Progress Report ~ March

Hello all

It’s the start of a brand new month (give or take a few days), and it is therefore time for me to let you know how I am getting on with all my lists and aims for the year.

See 52 New Films

I saw another seven films in March, which takes my total to 25. That’s very nearly halfway there, for the year, and we’re only in April, so I’m confident that I will be able to meet this target! Two of the films were cinema visits; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Hunger Games. TGWTDT was released in the UK on December 26th, so I’m quite proud that I managed to see it over two months later at the cinema! That’s because I went to see it at my local independent cinema, which sometimes gets new releases some time after they come out on general release. But I love it, because it’s cheap (£3 a ticket, I think), and it means that if I miss something when it first comes out, chances are I can see it at The Rio! The Hunger Games, conversely, was one that I saw the weekend it was first released! This was not for any specific reason, it’s not like the Harry Potter films where I was eager to see them the minute they were released. It just happened to coincide with a weekend when I was seeing Anna and Jen, and we have all read the book and wanted to see the film, so we went. It’s very good! As for the others, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and In Which We Serve are both BFI films, and the other three I watched in one day! All very different films, but entertaining enough.

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Read 75 Books

I thought that I had got a bit behind with my reading, because my tendency lately is to be reading two or three (or sometimes four) books at a time, and if they are particularly long books, I don’t get anything finished for ages, and then all of a sudden I’ll finish them all. I know that this won’t actually make any difference to my totals, so I guess that it’s a psychological thing more than anything. Incidentally, I actually finished Storm Over Burracombe in January, but for some reason I had missed it off my list, so I thought I’d add it in here. Anyway, I read nine books in March, as you can see, so I am still ahead of my target, according to Good Reads. I really enjoyed most of the books I read this month, apart from maybe May Day, which is really short as it is just a novella, but took me ages, because I kind of missed the point of it, I think (I don’t really get Fitzgerald!). I’m whizzing through everything Jennifer Egan ever wrote, because I adore her writing, and Divergent was possibly my book of the month (tough call between that,The Hunger Games and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, though).

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Project 366

I missed a day in March! Disaster! Or not so much; I am not too worried, and it isn’t going to stop me from carrying on. I have been lacking inspiration a little bit recently, so no photos particularly stand out, though I do like this one, simply because my mum is in it.

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Bake 10 Unique Cakes

I baked another cake in March! It was a Chocolate Marble Cake, and I blogged about it yesterday. If you read that post, you’ll know that I already have another cake on the go, Herman the German Friendship Cake! 2 (and a half) down, 8 to go!

Have watched at least 15 new films from the BFI Top 100 British Films list

As I mentioned above, two of the new films that I watched were on the list; The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and In Which We Serve. Blimp was a strange film, nothing like I imagined it, and it was rather long (I watched it in two sittings), but it was good. It tells the story of a man and follows his life from his army life in the Boer War right up to the Second World War. In Which We Serve is another war film, and also very good, but you can very much see the difference between the two. In Which We Serve was a patriotic film, made with the intention of boosting morale. Blimp very much wasn’t, and was criticised for a sympathetic portrayal of a German officer. Obviously, when it was released, in 1943, you can understand why people might have been wary of a film that showed a British officer and his German counterpart being close friends. Watching it now, of course, doesn’t elicit the same feelings at all! Anyway, both good films, and I’m glad I’ve watched them! That’s four down, eleven to go.

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30 Before 30 – Cakes

Hello all

I made another cake! I am still behind with my goal, because it was really supposed to be one a month between now and my birthday, and this is number two, in three months. But that’s only one behind, and I actually have another cake on the go at the moment (more on that later), so I will be back on track soon!

This one was a Chocolate Marble Cake, and as I got the recipe from the BBC Good Food website, I’m not going to copy it out here, but you can find it yourself on the website. It’s a relatively simple recipe, and it tasted good, but it was a bit bland. It just wasn’t very exciting, although my niece Molly did seem to enjoy it well enough. And this one got eaten in full, so I guess that is testament to the fact that it tasted fine! I think if I was to make it again, I’d probably want to add something, maybe chocolate chips or something, just to give it a bit more interest!

