Monday, June 30, 2014

The Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast - Episode 4: Badges? Badges? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges!

This week we're all about Convention Shenanigans! What conventions have we attended? What amazing (and not-so-amazing) things have we seen? Who have we met at these events? (and have we ever embarrassed ourselves in front of celebrities? …guilty…) What advice do we have for con newbies? We're not experts by any means, but we still have plenty to discuss and squee about!

Also, a bumper crop of Doctor Who news, plus your feedback! Enjoy!

For full show notes and MP3 Download, click here:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Review of "The Actor and the Housewife" by Shannon Hale

**Originally Posted on cj's bookshelf on August 21, 2011**

Title: The Actor and the Housewife
Author: Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: June 9, 2009

Synopsis (from Goodreads) -
What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter…

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened…though nothing has happened. It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. H er children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special…something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it? A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

My Review:
It's Saturday night, I'm home with my parents and siblings. We're all cooking pork ribs in preparation for Sunday's potluck after church. Dad's specialty for these church parties is barbecue pork - browned to perfection, drenched in KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce and baked overnight in his campfire-precision Dutch ovens. Put those on a plate with a hearty side of roast potatoes and a green salad - and you have the gloriousness of a post-Sunday meetings feast (as long as nobody forgets the chocolate cake).

The phone rings and Dad checks the caller ID. He smiles at me and says "It's for you."

Let me backup. I'd been dating this guy - I'm gonna call him Spongebob for reasons that will become clear later - for about a month. In my dating-starved social life, that was an eternity. And I will be the first to admit that I really liked the guy. As in, I liked the guy. As in, I was ready for a serious relationship. Sure, it had only been three actual dates, but we'd talked on the phone, we'd texted and we'd chatted online. We'd met when a young couple from our church set us up on a blind date and (I thought) we had hit it off. He'd asked me out on two more dates and I was ecstatic about the whole thing. Spongebob was a wonderful guy - he had a great job, he treated me well and he seemed to like me a lot. So, I was thrilled when he'd called me.

In order to have some privacy, I took the cordless phone and walked to the bottom of the stairs away from the kitchen and the family (who were certainly whispering excitedly amongst themselves). I said hello and Spongebob said hello back. We talked for a minute - and then he dropped in this little nugget:

"Well, you know I like you" (heart skips a beat) "and I think you're a nice girl" (okay… where is this going?) "but I think we'd be better off as friends."


I'm really not sure what happened at this point… I think I tried to be polite, even though it might be just as likely that I swore at the bugger. I hung up the phone and sat on the stairs for another minute, trying to remember where I left my legs because I certainly couldn't feel them attached to my body. I must have found them again because the next thing I remember was coming face-to-face with my family, who were all eagerly anticipating my next news - surely I would be going out with him again. I started to cry and my mom took me in her arms and hugged me tight.

The story doesn't end there. The next day at church, I had to face the people who had set me and Spongebob up. I didn't want to be rude or anything, but I certainly didn't want to recount the phone call. When the couple asked me how things we going with Spongebob, I said "fine," but then my dear, sweet 7-year-old cousin piped up and said "I thought he broke up with you!"

Turns out that was the best thing that could have happened there because the couple said something to the effect of "Oh, he does this to every girl we set him up with!"

Number one - I wasn't the only one these two had set Spongebob up with? Number two - What do you mean every girl? Turns out that Spongebob breaks it off with every girl he's had three dates with. Evidently, he takes seriously the old adage in the movie "Hitch" - "Three dates … will tell [you] everything [you] need to know about the relationship." And evidently, if he doesn't feel "it" in three dates, then it's adios - friend.

I tell this humiliating tale to get a glimpse at how I came to the book The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale. The premise of this story is that Becky, an average housewife from Utah, meets Felix, a sophisticated, flashy, famous actor from Hollywood, and they become best friends in every sense of the word. At first, it's a little weird because Felix is one of those "heartthrob" actors that women are supposed to go ape-nuts for (which, who the crap even knows what a "heartthrob" really is) and people think that Becky - who is a happily married mother of four - is about to run off with Felix. But that never happens. Becky and Felix are able to have a mature and fun (and funny - oh my gosh, these two are HILARIOUS!) friendship while still being committed and faithful to their spouses.

Personally, I think that it's possible for men and women to have platonic friendships - and not any of this bogus "Oh, we dated once, but I got bored of you so I'm going to cast you off and call it being a friend" BS. Yes, I know this is a work of fiction (how many people in this lifetime meet their celebrity crushes and become friends with them in real life? Some people might, but not very many), but this is a truly refreshing story in the vein of a romantic comedy.

