TV: ‘Witches of East End’ – magical enough to balance out the zombies

For the last few weeks I’ve been watching ‘Witches of East End’, which is a TV show based on the books by Melissa De la Cruz, but I am not entirely sure why I am watching it.

It is on a fairly new channel which also shows ‘Dance Moms’ – I can’t even watch the trailer for that without hiding behind the sofa, and ‘The Client List’ – where Jennifer Love Hewitt becomes a whore whilst working in a massage parlour. Which makes for a very scary channel.

witches of east end poster

I’ve not read any of this series of books, but I have read some of De la Cruz’s Blueblood series, it was ok but the local library was erratic in stocking them which make it overly hard to really get stuck into the series.

The TV show isn’t bad and is actually very enjoyable in a lightweight sort of way, it isn’t as trashy as ‘Desperate Housewives’ and has a stronger moral conscience than ‘Revenge’.

Joanna Beauchamp is a witch with two daughters – Freya and Ingrid. However the girls are not aware of the existence of witchcraft, Joanne has kept it from them in this life but a series of events lets the cat out of the bag…literally!

witches of east end eye poster

I suspect that the main reason I am watching the show is it is nice to have light relief to counteract ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’.

That and the characters are so much less annoying that ‘The Secret Circle’!

Book: Terry Pratchett’s ‘Raising Steam’ – time for a replacement bus service?

I was a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series a few years ago, the Witches were my favourite characters and I loved the humour.

The style has definitely changed over the years – the older books always felt like the characters and the story were the main part of the book, the newer ones seem to have a lot of description about settings and incidentals.

I am undecided if it is due to this change of style, but some of the more recent books haven’t felt as fresh and some of the plots have felt similar (for example I am pretty sure that ‘The Truth’, ‘Going Postal’ and ‘Making Money’ are the same darn book with a different cover), the newer characters have felt more disposable and I have been more aware of pop culture references which can badly date the books.

raising steam

Despite this I do still buy the books in hardback on release day and eagerly read them*; however with the newest book ‘Raising Stream’ I am struggling to get into it, really struggling.

Perhaps it is the presence of Moist von Lipwig who I haven’t really warmed to – the TV adaption of ‘Going Postal’ helped slightly but not much. He reminds me of William de Worde without the honesty or integrity.

Or perhaps it is because I have seen the WaterCress Line one time too many and steam trains are fun but something I associate with being very young (and having pigtails!).

Regardless, after three attempts in just over a week I am now 73 pages in. This leaves me around 300 to go and I am hopeful that I might be able to finish it this week – the angry dwarves seem interesting and I am curious if they get more like the stereotype of a certain flavour of religious fundamentalists as the book goes on.

lords and ladies pratchett

I wouldn’t normally write about a book that I’ve not yet finished, but as it is currently stopping me from reading anything else it might prompt me to finish it!

It is great that Prachett is still writing despite his medical inconvenience, but I am very much hoping that his changed style of writing doesn’t go anywhere near the Witches as I love my memories of those characters and the fact that I get miffed listening to the abridged audiobook versions as they miss lines out.

This book will be finished and I will probably enjoy it once I get into it, but it hasn’t been the easiest read and I am going to have to bury myself in ‘Lords and Ladies’ as soon as I’ve got to the end, just to find my happiest Pratchett place again.

*For the sake of honesty: I must admit that I didn’t buy ‘Monstrous Regiment’ when it came out in hardback, I read it in one sitting in a bookshop when I didn’t want to go back to the house share I was moving out of in under a week (odd story, odd people) and only fairly recently bought the hardback version in a charity shop.

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Friday 13th – Involving dogs dressed as Christmas puddings, drunk coworkers and The Hobbit.

It’s Friday the 13th and my work Christmas meal this evening. This is probably a very bad combination.

However the penguin nails were a success, so I am very chirpy despite the prospect an overpriced sit down meal at an indifferent chain restaurant with increasingly drunken co-workers. I am possibly fixating on penguins to block out the prospect of this evening!

dog christmas pudding

(Photo from Pets At Home)

I even have some nice new pyjamas with penguins on them and I am considering making the cats a penguin costume… which is less scary than the prospect of dressing the dogs up as a Christmas pudding.

penguin costume

(Photo from makeit-loveit)

I also get to run away from them before it gets too late in the evening as I have tickets to see ‘The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’. This sounds infinitely more fun than the annual occurrence of ‘The Work Party: Desolation of Town X’ which usually results in carnage and random public nudity.

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Food: Cadbury Dairy Milk Winter Wonderland

Christmas chocolates seem to have taken over an entire aisle in my local Tescos and there was on that caught my eye – the Cadbury Daily Milk Winter Wonderland bar.