Anyway, here are some photos.

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Firstly, apologies for the not-so-great photos. Food photography, I think, must be a real art, because I just can’t manage it very well! If anyone has any tips or pointers as to what I might be doing wrong, please let me know!

I am still having problems with the actual baking of the cake, due to our oven. It seems to cook the outside much quicker than the inside, so I had to leave it in for longer than I would have wanted, from an aesthetic point of view. It wasn’t actually burnt, but it was just a bit darker on top than I wanted.

I also didn’t quite achieve the marble effect that they make look so easy in the recipe and accompanying photo. It was marbled on top, but the middle wasn’t, really, and that was a shame.

The whole point of baking these cakes throughout the year is to try and get a bit better at it, so I guess the point is to learn a lesson for next time. I’m no slouch when it comes to baking, but I have my tried and tested recipes that I make a lot, and I thought it would be good to branch out a bit and try some new things.

The next cake, as I said, is already on the go! It’s called Herman the German Friendship Cake, and you may have heard of it before. It’s essentially a chain letter that incorporates a cake! You get given a list of instructions along with a small amount of mixture, and you have to follow the instructions for the next ten days, including giving a quarter of your mixture to three friends, before baking it on the tenth day. I tasted some of my sister-in-law’s cake, and it was really good. So mine is off and running, I’m on day 4, and prior to today all I had had to do was stir it! I’ll let you know how it goes in another blog post in the future!

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Project 366 – Week 14

Hello all

I’m massively late this week with my roundup, but in my defence I was away at the weekend! As I said, I have a loose theme to this week’s photos, it made it a bit more fun finding things to photograph, as I found when I did the ABC Challenge last month. I won’t always be using a theme, but I will from time to tiime. Even if it’s just for me; I won’t necessarily be revealing what my inspiration was!

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~ Day 86 ~

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~ Day 87 ~

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~ Day 88 ~

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~ Day 89 ~

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~ Day 90 ~

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~ Day 91 ~

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~ Day 92 ~

Did you spot the theme? The last three photos may throw you off a bit, because they aren’t quite right, but you should still be able to work it out!

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What Would Sorkin Do?

Hello all

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of all things White House/American President related. It mainly manifests itself in being obsessive about television shows and films that focus on the staff and residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, though I do have a healthy interest in the real life happenings of Obama and the fucktards that are challenging him for the presidency at the end of the year.

It’s also no secret that I am a bit of an Aaron Sorkin fan. Whilst it’s true that most of this love stems from a love of a rather well known television series (The West Wing falls in the middle of the Venn diagram entitled “Things Jane Loves and Is Discussing in this blog post), I am also a fan of Sports Night and The American President. I very much enjoyed A Few Good Men and Charlie Wilson’s War. For some unknown reason, I have not yet watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, or The Social Network. Despite this, I think it’s fair to call myself a Sorkinite. (I think I just sort of made that up. Let’s pretend it didn’t happen.)

So, when it comes to television, if your show is a) about the White House/presidency/staff etc., and set in Washington D.C., or b) made by Aaron Sorkin, there’s a good chance I’ll be interested. This year sees the advent of four shows, all of them falling into one or the other of these two categories (some more tenuously than others).

First up, we have Veep, which is premiering on HBO on April 22nd (and on Sky Atlantic in June).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soJggb_jDL8&w=448&h=252&hd=1]
Veep Trailer

 

Veep doesn’t quite satisfy the White House/Presidency category, because it is about the Vice President of the US. But I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty darn close, and my love for this kind of thing really encompasses the whole of the federal government of the US, so I know I’ll love this. It’s been created by Armando Iannuci, who is best known for The Thick of It. (which I hear nothing but good things about, but haven’t watched. Yet.) An American version of The Thick of It was actually played around with back in 2007; it was due to be based on a member of Congress and employ the same style as the original show. It was an ABC pilot, and didn’t work, so was never picked up. Now HBO are involved, which is obviously a much better fit, and the action has moved to the VP’s office, and, judging by the trailer, it’s going to be really funny. Julia Louis Dreyfus stars as VP Selina Meyer, with Tony Hale (Buster Bluth), Matt Walsh and Anna Chlumsky as members of her staff. Check out the end of the trailer, when Meyer tries and fails to keep a massive smile off her face when she is informed that the president is experiencing chest pains. It’s amazing. I’m super excited for Veep.