I actually listened to the audiobook and I have to give major props to Christina Moore for her reading. Sometimes when a female does voices for male characters, it just sounds like a woman doing a man's deep voice (and not very well). But I love Moore's Felix voice and I love her voice for Mike (Becky's husband) and the other male characters. It actually sounds like a man's voice - if that doesn't sound too terribly weird. Also, her French accented Celeste (Felix's wife) isn't too shabby either (dear heaven, I love Celeste!)

Anyway - The Actor and the Housewife is more than a fluffy comedic read. There are a lot of lovely little moments between Becky and Mike in that you never for a second believe that Becky would leave Mike for Felix. You even get angry when Becky's friends and family (and the media, at one point) suggest otherwise. Because, you know, men and women are completely and utterly incapable of self-control and never, ever, EVER know when they're about to cross a line and simply cannot wait to jump into bed with one another because - seriously - what else is there to do with a member of the opposite sex? They certainly wouldn't have entertaining and enjoyable conversation and share life's ups and downs with this wonderful friend. No, no, no - life is all about getting into someone else's pants.

This book actually justifies that sarcastic rant and how stupid people's assumptions about male-female friendships are (both in and out of the story). More than that - it's about sharing life's joys and heartbreaks with that one true bosom buddy that you can turn to (and boy howdy, are there plenty of joys and heartbreaks in Becky's and Felix's lives. I almost didn't want to get out of the car at a few points because I was just so emotionally invested in the story).

I love this book because it represents so many things that I want in my life - I would totally love a friend like Felix. Not necessarily a drop-dead gorgeous Hollywood actor, but someone to bounce humorous ideas and thoughts off of - someone who understands all of my life's peaks and valleys and who would trust me with their own ups and downs. The best metaphor actually comes from the story - Becky says that Mike has her heart and soul and she is totally in love with him and he's totally in love with her. But Felix is her liver. She still needs her liver and it's required for life, but he's not her heart (Felix responds to this by having liver-shaped gold pendants made for both of them. It is blankety-blanking adorable).

I realize that this story is very much steeped in a fantasy - and Becky even admits in-story that there are way too many coincidences in this situation and there's no way this could have happened just on a whim. But the lightness and joy of the story makes you suspend disbelief long enough to love and appreciate what Shannon Hale was aiming for with this book. So, if you want a book that will make you laugh and make you cry and make you find joy in your family and friend relationships, I would wholeheartedly recommend The Actor and the Housewife!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Preemptive Critic - Mockingjay, Part 1

Putting aside my less-than-positive thoughts on the latest fad of splitting up the final installment of movies-from-book-series, I'm still excited for this.

I've got to talk about the way they're doing the marketing for this movie, though. Wartime propaganda is HUGE in Mockingjay. I mean, propaganda is a big part of the entire Hunger Games series, with the sick blend of fashion show and "fight to the death" mix of the Games themselves - all of it is meant to keep the Districts in their place. That's how the Capitol rules - mostly through intimidation of information. Sometimes they pick up the stick and beat their constituents with it, but it's mostly through the threat of violence.

However in Mockingjay, the Districts start to rebel and threats from the Capitol start to lose their potency. Even while the Districts are descending into chaos, we do hear mentions of TV spots that call for unity and peace - much like this trailer (Peeta even makes appearances in these spots). It's not too far-fetched to imply that there are also campaigns like "District Heroes" (though I have my doubts that these people modeling for the images are actually meant to be from the Districts - most likely they're models from the Capitol made-up to look like District citizens. I highly doubt District 6 guys wear pants made out of tire-treads).

Also - unlike some of the Capitol Couture stuff (like having CoverGirl create looks based on the bizarre fashions of the Capitol), I'm more inclined to think this marketing campaign is a bit tongue-in-cheek. One of the great ironies of The Hunger Games series is that the story satirizes celebrity culture and how stupid it is to dig into these people's personal lives at the expense of being decent human beings about it. And what do all (well, most of) the teeny-bopper articles pick out about this story? Whether or not Katniss decides she wants to be with Peeta or Gale (as if this was some ridiculous Twilight thing).  Look, I like a good conversation about shipping as much as the next fangirl, but sometimes it's inappropriate. Like in a story where the main character has to choose between saving her sister or saving the guy in the foxhole next to her - and whether or not she could live with her choices afterward.

I kind of hope people get creeped out by this new tack they're taking with the marketing for this movie. It's straight out of the Soviet Union propaganda handbook, which is scary as shit if you ever care to find out about it (collectivism/"The Greater Good" at the expense of an individual's agency, enforced by a totalitarian government - you're damn right it's scary). For that reason, I kind of love it (in an extremely morbid way). Maybe it'll get kids (and many adults, let's be real here) interested in this area of history.

