Sunday, March 30, 2014

Reign Series

This is a series that keeps us returning week after week. It's full of great characters and depicts the times well but still manages to leave room for some modern elements. It doesn't hurt that many of the characters are hot too!

The series revolves around the historical fact that Mary Queen of Scots and Prince Francis of France were arranged to be married to unite France and Scotland under one ruler. Mary is to inherit the throne of England once the Queen dies and that is the bigger prize for King Henry II.

Mary is strong woman, a leader who rules with her heart. Destined to marry Prince Francis for political reasons, she falls in love with him. She loves him so much she's willing to wed his brother Bash (Sebastian) to prevent Nostradamus's prediction of Francis's death if they marry.

It's that prediction that shows the humanity of Catherine de Medici who would do anything to save her son, even kill for him. A ruthless person most of the time, she plots behind the scenes to get what she wants regardless of who has to die in the process. Her scheming doesn't always go her way, as Mary and Francis eventually unite. Even though she is conniving, it's hard not to feel some sympathy for her, as she is stuck in a loveless marriage with the constant threat of being assassinated.

Bash, Francis's half-brother and the king's bastard son is different from the royal set. He doesn't seek the power and has no wish to rule. Although Mary and Bash have a connection, he only acted on his true feelings for her when he thought they would have to wed.

Mary's Ladies in Waiting all have their own challenges to face. Aylee was killed off early, poisoned by Clarissa. Greer fell in love with a poor cook, someone far below her station in life. She's pressured by her family to marry someone with a title to help support them. Kenna carries on an affair with the king, thinking that becoming the king's official mistress will provide her with a good life. But she is soon mistaken. Lola's complication is the most challenging of all! After a hook up with Francis one night, she becomes pregnant. Mary finds out and forgives her but Lola will have to be married off quickly if this fact is to be hidden from Francis.

In the early episodes king Henry had no idea what kind of secret manoeuvres his wife Catherine was getting away with to manipulate those around her. When he does find out that she has committed treason on all fronts, he starts to take his power back in a big way. Sadly, the power goes to his head as we see him become pretty treacherous, especially with women.

Once Nostradamus revealed that Francis would no longer by in danger if he married Mary, he had an another vision earlier on that he kept to himself. He believes Francis will not live a long life. We wonder if Francis will be killed off in the next season or stick around for a while longer, completely altering the course of history (and the show !) We must wait to find out!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Christmas Song by Blues Traveler

I love christmas music. I don't mind hearing the classic carols everywhere I go because there are different versions performed by many artists. But after a while it does get tiring hearing the same ones over and over again. So I'd like to share one of my favourite songs that's rarely played on radio. Enjoy.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Are We Living in an Age of Meanness-Still?

My writing buddies and I were talking about whether we humans have really evolved as much as we like to think we have. Then I happened to see this article in the Toronto Star titled Mean while browsing (Insight section of the front page, November 16th. Another article, Kindness was published November 23rd, Insight, front page).

Let's say compared to 1000 years ago. Sure, there was rampant killing and rape back then. Wars were frequent, cruelty existed on an almost unbelievable scale compared to today's more "civilized" world (there are still sad and terrible things going on everywhere, but there's progress in some places).  Yeah, you could say there's no comparison! And I'd agree with you for the most part.

But just to take one example, look at things from a teenager's point of view- what about bullying, cyber bullying, girls beating on other girls, teenage gang war? What about cruel Youtube videos going viral, followed by completely horrifying and tragic suicides? Is this mostly a North American phenomenon? Are we (mostly) the ugly, cruel ones? In the lead, or becoming (ever so slowly) worldwide?

You could look at the positive side. We're a global world now and we communicate a lot more frequently using a lot of different technology. It's brought us closer together with way more understanding of our differences. And even more to the point, our similarities! Due to technology, problems get resolved much, much faster. They can also happen much quicker too.

Maybe today's world (parts of it) is not about meanness in such a dramatic way and on such a gigantic scale. It's Evolving into a different kind of meanness and cruelty. More subtle and sneaky. Taking place behind all the device screens we 've come to rely on.  Is this too cynical a view?  This 'new world' is still being played out and we don't have a crystal ball to see where it's leading us.

What do you think?


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Glee Says Goodbye to Cory Monteith

What a tearjerker! The only relief we got from crying was during the commercial breaks. The songs the cast sang were heartbreaking and hit their mark perfectly. It was a tribute to not just Finn's life but a reflection of the actor Cory's life too. The reason for Finn's passing was never mentioned but was touched on briefly. Instead, the episode was about mourning the character's passing and remembering the kind of person he was, taking the focus off the details behind Cory's death.

We appreciated how Rachel only appeared at the very end, allowing other characters to have their moment of grieving. If she was in it from beginning to end, her grief would have overshadowed everyone else's. The actress showed great strength in her scenes.

The grief expressed focused more on the original cast of characters from the Glee choir such as Mercedes, Kurt, Santana and Puck. We felt they ignored the fact that Artie and Tina were also original members but weren't given much to say. They were grouped with the newbie choir members. Finn's original girlfriend Quinn was noticeably absent from the episode.

The teachers had their moments too. Sue Sylvester had a rare moment of humanity expressing her regrets on how she had treated Finn. Mr Shu held it together through the entire show until finally breaking down at the end.

Most of what was voiced by the characters about Finn's passing was probably shared by the actors themselves. They didn't have to act, the pain was visible in their faces. The breakdowns during the singing were real. They must have needed several takes to get through the scenes.

