Bones – “The Don’t in the Do” Review

After last week’s disappointing episode of Bones, I felt a little uneasy going into this week’s episode, “The Don’t in the Do.” Although this episode still showed no sign of Parker, it was definitely not disappointing.

The episode begins with blue-headed birds falling from the sky at a trash dump after eating the remains from a blue corpse. The Jeffersonian team quickly identifies the victim as a male hair stylist who also had sex with some of his clients and had a drug problem. The first suspects are obviously his clients that he slept with and his drug dealer. However, it turns out that the murderer was actually his shampoo boy who hoped to get his own chair at the salon they worked at by killing the victim.

Much of the episode focuses on how everyone is dealing with Brennan having a little bit of post pregnancy blues. She feels uncomfortable in all of her old clothes since her body has changed a bit. Booth is worried about her and Angela wants to help too since she can understand after having gone through the same thing. Angela takes her out to a spa for facials and a massage, which clearly helps her out. Sweets takes Booth to a lingerie shop so he can buy something for Brennan so she knows he still thinks she’s attractive. The episode ends on a very positive note with Booth and Brennan enjoying dinner together with plans to head upstairs and try on the lingerie.

There were a few moments in this episode that got a little weird. In the beginning half of the episode, Arastoo the intern is being overexcited about his job and making everyone confused until he finally says he is excited because he’s going to be published in a forensic anthropology journal. Only later does Brennan totally shut him down and tell him he is not going to be published after all, leaving Arastoo quite embarrassed and everyone feeling quite awkward. I felt even more awkward when Angela and Brennan went to the spa. As they were getting their massages, they both began to say things like, “Oh yeah, that’s it” and moan, and they dragged it on to the point that I was just waiting for one of them to have a full on orgasm. Luckily that awkwardness ended quickly with Brennan getting a phone call she couldn’t not answer (thank goodness). However there was a little more awkward when we learn that the killer kept the victims scalp and hair which he put on display (GROSS!).  Despite all of the awkwardness, this was a good episode. The interesting aspects of the crime as well as good character interaction allowed me to look past the awkwardness and enjoy the show!

8.5 out of 10

Advertisements

In Case You Missed It: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8

I remember being a kid in the ’90s, watching television and seeing commercials for the WB show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and thinking “What is that crazy show?!” but never once watching an episode. That is, until I got Netflix in the summer of 2010. The whole seven season series was (and still is) available for instant streaming, and Matt Rhodes suggested we check it out! He probably later regretted this because I was hooked immediately. Any time he would suggest watching TV, all I wanted to watch was Buffy.  Needless to say, we flew through the series, and I felt as if my world was shattering with the destruction of Sunnydale, the death of Spike, and a new reality in which there are slayers sprouting up all over the place.

Lucky for me, and for all other Buffy fans out there (but mostly me), Joss Whedon had decided to continue the series as a comic through Dark Horse Comics back in 2007, so I didn’t have to wait years to pick back up with my favorite characters. I just had to wait for my eBay purchase of every single issue of Buffy Season Eight to arrive in the mail. So, in case you missed it, here’s what happened in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight.

Buffy Season Eight is broken up into seven main story arcs with several issues/episodes here and there which provide back story, comic relief, and some side stories.

“The Long Way Home” (issues 1-4) catches us up with Buffy and the gang (now accompanied by thousands of new slayers) in Scotland. Dawn is a giant, one-eyed Xander is a watcher to masses of slayers, Amy is a mess, somehow surviving Sunnydale’s destruction, a floating/flying mysterious new villain named “Twilight,” skinless Warren somehow alive. The return of Warren evoked a “WHAT?!” out loud, and “Twilight” made me question whether I was reading Buffy, or the awful teen novel series about sparkly vampires, but alas I read on.

“No Future For You” (issues 6-9) brings Faith into the picture, killing kid-vampires; as well as Principle Wood, and Giles wearing a Yellow Submarine sweatshirt (um, awesome!). Faith goes undercover in the UK where she has to kill another slayer who wants to take over as “Queen” of the slayers by taking out Buffy.

“Wolves at the Gate” (issues 12-15) starts out with Buffy having a lesbian experience with Satsu, another slayer, who lifted a spell on her with true loves kiss (Sleeping Beauty much?). A gang of Japanese vampires who have stolen Dracula’s powers break into the castle in Scotland and steel the scythe. The army of slayers head to Japan to wage war on these vamps (who are planning to make all slayers human again), take back the scythe and kill all of the vampires.