For being spookily on-the-nose with their marketing campaign, I preemptively love this movie.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Lannisters Send Their Regards

Review/Recap of 24: Live Another Day, Episode 9: 7:00 pm-8:00 pm - SPOILERS!

Before I get started, I have to chuckle about Hulu's tagline for this on this main page:

"Jack and Chloe scheme and shocking events occur."

Way to avoid preview spoilers, boys! (to be fair, that was better than somebody who texted me last night after he'd watch the episode, but I have to wait until it comes up on Hulu the next day. sigh... Anyway...)

I was a bit annoyed that President Heller - after all his heroic sacrificing stuff last week - didn't even merit a character snapshot during the "Previously on 24" segment. After all the tears and hugging and dragging me through this angst - he doesn't even get any kind of send-off? I mean, who's in charge now? Stephen Fry?  But I was impressed by Cersei Stark's handling of the situation - sticking to what she said she'd do and destroying the drones and all that. I guess there is honor amongst thieves (terrorists... whatever...) Though, doesn't her wish that her dead husband be alive to see her take revenge for his death sound a little strange?

Wait ... why does not-Joffrey think there's something wrong with the feed from Wembley? And how the heck would Heller still be alive? I mean, are they just going to go apeshit because of a blip in the super-grainy and zoomed-in drone camera and how is Jack going to stop...


Heller's alive??


I... don't know how to feel about this. On the one hand - WHAT??? On the other - oh good, he's not really dead.

Wow. As twists go - well-played, guys. Well-played.

This changes things, obviously. Because all of a sudden - Jack Bauer is in charge! And giving orders! And having them followed! And Chloe is actually working with the CIA! And the President's alive!! AND JACK FREAKING BAUER IS IN CHARGE!


(something this momentous deserves two happy dancing gifs)

Adrian Cross of Open Cell conveniently happens to have a super-duper-screw-with-everybody's-GPS thingy in order to find not-King's-Landing (in other news, several relationships ended that night because dates could not be picked up on time). Kate Morgan, Badass, ESQ, shows up with her CIA buddies - and takes out the electricity to not-King's-Landing with a freaking grenade! (some poor dear on the third floor loses picture on Britain's Got Talent, but we all must make sacrifices). All so we could have a glorious shootout - complete with Jack popping a cap in some mook from above.

Inside not-King's-Landing, Cersei Stark and her son (heretofore known as not-Robb) lock onto the coordinates that will make the most damage because Mama Cersei is pissed. Not-Robb loses his nerve, but Cersei assures him that she loves him no matter what, even when she's holding him there at gunpoint (remember what happened last time Cersei Stark said she loved one of her children?) One way or another, not-Robb doesn't have much longer on this mortal coil. Which means I have to get my guyliner joke in now. Because, dude, there is only one guy on TV right now who can get away with those kinds of shenanigans. And it ain't you.

(sorry - got distracted by the pretty there for a few minutes. Where was I...? Oh right - Jack Bauer was about to go all Jack Bauer on not-King's-Landing).

Instead of going in through the normal way, Jack climbs outside the building and tries to go through the window. Not-Robb opens the window for him. And stupidly leans out so Jack can yank him out the window.

Yes folks. The son of a character played by Michelle Fairley fell out of a window to his death (well, to be fair, the first time the kid was saved by a wolf-dream-thing. Spoilers for Game of Thrones, there).

I call this "The Things I Do For Love."
(Maybe I should have really called him not-Bran).
(I swear to all that is good and holy, if I am the only person on the Internet making this joke right now, online fandom has failed royally).

And, just to make things nice and parallel (I guess), Jack one-ups Jaime Lannister and chucks Cersei Stark out the window not two minutes later. Because Jack FREAKING Bauer, that's why.

"The Lannisters Send Their Regards"
And that's only the first half of the episode, people!

"The fangirl you are trying to reach is currently having her mind-blown"
So... how are we going to fill out the rest of the episode?

Well, Heller gets back to the embassy - reconnects with Audrey and the gang (but mostly Audrey). PM Stephen Fry thanks Heller for his sacrifice, to which Heller replies that he's sure the Prime Minister would have done the same if the situation were reversed (to which Stephen Fry gives the most hilarious look - like "Yeah... no. Crazy American President...") Jack gets a bunch of equipment secured and over to the CIA... the same CIA headed up by Steve Navarro... the same Steve Navarro that is working with Adrian Cross with his Super-Duper-GPS-Plot-Convenience-Thingy and penchant for selling state secrets and blaming it on Kate "Badass" Morgan's hubby.

