On a Book: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Tell me if this sounds familiar: An alien with supernatural abilities (but looks human) is sent to Earth following the violent conquering of his home planet. The intention of his seclusion is for him to grow up and develop until he’s ready to return to his home planet and save it from the enemy.

While on Earth, he ventures to a small town and attempts to integrate unnoticed into the local high school scene. As he tries to stay under the radar, he falls in love with a beautiful, quasi-popular girl, and attempts to keep his alien nature secret; however, when the beautiful girl is put in danger, the alien reveals his identity thus sending him and everyone he knows into a disastrous web of danger, secrecy and intrigue. Throw in a monstrous enemy (also alien), a quarterback, son-of-the-sheriff ex-boyfriend who dislikes the protagonist, and a nerdy outsider.

So does it remind you of anything? If not, you may have found the story more entertaining and interesting than I did. But if it does, you probably realized, as I did, that the story and the characters are almost a direct retelling of the early 2000’s WB sci-fi drama Roswell.

The lack of originality aside, the plot was extremely predictable and the characters were underdeveloped. Having knowledge of the film that was already well into production at the release of the novel, I developed a sense that the book was an afterthought, a ploy by the authors to cash in on the popularity of the young adult fiction category and pull in additional profits. This is probably a strong contributor to the less than stellar writing.

The screenwriter backgrounds of the authors probably didn’t help the novel much either. There was a lack of description throughout the novel and a dependency on dialogue that made the world a little stagnant and difficult to visualize.

All of this coupled with the quasi-mystical, yet unexplained spell/charm that has been placed on all of the Nine, and you are left with a less than gratifying story.

On top of that, the overt political message of conservation and shifting behaviors on environmental practices on Earth also became somewhat preachy at times. In the story, Henri tells John Smith (the protagonist) that the planet of Lorien experienced the repricussions of a similar path that Earth was currently taking. That eventually the planet was on the brink of self-destruction and that the entire race has to shift their actions to bring the planet back to life. As a result, the Legacies (powers the aliens have) were the gifts the planet provided the Lorien race. I liked the idea of adding some semblance of political messaging in a young adult novel, but I wish it was integrated in a more seamless way rather than being so obvious.

On a positive note, the book was a quick read and entertaining, but it definitely fell short on character development and originality. Oddly enough, the dog/chimera Bernie Kosar seemed to be the most well rounded and interesting character, and it was a dog.

Rating: C-

Sidenote: There was one final thing that will probably seem minor to most people but really irked me. Before even staring the Prologue, I read on the back flap of the book the “About the Author” which states “Pittacus Lore is Lorien’s ruling Elder. He has been on Earth for the last twelve years, preparing for the war that will decide Earth’s fate. His whereabouts are unknown.” Now, before I even picked up the book I knew that Pittacus Lore was the pen name for the author duo Jobie Hughes and James Frey, and after the “About the Author” I had the expectation that Pittacus Lore would be telling the story of the Lorien Nine through his outside perspective.

However, if it is from his perspective, why on earth is the story told from a first person perspective of the protagonist? It just didn’t make sense. Why would the Elder, who is a scholar from his home planet, write the tale of the 9 on Earth from the point of view of Number Four? It seems like such a small detail, but if they are going to attempt to create an entire world around the novel, including making the “author” a character for the story, then they should have thought through who would be telling the story.

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On Charlie Sheen

I normally like to devote my blog to a somewhat objective review of media, be that television, movies, books or music, but having seen the Today show interview with Charlie Sheen, I felt motivated to voice my opinion on the matter.

For years I have been…indifferent concerning Charlie Sheen. I don’t generally watch Two and a Half Men and aside from Wall Street, I cannot think of a movie he is in that I can outright say I’m a huge fan of. But given all the recent publicity surrounding him and his drunken, drug-filled benders, I found myself culturally obligated to become somewhat informed on the matter. As such, I watched his interview on the Today show, which aired on 2.28.2011.

My conclusion: Charlie Sheen is without a doubt certifiably insane and an unapologetic elitist. I understand that he has had to deal with an exorbitant amount of public/media attention over the past weeks, but that does not excuse him of his deplorable behavior. However, I couldn’t help but laugh when he said that he was going to fight CBS with “zeal, focus, and violent hatred” and that the network was dealing with a “warlock” who as “tiger blood and Adonis DNA.”