“Time of Your Life” (16-19) turns giant-Dawn into centaur-Dawn, and Buffy gets sent into the future in New York where she meets a slayer, Melaka Fray.  Fray and Buffy fight because they are both being fed different information, and Buffy ends up having to kill Dark Willow, who is centuries old.  We learn that Riley is a double agent, telling Buffy he is her inside man when really he is working for Twilight (this really pissed me off, I was actually mad at Riley, a fictional character!).

The next several issues are all singles, in which Buffy has a cool cartoon dream where we see classic Buffy characters like Cordelia and Principle Snyder, Vampire Harmony gets a TV show on MTV, a rogue slayer causes chaos in Italy, and centaur-Dawn becomes doll-Dawn, then her normal self again.

“Retreat” (issues 26-30) takes everyone to Tibet to be trained how to hide their magic by Oz who has learned to suppress the wolf inside. Twilight, Amy, Warren, Riley, and the military are trying to track them, in order to attach them. Xander and Dawn become a couple (umm, what?) and all of the Wiccans and slayers lose their powers. When Twilight and villain crew show up, they are forced to fight back with regular human strength and military weapons. They summon three wrathful goddesses who end up hurting people on both sides of the battle. Buffy somehow gains the ability to fly, and we learn that Riley was actually a good guy after all!

“Twilight” (issues 32-35) bring us Buffy with super powers (she is literally faster than a speeding bullet), power which she is absorbing from other dying slayers around the world, and Twilight has kidnapped Faith, Giles, and Andrew. Buffy pokes fun at the awful Twilight series (thank god!), and we learn that under his mask, Twilight is actually Angel. Buffy tries to fight him, but they end up glowing, floating, kissing, and fucking. Giles explains that the events are the universe responding to the change in the slayer-demon-vampire balance. Buffy and Angel fuck their way to a place called Twilight, a new reality where they are meant to evolve a new race and a new world, but (typical) Buffy decides to return to her friends and family in the lower plane, where Spike has returned with a bunch of insect peons.

“Last Gleaming” (issues 36-40) concludes season 8. Spike reveals that they must dig up the Seed of Wonder, the source of all the magic in the world, in order to stop the demons which were released when Buffy and Angel’s fucking opened the new dimension. The seed is being held/protected in the rubble of Sunnydale, by The Master. Angel is consumed by a Twilight demon, which leads to him killing Giles (NO!!!), and Buffy destroying The Seed with the scythe in her devastation. The world is now without magic, except for the slayers and demons whose magic is within them. Buffy works at a coffee shop in San Francisco, sleeping on Dawn and Xander’s couch. Many slayers around the world feel betrayed, as does Willow. The world has definitely changed this time, and Buffy is responsible, as usual.

Overall I had some mixed reactions to Buffy Season Eight, but it ended with a bang (pun intended) and I would rather have a less than perfect Buffy continuation than none at all. The cover art is FANTASTIC throughout the season, and if the artists had the time and money to make all the art that perfect, reading the issues would feel and look just like watching episodes. In case you missed it, Buffy Season Eight was a little rough, but it was Buffy, and I’ll never say I didn’t like it. I personally can’t wait to see where it goes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine!

Bones – “The Bump in the Road” Review

Tonight, April 9th, when I tuned in to get my Bones fix for the week, I panicked as I saw that there was something wrong with the FOX channel, and continued to panic until the episode finally started (eight minutes in).

Because there’s a Baby Bones in the picture, it was obvious that there would be some adjustments for Booth and Brennan to make. I expected to see a lot of development and change in this week’s episode of Bones, “The Bump in the Road,” but once the channel actually started working, it wasn’t quite what I imagined.

The crime portion of this episode was about a headless female victim found on the side of the road. The team quickly gathers that she was dragged by a semi-truck, IDs her as the wife of a chestnut farmer and learns that she was an extreme couponer. The obvious possible suspects are approached – the truck driver, the farming husband, and other extreme-couponers who she had conflicted with. I quickly came to the conclusion that she had been attacked by someone with a shopping cart, and this belief was enforced when the Jeffersonian team figured out that she was hit in the head with the corner of something aluminum. I continued to yell out “shopping cart” as the episode kept hinting at the murder weapon as a shopping cart, only to be disappointed when Brennan figured out that it was, in fact, a metal clipboard the manager of a grocery store carried around. I don’t know about you, but it would have been way cooler if it was a shopping cart.

Between bits and pieces about the case, we of course, get some character interaction and large-scale plot development. However, rather than the obvious choice of following baby Christine, much of tonight’s episode followed the development of a relationship between Finn Abernathy (the new hick intern with a dark past), and Michelle, Cam’s adopted daughter. Though Cam had been the one to stand up for Finn when the others questioned if it was safe to work with him, she now is concerned and does not want him seeing Michelle. Cam does come around though, and everyone ends up happy… except me. As of right now, I don’t particularly like Finn’s character, and with a new baby in the mix, he and Michelle were not what I wanted to see in this episode.