Basically it is a plain Dairy Milk bar with some little white chocolate trees inlaid into it.

Cadbury Dairy Milk Winter Wonderland

 

The trees are why I bought the bar but they don’t add anything to the taste, if you closed your eyes it is the same as eating a bar of Dairy Milk – so do eat this with your eyes open!

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Nails: Penguins – look at the gorgeous shiny pebbles!

It is slightly too early for me to totally give in to screaming “It’s Christmas!!!!!” and descending in to Christmas-themed everything.

However I can safely look at cold-themed nails – like penguins!

My to my delight I have found that penguins can seemingly go with anything, from snowflakes…

penguins snowflakes

(Photo from polishandpearls)

To dots

penguins too much flash

(Photo from swatchandlearn)

They don’t even mind being dyed a strange colour!

penguins dotty

(Photo from littlebearcakes)

Or given hats!

penguins with hats

(Photo from setinlacquer)

It seems that penguins are very compliant little birds – which is fabulous news!

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TV: Revolution – somehow involving zombies

Perhaps it is because it is cold and dark but I am increasingly finding myself watching things where I spend too much time shouting at the TV.

For example, I am watching season 2 of ‘Revolution’ despite season one having clearly demonstrated that all the major characters were stupid, impulsive and tended to make things worse.

revolution

The highlight of season one was in episode 5 there was a five second burst of Five Finger Death Punch (‘Generation Dead’ as I recall) that was used to show that Neville’s neighbours before the blackout were rowdy and rude. I think this was meant to explain why Neville then became an overly intense person who seems perfectly happy to use then discard people and occasionally kill them.

In my life I like having a contingency plan – just in case. Sometimes this contingency plan is the best of a bad bunch; for example when watching anything involving zombies I am firmly of the opinion that the characters should hold back as many bullets as there are people they care about in their group for the simple reason that becoming a flesh-munching zombie through poor planning must be a massive mortal sin. Also because being ripped apart by zombies is icky and you shouldn’t let that happen to people you like.

Five Finger Death Punch

(Photo of Five Finger Death Punch from Loudwire)

I am open to expanding the term “zombies” to include radiation crazed mutants who are technically not dead (‘The Hills Have Eyes’), biological warfare victims who crave human flesh (‘The Crazies’), homicidal ghostly beings (‘The Fog’ – the 1980s original, there is no remake) and non-humanoid-shaped monsters (possibly from another dimension) that kill and/or eat humans (The Mist).

Some situations are harder to have a contingency plan for, such as the post-electrical blackout ruins of America where everyone seems to have devolved to being ruled by their most primitive instincts and are generally jolly unpleasant – for example season 2 of ‘Revolution’ and the interesting twist on how to take the edge off of diabetes-induced organ failure.

So whilst fighting for survival is commendable there comes a point where the bad guys are looking set to overwhelm you and even if you do escape them then your reward is to continue to scrabble in the dirt for survival.

zombie elvis (Photo from tatpix)

At which point having options is good, perhaps they should seriously consider moving to Hawaii.

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Book: Ilona Andrews’ ‘Clean Sweep’ – “My home was a battleground between a surly werewolf and an arrogant vampire, and a murderous alien was trying to kill us, but I would never run out of peanut butter again”

Confession time, I love Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels novels, so was both excited and hesitant by the idea of them writing a sci-fi story in a serialised format.

I shouldn’t have worried; the story has a strong female lead, high-action scenes, humour, monsters, fun (but not Over The Top) topical/popular culture references and some very cute guys.

The serialisation of ‘Clean Sweep’ has been completed and it has now been released as an Ebook. I don’t usually read Ebooks for anything more than sample chapters but for a short-ish story (60,000 words) with some fabulous illustrations the format really worked!

clean sweep

(Cover for ‘Clean Sweep’)

The plot has solid Urban Fantasy roots with a Science Fiction twist – I can’t summarise it any better than the author so the following is taken directly from ilona-andrews.com

“On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.”

This in itself sounds a good plot for a book, however it keeps coming

peanut butter reeses

(great, now I am really craving some of these…)

“And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved.”

Involved is an understatement, there is a scene set in Costco that is just wonderful, I don’t want to spoil it but it is certainly going to add an edge to my next visit!

The science fiction aspects of the book are understated, for the most part as they tend to be around the origins of the characters – or the origins of their entire species, this makes ‘Clean Sweep’ a comfortable read even if you aren’t overly into Science Fiction.

The story romps along nicely and I stayed up far later than I should have reading it, I couldn’t put it down until I had finished and despite the book being self-contained I was so thankful that there is a sequel planned.