I was less amused, however, by Sheen’s belief that he is solely responsible for the success of Two and a Half Men. He said that “for the past ten years, [he’s] magically and effortlessly converted [Chuck Lorre’s] tin cans into pure gold.” First, Chuck Lorre has had numerous sitcom successes beyond Two and a Half Men so obviously Charlie Sheen isn’t a requirement to turn his “tin cans” into “pure gold.” Lorre’s Big Bang Theory, which also airs on CBS, has provided ample success and it airs days away from Sheen.

Also, he made a comment about the public that for lack of a better word infuriated me. He said that people could find their “most comfortable chair in their small house and enjoy the show.” Well to you, Charlie Sheen, I would say that those little people in their little houses with their comfortable chairs are the people who made your show a success in the first place, and it wouldn’t hurt to find a bit of humility and appreciation for the people who provided you with the millions of dollars you are squandering away on drugs and alcohol and prostitutes.

To conclude, before all of this Charlie Sheen hullabaloo, I was indifferent, after seeing him in an interview, I now intend to boycott all films or television shows that contains his arrogant, unapologetic mug.

I apologize for my highly opinionated rant, but things will be back to normal soon as I have a book and a film review in the pipeline.

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On Television: Camelot (Starz)

Ep. “Homecoming”

On Friday, Starz showed the first hour of their upcoming historical-fantasy-drama, Camelot, as a sneak preview following the finale of ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena’. A week ago, I was very sad and upset that the Spartacus miniseries was ending after only six episodes, but having seen the Camelot pilot, I am excited that something is ready to take its place.

Even though Starz only broadcast the first hour, this new series looks to promise the same level of violence, sex, struggles for power and intrigue that have become a trademark of the hugely successful ‘Spartacus’ series.

And this rendition of the Arthurian legend looks to be nothing like what has previously been shown in mainstream media. Rather than some musical or a kiddish version of the story, Starz has sought to develop a more well-rounded cast with a much, much more adult vibe.

That being said, I am still a bit skeptical if young Jamie Campbell Bower has the acting prowess to hold his own against a juggernaut of a cast, but I am hopeful.

Scene-steeling vixen, Eva Green, however, was unbelievable as Arthur’s vengeful sorceress/half-sister, Morgan, who appears to be hellbent on ascending as queen. She provided a strong, emotional performance that embodied the character flawlessly and was by far the shining talent in the preview.

Joseph Fiennes as Merlin is one casting I cannot definitively decide on. The character of Merlin looks nothing like what is traditionally considered (no beard, not very old), but I am excited to see where the role goes. Judging from the first hour, Merlin appears to be more of a soldier-monk with a hidden agenda. He obviously is going to take his place as Arthur’s mentor/adviser, but I wonder if there will not be numerous instances where Merlin attempts to use his influence for his own personal gain. I like the perceived duality of his character and I’m interested to see Merlin’s magical abilities in upcoming episodes.

However, all this promise could be for not if Joseph Fiennes happens to over act the part like he did in Flash Forward. I know he is a talented actor, but I am leary that the costuming and setting might overwhelm him to a point where he becomes too much.

All in all, after watching ‘Homecoming’ I am excited to see the full pilot on April 1, 2011. And I cannot wait to see how they integrate the stories of Guinevere, Lancelot, the Knights of the Round Table, Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake. There is so much source material with T.H. White’s The Once and Future King (one of my favorite books of all time) and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur that I don’t think the series will ever find themselves hunting for plot.

With HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ scheduled to premiere on April 14, 2011, it will be interesting to see if there is room for two fantasy-epic series to share the same space on premium cable.

Rating: A

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On a Book: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

Thanks to Amazon’s AmazonCrossing that focuses on the translation of foreign novels into English, Pötzsch’s successful German novel, The Hangman’s Daughter, has been made available to the English-speaking masses.

Set in the mid-1600s in Bavarian following the Thirty-Year War, it focuses on a hangman, Jakob Kuisl, who is asked to draw a confession from the town’s midwife, who is accused of being a witch and murdering a young boy, whether she’s innocent or not. He must illegally torture her for an expedited execution and guilty verdict that the village council desires. However, Kuisl’s strong belief of her innocence and personal qualms with torturing an upstanding member of the community lead to a race to uncover the truth of the boy’s murder and the answer to the existence of witches in Shongau before the town’s patron returns to decide the case.

