Friday, November 24, 2017

Stef's "So Good You Can't Put It Down" Book Reviews Summer 2017 Reading Challenges! - Final Update

You know, as fun as this was, I couldn't wait to finish this summer reading challenge. lol

This is it, friends. We've reached the end. :( And it's now fall, so I REALLY need to get this blog post out.

I HATE that I am like THREE MONTHS late with this! Ugh! I want to move onto other books and reading challenges!

You'd be excited to know (I know I am) that I actually managed to complete my reading of TWO (2) books since my last update! I'm going to talk about them in this blog! lol

I did read a little bit of Tina Fey's Bossypants during this time as well, but it didn't fully grab me. I don't really connect much with her humor, although her stories are interesting. Also, I didn't attempt Nicholas Sparks's The Wedding. :P

Okay now, back to the book reviews at hand.

Now, since they are both fiction pieces that I have completed, this blog post is littered with spoilers that I want to discuss, so please read at your own risk here. 

I actually haven't read any books yet since these two because I wanted to get this blog post out first before I resume my reading. I want to write about these books while they are still fresh in my mind instead of trying to remember them while reading others. And I'm tired of keeping myself from reading more books on my list!

(Edit: I actually have been reading more books now, which further inspired me to come back to write this blog, so that's good. :) )

But now that time has passed, it's not as fresh in my mind anymore of what I wanted to say and analyze, which I HATE, but I'll do my best.

Let's start with The Woman in the Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"In The Vault" Season One Finale Recap Thoughts

A week ago today was the Season One finale of go90's "In the Vault". I had a lot of fun watching this series every Wednesday and am looking forward to more from Ben Epstein, the show's creator and writer.

Now you don't have to wait weekly like I did to watch each new episode. Here is the link to the series in its entirety. Happy binge-watching! :D

Okay so now that the season is over, I am going to go back and give my opinions about each character, considering that each of them had his or her own episode.

I'm including spoilers in this, so be careful when reading! 


Okay! Let's go! :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Stef's "So Good You Can't Put It Down" Book Reviews Summer 2017 Reading Challenges! - Final Update PREVIEW

Hey all! I haven't forgotten about this series! I want to complete it soon! It's always in the back of my mind!

I've just been so busy with the play and my freelancing and such that I haven't really been able to devote the time and effort I need for the final installment. There's a lot I want to say about the final two books and I don't want to rush it. I hope to read more books soon too. I've been holding off a bit because I haven't written about the last summer ones yet and don't want to forget them. :P

I'm a little annoyed that I couldn't have gotten it done before autumn hit like I wanted to, but I hope to deliver soon!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

When is it Appropriate to Cheer During a Live Performance?

A few years ago I went with my friend Lauren and her family to see 'Jersey Boys' on Broadway. I blogged about this before.

One of the plot points was that Frankie Valli had written a song about his wife, but no one liked it to the point where it almost never existed. Finally the guy playing Valli began singing said song, and it turned out to be "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You". As soon as he breathed the initial line, the audience started cheering.

Lauren turned to me and whispered, "Why are they all cheering? They are supposed to be quiet." She was insinuating that because it was theater, us audience members were supposed to be quiet and respect the performance.

I usually agree. I'm against talking a great deal during a performance, of course, but I wanted to explain that people were reacting to one of the Four Seasons' greatest hits, thus it was appropriate.

I remembered that above story after something that came to my attention more recently.

This past summer SYTYCD produced its 14th season. In one of the episodes, four of the dancers (Kiki Nyemchek, Koine Iwasaki, Mark Villaver, and Taylor Sieve) performed a contemporary piece about diversity and standing up against hate, choreographed by Sean Cheesman.

It's a beautiful piece and obviously one that is much needed nowadays. They performed it to Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise," as recited by Alexis Henry. So therefore, they performed a dance not to music, but a poem. I was spellbound watching it, and I tried to envision how I would react to such a piece live. I felt that I would be so entranced by it, as if I was consumed by it as an experience, temporarily forgetting that it was a performance I was witnessing.

However, there is one problem I have with it.

People would NOT stop cheering.

I wanted to listen to the poem as it complemented their movements, but all of the audible reactions just reminded me that it was a routine executed by competing dancers with the audience applauding the impressive motions and positions that told the story. I found the cheers distracting and felt that they took away from the experience and the piece itself.

In fact, I felt so strongly about this that I made a comment on YouTube about it:

The screaming ruined this one. This piece is beautiful and is one of those art forms that just needs to be witnessed without interrupting cheering in the background.

And then I even took it upon myself to tweet my feelings:

However, this is where it gets interesting. A Twitter friend of mine and fellow SYTYCD fan Michelle Waxman, who was actually in the live studio audience for this performance, responded to my tweet with a different opinion. Our conversation is as follows:

I disagree. Especially being there in person. They tell you to cheer if you like something. See something so beautiful like this had the crowd go absolutely nuts. It was life changing.

I can see your point. :) For me I just find the cheering distracting from the piece. Cheering is appropriate depending on the dance. You do bring up a good point about being so moved and reacting as such. For me, watching it made me speechless, so a different reaction. This one feels like you need to quietly be immersed in it as an experience to get the full effect. I really like your counter though. :)

Lol you're kinda making me reconsider my argument now. Lol

Lol well just being there makes it so different than watching through a tv screen

See I would think being there would make you feel more entranced, hence not likely to cheer.