Frantic questions from Japan – things I would like to tell my sibling (not that they would listen!)

My sibling sent me an email asking if their driving license will have their National Insurance (NI) number on it. The answer is naturally “no”, as with all things involving government why have one number when many is so much more complicated?

This got me thinking, NI numbers are sent out when someone turns 16 and at this point it is often a meaningless number that is easily forgotten – only to become vital later in life. Similarly GCSE and other exam certificates are easy put “somewhere safe” and forgotten about but may one day be really useful!

There are a few other things that would have been useful to know when I was younger and that I would tell my sibling if I thought they would listen:

  • Set up two personal email accounts – one for random mailing lists and other unimportant things, one for only important things – this one should be something sensible and related to your name. Do not lose access to these accounts!
  • Keep your exam certificates, tax codes (and anything tax related!), NI numbers, driving license, passport birth/marriage/divorce certificates somewhere safe – you will need them and it is preferable that they aren’t water-damaged.
  • Keep in contact with good people, stay polite to less-good people but don’t feel the need to keep in touch or be friends

paperwork

  • Make a list of useful birthdays, names, numbers and addresses
  • Keep your CV up to date
  • Start a saving account as early as possible and save a fixed amount each month – more if you can afford it!
  • Don’t get caught up buying things (books, dvds, clothes) unless you really want or need them. Too much stuff takes up space and slows you down.
  • Know what money you have coming in and the amount that is needed for bills – don’t overspend!
  • Start a pension as early as possible and contribute to it.

origami money

(Photo from iliketowastemytime)

  • Watch what you eat and exercises from as early as possible – putting on weight is scarily easy, losing it is much harder!
  • Yoga and meditation aren’t just to hippies, they are fun and useful
  • Learn to cook a number of core meals that you like – at least 6, then find some more to learn!
  • Have a scrap book and use it regularly

pet

(Photo from the Telegraph)

  • Take photos of lots of things – but don’t view life entirely through a lens
  • Have a creative hobby – even if you suck at it at first.
  • Back up all computer files – including photos, so they are in at least two places.
  • Your parents have good intentions and a lifetime of experience – asking targeted questions is a good way to access this!
  • Pets are wonderful and should be spoilt rotten, but before you get one do remember that they do limit what you can do

However as I know that my sibling won’t listen and when I was the same age I probably wouldn’t have listened either!

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Food: Christmas can be scary too

For no apparent reason Pinterest saw October as an opportunity to send me towards pictures of crafty Christmas food and has recommended a number of items with broken links.

I hadn’t really considered making pretty Christmas food, mostly because I prefer Halloween, however these pictures made me think that maybe Christmas and Halloween could be the same thing really!

An army of evil Santas should convince even the brattiest of children to behave:

strawberry santa

Reindeer with nuclear warhead lunching red buttons for noses should also be a deterrent to any child wishing to act out:

reindeer cookies

And whilst owls are not necessarily Christmas creatures this one seems has the same angry glaring eyes as Santa, so must be part of his crew. Either that or Hogwarts is in for a shock at the next mailcall.

owl pretzel

If anyone knows the source of these scary foods then do let me know!

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Nails: Carebears – Is your Caring Meter on a raincloud yet?

I must confess that I wasn’t ever really into the Carebears at all – it is hard to get over the fact they were created purely to sell greetings cards and then made very scary soft toys out of them.

But given ‘girlie’ TV shows like Rainbow Brite led to better nail art than Thundercats I thought that Carebears might make a really good mani…

If by good I meant easy to reproduce accurately then these nails fit the bill, if I meant really nice to look at then these aren’t bad either – although perhaps a bit sameish:

carebears blue

(Photo from inspiritoo – but this doesn’t look to be the original source)

This next mani has more colour and has different bears, although they do look a little overfed and liable to burst…

carebears fat faces

(Photo from nailnerd)

I really like this next one, as it has hints of everything and is really nicely done – although I am not entirely sure what one of the nails is, I am guessing it is the edge of a raincloud but it could also be some broccoli…

carebears small logos

(Photo from polishartaddict via a 3rd party)

The Care Bear Cousins were incredibly creepy – at least partly due to the ‘Robot Chicken’ version of them that I can’t bleach out of my brain…

robot chicken carebear

(Still from ‘Robot Chicken’)

However someone has managed to create something more wrong than ‘Robot Chicken’ and no this isn’t a complement.

carebears wrong

(Photo from nailsmag)

To sum up – so far more stereotypically girlie cartoons are doing better than the boy’s cartoons – but both can be made very very wrong!

Copyright © WhereEvilThoughts 2013 – excluding pictures! Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WhereEvilThoughts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.