Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone will have fun and safe Halloween. :)

And candy. Yummm...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Revenge: Intrigue

Episode 6

Ok, the show is still good but I'm starting to get bored (i.e. fast forward), so it'll be a quickie review.

This episode dealt with the repercussion from last week. One great thing about this episode was allowing the story to be more fluid. So far, Emily Thorne had been able to control almost every situation. With Frank Stevens (Max Martini), the Grayson's head of security, he became more of a wildcard which was great for the storyline.

I found the love triangle to be a bit of a tragedy since Jack and Daniel probably would have became great friends if it wasn't for everyone else nudging him this way and that. Most definitely, the Declan/Charlotte and Tyler storylines officially bore me. I do end up liking Nolan more and more.

And as always, the actress that play Victoria... awesome. I am officially in love with this woman. Madeleine Stowe was absolutely awesome. I admit, I'm only watching for her sake now. Lol.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Revenge: Duplicity & Guilt... and The Count of Monte Cristo (the book)

Duplicity: Episode 4

This would probably be one of my least favorite one out of the four for a simple reason despite being one of the more emotional episode. Still, it dealt far more in line with the title and theme of revenge. The first three episodes had more of where each individual’s personal choices brought their own downfall: Lydia for cheating with her best friend’s husband, Bill for his greed and insider trading, and Kingsley for having an affair and impregnating his mistress. Here, it was more deliberate where Emily truly wanted Dr. Michelle Banks (Amy Landecker) to pay for putting young Amanda Clarke locked up.

What this episode did even more was to illustrate how no one would be free of the choices they’ve made and the past always had a way of returning. Dr. Banks was in charge of
Emily took the recordings Dr. Banks made for her personal notes and let it all leak out to destroy her relationships and credibility. The part where Dr. Banks was held captive truly was a vengeful move for Emily to want those responsible for her suffering to feel exactly what she did. It was powerful and justified, but not in a “good job” way – at least not for me. It was important that this episode also confirmed how Emily had been setting things up one by one for the Graysons (especially Victoria) to take the fall and be destroyed much the way they did to David Clarke. It does reaffirm last episode’s revelation that Victoria truly loved David Clarke and what a horrible mistake she knew she made.

Frank, the loyal head of security for the Grayson’s makes more of an appearance. I do wonder how his role will play out. Nolan, although becoming more and more of an ally for Emily, continued to be much of an enigma as well in how his character will develop. If this had been any other show, I could probably predict the outcome of the love-triangles, the plots of revenge and the possible storyline. In this case though, I do wonder how grim the outcome would be if it followed through with its title.

The whole situation with Tyler had some sort of build-up, but I am currently not very interested. Let’s see how it develops.

“The greatest weapon anyone can use against us is our own mind, by preying on the doubts and uncertainty that already lurk there.
Are we true to ourselves, or do we live for the expectations of others?
And if we are open and honest, can we ever truly be loved? Can we find the courage to release our deepest secrets, or in the end are we all unknowable even to ourselves?”



Guilt: Episode 5
“In revenge, as in life, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In the end, the guilt always fall.”

Ok, last episode was not so bad compared to this one, not that this one was a complete loss. There were great parts in terms of Nolan. He has really solidified as a character in that his motives were clear. He wants to care of Amanda at the request of his mentor, David Clarke. Ergo although trying to help her take the revenge she wants, Nolan had been trying to steer her away towards Jack Porter. Even so, the side-kick wannabe, but slowly coming to the realization of how much would be at stake.

In truth, although Emily could be sympathetic, I am very glad they’re not playing that up in the series so far. Instead, she’s the hero you’re not quite sure if you want to root for, but the anti-hero with a truly sad past that made her seek the wrong path. Still…I’m not really invested in her per say, more interested in what she’ll do next. I will admit to be very invested in Victoria Grayson. Yes, Madeleine Stowe really was that great in the series. Absolutely brilliant. She really was the only character drawing me back to this episode, the only one with depth and a conscience. Victoria, Victoria… Actually, I should say Madeleine, Madeleine… *sigh*

After Lydia requested a large sum of money from Conrad for her silence, she returned to the Hamptons wanting her old life back. Of course, we already saw what happened to her at the beginning of the episode, which was rather annoying. If you’d asked me, I think having the timelines play out linearly would have been much more shocking and had more of an impact on what Nolan must now live with.

