or who I am. They don't care about me. They don't want to be friends with me.

I'll go to school on monday, and I'll have to start every conversation, because no one wants to talk to me. My best friend doesn't want to talk to me. Because I'm not her best friend. I barely even know if I'm her friend somedays. Everyday, I struggle to find someone to eat lunch with. Everyday, I hate myself more and more because of that.

Right now, monday seems impossible. But monday's just one day. I'll be able to survive the awkwardness and the loneliness and the hard work for one day. It's the rest of the days after that that are impossible. Everyday when I have to wake up and beat my brains out to get perfect marks. Everyday when I have to feel stupid and foolish and invisible, good, but not good enough.

I'm terrified of monday and everyday after that, and I just want this to end. I want to be done with these people and these classes and this feeling. I want to go to university. But, from where I sit right now, university seems impossible. Monday seems impossible.

I'll get through this, I know. But right now, from where I am, it's hard to remember that. All I can see is challenges, all I can feel is the fear, and all I face is the impossible. But, one day, I'll wake up, and, hopefully, I'll see something else, feel something else, face something else. Something better.

At, least, I hope. That's how this works, right?

Wish me luck,

Katherine

Friday, March 18, 2011

SURPRISE!

I have a surprise for you! A really boring video where you have to hear my really annoying voice! 

video

I've seen a lot of the videos that April from Good Books and Good Wine does, and I always find them interesting and adorable. And, I had a huge stack of books that I was very excited about, but didn't want to take a bunch of time to type about. It seemed like a good time to try the whole video thing. Tell me what you think. 

Of course, I have a few notes, a few caveats, a few warnings:

-Yes, I know my voice is really annoying. I know, most people say this, but I really mean it. Because people tell me this all the freaking time. Sometimes in a polite way, like, "your voice carries", and sometimes in a less polite way, like, "will you please shut up". So, if you're watching the video and thinking I have most annoying voice ever, I guarantee you that you're not the first person to think that. 

-I tried really hard to not show my face in the video. Partly because I hadn't had a shower yet, and my hair looks like crap. Partly because I want to maintain a little bit of my mystique. 

-What you see behind the books is my window seat and the stain glass window in my room. In case you were wondering about that, for some odd reason. 

I'll probably never do this again, but I wanted to try it out. If you like it for some strange reason, please comment!

TV Wasteland

It's a slow time for the tv season. The two shows I usually review (Greek and Gossip Girl) are both off the air. All the CW shows are gone, for that matter, and the new ABC Family ones don't start for another few weeks. Big Bang was off this week, as well as Parenthood, Cougar Town, and Modern Family. However, there were a few shows I did manage to catch. None that warrant a full review, but a good collection of WTF moments that I thought I'd share with you:

1) GLEE: THE KISS! THE KISS! THE KISS!


As per my usual, I have come to watch a show only for the romance. And, since I hate Finn more than any character ever, this has been pretty much the only couple to root for on this dying show. So, I have been watching Glee for 60 minutes every week, just waiting for Kurt and Blaine to get together.

All I have to say, is FINALLY. I am so happy! It was so freaking sweet! And so passionate! I loved Blaine's realization during Black Bird, and Blaine's speech. It was so romantic. And, of course, I loved the kisses. Kurt was so shocked and scared and happy. I was happy for him!

I'm sure Ryan Murphy will screw up this couple like he has with all the others, but for right now I will enjoy this unequaled bliss. Yeeee!

2) BONES: The Elevator


Admittedly, this episode was a little over-hyped. It was good and silly and fun, in classic Bones fashion, and, yeah, sure, there was a sprinkling of romantic moments, but it wasn't GROUNDBREAKING or DREAM FULFILLING, like, say, the 100th episode was.

I enjoyed that they were willing to talk so openly about their feelings and their relationship. I liked how awkward they both were. I liked how attracted he is to her. And I loved the last scene. The promise of something, someday. It's the whole someday girl idea from Cougar Town. And look how that turned out :)

3) PRIVATE PRACTICE: Naomi leaves!