Well - there's how we're going to fill three-and-a-half more episodes.

Jack takes some time to talk with Audrey over the phone (how does he have her number programmed in his phone already, I wonder? Don't care - he's got her number and they're going to talk again!!!) while he pow-wows with Navarro and the CIA about the terrorists drone-hijacking equipment. Which Adrian Cross has a great deal of interest in.

Oh - I forgot to mention - the police found Nerd Herd (RIP) and Kate and Erik immediately go to where his body was found... along with a mysterious unidentified dead dude that Kate immediately sets to finding out who he is. With Jack's help (from an old contact that I almost hoped was Tony Almeida, but I can't have everything in my life). Turns out that Mysterious Unidentified Dude was a CIA undercover operative that was once under Steve Navarro's command. The same Steve Navarro who has knocked out the CIA techie working on Cersei Stark's terrorist equipment and stolen said equipment for Adrian Cross. The same Adrian Cross who is now on the run with Chloe O'Brian. The same Chloe O'Brian who Jack wanted to come in and look at that same terrorist equipment at the CIA, but she declined, saying she'd help Jack enough, even though it had been nice to see him that day.

Do you see where this is going? Good, because I sure don't.

Nina Myers would be proud. If she weren't dead, that is.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast, Episode 3 - Don't Feed the Trolls

Episode 3 of the Five(ish) Fangirls is out! We battle issues ranging from scheduling to spotty Internet connections to bring a discussion of the current state of fandom - namely When Fans Go Bad.

It's one thing to disagree on what we like and dislike in fandom, but what happens when those disagreements turn nasty? And what about when fans drag creators of our favorite media into the Ship and Flame Wars? Can't we all just get along? Can fandom ever have nice things?

Also - news of the week and your feedback!

Show notes, news links, and download of the podcast MP3 can be found here:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Review of "Dragon Slippers" by Jessica Day George

**Originally Posted on cj's bookshelf on August 12, 2011**

Title: Dragon Slippers
Author: Jessica Day George
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 27, 2007
Reading Level: Age 7 and up
Series: First of a series, followed by Dragon Flight and Dragon Spear

Synopsis: (from Goodreads) –

Many stories tell of damsels in distress, who are rescued from the clutches of fire-breathing dragons by knights in shining armor, and swept off to live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those stories.

True, when Creel's aunt suggests sacrificing her to the local dragon, it is with the hope that the knight will marry Creel and that everyone (aunt and family included) will benefit handsomely. Yet it's Creel who talks her way out of the dragon's clutches. And it's Creel who walks for days on end to seek her fortune in the king's city with only a bit of embroidery thread and a strange pair of slippers in her possession.

But even Creel could not have guessed the outcome of this tale. For in a country on the verge of war, Creel unknowingly possesses not just any pair of shoes, but a tool that could be used to save her kingdom…or destroy it.

My Review:

This first came to my attention after a 7-year-old girl came to the library looking for books about dragons. Well, I’m not much of a dragon aficionado, my experience being limited to the movie Pete’s Dragon and the Eragon series (punch me in the face, those books are horrible) and that one of the Four Gods in Fushigi Yugi is a dragon (that show is actually pretty good – but I have a branch of anime-nerd in my geek pedigree. I refuse to be called an otaku, however). I know there’s an Anne-somebody-or-something that writes novels about dragons, but I didn’t think those appropriate for a young child of seven. So, one of the actual, proper librarians that isn’t an intern came to my rescue and suggested that I direct the girl to Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George. Not being one to recommend things without reading them (though I do trust this librarian’s advice), I decided to give this a shot.

And my goodness, was this a fun little story! (Yes, it merits an exclamation point!)

One of the things I love about this is how snarky the dragons are. There’s an exchange early in the book between Creel and Shardas about how the legends of the dragons as these mean, terrible and destructive creatures that keep defenseless maidens captive is a load of bunk and that dragons are more or less content to be left alone to hoard random objects in peace (one dragon collects shoes, another collects live dogs and even takes care of them. Take that, ASPCA!)

Special mention also must go to the character of Princess Amalia. Spoiled rotten and you just want to smack her upside the head – I was grateful that her guardian, the sensible and disciplined Duchess of Mordel, was also in many of the same scenes as Amalia just to balance out Amalia’s abrasiveness. That made Amalia bearable as Creel’s antagonist and also makes what she does later in the book not that surprising at all. Some terrible things do happen in this book as a result of Amalia’s greed (don’t want to spoil it for you – just give a heads-up), but nothing an astute 7-year-old couldn't handle.