Jakob, with the help of his daughter, Magdalena, and Simon, the physician’s son, disregard their reputations and question the riotous members of the town in search for any clues that might shed light on the case. But their task become more and more complicated as fear and panic grip the city and more children with ominous tattoos turn up dead around town.

The Hangman’s Daughter was an extremely interesting historical fiction/murder mystery set in a period of prejudice and fear. It’s amazing that the story is set in a time that would have been considered the Baroque Era (Era of Elegance) because it seemed more like it was the Dark Ages as the imagery of muck and filth the people of Shongau seemed to live in didn’t seem very elevated. Also, the fact that such hysteria could be caused by the thought that a “witch” might be practicing and corrupting the children of the town was unbelievable. Growing up you hear stories of the Salem Witch Trials, but this book put that tragic bit of history into perspective. The shear ridiculousness of the accusations and the way people viewed the carrying of a plant or a birthmark to be the sign of the devil is insane, but I guess that is really how people thought. It was a time where medicine was still primitive and people were afraid of anything that could be considered against the church. Many times I found myself baffled by the people’s close-mindedness and their inability to accept something that had an easily found scientific explanation. It made me glad that I didn’t live in the 1600’s.

But apart from the unique historical setting and glimpse into the “witch trial era,” I found the learning of what an executioner did to be absolutely fascinating. I had no idea that they did so many things outside of just killing people. To make it more interesting, the fact that Jakob Kuisl turns out to be an ancestor of the author is really neat.

On the novel itself, I have to give Lee Chadeayne credit for he did a wonderful job at translating the German into English. It still had the Germanic slant to the language, while still being very easy to read and consume as a native English speaker. I found the pacing to be quite good, a nice blend of historical explanation, plot development and character development. In fact, I thought that the characters of Jakob, Madeline, and Simon were extremely robust and well-penned. However, at times I did find that the language became a bit wordy and I wanted to get on with the story.

I really hope that the success of the first book will push AmazonCrossing to translate the second and third books in the series so I can see what happens to The Hangman’s Daughter.

Rating: A

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On an Album: Adele’s 21 (released 2.22.2011)

In 21 Adele writes and sings as if she’s lived a lifetime over. Her breathtaking lyrics, powerful melodies and stripped back power pulls at the deepest wells of human emotion. It’s amazing she can pull something like this off when writing the songs at twenty-one years of age. I can’t wait to see what else she provides us with 25.

Adele’s 21 is the  sophomore album from British singer-songwriter that I’ve eagerly anticipated since her debut album, 19.

This new collection of songs solidifies her standing as one of my favorite vocalists. But even though it is still Adele’s already signature style, the album takes on a different vibe than the first. Rather than a more jazzy standards feel that the first album had, this new album has a more bluesy, gospel, old-school country feel to it to which I cannot stop listening.

Her vocals are sheer perfection. There is the power and emotion throughout the songs that make them resonate strongly with you. But apart from her vocal style and penetrating tone, the strength of her songwriting shines through across all the tracks on this album. It’s unbelievable to me that she is able to write such poignant songs of anguish, heartache, love and joy at her age.

Adele has managed to construct a wonderful album with amazing tracks from beginning to end. “Rolling in the Deep” has this wonderfully powerful and soulful track where you can completely relate to that moment when you catch someone in their deceptive ways. “Someone Like You” will give you chills as the emotion is written across every last note of Adele’s vocal. The percussive quality of “Rumor Has It” makes it a great bluesy track, and “Take It All” left the most lasting impression on me through its basic truth and rawness.  Even “Lovesong” is different enough from the original while holding true to the essence of the song to make it an extremely successful cover.

This album has only seemed to get better with every listen. I’ve had it on repeat since I’ve downloaded it on iTunes and I haven’t found a bad track in the bunch.

Rating: A+

Curious what inspired the songs on 21. Listen to Adele’s discussions of the songs on her newest album courtesy of VEVO. It’s very interesting.