Also, is anyone else wondering, “Where is Parker?”  If you don’t know, Parker is Booth’s son from a previous relationship. He has been in several episodes of every season, up until this one. You’d think they would include him more often (with him having a new baby sister and a new house to live in and all) but us viewers are eight episodes in and he is nowhere to be found! It isn’t realistic and it’s becoming quite annoying for a show that is almost wholly grounded in reality. Parker hasn’t even been mentioned in conversation; it almost seems as if the writers want us to forget he ever existed, which I won’t do. I’ll continue to be frustrated until he finally interacts with his new half-sibling.

7.5 out of 10

Bones – “The Prisoner in the Pipe” Review [Warning: Spoilers]

Due to Emily Deschanel’s pregnancy, fans aren’t just getting a shortened season of Bones, but also one that keeps going on hiatus! There was a month break in-between episode 5, “The Twist in the Twister,” and episode 6, “The Crack in the Code,” followed by an even longer, nearly three month break before last night’s airing of episode 7, “The Prisoner in the Pipe.”

To quickly catch you all up, the episode before the long break, “The Crack in the Code,” introduced a tech-savvy villain who we, as viewers, expect to see more of as the season continues. Booth and Bones finally find a new house to start their family in, which was appropriate timing for the season’s midpoint. All throughout, they built up the couple’s search for a new house, now they have it, and we’ll see them settle in over the rest of the season.

Though I fully admit to being a very impatient person, Bones is always worth the wait, and I was almost too thrilled and too full of expectations to turn the TV on and watch the episode. I never should have thought twice.

“The Prisoner in the Pipe” turns out to be about exactly what the name implies: a prisoner is killed and his remains are shoved down a pipe, into the sewers. They turn up one day in someone’s toilet when their sewer system backs up. The team finds a lens implant in the victim’s eye which allows them to identify him, and from there they solve the mystery of who murdered him. Meanwhile, Booth and Bones argue over whether their daughter will be born in a hospital or at home.

Booth and Bones are my favorite current TV couple, which brings me to an important point. I have always loved the character and relationship development in the show. Throughout the series, each character and their relationships have, and still continue to, deeply developed. It is comforting to see, learn and grow with the relationships and personalities that the show is built on. This episode is full of what I have come to love. We get Bones as her usual self: getting excited over things most would find disgusting, and noticing things that others miss; Booth trying to get what he wants: manipulating Sweets with the idea of becoming friends; and Hodgens being Hodgens: figuring out things about particulates in ways no one else could.

The episode ends ironically after Bones makes jokes throughout about how Baby Jesus was born: she gets turned away from an inn while in labor and forced to give birth to her baby in a manger. Bones and Booth name their newborn little girl Christine Angela Booth, after her mother, and of course Angela, their close friend.

With everything the way we left it, I’m glad to have the show back after such a long break. It’s great to have a new addition to the entire show’s family, but in this episode, the murder mystery was a bit lacking. Understandably so, taking away from Bone’s pregnancy and subsequent labor would have been blasphemy. I can’t wait to see the new Booth family grow and develop together, and to learn more about the brand new villain.

8.5 out of 10

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day

This past summer I went to Ireland with my siblings and our dad for 10 days. We learned a lot about our family history, and drank a lot of Guinness. And a little bit of Jameson.

My best friend is currently studying abroad in Dublin, and based on what she has told me as well as the things our relatives told us while we were there, St. Patrick’s Day is really more of an American holiday than something the Irish actually celebrated. Well, I’m in America, and I’m celebrating with these DELECTABLE cupcakes. I can’t stop eating them! And washing them down with Guinness, of course, though it isn’t as yummy as it was in Ireland.

I adapted this recipe from Will Cook For Friends, but you can find it just about anywhere at this time of year. Many have been asking, “can you get wasted from them?” and I would have to say no. When they were really fresh they tasted like alcohol, but after 25 hours you don’t taste it at all, and you NEVER actually feel the alcohol. You could try eating the whole batch, but I think at that point you would have so much food in your belly it would just soak up all of the alcohol. However, you should have enough Guinness, Jameson, and Baileys left over to make some real Irish Car Bombs which are sure to get you wasted.