Creel’s relationship with the dragons is especially endearing. Even though her aim is to open up her own dress shop, most of the time I just want her to run off and stay with the dragons. But she gets along well with many of the human characters as well, so it makes a good enough balance and a satisfying read. I did enjoy her interaction with Prince Luka and his mute bodyguard Tobin.

This is categorized as juvenile fiction, but I enjoyed it better than I have most juvenile fantasy lately. I even enjoyed it more than some YA or adult fantasy I've read. This would be great for a third grader – or even advanced second grade reader – to enjoy by themselves or with a parent (parents, if you want to hog it to yourself before you let the third grader in on the action, I would totally understand). But it’s refreshing to see juvenile fiction trust kids enough to deal with some of the serious things that happen in this book.

Bottom Line: Fun, fluffy read that is nevertheless satisfying and enjoyable.

Bonus Features: Shardas describes his lair as “bigger on the inside than on the outside.” That tickled my geek-senses.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Mighty 200: I Need a Hug Now

Review/Recap of 24: Live Another Day, Episode 8: 6:00 pm-7:00 pm - SPOILERS!


*deep breath* (Look, I don't do well with main character deaths. I just don't)

All right - before I continue on with my normal recap, I've got to get this out of the way -

President James Heller -

I mean, I kind of wondered if Cersei Stark wouldn't have a sudden attack of conscience there at the end - but this is 24. Where the bad guys have reasonable motivations, even if their methods are totally batshit crazy. And, rather that have a mile-a-minute adrenaline rush through this whole episode, we got a slow, methodical everything-going-according-to-plan for Jack.

Of all times for things to go exactly the way Jack set out for them to go... this is not the situation I would have chosen for that to happen. Even their commercial break time was used effectively, with Jack and Heller driving to the helicopter pad and (presumably) hitting all green lights on the way there (we certainly can't have anything like that when Jack is headed off to dismantle a nuclear bomb or something, now can we??)

Ugh - I'm used to my 24 giving me weekly heart attacks, but this isn't what I normally mean. From Heller pleading with Mark to let him give this one last service to his country to his last visit with Audrey - and THEN when Audrey actually finds out what her father's done AND THEN when Heller says he's given Jack a presidential pardon AND THEN Jack says he doesn't want to be pardoned for this because he thinks it's wrong, but he's going to do it anyway because he respects Heller and his personal decisions...

When can I have Mortal Peril coming from the necessity of outrunning a timed missile launch and have Sheer Panic and Mayhem all around me? I can't take these slow-moving feels anymore.

I mean, with all the people that Heller ended up telling about his little suicide mission, plus the agents that Jack left unconscious along the way (okay, I guess there was just that one) - I'm surprised that they didn't get stopped at all. It's 24, man! Where are all the uber-suspicious and untrusting government types???

On the flip side - I did like the split-screen thing as the 6:30 commercial break hit with Big Ben on one side and Jack and President Heller walking down the street on the other. Somebody's been waiting all season to do something like this -
My screengrab here isn't the greatest. It probably looks better in HD.
I'm just gonna list the rest -

- London looks really pretty at night
- Poor Nerd Herd. Survives being shot and dumped in the canal, only to get killed on the fact that he doesn't know how to check the safety on a gun.
- Kate's badassery continues. But even her efforts can't avoid disaster. Though I do kind of hope Simone lives. I don't know to what end, though.
- Cersei Stark for Worst Mother of the Year. It's a bad thing that your daughter's still alive? I just... I'm done with this stupid family. Blow them all to smithereens and get it over with.
- Does Wembley Stadium have valet parking for choppers? (sorry - trying to lighten the mood a little. I failed for obvious reasons)
- Chloe tried. But it's hard to be optimistic when you've got drunk revelers in the local pub draping themselves all over you when you're trying to save the leader of the free world. Stupid Open Cell. Stupid Adrian (though he's going to get his soon. I can feel it).
- I hope the real Secret Service isn't this inept.
- Happy 200th Episode, 24! (well... I don't know that "happy" is the right term for it...)
- It's hard to believe that there are only four more episodes of Live Another Day. Feels like we just got started. Who do we have to bug to get another one of these mini-series things for 24?

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast Episode 2 - My Dad Is #1

New episode of The Five(ish) Fangirls is up and ready for your listening pleasure! This week, in honor of Father's Day, we discuss some of our favorite dads from pop culture. Also, news of note and feedback!

Thank you all for your wonderful comments and support! It means a lot to us!