Naomi has never been my favourite character. I don't agree with her on a lot of moral issues, and I hate how she forces her beliefs onto others and then gets mad when they don't agree with her. I hated how she dealt with the whole Maya pregnancy thing, and I hated when she chose William over Fife. And, now, I hate her for leaving. It's a bad character, with a bad excuse for leaving, with bad writing, plain and simple.

I also didn't love the Amelia Huntington's plot or the dying baby egg storyline (though it did feature a surprise cameo by Steve Brady). Altogether, I found it to be a rather silly episode. Which was annoying, because I was really looking forward to it.

I missed Community and 30 Rock so that's all I have this week. For two weeks actually, since not one show I watch is airing a new episode until the week after next. I don't know how I'm going to survive.

Maybe I'll blog about it :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

To My Readers,

I thought I share some thoughts with you, so you can understand exactly what type of freak I am.

As a sometime book reviewer, I have somewhat-odd reading habits:


-I don't read prologues. I never have, even when I was 8 or 9. I would say it was because prologues are usually random parts that authors add for no reason, but I haven't actually read one in so long, that I don't know. I just don't read prologues.

-I go through periods of reading like crazy--book a day crazy--and then I don't read at all for a long time. Right now I am in a crazy period--6 books in the last 5 days.

-I usually read books really quickly. Usually, once I get "hooked on a book", I can't do anything, basically, until I finish the book.

-Young adult romance are my safety books. They are the books I read the fastest, the books I read the most, the books I read when I'm feeling scared or sad or insecure.

-I love finishing a book just so I can see it on my bookshelf. I love my bookshelf :)

-I read every word of every book, but sometimes I glaze over on some parts. Particularly action sequences.

-I root for the male best friend. Always. Even when it looks improbable or even impossible. Yes, sometimes, this is annoying, because the main character ends up with some guy I was totally ignoring because he wasn't the MBF, but hey, what can I say?

-I love books about girls who go on reality tv shows just to find out that the only people they can trust are their real family and friends.

-I have to read a book to fall asleep every night. Sometimes just a few pages--and, sometimes, the whole thing.

-My cat curls up next to me when I'm reading sometimes, and she doesn't like the lack of attention, so she bites the covers of my books. In fact, she's curled up next to me right now as I write this. If she could bite the computer, I bet she would. She's very high maintenance that way.


In fact, now she's started sitting on my hand so I can't type. And she just sat on some button that tried to close the blogger window. I think I have to go.

From,

Your (sometimes) book reviewer

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rules of Attraction

What makes the perfect male lead? This is a controversial topic, particularly in the young adult blogosphere. Some guys are not desirable enough. Some are too desirable, too perfect, too idealized. What, exactly, are the rules of attraction?

Everyone will have a different answer to this question, because everyone is attracted to different things. I can only attempt to explain my rules of attraction, by analyzing my favourite couples, and discovering what it is I like most in male characters. 

The first thing that comes to mind is vulnerability. I love, love, love vulnerable guys. For example, I don't watch The Vampire Diaries, but I always check in on it just to see Jeremy and Bonnie's relationship. I love Jeremy because he is so nervous, so unsure, so vulnerable. When he finally kisses Bonnie, he waits to see her reaction. When she smiles at him, he looks so shocked and relieved. I eat that right up. Just like the next week, when he asked Bonnie if she liked the kiss. So cute. Melts me to the ground. 

I wrote a post a while back about how I didn't like "bad boy" characters, and I think this why. Bad boys are always so confident. They make the protagonist come to them, not the other way around. Jess made Rory practically beg him. He wasn't vulnerable, most of the time. I'm not attracted to confidence like that. So, for me, vulnerability is the first ingredient. 

I also like boys who are unique. I cannot stand generic guys. To me, there is almost nothing worse than a male lead that has blond hair and blue eyes. He's just too perfect. In that way, I agree with the people who complain about idealized guys. They're boring. Too easy. Too bland. 