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On a Book: The Athena Project by Brad Thor

The Athena Project is a story of a team of all-female operatives of the counter-terrorism team, Delta Force, who find themselves in the midst of a mission much larger than they every expected. When twenty Americans are killed in a terrorist attack in Rome, Athena Project operatives, Gretchen Casey, Julie Ericsson, Megan Rhodes, and Alex Cooper are tasked with capturing a Venetian arms dealer responsible for providing the explosives from his home.

But following the arm’s dealer’s interrogation, they are tasked to check out a secret bunker once used by the Nazi’s during WWII as a scientific research center. They find the gruesome remains of inhumane experiments from the 1940’s but all the equipment and technology has been removed…recently. Now, propelled on a mission to discover the culprits behind the clearing of the bunker and the whereabouts of the supposed technology that once laid inside.

Simultaneously, there is a storyline taking place in Colorado where a foreign spy is close to penetrating the mysterious secret the U.S. government has hidden beneath Denver International Airport, but she doesn’t realize that she is being played by the man she thought she was seducing.

I actually finished the book back in early January, but I had a hard time figuring out what about the book that bothered me. I considered it an entertaining read, but something was making it feel eh to me for lack of a better word. That was until I saw an episode of Chuck (“Chuck versus the C.A.T. Squad”) that I immediately realized what it was that was disappointing.

In The Athena Project, as in the Chuck episode, the four girls are all stunning beauties who are skilled weapons experts and tactical killing machines. They both use their feminine wiles to infiltrate and get close to their targets and then their cold-hearted training to carry out their mission; however, in The Athena Project there was a lack of humanity to the characters. When I say humanity, I don’t mean compassion, but more that they are so beautiful and so great at what they do that they seemed invincible. More like a superhero than a human spy with vulnerabilities and character flaws. In addition, I felt there was a lack of character development to the main cast of characters that made the four operatives interchangeable. I found myself many times pausing to remember the backstory of the character I was following and not being able to pinpoint which one it was. There was so little to separate them from one another that it was as if they were one person.

Again, even in the single episode of Chuck the four women were distinctly different from one another. Each had their own issues, their own pasts and their own problems. Why is it that I felt more connected with four characters in a single hour of TV than I did with four protagonists over an entire novel? Somethings not right with that situation.

Other issues I had with the novel involved the pacing and the seeming superlative secondary story arcs. Throughout the novel, the story seemed to be building to a climactic and epic ending; however, the ending was rather predictable and almost boring. There were parts in the middle of the book that had me on my seat more than the ending. Also, the entire story in Denver was interesting but there was no resolution as to why it existed in the first place. The dynamic between the two spies (one American, one Russian) both tasked with getting close to the other was intriguing, but the story arc was almost thrown away with a quick conclusion, and when it was done, I found myself wondering what was the point.

This was the first Brad Thor novel I’ve read, and I know there is a number of books around a character who had a cameo in this novel, Scot Harvath, but as a first time reader. I find myself wondering if I want to try another one of his books. Where this novel falls short with protagonists that are more caricatures of female spies and the plot is weak and underdeveloped perhaps his other books stand out as resouding successes in a genre that is greatly entertaining.

I apologize if this review is a bit negative. I generally like to stay constructive, but I’m afraid I may have been too harsh on Brad Thor’s recent work. It takes a lot to write a novel and I applaud his effort but I feel this needed a better editor to point out those substantive issues before publication. Let’s hope my next read of a Brad Thor novel is a more positive one.

Rating: C

As a last note, this novel is probably a perfect in-flight read. It would be a great one to pick up at the airport and read as you wait for your flight to take off. It’s fast paced, entertaining for what it is and brainless enough to not exhaust you while you travel.

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On a Book: Harmonics-Rise of the Magician by Collin Earl and Chris Snelgrove

Not very often to you find a self-published work that can rival those of the big publishing houses. This book by Collin Earl grabbed my attention from the beginning and the adventure kept going straight through the end. Obviously the first in a series, the book ends with many questions unanswered, but even still, it was a great read.

I will not lie though; it was sometimes difficult to keep track of the multiple story lines. The story of Samantha was the most developed, but the lack of answers with the Professor and the Magician was a bit frustrating. There are large portions that focus on an element known as Harmonicum and “experiments” at MESA but that portion if the story is left much unfinished in the reader’s mind. I’m sure book two will shed more light on the matter and provide some closure.