The development of Daniel-Emily/Amanda-Jack has now become annoying. As good of guys as Daniel and Jack were portrayed, this tension of future friendship/love rivals, or even symbolism for the Emily/Amanda conflict (should she continue the path of revenge or move on and return to a better life much like before the tragedy) does not resonate with at the moment. Maybe later on. Right now, it just seems like a pity how we already suspect more and more people will suffer because of the choices of a few, whether it be greed, or to save themselves. Most likely greed.
Also, in the line, I kind of saw Emily’s quest for revenge now seemed more like a punishment to herself for not believing in her father. That rather annoyed me as well. Oh well…we’ll see how it goes.

Jumping away from the tv series itself and contrasting with the book, so far, I’ve recognized a few partial incarnations:

Conrad as Mondego

Victoria as Mercedes Mondego

Bill Harmon as Baron Danglar

Kingsley as Gerard de Villefort

As the creator of the show said, this series was inspired by Monte Cristo and not an adaption. Ergo, from what I can tell, this would be more of what happened if Edmond Dante (David Clarke in this case) died while imprisoned and instead his child returned for vengeance. Also, it was hard to say that David Clarke was completely innocent as he was having an affair with a married woman…his business partner’s wife. Eh…

Also, I loved how the writers started driving in the point that revenge isn’t all sweet early on. Despite the vengeful part of me really enjoying people getting their comeuppance, the writers all very nicely point out that there will always be unexpected consequences. As the very Pilot episode begins with a great phrase from a rather annoying man, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig tow graves.” Confucius. What? I’m not a Confucius fan. I’d rather follow on one of the other school of thoughts that weren’t horribly destroyed back in the day, but oh well, it does not mean he doesn’t have some moments of keenness.

Oddly enough, given that the feel of this series was to be on the more realistic side, I do hope it follows through to the end. There really are consequences to every action, choice, and decision. Even inaction in the face of something can come back to wrought vengeance. At the same time, the book (although very satisfying in its 1000 pages) allowed redemption to play into the storyline, the villains always got what they deserved. The series so far has made a great contrasting difference in giving other motives behind our villains.

Despite some recent events in my life, this series brought a few ideas into the forefront as I had to deal with unsavory choices made by others. It made me wonder about vengeance and justice and how very often, justice really is blind. Those in power, with money and backing, or even just very manipulative self-serving individuals never have to pay for the crimes. The suffering caused by their decisions almost blind them to their own responsibilities. In these moments, vigilantes and acts of vigilance would seem almost justified and probably very very satisfying. At the same time, there are checks and balances for a reason. Unchecked acts of vengeance would cause more hurt and detriment to all parties involved.

Well, I kind of went on a tangent, but back to the book. Edmond Dante finally realized that his actions were causing innocent people to suffer. Even so, he justified away the guilt and continued his path to vengeance. It was not until his former ex-fiancé recognized him and begged for her child to be spared did he finally pull back. In the karmatic scheme of things, even though he was getting revenge on those whom wronged him, innocent people were still hurt and he was not held responsible because it was someone else that started it. It made this awesome genius seem irresponsible. In my opinion, he got off easy. As much as I enjoy this series, I do hope it follows in a more realistic manner like it has been hinting. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Revenge: Trust & Betrayal

To continue last night's insanity... FYI, there are spoilers. Don't read if you haven't watched...
Fair warning.
And again, lazy ergo no links/pictures.