In Hellcats, I barely pay attention to Dan. He's just so stock, so stereotypical. Like Evan on Greek. Or Carter on Make It or Break It. Or Nate from Gossip Girl. Or Finn from Glee. They are too generic, too easy to like. They're not memorable. I like a guy who is unique, who has faults. I would much rather have an interesting guy that a perfect one. 

Chuck, for instance, isn't perfect. My god, he can be an awful, awful person, selling Blair for a hotel. But, at least, he's different. He doesn't look like everyone else, and he doesn't act like them either. He's his own character. Or, of course, Cappie. He's immature and irresponsible, but he's also hilarious, and loyal, and passionate. He's always Cappie, always unique. He doesn't always do the right thing, but at least he's not afraid to break the mould. 

In terms of stereotypical guys, I have already rejected the bad boy and the perfect guy. I also detest the jock, no matter how nice they try to make him, and the male slut, no matter how many times he may pledge to love the main character. The biggest stereotype I buy into is the geeky/nerdy guy. I always fall for him. First, because they are usually very vulnerable characters. They aren't very popular, and they usually don't get the girl. And I love them for that. 

I also love them for their intelligence and their awkwardness, two things I can relate to. I love Michael for his brilliance, but also for how long he waits for Mia. I love the end of the second book, when he has such a hard time telling Mia he likes her dress. Just like I love Dexter in This Lullaby because he's always so clumsy, with so much nervous energy. I'm always pulling for the nerd, because I can understand him, relate to him. I think we all can, at some point or another. 

Another quality I always fall for is earnestness. I adore a guy who can love his girl full forced, not caring about showing too much emotion or revealing too much. Not crying, by any means (though a guy can cry anytime he wants, with no judgement from me), but real, genuine love. 

The best example I can think of is Damon from Make It or Break It, specifically, the end of the first season, when he sings the song for Emily and does the radio interview. He admits to the whole world that he loves her. And he's not ashamed, not embarrassed. He's truthful, earnest. No wonder I am salivating waiting for the new season of MIOBI to come on!

I'm usually not into huge romantic gestures. I like the last scene of Anna and the French Kiss, rather than the get together scene. It's less dramatic sure, but it's also so much more real. 

I guess that's all I'm really looking for. A vulnerable guy, with faults and self-doubts, just like everyone else. A unique guy, who'd actually be interesting to talk to, fun to be around. A smart, awkward guy, who I can relate to. An earnest, truly romantic man I can fall for. In short, someone who's real, for better or for worse.

I don't think I ever found a character that meets all those requirements. Seely Booth is close. Michael Moscovitz is close. 

But the real question is: Will I ever find a man like them in real life? 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen: The Perfect Role Models

Confession: I secretly live my life according to Mary-Kate and Ashley movies. When I was in grade 9, I joined the United Nations club because of Winning London,


When I went to Australia last summer I had one goal: to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, like they did in Our Lips are Sealed,


And I always wanted to be a Gemini, because Mary-Kate and Ashley are. When they announced that the astrological signs were changed I was so excited. This was my chance. Sadly, they moved the wrong way. Instead of going from a Taurus to a Gemini, I was almost an Aeries (close call!).

When I was talking to my friend a few weeks ago about her chemistry class and she said something about oxidation reactions, I immediately responded by asking "like in Holiday in the Sun?!?". And when I was at a party last weekend and people were talking about Weezer songs I requested Island in the Sun, from the concert scene in Holiday. Even today, Mary-Kate and Ashley are my life. Permission to vomit now.

So, of course, I just had to see Beastly when it came out this weekend, since it starred the one, the only, Mary-Kate Olsen!

She was my favourite of the two. Mostly because her name was Kate, and my name is Katherine. Though, to be honest, I could never tell them apart anyway, so I just assumed whichever character I liked more was the one portrayed by Mary-Kate.

I know other, more normal, people went to see this movie for the supposedly "hot" Alex Pettyfer, (and now it's my turn to puke):

Do. Not. Get. It. He looks too generic. Like a male model. I don't see the attraction at all. But my friends sure do (they were even willing to see I Am Number Four for him!)

