Pushing Daisies

pushingdaisiescoveranddiscs

This show has it all–romance, mystery, fun, adventure, bright colors, quirky characters, a narrator with a gorgeous voice, rapid dialogue, humor, & pie!

It is a stunningly crafted, two season show that is greatly missed by many, especially me.

pd

From left to right, top to bottom, here are the characters:

Charlotte “Chuck” Charles–a small town girl with a meddler’s heart and the desire for adventure, and the childhood sweetheart of….

Ned the Pie Maker-The owner of The Pie Hole who’s loved Chuck since they were little. He can touch dead things and bring them back to life, but of course, there are consequences.

Olive Snook-A pie slinging, singing waitress at The Pie Hole who cares too much and dishes out her advice and sass in equal measure.

Vivian Charles-One of Chuck’s agoraphobic aunts and a former synchronized swimmer in The Darling Mermaid Darlings.

Emerson Cod-knitting, cash-loving sleuth who teams up with Ned to catch killers and collect dough.

Lily Charles-Chuck’s second agoraphobic aunt who was also a synchronized swimmer in The Darling Mermaid Darlings with her younger sister Vivian.

pushing-daisies-pie

This show is incredible in its razor wit and rapid fire dialogue, its retro costumes and rich characters, not to mention its highly unique mysteries and lush narration. The pies are beautiful too!

Antonina

Jane Austen

This blog post began as tribute to the novels of Jane Austen, but quickly turned into a listing of my favorite adaptations of her novels, in no particular order.

In this post I’m going to focus on the relationship between the main characters and how it’s portrayed in the specific adaptation because the connection between romantic partners is one of the key factors that brings readers/viewers back time and again.

So, here we go.

Sense & Sensibility

sense-and-sensibility-miniseries
Credit: The Jane Austen Film Club

   This 2008 adaptation of Sense & Sensibility offers up two couples for analysis.

First there is Elinor Dashwood who is calm and sensible. Her counterpart is Edward Ferrars who is mild-mannered and kind. They both share a strong sense of honor and loyalty and this binds them.

Next, there is Marianne Dashwood (Elinor’s younger sister) who is passionate, musical and feels everything keenly. Colonel Brandon is her equal in temperament though he composes himself more readily than Marianne. They are a stellar match because they both have a passion for life and value honesty above all else.

Persuasion

p1995
Credit: Wikipedia

Oh my love of Persuasion! This is the 1995 version that was perfection. Anne Eliot and Frederick Wentworth are a quietly intense couple with a previous romance cut short. Anne is an interesting mix of passivity and strong will. Frederick is determined and discerning. Neither want to be with an individual who isn’t fully committed and well balanced in sense and fairness.

Northanger Abbey

na
Credit: Kate Talks About Books

In 2007 the above adaptation of Northanger Abbey was created. The frivolity and overactive imagination of Catherine Morland and the sharp-witted teasing of Henry Tilney make this Austen couple a dynamic and entertaining pair. Each shares a sweetness of temperament that brings them together.

Emma

emma
Credit: BBC

In this 2007 BBC version of Emma, Emma Woodhouse is witty, charming and a fanciful romantic. George Knightley is good-humored, presenting his opinions firmly and fairly.

The connection and friendship between the two is nicely presented. Emma’s enthusiasm and good intentions correlate nicely with Knightley’s even-tempered generosity.

Pride & Prejudice

pp1995
Credit: Daily Mail

BBC did a fantastic job in 1995 with this miniseries version of Pride & Prejudice. It is without a doubt the best version ever done. Elizabeth Bennet is opinionated and fiery, while Fitzwilliam Darcy is reserved and dutiful. Their interactions cause sparks to fly as they challenge each other to be better people.

Conclusion

In short, each character is unique and when paired with one another they are highly complementary, creating a strong match, making a meeting of the minds in a romance that stands the test of time.

Antonina

Khom Fai

A month ago Dario and I had the pleasure of dining at a local Thai restaurant: Khom Fai.