Trust: Episode 2

This episode built more on the pilot of Emily Thorne’s return to bring about the downfall of all those that broke her family apart. More of David Clarke’s accusation came to light. He was accused of supporting terrorists in an act that reminisce of 9-11. Another key figure that stacked the cards against David Clarke was Bill Harmon (Matthew Glave), the second person on Emily’s list of people to destroy. Bill Harmon was previously a friend of David and Amanda, but lied in his testimony at her father's trial to save himself as well as profited from it. Nolan was able to ‘help’ twice already and am very much interested in how his character will develop.

This was another good episode where people get their just desserts…a very much, “reap what you sow” feel. There was more revelation on each character’s background and drive. And we learn that Victoria and David were having an affair prior to the treason charges.

Starting of this episode, though, I found the secondary romance between Declan and Charlotte to be kind of distracting from the overall story. If it was meant to be the lighter side of this series, I seriously ignored most of it.

The last scene almost made me cry with Jack Porter and his father. *sigh*

If you don’t already know, the actor that plays Jack Porter, Nick Wechsler, used to be on Roswell. Seeing him onscreen again was such a good flashback of memories (before that series went to the crappers). I have much love for this guy.

“Trust is a difficult thing.
Whether it is finding the right people to trust, or trusting the right people will do the wrong thing.
But trusting your heart, is the riskiest thing of all. In the end, the only person we can truly trust is ourselves. “

Betrayal: Episode 3

This episode was one of my favorite so far for one reason, Victoria Grayson. The actress, Madeleine Stowe, was awesome. Victoria was played as a villain for the most part before despite showing cracks of vulnerability, this episode changed her to more of an ambiguous character.
This week’s list featured Tom Kingsley (Yancey Arias), the Federal prosecutor in David Clarke’s case, now a senator and running for office. While Conrad remained chummy with the senator, more was revealed about the case against David Clarke. Victoria had gone to Tom Kingsley near the end of the trial tried to reveal the truth, that she commit perjury to have David Clarke exonerating him. Instead of ‘doing the right thing’ Kingsley was swayed by Conrad’s support that Victoria was in love with a criminal, the trial would push Kingsley into the limelight and would help his political career.

From this episode, it was also becoming apparent that Emily had been planning her revenge for quite some time. Setting herself up as an innocent bystander or supporter, but merely using the connections and time to gather the information to bring about each responsible individual’s downfall. In this case, as a testament of her convictions, Emily had purchased an entire building in order to install cameras and gained evidence of Kingsley’s affair with a mistress and slowly feeding the clips to Kingsley the amounted to his resignation. Even so, as she told Nolan, she still released the information to the media and hinted that all ‘innocents’ were collateral.

Nolan has become quite the interesting character in this series, but I am still not too sure about him just yet. I still very much enjoy Jack, while conflicted about Daniel and have absolutely no interest in Charlotte and Declan.

More of Daniel’s past has been revealed and while not completely ignorant of his parents’ relationship, he really was more of an innocent bystander. For course, since we saw how the Pilot episode opened with his murder, we all knew it was a doomed relationship. What it does cast shadows on would be Emily, of how far she would go. It also hinted at how much Emily had truly given up on this path to revenge.

At the end of this episode, I almost felt as if there were no true villains (maybe Conrad, but we’ll see). Instead, it was a lot of people all making the wrong choice. The emotional driving point in this episode was Victoria (also, I absolutely LOVE her clothes), especially in the very last scene. You could see the realization on her face as she realized she made the wrong decision and much now live with the consequences of her actions.

“For the innocent, the past may hold a reward. But for the traitorous, it’s only a matter of time for the deliver what they truly deserve.”

Monday, October 24, 2011

New TV Series: Revenge

Revenge

This was a new series I originally was not that into. It was not until the recent turn of personal events did this storyline perk my interest. Created by Mark Kelley, this series was based on the idea of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet). If you had read the book before, you’ll be able to guess a lot of the storyline (even if you haven’t, you’d still be able to guess most of it, lol).