Sadly, this was not the Mary-Kate I knew. This was not the girl from Switching Goals or Passport to Paris or Billboard Dad or Two of a Kind or So Little Time or The Challenge (and yes, that sentence was just an excuse to squeeze in all the other MK+A movies I hadn't been able to mention in the intro). This girl was weird! I mean, look at her,

Oh, Mary-Kate, where have you gone?

And, of course, the movie was crap. I have know right to complain about it, I know. It's a Vanessa Hudgens movie. But has that ever stopped me before? Are you kidding me--I'm the girl that complains that Gossip Girl isn't realistic enough every week! And so, I have for you, the reasons that Beastly sucks, in no particular order:

1) The Plot is Crap

It's supposed to be some bizarre modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Alex Ugly Ass Pettyfer plays Kyle, the popular jerk who only cares about appearances. Vanessa Hudgens plays Lindy aka the beauty, who's a social outcast because she isn't as beautiful or as rich as the kids she goes to school with, and because, gasp, she's a scholarship student! The scandal! My dear Mary-Kate Olsen plays Kendra, the witch who hates Kyle, the one who puts a curse on him and makes him into a beast. Unless he can get a woman to say that she loves him in one year, he'll stay a beast forever! OMG!

The plot was so transparent, so flimsy. Absolute, 100% CRAP.

2) The Acting is Crap

Alex Pettyfer cannot act to save his life. He is just so damn awkward. There's this one scene when he walks into Vanessa Hudgen's bedroom and walks straight over to her dresser and crouches to the ground. WTF? Plus, there's the fact that the director tries to get his money's worth out of Alex by making him nearly naked in every scene. He's sitting in his room, writing a letter, SHIRTLESS. He's lying on the floor of the living room, SHIRTLESS. He's walking down the street, SHIRTLESS. And I thought he was awkward before. GOOD LORD.

Ms. Hudgens wasn't much better. I simply didn't believe the way she delivered her lines. They felt so rehearsed, so forced, and, again, so damn awkward. Mary-Kate was even more terrible, in such a bizarre character that I couldn't stand.

Amidst this teenage wasteland their were two reprieves. I don't know why they would ever agree to do this sucky movie, but hey, I can enjoy their time on screen. The first was Peter Krause, aka Adam from Parenthood,


He played Alex Pettyfer's father, who was an extremely stupid character. But still, it's Adam! You have to love Adam!

Know who else you have to love? NEIL PATRICK HARRIS.

BEST. HUMAN. EVER.

Sadly, his extraordinary talent was wasted in his role as Pettyfer's tutor or mentor or whatever. Though he had a few Barney-esque moments that any good HIMYM fan would enjoy (though, note to all HIMYM fans: Do not see this movie just because of NPH. Even he is not capable of making up for the suck that is the rest of this film).

3) The Romance is Crap

Things have not been good for this romantic this last little while. Gale/Peeta/Katniss have no chemistry/competition in The Hunger Games. Blair kissed Dan in Gossip Girl. Dan got together with Savannah instead of Marti in Hellcats. Leonard's with Priya instead of Penny on BBT. And now, Beastly gives me this crap romance that I didn't buy into for one second. Luckily, it looks like Booth and Brennan are going to get together on next week's Bones, otherwise I don't know what I'd do.


But Beastly is no Bones and Kyle and Lindy were no Booth and Brennan. I hated both the characters, so I was never going to love the romance. But come on! It was just so lame! And so unoriginal! He gives her an expensive purse. She doesn't like it. He gives her some other expensive gift. She doesn't like it. He gives her her favourite candy. She loves it. Because, as if we couldn't figure it out, Lindy isn't materialistic! She's so much better than that! Except, no, she isn't, because she never actually falls in love with Beast Kyle because she always likes Pretty Kyle. Dumb, dumb, and more dumb. Where has all the good romance gone?