The science in the book was very impressive and well explained. I am by no means a physicist, but I was glad I had some understanding of things like mechanical resonance and string theory for the science to not be completely over my head.

And the world is quite interesting. Earl creates a possible future of the United States and the world that may very well come to pass with collective totalitarian governments complete with technological convergence and the use of the cloud.

I look forward to the sequel and learning what comes next for Samantha and this mysterious silver box she carries.

Rating: A

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On Tuesday: Glee, Lost, V and Millionaire Matchmaker

Ep. “Hell-O”

First, I am going to say I totally called it. I knew that there was going to be a new character on the show that would be the male version of Rachel and that he would get in the way of Finn and her relationship. I, however, didn’t have the predictive skills to realize that he would be from Vocal Adrenaline and using Rachel to spy on New Directions. It makes total sense, but I kept on thinking of a transfer student from another state or something like that. A new regular rather than an extended story-arch character. Either way, I am excited to see how this all transpires.

Also, Idina Menzel! I had no idea she was joining the show and she makes a wonderfully hilarious glee club instructor for Vocal Adrenaline. I am now looking forward to the time when she will sing with Morrison (Will) because you know it is going to happen.

In general though, I didn’t find this episode nearly as amazing as the ones from before the hiatus. I don’t know if it’s a matter of having had to wait so long for more Glee or that the songs were not nearly as amazing this time. The Lionel Richie cover of “Hello” was my favorite of the night [performed by Rachel Berry and Jesse St. James]. Sue Sylvester, the Old Maids Club, and Idina were the highlights of the night. Overall, Glee is back, and I like it!

To top it all of, FOX broadcast this teaser for next weeks, “The Power of Madonna” episode. I laughed out loud at this very accurate portrayal of the Madonna music video from years past. Oh Sue Sylvester, I love you!

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 Ep. “Everybody Loves Hugo”

Yet another episode of Lost that was amazing! This week’s focus on Hurley was a needed one. He always seems to put a bit of lightness into the storyline, and they finally showed how much respect/say-so Hurley has gained since originally coming to the island. I must say thought that I almost hope that the alternate reality doesn’t implode by the end of the season for I was overjoyed with Hurley’s and Libby’s reunion in Los Angeles. It will be very sad for him to lose her again.

Also, I was quite shocked that they blew up Ilana (for a moment), but then I realized that it was inevitable. But everything seems to be falling into place. Desmond is starting to work his magic in the alterate reality, enticing Hurley to connect with Libby and running over John Locke, and Jack, Hurley and Sun arriving at Locke’s camp.

I also wonder if they are going to answer this Purgatory-esque vibe that was given off by Michael and the whispering voices when Hurley spoke to him in the woods.  So did all of those people do something terrible on the island and are stuck? Or is it that everyone who does something terrible is stuck there? Maybe they are what make up the smoke monster…I NEED ANSWERS!

It looks like next week is going to be just as good as the show comes to a close in just a few weeks. I am going to miss it terribly!

Ep. “John May”

This is what I was talking about on my last post about the show. This week V finally got interesting again. Not only did we find out about John May and the history of him with Ryan, but there was some action, some development and some resolution. Erica, Ryan and Jack go to John May’s old house to look for the communication device that we heard about in the last episode. This is imperative to their survival as Georgie is being tortured by the Vs, who hope he will give up the names of the Fifth Column members. In the end, Georgie dies, but he is able to say goodbye to his comrades and go in peace. Also, with the communicator found, who knows what will happen in future episodes.

On a side note, Tyler finds out that his father might not be his biological one, and Val discovers the sonogram image Ryan was keeping away from her. In the end of the episode, she has disappeared and Ryan finds an empty folder laying on the closet floor.

Let’s hope this intrigue continues!

Ep. “Greg and Zagros”

In the season finale of Millionaire Matchmaker, Patti and the other matchmakers get a psychic reading, and it turns out that Patti may not be getting married after all. I wonder though if that was merely a stunt by Patti to make sure there is intrigue for next season/press, or if Patti really will have issues with the wedding. In the matchmaking realm, there is a new guy, Greg Knoll, and an old one, Zagros Bigvand. Patti also decided not to use her traditional mixer format for the speed dating. Instead, her and her team selected two separate girls for each man, they had a short get-to-know-you time, then a 45-minute first date to lead to the decision for a master date.