The basic story was simple with the pilot episode setting up the entire series, as if the title did not already give it away: Revenge.

Pilot

~ Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig tow graves. Confucius

The scene begins at a party and we learn it was to celebrate the engagement between Emily Thorne and Daniel Grayson. We meet all the players right before the unthinkable happens and it flashes back to five (5) months ago. Emily Thorne just moved into The Hamptons and in the process of renting a beach front house. It was revealed that her real name was Amanda Clarke and she lived there as a child with her father, David Clarke, before it was all destroyed. Amanda, now known as Emily, returned for revenge.

The first person on the revenge list was Lydia Davis (Amber Valletta). Lydia was David Clarke’s secretary that testified against him and profited from his downfall such that she owned the beach house Emily was used to live in and now rented.

A quick rundown of cast:
Emily Thorne, real name Amanda Clark (Emily VanCamp) – protagonist, independently wealthy and returned to the Hamptons for vengeance.
Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) – labeled “Queen of the Hamptons”.
Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny) – Victoria’s husband.
Lydia Davis (Amber Valletta) – Victoria’s best friend. David Clarke’s secretary.
David Clarke (James Tupper) – Emily’s late father, framed for terrorism.
Nolan Ross – owner of Nol Corp. He was the only one that knew Emily Thorne was Amanda Clarke and revealed he became wealthy because David Clarke believed in him by investing in Nol Corp.
Jack Porter (Nick Wechsler) – A childhood friend of Amanda and took ownership of Amanda's Yellow Lab puppy, Sammy.
Declan Porter (Connor Paolo) – Jack’s younger brother.
Daniel Grayson (Joshua Bowman) – Victoria and Conrad’s son.
Charlotte Grayson (Christa B. Allen) – Victoria and Conrad’s daughter.

The end of the episode showed that Emily orchestrated the revelation to Victoria that Lydia was having an affair with Conrad. In response, Victoria has Lydia publicly exiled as Victoria grows more suspicious of Emily.