I will always love Mary-Kate and Ashley. But I'm not so hot on Beastly. Or Beauty and the Beast, for that matter. But I think I might go watch vintage MK+A now. Maybe Our Lips Are Sealed. Or When in Rome. Or even New York Minute. Anything but Beastly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Goodbye Greek

I started watching Greek because one of my favourite critics, Daniel Fienberg, co-host of this podcast, mentioned it in passing. I had only ever really loved one ABC Family show, Make It or Break It, but I thought I'd give it a try. One episode, to see if it was any good.

I know this would be considered sacrilegious for some people, but I didn't start with the pilot. No, my first ever Greek episode was the one in third season, where Cappie and Casey were celebrating Valentine's. I didn't know who Cappie or Casey were, but I thought, hey, it's Valentine's Day, there's bound to be some romance. Little did I know I was about to witness one of the all time best Cappie/Casey moments:


From there, I watched to the end of the third season, then the second season, then the first. And, of course, I fell in love with Greek. Most of all, I came to love the characters:

CASEY

I've heard that some people hate her, but I like her, most of the time. She's so nice, and such a strong leader. She's the show's hero, at the end of the day, and I love her for that. I wasn't crazy about her in the first season, when she was so mean to Rusty, and when she chose to stay with Evan, but I love her now. 

CAPPIE
My favourite :) He's so hilarious! And, so, so sweet. He made so many mistakes, and he didn't always do the right thing, and he wasn't always the sharpest tool in the box. But I loved him. I loved how much he loved Casey. I loved how he was such as great big brother to Rusty. I loved how he could be put with any character, and still entertain me. I love Cappie, plain and simple. Best character, best part of the show.

RUSTY
Aww, my little Rusty. So smart, so geeky, so much fun. Of all the characters, I think I related to Rusty the most. I'm not outgoing like Casey or charismatic like Cappie. But I understand social problems. I came to Rusty because he was the cool geek. 'Til the end, he was always both. I hope my college experiences are like his.

I came to love Greek so much that I actually did research to see if any of the universities I was considering had a Greek system. Sadly, this isn't really a thing in Canada. 

Last night this great show came to an end. No more Cappie/Casey or Evan/Rebecca. No more Kappa Tau or Zeta Beta Zeta, or even Omega Chi. Just one last episode to watch, one last review to write. So here we go. Let's break down the storylines, one last time.

The Last Days of Kappa Tau

<p>Greek OMG Blog</p>

I didn't really understand how some random guy was just allowed to bulldoze the KT house. And, like many fans, I assumed it wouldn't actually happen. It's the series finale. They're pulling out all the tricks, surely. It's like Rachel moving to Paris in the Friends finale. A ploy for some fake tears, some fake drama. 

How wrong I was. And how sad it was! I felt so bad for all the KT's. After four seasons, I understand why they love that house so much. Why it represents such a big part of their lives, such a big part of them. I felt so bad for Rusty and Cappie and Beaver and everyone. This was their home.

I liked how the actual process was handled. I liked how Cappie asked everyone to share personal stories about the KT house. I liked how they had one last party, on their last night. And I enjoyed the spy mission enough. The actual moment when I realized it was really going to happen, that nothing was going to stop the construction crew, that there was nothing to block the bulldozer, I was quite sad. To see it destroyed like that. 

It made for a good finale. It offered a finality, and a new future for the KT's. A bittersweet ending. I can appreciate that.

Casey Randomly Quits Law School





I never really understood why Casey was in law school in the first place. She never really seemed like she wanted to be a lawyer. She never really had an interest in the law. So, when she dropped out, I was not exactly surprised.

I thought it was a little sudden, and not that well thought out. I was glad she stood up for the KT's (though could she have sounded stupider when she told her professor that she couldn't take the case because it was her boyfriend's fraternity? My god Casey!). But I thought she was rather rash, just quitting law school and running off the Washington, just because Evan said she could. What's she going to do once she gets to Washington? She doesn't have a degree! No one's going to hire her for anything!

Of course, I liked that moment in the bar when Evan said she could just run away, and Cappie decided he'd go with her. I loved how he just thought about it for a moment, and then threw himself in. And I'm so glad they're going together! And I loved how she kissed him, and Evan finally gave up his stupid issues, and said "As it was meant to be". He admitted it. Finally. Speaking of couples that are meant to be...