Click Here for Show Notes and MP3 Download of the Podcast

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Falling Into Place

"Please I pray you, hear it now, for I would lay rest the grace in my tongue and speak plainly. Days like these are far too rare to cheapen with heavy handed words." - Geoffrey Chaucer from A Knight's Tale

I live at the base of a really huge mountain on the east side of Salt Lake City. The foothills are a beautiful place to live - even in the wintertime when a bobsled is a more useful mode of transportation than a rickety four-door sedan. And when I take the time to get outside and really look at my surroundings, I find that nature and nature's God have a lot to teach me.

For reasons to complex and harrowing to go into now, 2014 has been full of a lot of anxiety and anger for me. Frustrations with my career and family things and bad memories that I thought I'd gotten over a long time ago have blended together to create a volatile reaction of guilt and a sense of failure in my mind. But I have been blessed with tender mercies and wonderful experiences - things that nobody else would look twice at - things that had to have been meant specifically for me and my situation. It further proves to me that God knows my mind better than I know it myself and that He is indeed looking out for me.

Oh my giddy aunt - did I just start talking about God? Well... yeah. I did. I know that my beliefs are unique in the world and not everybody understands them (hell, there are times I don't understand some of my beliefs, even though I could never imagine going against them - so don't even try). But these sacred things have pulled me through so many awful moments and I would be an ungrateful liar if I pretended it was anybody else doing this. I don't expect my experiences to mean squat to other people - you have to have your own experiences with the Divine for it to make sense to you (yeah, I hear the scoffers laughing at me right now. Go ahead and yuk it up. I'm used to it). But I felt the need to share some things here.

Tonight was particularly bad for me. But this time, I just said "Screw it, I'm going for a walk." And I did. I threw my iPod in my ears and started hiking up the hill. And when I say "up," I mean I went entirely uphill. On purpose. I was going as far uphill as I could stand because I was tired of hurting emotionally and mentally - I might as well hurt physically too. And, damn, did that walk hurt (I'm woefully out of shape and my body is going to hate me in the morning). Funny thing is - I got as far as the front doors of the church building in my neighborhood before I finally called it quits. I sat on the steps outside the building for a while and looked out over the valley. The sunset over the Great Salt Lake was amazing - the lights in the cities below looked so calm and peaceful - the woods around me felt like another world entirely (I swear, I could have fallen sideways into Narnia if I wanted to). I finally just broke down and cried right there in front of the doors (nobody was around, thank goodness) - I cried about everything I felt like I was missing, I cried about feeling alone and abandoned, I cried about how I didn't know how to fix any of it. After some time of this, I started to remember all the lines and quotes from the stories that I love - too many to list specifically, but everything about how hope is the most important thing, that bad things don't spoil the good things that have happened to us, that great adventures being with small moments, trusting in things not seen which are true, remembering people who've left and the impact they made whether for good or ill, and a whole slew of things I've been learning since I was a little girl - both in religious texts and in my favorite fictional novels. All of it combined to serve as an answer to prayer.

Maybe I'm over-stepping my bounds in sharing something like this - but there are so many sides of me that seem to contradict each other. Things I believe that, on the surface, shouldn't make sense that one person believes all those same things (at least, that's what all the pundits in the news, on Twitter, and Tumblr tell me when they're trying to choke the life out of each other). But those things are vital parts of me and someday I'll understand why these things are the way they are. I know there's a huge debate going on surrounding my faith about why God sees fit to do things the way He does. I don't have an answer to satisfy the mainstream low-information social justice mobs. I wish I did, so then people would stop saying horrible things about each other and stop fighting about it. I wish I knew for certain why bad things happen. I wish I knew how to stop bad people from doing bad things. But I don't. And if I let myself get swallowed up in wondering how to fix it, I will go crazy. It's going to get so much worse before it starts getting better. All I can hold onto is the knowledge that God does love His children - that I have felt that love personally - that there is a plan and all things are in His hands. Someday, we will know the truth of all things, but it is not this day. And for now... that's enough for me. My job is to follow what God asks of me the very best that I can. I know I'm going to mess it up again and again. But that's how I'm going to learn. That's what I'm here to do. That's how I'm going to get stronger and more resilient. Just like if I kept hiking up the mountain every day, I would be able to run all the way to the top eventually (purely metaphorical - let's not get hasty here).

I'm not here to change or fix anybody else. I'm here to change myself.

"We’re getting stronger now
Find things they never found
They might be bigger
But we’re faster and never scared
You can walk away, say we don’t need this
But there’s something in your eyes
Says we can beat this."
- "Change" by Taylor Swift

Monday, June 9, 2014

Top Gear Meets Top Gun

Review/Recap of 24: Live Another Day, Episode 7: 5:00 pm-6:00 pm - SPOILERS!

This is what happens when Jack Bauer has adequate support from The Powers That Be. Crap actually gets done! (and people die, but details...)

