Category: TV

A Return to Downton Abbey

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Like the millions of people who tuned in year after year to catch up with the Crawley’s, I find myself missing the great house this time of year.

Odd, since in the US the series ran starting in January – long after the U.K. had visited and moved on for the season.

Somehow, though, Christmas is the time I get a bit wistful to see Branson, Lady Mary, and all the other occupants of the house and grounds, not to mention the neighboring village.

There is something serene about the place.  Comfortable even in those rooms full of gilt, silk and deep carpets.

If you are a viewer of YouTube, you can see some of the DVD extras that talk about back stories and settings and characters.  For me, who does not own the DVDs, it is an interesting addition to the fond memories I have of the series.

To be honest, it makes me want to brew a cuppa and settle down in front of the telly with Amazon Video to dive in.  The entire series is there, waiting.

I am hearing bits about the new movie that is coming next year.  To be honest, I’ve not paid any attention if only to preserve some of my sanity.  There is something about the anticipation that keeps things on an even keel.

Join me, won’t you?  Settle back and dive in to watch all or part of the series.  Remember the joys and the sorrows and the amazing holidays at Downton Abbey

Categories: Music Musings TV

Taking a Breather

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I realize that most of the world is caught up in Holiday Madness right now.  Perhaps that is why I suggest that we all take a breather.

You know, prepare a simple meal, dim the lights a bit, turn on some nice music and put your feet up.  The rush to Do Something On The List can wait until tomorrow.

I was channel hopping tonight and happened to catch a good portion of a film I have heard of for years, but never saw.  Bullitt.  Yeah, that one – with Steve McQueen. 

I was, to be polite, blown away.  Great cinematography.  Fantastic characters.  A cast list that is eye popping.  And that car…that Mustang…and that chase scene…  Worth any amount you’d care to name.

Truth is, unless I owned a copy, or could find one to rent or stream, I would have missed it if I was keeping up with The List Of Things To Be Done.

In case you were wondering, I saw this wonderful classic film on Movies TV Network.  Check the site to find out where you can watch in your area.

My point is, take time for yourself right now, so you can enjoy all the festivities later.  And, if something doesn’t get done, remind yourself that it is very unlikely that it will end the world.  (You have to prioritize that list, you know.)

One step at a time.  🙂

Categories: Movies Musings TV

And Now For a Brief Time Out

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I recently signed up for a free trial of BritBox.  BritBox, like Acorn, is a streaming service that you can subscribe to either on its own or thru Amazon.com.  Both carry predominantly British television programming; Acorn also includes Canadian and Australian programs.

Why did I do this?  Frankly, I needed some diversity in what I watch and American TV just wasn’t cutting it. 

The irony of this is that some of the shows both services carry can be found on American TV, usually PBS.  The infamous BritComs that many fans have supported over the years, plus the wonderful costume dramas, are purchased to fill voids left by American production companies that failed to provide content that appeals to discerning viewers.

For those who aren’t sure what I mean, PBS usually purchases productions from the UK because their viewers actually want to watch something that the other American networks are absolutely certain no one wants to watch.  Like Downton Abbey or Poldark or Dr. Who.

Although, come to think of it, my first encounter with Dr. Who was a syndicated series on an independent channel.  Makes you think.

Why do we gravitate toward such programming?  Some of us love to see other parts of the world.  Some are curious about how other people live.  Some just want to see something that doesn’t treat them like lumps on a sofa.

That is not to say that all non-American programming is high brow.  Far from it.  Sit through a season of Are You Being Served? and let me know how high brow that is.  Once you stop laughing.

One of my recent discoveries is the Hairy Bikers.  Two guys who ride motorcycles and love to cook.  At first glance you might raise an eyebrow.  At second glance you might hope for an invitation to their table.

For the armchair traveler, Penelope Keith has several wonderful series touring Britain.  Julie Walters has provided wonderful company as she tours England by train.  Martin Clunes has provided several series about animals and life in other countries.  And these are but a few.

As you contemplate what is available to you from your provider, I suggest you take a good look at what is available via streaming.  As long as you have Internet access, you can stream.  The purchase of a streaming device (Roku, Amazon Fire, etc.) makes the process simpler and easier.  The cost is nominal and the potential is enormous.

Categories: Musings TV

Why I Love “Murphy Brown”

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This article has been simmering on the back burner for a while and I hope it comes out saying what I intend it to say and understood in the way I intend it to be understood.