Ashleigh Finally Makes The Right Choice


At the beginning of the season I was really skeptical of these two. But they slowly won me over, and I was very happy to see them get their happy ending last night. Of course, I would have preferred more than just a kiss. A date or something. But I'll take what I can get. They got together. Rusty, the ultimate nerd, got his dream girl. An achievement for all nerds!

Those were the main storylines. But that's not what made me love the finale, and that's never what made me love the show. As always, it was the little character moments that won the night. It's a long list...

  • Rebecca and Dale's list of bad Matthew McConaughey movies. Can't believe they listed Fool's Gold last!
  • Dale and Laura. I'm glad the other nerd got his girl as well :)
  • Evan finally being a nice guy. I knew I had some loyalty to him for a reason. I'm glad he proved me right. 
  • Rebecca hugging Casey. I've always liked their friendship. I'm glad Rebecca appreciated how much Casey's meant to her.
  • The Ashleigh and Casey talk at the bar. This relationship has always been a touchstone of the series, and I'm glad they got their moment. Casey and Ashleigh, forever. 
  • I also loved how they took time to honour the Rusty/Casey and Rusty/Cappie relationships, two of my favourites in the series. 
  • Cappie's real name! I don't know why hippie parents like his would give him a name like that, but I'm glad we found out. Certainly better than the John/Big thing from Sex and the City
  • The whole last scene where they all said goodbye. A great celebration of all the friendships. Ash and Casey. Rebecca and Casey. Dale's kiss. Cappie's pretend jealous look--classic! And, of course, Rusty's goodbyes. "Take care of my sister" "Of course". "I love you Casey" "I love you too Rusty". My heart just melted! 
  • CAPPIE AND CASEY RIDE OFF INTO THE SUNSET! The perfect ending! 
Cappie and Casey  rode off into the sunset. Rusty's the president of Kappa Tau, Rebecca's the president of ZBZ. Ashleigh has Rusty and a great job. Evan isn't a complete douche! A bright future for all.

And that's it. That's the episode, the season, the series. 

Goodbye Greek. We'll remember you fondly. 

<p>Greek Finale Wrap Up Blog</p>

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Hunger Games: A Romantic Perspective

I made a mistake on thursday night. I was tired, and I just wanted a few pages to read to fall asleep. The book that I was reading, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, had gotten to slow part. So, I looked at my book stack next to my bed, where I keep all my "you should read this eventually, it'll make you smarter" books, and picked out The Hunger Games. I had started it before, and it didn't really take, so I figured it would put me to sleep fast.

And it did. But, then, on friday night, I was trying to avoid doing homework, so I picked it up again. And, BAM, I'm a gonner. Cover-to-cover in less than 24 hours. Normally, I'd be happy about this. I love getting caught up in a book like that. Especially one that's so out of genre for me (ie. one that doesn't ooze romance off every page). But not this weekend. This weekend I had SO MUCH FREAKING HOMEWORK that I really, really couldn't afford to get caught reading. Because once I get hooked like that I can't do anything else until I finish. Not my giant math essay or my french presentation or my english study notes, or the prep for the presentation I give tomorrow morning at 9am (which I am still screwed for, by the way). So, instead of doing homework on saturday, like I should've, I read. And read and read and read. I'm currently 2/3 through Catching Fire (while still managing to get the giant math essay done!). 

Catching Fire.jpg

Now, I know some people measure how much they like a book based on how fast they read it. I mean, if you speed through a book, you must really love it, right? Well, not me. For a lot of books, I just get hooked. Sometimes they are great books (Forever Princess!). Sometimes they are beyond awful (Leaving/Returning to Paradise). Because, for me, all it takes is a good plot for me to get hooked. And a good plot does not a good book make. I read Twilight in one night because it was so fast paced. But it wasn't that good. Because plot is only one part of the equation (ahhh! Been doing math all day! Never want to see that word again!). 