From visit #1 I’ve loved the food at this place! It’s so yummy and comforting yet with a dash of the new and fun. I personally don’t eat Thai food very often, nor do I cooked it–but I should–so it is always an experience for me.

imag01901

Well, I happened to meet a part-owner/chef of Khom Fai and he suggested I come by on a Sunday afternoon when they’re quieter and he’d make me off the menu items. I eagerly accepted this offer and it was wonderful. After Dario and I were seated and our drinks were served–I got my favorite, a Thai iced tea (see below)–the chef came out and took the menus from our hands saying, “You don’t need these. I got you.” Right then I knew this was going to be incredible!

imag01821

imag01831

There is a beauty to layered drinks like Thai iced tea that I always stop to admire. For those who are unfamiliar, Thai iced tea is a strongly brewed and spiced black tea sweetened with sugar and condensed milk and served over ice. Amazing.

imag01841

The first item we were served was a spring roll and a crab rangoon (in a lovely, crisp triangle) with a light sweet-sour sauce. Seafood isn’t even my thing but I love crab rangoon. Too much maybe. And Dario had never had it before so I was happy he tried it and really liked it too.

imag01851

Next up, two waitresses and the chef came out to give us our main dishes.

imag01871

There were three dishes, each lovely. On the left there’s a full plate of Pad Thai with tofu, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts. Tofu is very hit or miss in my opinion but this tofu was warm and yummy.

In the middle is shrimp fried rice. I’m not a seafood connoisseur but even I realized the shrimp was cooked perfectly.

And on the right was a mound of rice flanked by red curry (which was sweet) and basil beef (which was strong with a lovely kick of heat).

imag01881

My photos were hasty as I was eager to document but I didn’t want to spend minutes trying to get the “perfect shot” and not fully immerse myself in the gastronomic experience.

Last but not least we were served basil lime sorbet.

imag01931

imag01941

It was absurdly light and refreshing, and a complete palette cleanse after the flavorful, rich Thai food.

It was wonderful to go to Khom Fai, especially with Dario. And everything from the food, to the chef and the waitstaff, was spectacular! 5 out of 5 stars from me.

Antonina

Albanian, 1-10

imag01571

On an ice cream excursion, my future sister- and mother-in-law began to teach me how to pronounce Albanian numbers. They told me numbers 1 thru 100 but I confess the best I could remember with any confidence the next day was 1 thru 10. I’m one tenth of the way!

So below is the number and the pronunciation to the best of my phonetic ability.

  1. Nji            (knee with a “gn” sound like the Italian gnocchi)
  2. Dy            (do)
  3. Tre           (tray)
  4. Katër      (kahter)
  5. Pesë        (pace but the “a” is a mix of “eh” and “a” if that makes sense)
  6. Gjashtë  (josht, like “josh” with a “t” sound at the end)
  7. Shtatë    (shtaht, like “tot” with a “shhh” at the beginning)
  8. Tetë        (tate, but the “a” is a mix of “eh” and “a“)
  9. Nëntë    (nunt, “nun” and “t“)
  10. Dhjetë   (det but the “d” sound has a “th” overlapping it)

On the bright side I can count to 100 in Italian (if I focus ha ha)…but Italian is not Albanian, so I must continue with my practice. One day I’ll count to 100 in Albanian.

Antonina

Ishiguro & Plath

A month or so ago I finished “A Pale View of Hills” by Kazuo Ishiguro, and it is an excellent read. It is suspenseful and makes you truly pause and consider the strangeness and mystery of what you just read.

apaleviewofhills

The story spans Etsuko’s life, from expectant mother in Japan with her first husband, to her second marriage and second, adult child Niki in England. Niki is visiting and mother and daughter discuss many things, primarily the suicide of Etsuko’s eldest daughter Keiko. The story jumps from past to present, intensifies as it progresses and displays the varying differences in the parental-child relationship between Etsuko & Keiko, and Etsuko & Niki.

