More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

Fun TV December 20, 2014

Filed under: Pop Culture,Television — dwhren @ 2:11 pm

This past Thursday was final episode of White Collar. Although it hasn’t been officially announced it seems that this is probably the final season of Hart of Dixie as well. With the end of these two shows my tv schedule is going to be sadly lacking in a certain amount of fun shows. There is always so much talk these day about how this is the golden age of television mostly referring to prestige dramas. I watch plenty of shows that would fall into that category, but sometimes I just want to watch shows that are somewhat mindless and fun.

I am not a fan of procedurals which are mindless in that there is for the most part to overarching storyline to keep up with, but I don’t really find them fun. Also I actually like my shows to have an overarching storyline. I also like more character development in my shows than procedurals provide.

White Collar had several different love interests for Neal over the years. Sara who was around the longest was my favorite, and I was really hoping they were going to bring her back for the final season. Sadly they didn’t. The whole short 6 episode final season, was a bit of a bust. Everyone involved seemed very much to be phoning it in. My friend said that the renewal came so late that a lot of the writer’s moved on. It definitely showed. I’m sad that this bit of fun, sexy television ended with a whimper but even more so that it won’t be on my television anymore at all.

One thing I also really like about Hart of Dixie and White Collar were the relationships. I’ve noticed that recently there have been a dearth of shows where there is a couple that I’m shipping. Hart of Dixie is essentially a ridiculous soap opera, so there has never been a shortage of couples falling in and out of love. They have tried many different configurations of the characters on this show, and I have to say the writers have done an excellent job of convincing me whatever couple they’re pushing at that moment is the right one. I can’t say that for really any other show. The plots are all very silly, but there’s just something about this show that I’ve always loved. There’s definitely nothing else like it on tv at the moment, and I’m going to be sad when it’s gone for good.

As much as I love all the prestige dramas that I want, I don’t want them to be the only thing on tv. I’m a little afraid of fun shows like this are going to go the way that romantic comedies have at the movies. I miss having smart, fun, sexy romantic comedies to see and I’ll miss their counterpart of tv too. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I fear I’m not.

 

The Tale of The Ronald McDonald Cookie December 15, 2014

Filed under: Food,Friends — dwhren @ 7:56 am

My mother has a recipe for cut out sugar cookies from an old cookbook that everyone always says is the best sugar cookie they’ve ever had. When I was a kid my mother used to bake these cookies with us all the time. She had cookie cutters for any number of holidays. I’m pretty sure baking this cookies with her engendered my love of baking. As such I used to (and still do) bake for fun.

At some point during my childhood my sister and I got Ronald McDonald cookie cutters as the toy in our Happy Meals. I don’t ever remember using them, but they lived in the container with all our other cookie cutters. That is until I was around 13 or 14. My friend Erin and I used to bake these sugar cookies a lot when we lived near each other as young teenagers. For some reason we found this Ronald McDonald cookie cutter hilarious. We insisted that there had to be at least one Ronald McDonald cookie in every batch of cookies. It became a thing, and we still have fun with it.

At some point after I moved out of my parents house I stole one of the Ronald McDonald cookie cutters to have as my very own. I admit I don’t always make a Ronald McDonald cookie every time I make these cookies, but I enjoy the memories every time I pull out my cookie cutters and see it. When Erin gave birth to her son I made her an entire batch of Ronald McDonald cookies. The first time she told me she made these cookies with him, I knew I had to pass along our tradition. I searched on eBay and found one of the Ronald McDonald cookie cutters to send to him.

I was baking Christmas cookies this past weekend and decided I needed to put the Ronald McDonald cookie cutter to use. I pulled him out and as is tradition made a single Ronald McDonald cookie. It made me happy thinking about all the batches of cookies Erin and I baked together.

2014-12-13 14.31.01

 

Playing Catch Up December 12, 2014

Filed under: Baltimore,Friends,Life,Podcasts,Pop Culture,Theatre — dwhren @ 7:55 am

I’ve been really busy lately both with work that is kind of overwhelming at the moment as well as actually doing the fun activities I’m going to write about in this post and thus have had no time to spend here writing about anything. Here’s a quick look at some of the fun things I’ve been up to lately.

1. This past Saturday was the annual holiday party that one of my groups of friends holds every year. For a decade we rented out the upstairs bar at Max’s for a few hours of fun every December, but time moves on and there are now too many kids to make that an option. Last year we thought we found a good alternative that was family friendly by renting out the Women’s Industrial Kitchen, but that sadly closed and ruined the chances for that again this year. Instead of undertaking the difficult search for another venue that would be good for our group in it’s current configuration our friends Kevin and Tracie decided to just go ahead and hold the party at their house. It was a different dynamic, but it was still great fun to hang out with friends that I don’t always see as often as I’d like. Most of them have moved out of the city and have kids now, which means that a lot of the time I only see most of them when there is a party. I wish that wasn’t necessarily the case, but I get it. We still kept with tradition and held our white elephant gift exchange. This year I came home with Brewopoly, which is essentially a beer themed Monopoly game. Paul came home with something called The Whole Brain Game, which I brought home from this same gift exchange 2 years ago, never played, and brought back last year. Whoever it took it home last year obviously brought it back this year. I suspect I know what one of our gifts for next year will be.