Greg Knoll is a 47-year-old mortgage broker and self-made millionaire who has failed to tie knot after two previous engagements. In his short date section, he chose Livia Milano, and it seemed very awkward. And what is a “spinner” in relation to Italian women? Fortunately for her, Livia was eventually rejected for the master date. Save! In the end, he went on his master date with Mojo, who had a relatively cute country accent, but kind of sounded like a Simpson multiple times during the date. Greg really frustrated me. He changes his mind from Livia to Mojo and is then upset that Mojo couldn’t ski, which she mentioned during the short dates. Needless to say, the date didn’t go well in my opinion. Patti had it right, the man is a douche. Oddly enough, they have gone out multiple times. Weird.

Zagros Bigvand was the playboy millionaire from last season, who shockingly broke Patti’s cardinal rule–he slept with his woman on the first date! He says he has changed since the last season, becoming more spiritual and grown-up. Zagros actually seemed like he picked the correct woman, Susan. They seemed to have a lot of creepy chemistry during the short date. But who was that boxing instructor from their first date? Can you say, CRAZY! I did think their date went well.

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On Sunday: The Pacific, Brothers & Sisters and The Amazing Race

Ep. “Part 5”

Like I was with Band of Brothers, I have fallen in love with this HBO miniseries. I must say though that The Pacific has a very different tone compared to that of Band of Brothers. In Band of Brothers, I felt like the story was more associated with the camaraderie and connection that was present within the 101st Airborne Division during the European Theater of Operations. The Pacific, however, has a much heavier tone. It seems to be a commentary on the psychological and physical tolls war take on soldiers of the US Marine Corps. Not to say that Band of Brothers didn’t touch on the subject, because it did, but I wonder if that the fact that we are now in two wars, which we weren’t in during Band of Brothers, has affected the directorial direction of the miniseries compared to ten years ago. Either way, the show is still great.

This week, Eugene Sledge finally joined up with the 1st Marine Division after boot camp. It reminded me of “The Replacements” episode on Band of Brothers in that there was that bit of division between the veterans of earlier battles and soldiers fresh from training. It also really highlighted the fear and insanity of the battlefield and the breaking of that division in the heat of battle.  The battle that allowed for this unity was the Battle of Peleliu. Based on the introduction narrated by Tom Hanks and the veteran interviews, Peleliu was a vicious battle during the war where many many soldiers died and were wounded, and the conditions of the camp were just as demoralizing as the battlefield.

Ep. “Time After Time”

First, I will lead with the fact that this is the best ensemble cast on television right now. Every single member of the principle cast plays off of each other so well that it makes the show. If you think about it, it isn’t nearly as far fetched as shows like Grey’s Anatomy and they aren’t as crazy as many other popular shows on television because in reality, this show is basically following the lives of a large California family. Granted, they are a quite wealthy and connected family, but family none-the-less.

In this episode, we finally get to find out what Dennis York has on the family. To tell you the truth, I didn’t find it that shocking or appauling. It ended up being that Kevin accidentally paralyzed a kid in 1986 during a fight at Ojai foods and the Walker family has been paying them off ever since. Kevin doesn’t take it well, however.

The more entertaining part of the episode came in the “Thelma & Louise” mission run by Nora and Holly. It was hilarious watching Holly try to find information on Narrow Lake in York’s hotel room while Nora distracted him downstairs. And even more hilarious to see Nora and Holly steal York’s car! But the crowning glory was to first see them walk in on Justin and Rebecca, who eloped in the episode by the way, as they consumate their marriage and then get arrested. On a side note, Kitty goes in for her first check up after her cancer treatment, and it is good news; she is in remission.

The episode ends with Kevin realizing that “Narrow Lake” is an anogram for “Nora Walker.” Does this mean that there is nothing to the extensive search Nora and Holly have been on for a secret parcel of land? I hope not!