There is a sense of disturbance throughout the book that builds and builds, until overflowing. Immediately upon finishing the last page, I had to visit discussion boards to make sure I was understanding everything in its entirety. Not because the content was so bizarre or incomprehensible, but because the end of the book reveals completely new factors of the story and characters that you suspected, but for which you weren’t prepared. At least that was my reaction. My excitement, curiosity and bewilderment compelled me to seek out the ideas and potential clarifications of others. Hence my rush to the discussion boards. This book is a great read.

kazuo-ishiguro_3177067b

One week ago I finished “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath. When I was almost halfway through I saw similarities between myself and the protagonist, Ester Greenwood. Like myself, she’s a recent English grad who seems slightly sad, disillusioned, isolated and most importantly (to me) doesn’t seem certain of her life’s path. And with Ester there’s a sense of dissatisfaction with life’s options in general. (Or maybe I read a lot into her character because of my own anxieties ha ha!)

the_bell_jar_harper_05

Then after completing the book, my relation to Ester Greenwood seems diminished. It made me laugh that I’ve had the same passing thoughts, wondering what if it’s what an individual believes about the afterlife or lack thereof that happens to them when they die? Almost like heaven or hell exist for you because you believe them to exist, or if you believe you die and nothing happens afterward then nothingness is your fate.

Whatever the case, I found Plath’s analogy of a bell jar to be very powerful and apt. I was especially impressed with, and struck by, the first page of Chap. 20–which I shall not quote here because I don’t want to spoil it.

sylviaplath

We all have dark times and thoughts. A darkness that does not visit once but comes to visit us again and again. It was sad and understandable that so often family, friends and various visitors said the wrong thing to Ester. Maybe they were visiting her out of curiosity or good intentions but the emphasis on her getting better and forgetting all about this difficult time and eventually marrying seemed to me the most prominent and aggravating encouragements of others.

The uncertainty of what to say, the frequency of making the wrong comment made me wonder how often I’ve said the very wrong thing to someone who was in distress. Maybe they needed my silence, to listen to their personal turmoil. Or perhaps they needed my honesty. Instead of saying something to the effect of “You’re going to get better and one day these feelings will be a hazy memory” I should have spoken honestly but positively, and honored their feelings, saying, “I’m worried about you but I know you’re strong and I’m here for you, however you need me.”

Antonina

Top 5 British TV Shows

Who doesn’t love British TV? Well, I don’t know all of British TV but most of what I encounter I greatly enjoy. Especially period dramas, comedies and book adaptations.

Here I’ll be discussing my Top 5 British TV Shows. Out of my list, only one to my knowledge is an adaptation, Call the Midwife, which is based on the memoirs of Jennifer “Jenny” Worth.

So here are my Top 5 British TV Shows, in no particular order.

  1. As Time Goes By

    as-time-goes-byAs Time Goes By is a very character-driven series focused on a 43 year old romance between Jean Pargetter and Lionel Hardcastle. Jean and Lionel met as nurse and a soldier in the early 1950’s. They fell in love but were parted when Lionel was posted to Korea. How they lost touch for 43 years and the lives they led apart are only the beginning as these two individuals reacquaint themselves. It is a sweet, funny, kind and completely wonderful show.

  2. BROADCHURCH

    broadchurch-logoBroadchurch is a mystery series. (3 of my top 5 are mysteries actually) It revolves around D.I. Hardy and D.S. Miller investigating a local murder. Alec Hardy is looking for a small town in which to make a fresh start and Ellie Miller is navigating the difficulty of a new work partner as her town is traumatized by the recent killing. It is a fascinating watch as mystery driven as it is character-driven with seaside beauty, sinister small town intensity and stellar acting.