It's hard to explain!

I had a difficult time explaining my point as well. Even though I still stand by my own argument, I began to see Michelle's side. I personally believe that there is a time and place for such constant cheering, like a lively hip hop performance. However, people have the right to react to an art form that moves them in any way they like, just like that 'Jersey Boys' audience that one 2011 afternoon. And who knows? Maybe there will be moments when I may respond certain ways to certain things that move me as well. Plus, time and time again I often hear how audience reactions encourages the performing dancers. 

So what side do you take in this argument? Does appropriate cheering depend on what type of live performance it is, or does it not matter?

In fact, you know what? If any of you reading this plan on attending the tour this year and this routine is a part of the lineup, which I see it is based on a tour video I saw, tell me how you reacted to it live and why. :)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

You Have to Check Out go90's "In the Vault"! :D

Let's talk about go90's new 8 episode series "In the Vault", starring "So You Think You Can Dance" (SYTYCD) star Paul Karmiryan.

A bit about Paul. Paul is a Top 10 finalist from Season 10 of SYTYCD. I met him at the Season 10 Live Tour at the Pine Belt Arena in Tom's River, New Jersey. He's a down to earth guy and I still follow his career. Although he is still heavily involved with SYTYCD as an All-Star, he is also embarking on an acting career. He has been featured in (and written) various skits on YouTube and was recently seen in the Hallmark film The Stalker Club (2017). "In the Vault" is his latest project that premiered on go90 on September 13, 2017.

So, if you liked Ryan Murphy's "Scream Queens" on FOX and you miss it, you're going to love "In the Vault" to fill that void.

Like "Scream Queens", the first season is a murder mystery that takes place during the main character's first semester her freshman year of college on a fictional college campus. We meet Liv Steele, played by Claudia Lee, who also provides the voiceover narration, a storytelling technique reminiscent of "Scream Queens". A previous bad girl, she wants to use college as an opportunity to reinvent herself and leave her past behind her. A "Reformed Queen Bee" (according to IMDb), if you will. I really appreciate how good-natured her character is. She lives on the same floor of her residence hall called "The Vault" (hence the title) at Woodlawn College as the rest of the students who make up our colorful cast of characters. She meets her straight edge Russian roommate Jane Sidorova (Audrey Whitby), the overachieving Denise Parlsey (Sadie Schwolsky) whose whole thing is that she eats, breathes, and sleeps studying, the jock Evin Watson (Caleb Castille), the accented but unpleasant womanizer Omid Ayman (Karmiryan), the former movie star and apparent heartthrob Taylor Price (Timothy Granaderos) with whom Liv of course starts a sexual, social media relationship, Taylor's strange and creepy roommate Karlis Kehoe (Taylor Gray) who so far just films everybody all the time, and Evin's roommate Chris Rummel (Jac Bernhard), the...ahem...Christian.

For some reason people assume that because we are Christians, we don't drink. One of my favorite lines and biggest laughs from the first episode is when all of the characters go to a party and Omid literally duct tapes liquor bottles to Chris's hands to get him to drink and Chris says something like "I don't/can't drink. I'm a Christian." to which Omid responds, "And I'm Muslim. What's you point?"

It's hilarious to me knowing how kind Paul is in real life and seeing him play such jerks. lol

It's also nice to see a religious Christian/Muslim joke actually work in this day and age.

Then we are introduced to the final member of the cast, Denise's social justice warrior roommate Valentina Velez (Julia Kelly) who definitely keeps this story current and relevant. She has some sort of an unrevealed past with Liv, therefore causing friction between the two.

So the way this show works is that each episode is dedicated to one of the characters, the first being Liv. At the end of Liv's episode, someone dies. Now everyone is a suspect because each of them seems to have a motive to kill said victim and we get to see the story from every one of their points of view until we determine the true culprit.

Here is the official description:
One month into college, a freshman dies – suicide or murder? Everyone on the dorm hall suspects one another of foul play. Each week spotlights a different character, so a hero one week is a villain the next.

For some reason, suicide is a suggested result even though right now I don't see why that is.

As you can see, it is way similar to the first season of "Scream Queens" in terms of plot, setting, eccentric characters, humor, and quotable lines, as well as to how it is shot with accompanying sinister background music. However, it is not as juvenile as "Scream Queens". "In the Vault" uses more adult language (f bombs), and although both have their share of dirty jokes and intriguing word usage, the students in "In the Vault" come across more normal as opposed to the over the top, flamboyant Chanels of "Scream Queens". Also, I think for "In the Vault" we only investigate the one death, whereas "Scream Queens" was a parody about slasher films.

One thing that is kind of lost on me is Liv suggesting that Jane has a crush on Taylor. I personally don't really see any truth to that, unless the facial expression Jane gives when Liv steals Taylor away from their invigorating game of hackysack for an intense night of sexiling is any indication. Perhaps we'll get more insight in the next episode, which is dedicated to Jane, premiering September 20. :)

The beauty about go90 is that it is a free web live streaming service with no intrusive ads or subscription needed! It's awesome! :D

Here is the trailer.

And here is the first episode. 

"In the Vault" uploads a new episode every Wednesday. It's a typical murder mystery, so if you're into that, I highly recommend you check it out! :D