Last time, Simone got a close-up look at the front end of a big red bus right after she killed her sister-in-law and chased her niece across ten blocks of traffic. Chloe's mad hacker skills ferreted out Simone's location and put Jack on the trail. Kate Morgan took a beating from some mooks, but she's still saddling-up to ride shotgun with Jack (Girl-Crush Points times-Infinity-plus-Two). Even Prime Minister Stephen Fry gets a dressing-down from President Heller and decides that he wants to play nice with the Americans that are going to save his country's ass in the eleventh hour. Jack has all the support he needs and he's going in for the Big Damn Hero moment.

Except... some poor ambulance dude unwittingly told Cersei Stark where her daughter was headed and Mama Not-Stark decides that their family album sure could use some more death and mayhem in its pages. She tells her newest Thing 1 to send the nearest drone straight for the hospital where Simone is being treated.

Meanwhile, the CIA Nerd Herd is hot on the trail of Navarro's shitstorm. Undeterred, even by the most awkward of stupid excuses to throw him off the scent, Navarro eventually sends Nerd Herd deliberately into harm's way - on the advice of one Adrian Cross, lately Chloe's boy-toy and leader of Open Cell.

(Everyone who didn't already see that Adrian was Bad News, please raise your hand. Now cluck like a chicken. In Portuguese. While wearing a hot pink leopard print tea cozy on your head. Now you look as stupid as you really are).

Back at the hospital, Kate Morgan uses her superpower of Being Awesome and talks to Simone niece, Yasmin. Yasmin is heartbreakingly adorable and brave and she tells Kate everything she knows, which helps Kate and Jack determine that Simone can be persuaded to go against her mother and save thousands of people. Jack goes in to talk to a nearly-comatose Simone, but she doesn't want to betray her mother (because her mother's been such an upstanding example of motherhood - you know, cutting off her fingers, murdering her husband, sending her to kill off her sister-in-law and niece...)

Elsewhere in the hospital, Cersei Stark's other newest Thing 2 has commandeered a set of scrubs (well, if fake doctors in fake white lab coats work for a fake White House photo op, then surely fake scrubs can get past government security guarding a person of interest in a terrorist plot) and is set on killing Simone. But Jack and Kate are having none of it and the guy is spotted and taken out in due course - but not without Jack finding a text from Cersei Stark saying the hospital has 8 minutes before it gets divebombed by drones. People In Charge are alerted and they evacuate as many people as possible - include Yasmin and Simone (and for a second, I thought Kate was going to totally buy it by going back for Yasmin. But Yasmin is safe - they dumped her off with some Important People and she'll be okay. Because I say so).

And here... well, for this next part, you need to play this video:

It's Car vs. Drone in an Epic Showdown Through London! Tickets are going fast - in fact, Jack just crashed through the ticket office and the drone blew the whole thing up... so I guess that's the end of that and never mind...

(Now that Jack's outwitted a drone, I'd really like to see what he does on Top Gear.)

(PS - Mark Boudreau is still an ass, but he's an ass that's going to get popped by the Russians for forging the president's signature and not coughing up Jack Bauer. Strangely, I'm okay with this).

But it seems to be all for nothing because Simone is thisclose to totally buying it. And the President calls Jack for a last-minute pow-wow. Because the President... well, his Big Time Secret about his early-stage Alzheimers has been found out by PM Fry and there's that whole deadline to stop the terrorist chick from blowing up a major city thing and Heller thinks he ought to retire anyway... so let's call up Cersei Stark and have a chat, shall we?

It goes about as well as you would expect. And just when I was getting back to liking James Heller again...

I think we need something to lighten the mood.

(But Nerd Herd LIVES!! So we at least have that).

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Introducing - The Five(ish) Fangirls!

Well, it happened. I am officially part of a podcast!

The Five(ish) Fangirls is a podcast about all manner of geekery from the perspective of five fangirls from all different places and walks of life. Episode 1 introduces your humble hostesses and how this podcast is going to go. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Truth, Consequences, and a Drill Bit

Review/Recap of 24: Live Another Day, Episode 6, 4:00 pm-5:00 pm - SPOILERS!

For some reason, lately my ad blocker has been hiding the Hulu ads. All I get is a black screen with a plea for me to let Hulu show me ads. Considering the Fox shows on Hulu seem to have the dumbest ads known to the world of television (lawyers for trees??? I ask you...), I can happily decline that offer.

All right - Jack's in with the President and he's got a plan. And the President is even on board with the idea (as well as sounding like he's caught a cold in the last five minutes... Eh, that's TV for you). Even better - Jack's requesting my latest girl crush Kate Morgan as his wingman. It's like all my birthdays have come at once!