  3. The IT Crowd

    itcrowdThe IT Crowd follows the lives of socially awkward Roy and Maurice “Moss” who are the IT dept. at Renholm Industries. Jen quickly becomes their supervisor who knows nothing about computers but may have the people skills needed to help Roy and Moss gain popularity. Hilarious is the word to describe this fast-paced and witty show.

  4. Inspector Lewis

    inspectorlewisThis mystery series is, I believe, a spin-off or continuation of Inspector Morse in which the character D.I. Lewis (right) was Morse’s “sidekick.” Inspector Morse was based on a crime series by Colin Dexter of the same name. In Inspector Lewis, Lewis is now the main detective and D.S. Hathaway (left) is his “sidekick.” Each hour-long episode includes the solving of a murder and a slight diving into the personal lives of Lewis and Hathaway, both of whom are interesting individuals with unique knowledge.

  5. Call the Midwife

    callthemidwife

    Credit: PBS

    Last, but far from least, is a fascinating series that takes place in the Lower East End in the 1950’s. It’s about midwives, nuns, mothers and fathers, teen parents, babies, children, a community, religion, life, love, struggle and so much more. This series beautifully balances all characters and subjects, showing diverse people, situations and issues and do not, I repeat, DO NOT watch if you can’t handle seeing labor scenes. Of course they aren’t the same as actually seeing a live birth (closest I’ve ever come are midwife/labor/pregnancy documentaries) but there is blood and fluid and a lot of screaming. So. Much. Screaming. It’s an intense show but it’s also heartfelt and humorous too. Plus, Vanessa Redgrave narrates! Love her voice.

    Conclusion

    All five of these British TV Shows are top notch and I would recommend if you need entertainment with humor, drama, great details, wonderful characters and superb acting.

Antonina

Gifts from Dario

This post is not about glorifying material goods. It’s about the kindness of the giver, what the gifts represent, and the sweetness and thoughtfulness behind each item.

The very first gift Dario gave to me was…THE INTERNET!

(“The Internet” is a black box with a blinking red light in its center.)

img_9874

img_9877

img_9876    img_9875

This gift meant a lot because it’s a reference to the British comedy show The IT Crowd. When Dario and I initially met in a college summer class, I found out he was in IT and suggested he try watching The IT Crowd. At this point we were friendly (I had a huge crush on him) but he hadn’t asked me out yet. To be honest at this stage of things, I didn’t want to get my hopes up so I kept telling myself he didn’t like me. Nope. Nada. End of story. But when I told him to try the IT-themed show, and the next class day he told me he’d watched the entire series…well I thought maybe, just maybe he did like me.

So after a short time of dating (I swear it was only 3-ish weeks) he presented me with the box pictured above, just like the IT guys of the show presented it as a prank to their technologically-challenged boss.

img_9878

For our first Christmas together he gave me a hat I had been eyeing because…well, just look at its greatness! Red, white, a poof of a pom-pom and polar bears amidst lacy white designs. It’s super warm and comfy and I’ll definitely be utilizing it this winter, as I did last winter.

Also for Christmas he gave me a gift that is pragmatic and beautiful.

An ello thermos with an almost hammered design in a gorgeous blue-green.

Oh my goodness and gosh. That’s right, both of them. For this gift, Dario hunted through local bookstores to find me a vintage edition of my favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuasion. It’s silly but when I was a teenager I made a grand declaration: that it would be a sign I should marry him (future boyfriend) if he bought me an old edition of Persuasion. I never told Dario that but I he knew Persuasion is my favorite and that I love old books.

He’s a sweetheart.

For the latest gift, a birthday gift, I sadly do not have a picture (see random pic/representation below instead). But, Dario bought me a purple bike! It’s lovely and I can’t wait to go for a ride with him.

bicycle-icon-vector-1841327Whenever I take my thermos to work, wear my hat, read Persuasion or see the INTERNET in my room, I think of Dario and how much I love him and how romantic he is. I’m so lucky to have him in my life, and with me for the rest of my life.

He’s given me so much more than material gifts.

Antonina