“Two wrongs can never make a right, because two wrongs can never equal each other. For the truly wronged, real satisfaction can only be found in one of two places: absolute forgiveness or mortal vindications. This is not a story about forgiveness.”

~~~~
FYI - I admit, I'm being lazy these days so no links or pictures. I have a few of these lined up. :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Yes, I’m still in a reading slump. Surprisingly, when I’m in that mood where nothing I read looks entertaining, I resort to the educational stuff. You’d be surprised at how much I analyze ordinary entertainment stories…then again, if you’ve read my reviews before, you’d already know how annoying I can be. As such, even as this attempt failed to get me out of the slump, I still found quite a lot information enjoyable. Lots of social commentary was what I had. Heh.

A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

First off, a little tipbit about me that does related to this book in a roundabout way. I majored in Women’s Studies in undergrad. I still cannot decide if it was a good mistake or just a plain mistake, but that was my major. Complicated issue condense – as much as this major helped me come into my own as a Asian American (which almost became my second major, but was sadly missed along with my almost two minors Afro-Entho and Anthropology – all forgoed in favor of graduating in 4 years – stupidest decision ever…ever.) woman, I came out of the major more critical of it then one should be. It’s only out of love that I criticize it so.

As such, I’ve read my share of feminist theories and historical recounts to be able to decipher (and sometimes enjoy) the drier aspect of academia (person opinion of course). It also meant I’ve learned to take everything in with more than just a grain of salt. Lol. The author, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich was not new to me. Ergo, I was expecting the essay/analysis form of writing to accompany the details of Martha Ballard’s life and times. Again, why I brought this up was that I would not recommend this book for those attempting to read for some sensationalized biography. Don’t get me wrong, the contents included quite a few scandalized true historical events, but the writing was that of an academic nature. After reading this book, my undead and refusing to go away interest in history reared its ugly head and gave me much a desire to raid the Maine State Library to read the entire diary. Alas, I resisted and just did a lot of googling and wikipediaing random historical people to appease my geekiness.

This book was Ulrich’s way of telling the story of Martha Moore Ballard using her own words of the place, time and people she inhabited.

Martha, as I’ve come to call her in my head as if I actually knew her, was around 50 years old when she started her diary. This was the official start of her career as a midwife. The “diary” was really more of form of record keeping for services rendered. It was not until later in her journal did Martha started expanding on certain aspects. Then again, a lot of information lay in what was not written, in comparison to the records of those days as well as what we knew of the historical time. What was so amazing about this book was not only did it stay relatively well preserved in near completeness, but it was able to present the women’s world in the voice of an older woman. Every day. For about 27 years. Holy cheesesticks. Talk about diligence. Of course, the book contained only selections of Martha’s diary and we readers must rely on the researcher and storyteller, Ulrich, for accuracy, interpretation as well as the background of that world.

It was a small world really. During a specific time period at only one location, yet it was filled with the illustrations of that time and world so similar to our own. It’s not as if there were no other diarists during that period and in truth, that’s what made it more authentic. Ulrich was about to find documentations of the events both in the local clerical records and often contrasted with other diarist’s point of view. Of course, those were written by men of a certain class, background and distinction. Times like these, it really drove home the importance of having different perspectives on any given situations. Granted, the book probably was not as exciting as I’m making it sound, but it did give a lot of food for thought. At its bare minimum, the book was able to portray an older woman’s survival during a time period where they had no voice. Instead, I noticed how women in those times had more recourse than people gave history credit for.

For one, Martha had a career. As a midwife, not only did she have an important social role, she was also privy to the worlds of different class as well as fields (i.e. the doctors and midwives often worked together even as we saw the eventual superior/demeaning stance the medical field began to take). For another, the time period’s regulation and expectations of sexual norms was much more different than we were told as children. Example, pregnancy before marriage was not frowned upon. It was not marrying even after any child was born that was upsetting and was usually directed against the baby’s father. As such, women were able to sue the man (minus a small fine for fornication). It was amazing how much time changed that notion.

For me personally, it was important to see how much history was lost when someone else controlled the media. It also showed how biases often filtered into history and we sometimes create these puritanical worlds of years long past that really did not exist. Whether it be of gender, age, or generation. Martha Ballard was a great inspiration for not only myself, but for her own family. Her sister’s granddaughter was Clara Barton, the woman that created the Red Cross, also heard about Martha in family stories. Martha’s great-great-granddaughter was Mary Hobart, one of America’s first female physicians (Mary inherited the diary).

As I resist adding more social commentary, I could very clearly say that this book was a generally good read if you’re into history. I enjoyed the refresher as well as needed the extra inspiration. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October?!?!!!

What the heck? How is it October? What happened?

Recent run-down:
Family craziness (as usual).
Work craziness (as usual).
Relationship craziness (also as usual).

And all in all, the world continues to turn. So what happened? I'm not sure so oh well. Made a few more changes in my life. The usual ups and downs. An annoying thing though...

I’ve hit a pretty bad reading slump. Booh!!!! Go away reading slump! Go away!

I haven’t read anything in a while and all my reviews were only partially finished. With the official end of Borders, I’ve been avoiding bookstores. I do miss that bookstore with the many coupons, discounts and perks. Say what you will about the rise of technology taking, just as there are people that still go to farmers market, grow their own mini gardens, or even cook their own food *gasp* ^_~, physical books and building filled with books shall remain.

Still, no matter the amount of books or where they are at...it doesn't help that I'm in this slump. Haven't even written in a long time. *sigh*

As such, here’s a little update on my garden to liven things up. Lol.

These were supposed to be four single giant sunflowers.

Don’t ask how I stunted them, but they’re all only half their height.

And two mutated into multi-headed sunflowers. I’m not complaining, I’m gloating at the unexpected joy. :)

See? A few heads are already seeding. Then I’m throwing a mini sunflower seed party! :D