1600 Penn is the other presidency-based show that could be airing this year. I say could be, because at this stage it is just a pilot, and we won’t know until May if it has been picked up for a full series. The basic premise is that the comedy follows a dysfunctional family that just happens to live in the White House. Bill Pullman is playing the president, husband of Jenna Elfman and father of four (as far as I can tell). It’s being executive produced by Josh Gad and Josh Winer (who has directed quite a few episodes of Modern Family), with Gad also writing, along with Jon Lovett, a former Obama speechwriter.

I want to love this. If it gets picked up for a full series, I will watch it. At least, I will give it a chance, because I want to love it so much. But I have to say that I don’t really hold out a great deal of hope for it. I am not sure why, but I’ve got a really bad feeling.

The last of the Washington-based shows is Scandal; a new drama series from Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.

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Scandal Trailer

This one is airing much sooner than the others, it starts on ABC tomorrow night. It stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a former Toby Ziegler (or White House Communications Director, to use the technical term) to Tony Goldwyn’s president. Olivia is a ‘crisis management consultant’, she has a team of investigators whose job is to avert crises affecting the Washington D.C. elite. Other cast members include Joshua Malina, Henry Ian Cusick and Liza Weil, along with former Grey’s Anatomy stars Jeff Perry, and Kate Burton (playing the Vice President – yet another female VP on television).

I do kind of like the look of this, because I am a fan of Grey’s and Private Practice, and therefore Shonda Rhimes, and the promise of some presidential action is definitely enticing. I’m not a big fan of how Olivia is being portrayed in the trailer; anyone who is being shown as that amazing at their job is likely to get on my nerves somewhat. But I think that this is possibly just a trailer problem rather than a show problem. There’s no news on a UK airing for Scandal yet.

Lastly, we have The Newsroom.

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The Newsroom Trailer

Sadly there is no president or White House to be found here, but instead, we do have copious amounts of Sorkin. I talked a little about The Newsroom back in January, when I was previewing 2012’s television, but I didn’t have a trailer to get excited about then. The trailer was released a couple of days ago, and I’ve watched it about eight times since then (mostly in the name of research for this blog post, but partly for fun at hearing Jeff Daniels say “Progress is slow but I’m in it for the long haul!”).

Originally called More As This Story Develops, it takes place in, you guessed it, a newsroom. A busy cable news channel, to be exact, with Jeff Daniels playing Will McAvoy, anchor of the show-within-a-show, News Night. Emily Mortimer plays his new executive producer, and Dev Patel, Olivia Munn and Sam Waterston round out the cast as various staff members. Jane Fonda plays the recurring role of the CEO of the network.

I think, if you are a Sorkin fan, and you watch the trailer, you’ll see why I am excited. If you aren’t a Sorkin fan, you should still be excited having watched the trailer. There isn’t much more to say than that, really. I think, even if you didn’t know, that you’d guess that this is a Sorkin show from the trailer. There are plenty of identifiers in there. I know that I am kind of biased towards anything he creates because of my love for The West Wing, but despite that, I genuinely think this looks as though it is going to be very good. It premieres on June 24th in America. No news as yet as to when or where it will air in the UK, but I’d be very surprised it if doesn’t follow fairly quickly on Sky Atlantic.

These are just four shows that I felt worthy of mention (for reasons good and bad), that are coming this year. As I mentioned previously, in May, Upfronts take place, and a plethora of pilots will either live or die. It’s all terribly exciting if you are a geek about television, like me, and at some point (probably in September again), I’ll be sharing some of my favourite new shows with you. If you want to look at some of the shows that are currently waiting for their chance, take a look at TVLine’s comprehensive list.

What are you looking forward to?

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