2. Sunday was a very busy day. It started off with my friend Carissa’s annual birthday/parade brunch prior to Baltimore’s Mayor’s Christmas parade. It was fun to hang out with an almost entirely different set of friends from Saturday and of course to watch my favorite parade in the world. I have said many times in the past that I love that parade so much. It’s so perfectly Baltimore with it’s random assortment of people and things. I don’t care about some big, fancy, polished parade I just love the heart that is this parade. We headed straight from the parade to meet our friend Heather for dinner at Alewife. Speaking of friends I normally don’t see enough, it had been quite some time since I had gotten to hang out with Heather outside of our most recent book club meeting. She doesn’t have any kids, but she commutes to DC for her main job and then takes on 85 other side jobs so she is always busy. We added on a ticket to Newsies at the Hippodrome to our season tickets for her, so we met up for dinner and then went to see the show. I saw the movie once when it first came out many moons ago, so I didn’t really much about it. I enjoyed the show though aside from the family (of all adults I might add) that were annoyingly disruptive coming in late, going to the bathroom, and the person sitting next to me reeking of marijuana. I don’t really know what their deal was.

3. Monday night was one of my book clubs. I was hosting this month and had us read Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose. I had heard an interview with the author on NPR and thought the book sounded really interesting. We pretty much all agreed that the concept was intriguing, but it failed in execution. Too bad. I always hate when I pick a book for book club that isn’t that great. We had a delicious dinner, a good discussion, and white elephant book exchange so not all was lost.

4. Tuesday night I headed down to DC with my friends Heather and Karen to see Pop Culture Happy Hour Live. I’ve been to 3 of the 4 live shows they’ve done in DC. Sadly I had to miss the last one because I was out of town. They had been selling out their space at the NPR Headquarters in a matter of seconds, so this time they moved to the Sixth and I Synagogue. There were probably about 3 times the number of people, which gave the show a good energy. I definitely laughed a ton, and really enjoyed being there. Unfortunately because of coming from Baltimore and the need to snarf down dinner once we got into DC, we weren’t there when the doors opened at 6, which meant we had to sit up in the balcony. My view from the balcony was almost on par with my view during their first live show where I was standing in the back of a standing room only event in the middle of a pop up NPR store next to their old headquarters. This time I could only really see Barrie Hardymon. If I craned my head the right way I could sometimes see Glen Weldon’s face while he was talking, but mostly just his torso. Stephen Thompson and Linda Holmes were pretty much out of view for me. I appreciate that the larger venue allowed for more people to attend. When they asked at the beginning how many people had and hadn’t seen a live show before the people who hadn’t been able to attend in the past far outweighed those of us who had. Hopefully maybe they’ll be able to find a venue that supports the right number of people as well as provides everyone in attendance with a decent view. Even if I couldn’t see very well I still had an excellent time and am glad I went.

 

Peter Pan Live December 4, 2014

Filed under: Pop Culture,Television,Theatre — dwhren @ 10:23 pm

Last night I like seemingly everyone else I follow online, I watched NBC’s Peter Pan Live. I watched their live version of Sound of Music earlier this year and found it to be mostly a train wreck, but as such something extremely enjoyable to watch while reading everyone’s snarky tweets about it. Although they screwed up that production mostly by casting a bunch of people who were not able to pull off both acting and singing, I felt like there was potential for them to make future live productions that were actually good.

I was not entirely thrilled when they announced that Peter Pan would be their next show. I was happy they were going to do it again, as I think it is wonderful that they’re broadcasting live theatre productions on television, but Peter Pan is not a show I’ve ever particularly cared for. I do remember watching the Mary Martin version as a child, but I never really loved it and Peter Pan was always one of my least favorite Disney movies. Despite my feelings about the show itself I was willing to give it a chance.

I remained hopeful about the production when they announced Allison Williams as Peter Pan because I already knew that she could both sing and act. I know a lot of people who were going to snark all over this no matter what, but I was determined to give it a chance before going that route. It seemed like overall at least the people I follow on Twitter were much more positive about this than they were about Sound of Music, and I concurred.

Despite my general problems with Peter Pan itself, I found this to be a vast improvement over the Sound of Music Live. They actually cast people who belonged in the roles for the most part. Christopher Walken was a little too Christopher Walkeny at times and definitely no longer has a spring in his step, which made the dancing he had to do a little sad. Overall though I thought they did a good job this go round. Assuming this got the ratings I expect it did based on how many people I know that were watching it (though admittedly I run with a crowd who is predisposed to this kind of thing) I’m guessing NBC will continue to do these on a periodic basis. I’m hoping they’ll do a show I like better than Peter Pan next time.