Ep. “Dumb Did Us In”

I am beginning to realize that is very difficult to drill down into the details of this episode, so I will be very high-level. Teams went from Malaysia to Singapore for this leg of the race. Teams had to find the Amazing Race Asia hose, Allan Wu, learn a complicated drum routine, sell ice cream sandwiches, fly down a zip line and fun up a winding ramp to get to the pit stop this week. Dan & Jordon won a Fast Forward after climbing from one observation car to another on the world’s largest ferris wheel, the Singapore Flyer, and came in first this week.

#1 at the end of this leg: Dan & Jordan

And after being U-turned by Brent and Caite, the “lesbians” Carol and Brandy were eliminated when they checked into the pit stop last.

Eliminated: Carol & Brandy

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On Thursday: Vampire Diaries, Survivor and Real Housewives of New York City

Ep. “Let the Right One In”

This show continues to get more and more interesting. Apart from the city of Mystic Falls apparently being the center of vampire activity dating back to the Civil War era, the characters actually have something to them that makes them compelling to watch week after week. Jeremy continues to fascinate me, especially since he would not stop hassling Anna to turn him into a vampire. The show made you think that it was because Jeremy wanted to be with Anna, but when Vicky’s remains are found by Caroline during a tumultuous storm, Jeremy’s true intentions come out. He was manipulating Anna to turn him so that he could find and be with Vicky. Now, the question remains as to how Anna and Jeremy’s relationship will evolve in episodes to come.

On another note, Stefan is kidnapped by Frederick (a vengeful vampire from the 1860’s) and his band of vampire minions and is tortured in the basement of the house they have occupied with Pearl. Damon immediately goes to save him, but discovers that the owner of the house has been compelled to not let him in to save his brother. As a result, Elena and Damon manage to convice Alaric to help them infiltrate the house and rescue Stefan. The rescue mission was quite entertaining with Alaric manipulating himself into the house and then killing the vampire hoard alongside Damon as they rescued Stefan.

However, Frederick chases after Stefan and Elena as they run away from the house, and Elena has to give Stefan her blood to restore his strength before Frederick kills him. Afterwards though, Stefan cannot seem to control himself and the episodes ends with Stefan sitting in the middle of his living room with a number of IV bags littered around him. Apparently, when he goes off of a diet, he really goes off of it.

Ep. “Expectations”

So this week, the manipulator becomes the manipulated. I gaine so much respect for Sandra after she finally realized that if she plants the seed of doubt in Russel that Russel hones in on that person as his next target. It happened in the last Survivor, it happened to Boston Rob, and this week, it happened to Coach. Now, Coach was kind of asking for it. He has definitely been much less enjoyable this season as he seemed to mope about all the time. He was much more of a pawn this time and not so much the “Dragonslayer” of old.

For general details about the episode, J.T decides to go off and look for the hidden immunity idol and finds it, but he has no choice besides telling everyone about it, as Amanda caught eye of J.T.’s mischief. In the challenges, the Villains misinterpret the reward challenge clue and bring their entire camp with them as they suspect a merge (they were wrong) and the Heroes destroyed them in a bowling challenge akin to the one from Survivor: Somoa. Later, the Villains lose by a mile in a muddy obstacle course challenge, leaving the Heroes with a hidden immunity idol, team immunity and a lot of momentum and the Villains bruised, battered and defeated.

It is amazing that after 20 seasons, this show can still be so entertaining.

Ep. “Ambushed”


Okay, so I thought that no season would be able to rival the Real Housewives of Orange County when it came to fights, especially after their last season, but the Real Housewives of New York continue to baffle me from week to week. This year, the show started off with a bang, and it has just gotten juicier and juicier every week. I must say I am definitely on Bethenny’s side when it comes to her fight with Jill, and I applaud her for her ability to enter into that completely awkward discussion at Ramona’s apartment. I could not believe, however, how much LuAnn kept on trying to get in the conversation with her tea and the car, etc., etc. Let the women talk it out, you crazy woman! And Jill really needs to be more understanding. Bethenny is not the “toxic” one. Holding a grudge is what is toxic. Forgive, move on and become cordial again. But at the same time, this fight is quite entertaining television.

But, apart from the Jill-Bethenny conversation, the episode was relatively boring. I wonder when they are going to announce Bethenny’s pregnancy. I’m looking forward to it!

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