Ingredients

For the cake:

    • 1 cup Guinness stout, or other dark beer. fill so that the head begins at the 1 cup mark- this will die down and you want to make sure you have the full amount of beer.
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 cups (loosely filled, not packed) all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

For the ganache:

    • 8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped or in chip form (semisweet, bittersweet, use what you like)
    • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 3 TBSP Irish Whiskey

For the buttercream:

  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

Directions

For the cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350f and line 2 cupcake trays with liners.
  2. In a pot over medium heat, combine the butter and stout and bring to a simmer.Once the pot simmers, the head from the beer will get very frothy. Add in the cocoa powder, and whisk until smooth.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Be sure there are no lumps of sugar or baking soda left.
  5. In another large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the eggs and sour cream. Beat together until blended
  6. Pour the cooled Guinness/butter/cocoa mixture into the eggs/sour cream. Beat to combined.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl, and mix on low speed until well incorporated.At this point you should really taste the batter. It was the BEST tasting cake batter I have ever had in my life.
  8. Evenly distribute into the lined cupcake trays. They should be filled no more than 3/4 of the way up. Tap the tray 2-3 times atop the counter to help remove any air bubbles.
  9. Place one batch of cupcakes on the middle rack of the oven, reduce the temperature to 325f., and bake for 12 minutes.
  10. Rotate the pan from front to back to ensure even baking, then bake for another 10-12 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool 1-2 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the tray, and set on a cooling rack.
  12. Bring the oven back up to 350f., and repeat with the second batch.

For the filling:

  1. Place chocolate into a heat-safe bowl.
  2. In a small pot, warm the cream over medium heat until just simmering.
  3. Pour cream over the chocolate and stir, starting from the middle and working out, until all of the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  4. Add the butter and stir until melted.
  5. Stir in the Irish whiskey, and set aside until ready to fill.
  6. To fill, use a small knife to remove the center of each cupcake.
  7. Using a piping bag, or a spoon and your fingers, fill the center of each cupcake with the ganache.

For the buttercream

  1. Beat the butter for 2-3 minutes or until light, fluffy, and pale.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, and beat until smooth. Repeat until all the sugar is added.
  3. Once all of the sugar is added, pour in the Baileys and mix to combine.
  4. If the frosting is too thick, add another tsp. of liquor (or milk or cream) to thin it out. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached.
  5. Ice your cupcakes!
  6. EAT!!!!! And be merry, of course.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

The Shins – “Port of Morrow”

My first exposure to The Shins was back in 2004 because of the film Garden State, and ever since, I’ve been hooked. Well…mostly.

Oh, Inverted World, Chutes Too Narrow, and Wincing the Night Away were all albums I would tend to turn to for the same reasons. They were upbeat, made me feel good, and made the perfect soundtrack to the beautiful days that are so frequent in the paradise that is Southern California. I still turn to them for those exact reasons! The uplifting melodies and general positive feel of the past three albums got me through the many horrors of being a teenager in this crazy world.

Due to these positive existing emotions towards the group, I had high expectations going into Port of Morrow, which the group has been kind enough to put up, in full, on iTunes for fans to listen to free until the album is released on March 20. I leaped at the opportunity.

It becomes clear quite quickly that the album is not what most would be used to from The Shins. The opener, “The Rifle’s Spiral,” is very fast-paced. This is a trend throughout the album; it is not as mellow as listeners are accompanied to. “Simple Song,” the album’s second track and first single, is a bit more like their previous works, and brings us back to our sonic comforts zones for a short time. However, we are soon completely ripped from them (and I believe James Mercer, on the album, was too). “It’s Only Life” seems to be an attempt at some sort of ballad in which Mercer sounds as if he pushes hard to achieve the vocals, and though his try is admirable, it made me feel uncomfortable and annoyed.

When track five, “September,” arrived, I felt at ease and pleased within seconds. The song sounded like The Shins we all know and love, and not only that, the lyrical content was honest. You could say it’s a love song, but in no way cheesy or typical.  It’s saying that none of us are perfect, and we make mistakes; but when you really love someone you, accept such imperfections and still love them. This realistic perspective is respectable and refreshing.

Unfortunately, this ease and pleasure doesn’t last long. Track six is just outright confusing. The music sounds happy, which we expect from The Shins, but their words are angry.  It seems to be politically charged, maybe even an ode to Occupy Wall Street. They seem to be referencing the goal of the movement through the lines “a tiny few catch all the rays,” “a tiny few are having all of the fun,” and “apologies to the sick and the young, get used to having dust in your lungs.” Together, these and other statements help to develop a theme of a stark division of socioeconomic status in the world.

From there, the rest of the album doesn’t improve much.  Overall, there is a general feeling of negativity not felt on the last three albums.

I am glad to say that they have remained true to their nature in several ways: the album still has many nautical references, just as past efforts did, and the general sound of the album is mostly what fans are used to. Everything just feels a bit darker and more forced. Port of Morrow will find an uncommon place in my library, but will be the last album choice when looking for my Shins fix.

2.5 out of 5