Writing is another. My favourite book of all time, Crow Lake, is not fast paced. It has a rather boring setting, and almost a lack of plot. But I love it for its writing. And Suzanne Collins writing in The Hunger Games is good. Not blow-me-out-of-the-water good, but straightforward and enjoyable. The novels are really well planned out, and I give her a lot of credit for that. 

Of course, character is another criteria. The main character, Katniss, is amazingly developed. She is strong and oh so smart, and so caring, and freaking stubborn. She won't let anyone help her, so help her God. She's such a well defined character. I may not like everything she does, but I love for how she is always herself. A well developed, consistent character. 

The setting is another (usually less significant) aspect to consider. In a book like Princess Diaries, the setting isn't all that important. But here, it is paramount. Now, I don't read a lot of science fiction-y, futuristic city stuff, so I really can't say how it measures up. But I really love it. I love getting immersed in this foreign world, with all these different rules. At first the Hunger Games horrified me, of course, but as I came to understand the world, they fascinated me more than anything. 

So, all of the boxes seemed to be checked. Good plot? Check. Well developed character? Check. Good writing? Good setting? Check and check. But still, something felt off, but I couldn't put my finger on it. What else was there in a book like this? What could be wrong?

Then it hit me, like a ton of freaking bricks. What do I look for in any book, any tv show, in any movie, anything, ever? 

 

ROMANCE! That was it! There was a problem with the romance! I couldn't believe I had missed that! That's my thing!

In theory, The Hunger Games trilogy has all the makings of an excellent love triangle. A male best friend (my favourite!). A adorable guy who has been in love with her forever. What more could you ask for, right?

WRONG! See, the theory's good, but the execution sucks. In theory, I should love Gale and Peeta. I maybe should be pulling for one above the other, but it'd be a hard choice. Instead, I'm finding that the romance is the part of the book I care about the least. I know, shame on me! I call myself a (fictional) romance expert! And I'm practically skipping past the romance! Blasphemy! 


But I don't love Gale. Because I never get to see Gale. He's barely in the first book. And he's only sparingly in the second. Sure, Katniss talks about him a lot, and I know stuff about him, but I don't feel like I know him. I can't invest in him. And, therefore, I can't invest in that part of the triangle. Which is very odd for a girl like me, who, remind you, has read entire books rooting for the male best friend, even when she knew there was no way in hell it was going to happen. I love male best friends! And I'm trying REALLY hard to love Gale. But I just can't. I don't know him; I wish I did. 

Peeta has a very different problem for me. I like Peeta enough. I certainly know him. He's loving and sweet and loyal. He doesn't know all that much about nature, but he can bake and paint better than anyone. He's charismatic and charming and an all around good guy. And you know I love a good love her from a far romance. But, no, not buying into this one either. But the problem isn't Peeta. The problem is Katniss. 

Because Katniss, my sweet girl, doesn't know how to love people. Gale has always loved her, but she never knew how to deal with it. All through the games, she could kiss Peeta, and feel almost nothing. She's not good at the romance thing. And I feel bad for her, I do. But I also get frustrated with her. Because it could be so much better, if she'd just get past her own issues. But she doesn't, so we get all the motions, with none of the feelings. The first kiss, and all the kisses after that. The sweet nothings. The "I love you", and the engagement. We go through it all, but we never really get to experience it, because Katniss keeps herself at such a distance. 

Now, I'm fairly certain that she'll end up with one of them by the end of the third book. But I'm fairly certain I won't care. Because I've already gone through the motions. Now, a real first kiss won't matter. Now "I love you" holds less weight. I've had the moments, but I haven't gotten to enjoy them. So the romance has been okay. Sub par for such an awesome book. If the romance was as good as the rest of the book I would not have been able to do my math essay this weekend. I would have had to read all three in a day. 



I can see why people love these books. Especially if they're not so obsessed with romance like me. But for me, they're not great. They're good, with a lot of potential for improvement. Who knows, maybe the next book will wow me, melt by cold heart. 