How will Glee go forward? We'll wait to see but it won't be the same without Cory. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Little Edge, a Little Pop

Have you noticed that more and more edgy, new alternative rock songs have a strong 'pop' influence, even a country influence? Who would have thought that a radio station like Toronto's 102.1 The Edge would play songs like these a few years ago?

There are many:Thirst by City and Colour, What I Wouldn't Do by Serena Ryder, the very countryish By This Time Tomorrow by Head of the Heard, Diane Young by Vampire Weekend,  Safe and Sound by Capital Cities, disco sounding Get Lucky by Daft Weekend, Stubborn Love by The Lumineers.

There's no limit to musical innovation.  What's next? Hip Hop Opera with a country twang? Well, maybe not.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Have you seen it? It’s crazy! Sharks swimming in the streets of Los Angeles, flying through the air, bursting through windows and drainpipes and anything else you can think of.  The title says it all: sharks and tornados.  Together.

Sharknado is a TV movie that’s been airing on Space in Canada and Syfy in the US.  It stars Ian Ziering (from the original Beverley Hills 90210) as Fin Shepherd, Tara Reid (the American Pie movies) as his ex-wife April, and Cassie Scerbo (from the Make It or Break It series) as bartender Nova, who has a thing for Fin.  Plus a bunch of other characters, many of whom you just know are doomed to be eaten. 

At the beginning, Fin owns a bar at the Santa Monica Pier, but when the storm hits and the sharks start flying, he’s out to save the world.  While desperate to get to his family, he constantly stops to help everyone else along the way.  Somehow he always seems to be directly in the storm’s path.

Fin’s ex-wife doesn’t want anything to do with him when he shows up to protect her and their teenaged daughter, but changes her tune when the house is suddenly flooded with sharks and her new boyfriend gets munched.  Just as they catch up with Fin’s son at the airport (where he’s learning to fly), huge waterspouts over the ocean suck up hundreds of sharks and head through the city. 

That’s when it gets really crazy.  They hatch a scheme to blow the sharks out of the sky.  Fin’s super protective of his ex and his daughter, but amazingly has no problem with his son flying a helicopter near the enormous sharknados.  I guess saving the world runs in the family.

The special effects are low budget, and there are many inconsistencies: water conveniently appearing or disappearing as needed, sharks zooming with laser precision in and out of nowhere; and so many things that defy all laws of physics and science.  For some reason, the sharks seem pretty much hollow inside, although that works out surprisingly well at the end of the movie.

But for all its flaws, and there are many, Sharknado is ridiculous fun.  It’s so over the top, you can’t help but laugh and cheer.  I even cheered for the sharks a couple of times.

With each airing of Sharknado its audience has grown and a sequel is planned for 2014.  So tune in to the next broadcast of Sharknado, and have fun watching from your couch, safe in the knowledge that this couldn’t possibly ever happen…


Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Lately, every time I listen to Yo Hello Hooray by USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) it makes me think of the very talented and beloved Cory Monteith who just died of a drug overdose on July 13th of this year.

The song's cheerful but sad and wistful at the same time. Why does it remind me of Cory? The lyrics speak for themselves. Rest in peace, Cory.


Start panicking, turn into a mannequin
Take a breath now, ahh, begin again
Open your eyes please
Turn your smile on
Realign with now as well
You start freaking out
Wishing you were peaking out
Hold it together now
Instead of leaking out
Turn your smile on
Turn your smile up bright

Remember the days when your laughter was meant
Remember the days when you did what you said
You're counting the days til you get high again
Chill out, be easy on yourself

You stop choosing it
Suddenly you're losing it
Give it a kiss now
Instead of bruising it
More than a mean fear
Pieces whole here
Let the past go boys and girl
You start stressing out
Time to learn a lesson, doubts
Not in your jeans, so please stop your guessing bout
Turn your smile on
Turn your smile up bright


Every day, every day
Every day in 50 million ways
I like to play with each cell of your brain
I call and say Yo Hello Hooray
I'd like to wake up a moment from your smile


Every day, every day
Every day in 50 million ways
I like to play with each cell of your brain
I call and say Yo Hello Hooray
I'd like to wake up a moment from your smile


Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Seven Minutes The-Lying-Game

More and more novels are appearing on the small screen. Series such as Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood are just as riveting on TV as they are in their written format but each has their own storyline so neither spoils the others' plot.

A few months ago when The Lying Game by Sarah Shepard finished its spring finale in a cliff-hanger that sent fans reeling, we decided to read the books that inspired the show. Emma and Sutton are identical twins who were separated at birth. Sutton was adopted into a wealthy family while Emma went through the foster system. But aside from a few common characters the similarities between the books and the TV series end there.

Book: The book begins with Sutton’s murder. Emma, upon discovering that she has a twin sister and that she is dead, steps into Sutton’s life to find the killer.
TV: Both twins are alive. Sutton’s on a mission to find her birth mother and Emma covers for her. The murder involves a minor character and it happens mid- season.

Book: Emma receives a note threatening that she is next if she reveals she’s not Sutton.
TV: Someone tries to kill Sutton forcing Emma to keep playing Sutton while they both try to find answers.

Book: The love triangle is between Emma, Ethan and Thayer. Ethan is the only one who knows the truth about Emma and he helps her throughout the series. Thayer, who had a secret affair with Sutton, doesn’t know it’s not her.
TV: The love triangle is between Sutton, Ethan and Emma. Ethan is the first to figure out that Emma is a fake because he and Sutton were secretly together.

Books: The main focus is on the teens.
TV: The adults’ storylines are just as juicy.

Book: The final book in the series comes out on July 30th and with it the answers to all our questions (we hope).
TV: After months of waiting on word of a new season, The Lying Game has officially been cancelled. The numerous questions the final episode brought us will never be answered.