My New Obsession: Downton Abbey

Winter break has seen a number of adventures with the family and Alex, but also a lot of down time. I first watched Once Upon a Time for a while, but it barely kept my attention until the first season finale. I moved on to Downton Abbey and have been hooked ever since.

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Downton Abbey, for those who aren’t aware, is set in the early 1900’s at an estate in England. The drama follows the lives of a wealthy noble family and their servants, butlers, and housemaids. And it’s absolutely brilliant.

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 What’s crazy is how addicting it actually is. The way the characters’ lives interact and the drama swells and washes over each character is fascinating. It’s impossibly hard not to want to watch the next episode directly after the last one finishes. I can’t say how or why the show is so amazing. Maybe it’s the relationship between the characters. Maybe it’s watching inventions like the telephone and electricity influence the characters’ lives. I honestly have no idea. All I know is that when I’ve watched the finale episode, I will definitely go through some terrible withdrawals.

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Thoughts On the New Doctor Who Companion

Please forgive me readers who are not fans of Doctor Who, I’m about to have a crazy fangirl moment.

After I returned from my internship I logged on to my various social media sites and was faced with some pretty epic news in my world: the new Doctor Who companion has been released.

Jenna-Louise Coleman. Adorable. Quirky. Not Karen Gillan. Will I ever really like anyone more than I like Amy Pond? Probably not, but Jenna seems a much more likely candidate for my affection than all the other previous companions. That’s probably largely due to the fact that she was holding an avocado when she got the news that she got the role.

There are a few not-so-great things about the release of the next companion: Rory and Amy will no longer be exploring with the Doctor, the new companion won’t be introduced until the winter, and I am now the not-so-happy owner of the knowledge that something bad is going to happen to Rory and/or Amy to cause them to no longer travel with the Doctor.

Oh freakin’ boy.

How ABC Family’s Greek is Neither an Accurate nor Inaccurate Portrayal of Greek Life

With a week until my summer class starts, my best friend in the Dominican Republic volunteering at a hospital for a few weeks, and all the people I want to hang out with in another state or even country, I’ve had a lot of downtime to fill. Netflix Instantly has been really hit and miss for me lately, but when I found ABC Family’s Greek (which I watched before I turned Greek myself), I found something to fill my time.

I found myself comparing and contrasting how the fraternities and sororities in the show compare with the Greek life I know of, and these are the similarities and differences I’ve come up with:

1. Hazing is looked on much more negatively and harshly than in the show.

2. Not all Greek organizations have giant mansions for houses, and some (like mine) don’t have a house we live in.

3. Each organization does in fact have its own unique personality.

4. Sorority girls are not all cliche pretty girls who aren’t very smart and are well-off like the show portrays them to be.

5. There’s a larger stress on Greek Unity than constant competition and rivalry between the houses.

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There are probably more, and I may continue to update this list as I watch more episodes…

Top 5 Favorite Books

A few days ago it suddenly dawned on me that I created a list of my favorite movies, but failed to ever create one for my favorite books. I’ve decided to rectify the situation.

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5. Paper Towns by John Green

I’ve been watching John Green and his brother Hank Green on YouTube for probably over a year now, and finally decided to read John Green’s novels. Paper Towns is a really great novel about finding yourself. What I love about John Green is his ability to relate to his younger teenage audience. He doesn’t simplify his messages or talk down to his readers, but rather talks to them.

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4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

This novel has just stuck with me over the years. There’s just something about it that keeps it on my list. Maybe the fact that it takes place within a traveling circus keeps it there, but it’s most likely the surprising love story.

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3. Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings, and Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

I love everything about this series from its main character Jessica Darling to the journal/diary style it’s written in. Jessica is the type of character you can’t help but try to relate to. Her quick wit, insecurity, and intelligence makes her a lovable character and A force to be reckoned with. I’ve loved this series since the first book came out, and have just discovered the 5th and final one’s existence. An Amazon order has been placed and I’m eager to start reading it to what happens to Jessica and her on again off again love interest Marcus.

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2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I’ve read this novel over and over again. This is undoubtedly my favorite love story because it transcends all other love stories for me. The two characters are meant to be together so completely, and it’s actually hard for me to imagine loving someone so much that something so big as time doesn’t play a factor.  Edward and Bella have nothing on Henry and Clare.

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1. Looking for Alaska by John Green

I love this book not only for the story, but the experience I had while reading it. I ended up staying up until 2 a.m. on vacation to finish it. I hid out in the bathroom so the light wouldn’t bother people sleeping. Just picture me sitting on the floor in a bathroom in the middle of the night crying over a book! I’ve never experienced such a range of emotions while reading. I laughed one page and cried the next. John Green became my favorite author after reading this one.

Review: ‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman

A plus to working at a job where, on a whole, all you do is sit for hours on end: you get a lot of reading done. Before I was weary of this idea and stayed away from it, but now I’ve embraced it to the point that I have no idea what I did to pass the time before it. This week I began and finished Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.

In a nutshell, the book is a mix between Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia for more mature readers. The main character Quentin isn’t happy with his average life (parallel to dear ol’ Harry?)–and keeps returning to the dream that a magical, fictional land from books of his youth will bring him happiness–until he is admitted to a college for magicians. He still clings to the idea that Fillory (the magical land) will solve all his problems if only he could find a way in (maybe through a wardrobe?), but he meets a group of friends and of course falls in love. Once he finally ends up in Fillory he realizes that it’s not the key to bring him happiness, but rather what destroys all the happiness he did have.