So - remember how Stephen Fry is playing the British Prime Minister in this show? And he's been woefully underused to this point? I should really keep my mouth shut about such things. Because the moment PM Fry gets screen time, he (A) Finds out that President Heller's been seeing a neurologist and (B) Decides to play the part of the Hostile-Yet-Well-Meaning-Government-Official and put a monkey wrench into Jack's plan, even though Heller trusts Jack at this juncture. Well, I guess if the US is on Jack's side, somebody's got to step in and be the brick wall in Jack's life.

Speaking of brick walls, Mark Boudreau continues to be an ass (more on the story as it develops). But it turns out that forging the President's signature is a patently Bad Idea. Because Mark let his Overprotective Jealous Husband Rage complex cloud his judgment, the Russians are going to find out that Heller really didn't sign an extradition order to send Jack to Moscow and Mark is going to be toast by dinnertime. Sadly, Mark doesn't have Jack's propensity to survive incredibly sticky situations and I highly doubt Mark is going to do as well as Jack does when the excrement hits the rotating cooling device. Honestly, at this point, I have very little sympathy for the guy.

And if Audrey's annoyance at Mark's nosiness is any indication, her patience is wearing a bit thin too. And for all those assertions that Audrey would make a return trip to the Land of Catatonia at the mere mention of "Jack Bauer" and then it didn't actually happen - well, Heller isn't the one who's actually losing his mind.

Meanwhile, back at Not-Winterfell, our happy little terrorist family is cleaning up after their latest one-sided shoot-out. But it turns out that Hubby Dearest (RIP) warned his sister to get the heck outta Dodge and Cersei Stark found the phone with his sister's confused-and-panicked return voicemail. Mama Cersei sends Simone to Deal With The Problem... except Hubby Dearest's sister has an adorable little girl who adores her Auntie Simone and Simone has a sudden attack of conscience. This will not end well.

Cut to the CIA where Navarro and Co. are limping back with their tails between their legs. One of the Nerd Heard figures out something fishy about Kate's husband's stealing-of-state-secrets and alerts Navarro, who just blows it off because, let's face it, there are bigger fish to fry today. But it'll certainly come back to bite later.

Jack and Kate are off to see the Wizard... the Wizard being informant her met while undercover who can tell them where Cersei Stark is (and Jack reveals that he's been doing the Rogue Agent thing for some time now, without any allegiance to any government or country - simply because it's The Right Thing To Do. Because Jack Bauer). Jack is going in to see this informant dude, but he needs to deliver Kate as a peace offering because Informant Dude might not trust Jack. Jack plans to deliver Kate unconscious so she won't be interrogated. And Kate, oh my dear sweet awesome badass Kate, injects herself with the Night-Night Juice before telling Jack his plan had better work (Deleted Scene: Yvonne Strahovski dropping the mic and telling everyone that the pinnacle has been reached and we all can go home).

So - all Jack has to do is get Informant Dude to access a bank account that Chloe infected with a virus that should lead them to Cersei Stark, and get Kate and get the hell out of there. Open Cell even has a sniper watching the place in case things go pear-shaped for Kate. Simple, right?

Except... Informant Dude's minions have special Not-Night-Night Juice and wake Kate up when Jack delivers her to their lair and begin torturing her (look, I hate the sound of drills under normal circumstances, but when you pull that thing out in this context, I've gotta leave the room). And Informant Dude has a suspiciously strange aversion to hitting an "Enter" key when he's typed in his bank account password. And Stephen Fry sent his MI6 guys in because... Jack needs his job to become that much more complicated.

In the end, Jack takes .005 seconds to smash the "Enter" key between shooting Informant Dude's goons. MI6 at least has the good sense to go after Informant Dude, though Informant Dude swipes an MI6 grenade and blows most everyone to bits. Jack performs first-aid on an MI6 guy while telling Chloe what to look for in the bank account and Chloe starts tracking a phone that, it turns out, belongs to Simone. The same Simone who tries to warn Hubby Dearest's sister, but ends up killing her in the process - and her niece saw the whole thing. Niece runs out of the house, yelling for help. Simone runs after Niece, but gets hit by a bus. And it looks like Cersei Stark is going to have bigger problems than dissent and disloyalty in the ranks soon enough.

Well - things are looking up for Our Intrepid Heroes (as much as they ever do in 24). Except... what the hell is Navarro doing outside? Taking a mysterious phone call... talking about what the Nerd Heard guy found about Kate's husband.... HOSHIII.....

*BOOM, dink-dink, dink-dink, dink-dink*