But I doubt it. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Appreciate it while it lasts, DAIR fans

Hey everyone, trying a new format for tonight's review. Let's see how this goes!

0:30 Gossip Girl recaps--what is this about Bart Bass killing someone in a fire?

2:00 Ooooh, tricky. So it's a backwards episode! Oh la la! Never, ever seen that before, in the history of television. GG is always one to be original!

2:29 Blair stalking Chuck! This is starting off well!

3:33 Ah, Blair trying to act mature! That is not going to last long. Plus, crap advice she gave to Serena. I can already see that blowing up.

4:17 Is Daniel Humphrey coming over?!? The blasphemy!

7:16 Uh-oh! What does Dorota know?

9:41 Wow, someone is actually questioning the fact that Ben is dating the girl that put him in jail? I'm really taking a liking to Ben's mom all of sudden! (except for the fact that she gave birth to Juliet the stalker, murderer extraordinaire. Not to mention Ben himself)

14:26 AHHHH, what are you doing here Vanessa?


Get off this screen, get off this island, and get off this freaking show! I thought we were done with you. I thought, somehow, the GG gods had eliminated Vanessa and Jenny. Well, I suppose, Vanessa is the lesser of two evils...

18:30 "Like you, being traded for a hotel" "Or, like you, raising Georgina's baby by a Russian mobster"
ZING! ZING! ZING! I will never not love when the Georgina baby scandal is referenced (though Blair is right, it is too soon to talk about the hotel disaster. Us Chair fans are still recovering.)

20:04 Wow, Vanessa reveals what we've all known all along! You know, that thing about Ben that she overheard cause she just happened to be getting into a taxi at the exact right time. You remember, the threat that Ben yelled at Damien that Vanessa somehow heard even though she was a good 20 feet away! Yeah, that's totally legit Vanessa. Remind me why the GG writers wanted to bring you back...

21:08 Okay, as much as really do wish Ben did this, he obviously didn't. A girl can hope though...

25:39 Is it a major fault of the show that I totally agree with Ben's mom about the whole affidavit justification thing?

30:50 "You're smarter than you look Archibald" Best moment of my life! I know she didn't mean this, but I'm going to take it as "You're smarter than your DUMBASS BUTT UGLY DYED HAIR makes you look". You never know, maybe that was what she was thinking...


32:44 YES! YES! YES! Please, dear Gossip Girl gods, let this break up stick! Ben, please see the light. Understand the fact that out of the millions of people that live in Manhattan (let alone the United States of America, or you know, the world), you don't have to date the one girl that put you in jail. THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE BEN! PEOPLE WHO ARE NORMAL! Not on this show, but somewhere (maybe try 90210. You seem like you'd be a good fit there.)

33:00 Uh-oh, a look back. Snap, they are going to get back together. Rats!

34:29 Loving the banter about english grammar! This too are a little teeny bit cute, I will admit.

36:44 Wow, a genuine sweet moment coming from Lily! Love it!

37:00 NOOO! Vanessa already came back! The awful character quota is already filled!


Leave Billy Baldwin! Leave Gossip Girl, and leave tv. Don't go on Parenthood or any other show. 'Cause you really should leave acting to your brother Alec, if you know what I mean.

40:00 Chuck needs Blair! She's the only one who will understand! My heart is melting!

41:12 I thought I wanted this, I really did. But when Dan touched her it just felt like he was violating her. I can support Chuck. I'm sorry Dair fans, I really tried.

41:45 A, what? What just happened here? This is not how Gossip Girl ends! Serena and Chuck were supposed to come in at the exact right moment, to see the big Dair kiss! Does this mean it'll just happen next week, or not at all?

Hope you liked the new format. It's easier for me, but I don't think I'll be sticking to it every week. It was fun to mix it up though :)

In terms of the overall episode, I thought it was okay. I kind of wish the last moment had happened, just so I could see Chuck's face. But the ending did surprise me, and I guess that's a good thing. Other than that, I want Ben to die, as always, along with Vanessa and Serena's father (and Jenny, just for good measure). I'm looking for to next week, I can guarantee that!
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