In an attempt to summarize yet leave out incredibly interesting parts, I’ll conclude my summary there. In my opinion, this book had some very epic moments, but also some low, disappointing ones as well. The great moments made the few bad ones seem minor, but they are still worth noting. The fact that Fillory could have easily just been called Narnia–it’s similarities where that blatantly obvious–left me feeling that Grossman took the easy way out with Fillory in order to focus on other aspects of the story. He could have at least attempted to mask the similarities a little bit better or worked to make his differences stand out more.

The writing style is fantastic. It’s mature, vivid, and you don’t feel like you’re reading a book written for children. All of the characters major and minor are alarmingly complex. Although the novel is attempting to create imaginary worlds, it does it in a way that makes it somewhat believable. There aren’t scenes whose sole purpose is to show off the imagination of the writer which help to increase the realism.

The ending left me unsatisfied which I’m sure was the purpose so I would purchase the sequel (said to be coming out in summer 2011). I think I will end up getting the second in order to feed my curiosity, but that won’t change the fact that the last 50 or so pages of the book just did not do it for me.

All in all this book was well crafted and contained an enticing storyline that was very real even in worlds that are not. Quentin stood out as a clearly flawed character, but surprisingly, not the hero of the story. I think that’s why I do actually like this novel. The main character isn’t the one who saves the day, gets the girl, and lives happily ever after. He makes bad choices and has to live with the consequences of his actions.

I always hated how at the end of reviews it goes into “if you like this and this, then you’ll really like the book I’m talking about” because each book is different, even if it does contain traces of others. The Magicians is a brilliant book that took the ideas of other beloved stories and morphed them into something dark, real, and ultimately wonderful.

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My Theme Song

“Aside” by The Weakerthans

This song touches me every time I hear it because I feel such a strong connection to it. The line “terrified of drowning in the pools of other lives” could very well sum me up. I’m also “leaning on this broken fence between past and present tense” because I’m at the point where I’m looking back longingly at the familiar life of high school while being on the precipice of college.

It’s so incredibly important to have a song that you connect with so deeply that it’s almost scary. Maybe a year from now I’ll look back and laugh at how I was such an “angst filled teenager” for loving this song, but at the moment I couldn’t pick one better to define myself.

Put A Record On

My music collection has really swelled to impressive proportions after a recent trip to Starbucks for a music exchange with my friend Sarah (see here lounging on the ledge of Michigan’s state capitol building in Lansing).

 

 

This would seem like such a treat if I wasn’t incredibly anal about my iTunes. Cover art for every album, soundtrack music all kept in one place, no multiples of album covers because of featured artists for particular songs…the list goes on and on.

 

 

So this increase in music has really stressed me out these past few days. While I’m meticulously sorting through the music, finding cover art that’s missing amongst numerous other things, I’ve heard a lot of new music that I’m just dying to share with you. So here’s a list of songs that I’m currently really enjoying:

 

1.  “Magic (feat. Weezer)” by B.o.B.

2. “Hope” by Jack Johnson

3.  “Die Alone” by Ingrid Michaelson

4. “The Faster the Treadmill” by I Fight Dragons

5. “The Girl” by City and Colour

 

I still have a lot to go through before my iTunes is back to the way it should be. Are any of you that particular about your iTunes? Do you have something that has to be “just so”? I’d also know what you’re listening to so I can add even more music to stress over ( : 

Your Average Everyday Love Story: Part Two

My continued addiction to Netflix Watch Instantly has caused me to stumble on a love that beats all of the other couples I have previously mentioned. BBC’s Robin Hood is now among the select few of my favorite television shows. Robin Hood and Marian’s love made me cry time and time again as I watched the three seasons in a week’s time. It’s perfect, but not to the point that it’s unrealistic. It’s really hard these days to find a love as pure as theirs, even if it’s a fictional one. Words cannot describe it; you’ll have to see for yourself.

 

 

 Not to mention Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood) is insanely attractive.

 

 

So Chuck and Blair are no longer my favorite television couple (They aren’t even together anymore!). Sadly enough Robin Hood only aired for three seasons, so at the moment I’m nursing my sad heart over the impossibility of new episodes. That’s incredibly depressing actually because less than worthy shows like Dancing with the Stars won’t stop, and shows with the greatest love of all time don’t last.

‘Julie & Julia’ Changed My Life

I’m fairly confident with that statement.  I’ve watched enough movies over the years to know when one has had an actual impact on my life. Movies like A Walk to Remember or (500) Days of Summer, sure, but others like I-Spy or Ghost Rider, not so much. My recent Netflix Watch Instantly viewing of Julie & Julia can definitely be considered life changing.

Of course this doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and buy a duck and attempt to de-bone it. I don’t even have the faintest idea where to get a duck in the first place.

It’s not the cooking that struck home, but the conviction Julie had to cook those 524 (I think?) recipes for no other reason than to say she had done it…and to later write a book about it.

 

The relationships in the film were incredibly motivational as well. Julie’s and Julia’s marriages are easily enviable. There was nothing spectacular about them, which made them not only realistic, but more obtainable. I find that very important in films. Realism is obviously a must, but making the viewer feel as if they themselves could obtain what the characters have is vital.

Julie’s blogging can be credited for my return to Under the Microscope. Well that, and the boredom of Spring Break when the rest of Grand Blanc is in Florida. She kept at it, with or without feedback. I lost sight of why I started blogging in the first place, and Julie helped bring me back with her triumphs over crustaceans.

 

You know why this movie is brilliant? It’s a true story. This actually happened.  The blog is real and everything! That’s why this movie is so freakin’ amazing.

Julie & Julia surprised me. I was just looking for a film to pass the time, and I found a movie that’ll stick with me.