When I look back on my life, I see a lot of dualities.  I am a city girl who was a country girl who lived on a farm after living in town.  Eventually, I returned to live in a semi-country area. 

I am the country kid who appreciated things kids my age had no real understanding of or interest in – the arts, books, life outside the bubble we were living in.  In other words; the World.

I am a city girl who appreciates her country roots.  I know how hard people work on farms and in jobs that require more physical than mental labor.  On the other hand, I can also appreciate the more mental jobs because I know what is required to do them.

I say all this because, as we have been reminded repeatedly in the past couple of years, our country is Us vs Them.  How each individual defines “Us” and “Them” can change a lot depending upon the questions asked.

When “Murphy Brown” hit the television airwaves back in 1988 it was revolutionary.  Its main character was not married.  She was no shrinking violet.  She wasn’t out to snare a husband.  Murphy was a graduate of the Betty Ford program who had to learn how to navigate a stressful life without drinking.  She couldn’t sing worth a damn and she barely knew she had a kitchen, much less knew what to do with one.  She was strong minded, willful, arrogant and a bit (?) much.  Let’s be honest, to many people Murphy was a holy terror.

Murphy was, in many respects, the woman I hoped I grew up to be.  I also idolized Julia Sugarbaker from “Designing Women” for similar reasons.  🙂

As I look back, I recognize that I really, really appreciated seeing a woman who had a backbone and a brain, who didn’t let her fear rule her life and who managed to live up to her own standards, not those others would prefer to impose.

Creator Diane English and performer Candace Bergen created not only a wonderful show full of original characters and thoughtful commentary – and some seriously great comedy, they created Murphy. 

This last week, I sat back ready to visit once again with a few old friends.  I was not disappointed. Feisty, opinionated, combatant, Murphy was back.  While I enjoyed reconnecting with the old timers (Miles living at the Watergate?????!) I really enjoyed seeing a grown up Avery Brown.

Avery Brown intrigues me because I see his mother’s influences and I see his own experiences.  I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of human, man, reporter, journalist, thinker Avery Brown has become.  And I’m interested to see how he influences his mom.  And he will.

As I have grown older and wiser, my point of view has broadened and evolved.  Because of my experiences, I see things in a different manner than some folks.  I have also surprised some folks because I do not see things the way they assume I would.

I get the political influences – and I’m amazed/shocked that You Know Who hasn’t commented on the show…yet.

I understand that there is an entire generation who really has no clue who Murphy Brown is/was.

I’m looking forward to sharp writing, on point acting and thought provoking material that will not only make me laugh, but make me think.

For me “Murphy Brown” is thinking people’s comedy.  Multi layered, multi faceted, not afraid to share a joke or poke some good natured fun, but not afraid to call a spade a spade, either.

Frankly, as far as this new television season goes, in my mind at least, “Murphy Brown” is refreshing, and a lot of fun.

Categories: Musings TV

Mid Week Catch Up

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Or, yes, it really is Wednesday.

Vinnie’s Vittles is BACK!  Maymay’s trusty sidekick/hubby Vinnie is back with his cooking channel.  I have to admit, I’m enjoying it – and the recipes – quite a bit.  His food is not low calorie and I seriously doubt it can be classified as healthy food.  What it is, though, is home cooking comfort food.

New Fall TV Season starts NEXT WEEK!  Can you tell I’m excited????????  While not all of my shows begin next week, the majority are.  I’ve set up my calendar and have begun working on the TV schedule app.

It may still want to be Summer outside, but when the Fall TV Season begins…  Pumpkin season can’t be far behind.

Which reminds me to keep an eye out for the Peanuts specials.

Have you checked out our Following page?  The idea came to me as I was working on the next newsletter.  There are quite a few folks I follow in various places.  The Following page will help you keep up.  I hope!  🙂

Annie is slowing recovering from a late season bout of fleas.  🙁  We had a bit of a battle for a few days, but I got her medicine and vacuumed like crazy.  So far, so good.

Which reminds me, if you have had a bit of dry skin lately, don’t forget to drink more water and use your lotion.  It will help.  Really.

All for now – happy Almost Fall!

Categories: Annie Cat Musings Pets TV

Mental Health Days and Why I Craft

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I recently came across a link to an article that got me to thinking about why I craft.  The article:  When A Woman Needed A Mental Health Day Off Work, Her Boss’ Response Shocked Everyone.

There is an old saying that if you do what you love, it isn’t work.  To a point, I would agree.  I’m like several of my friends and acquaintances, I enjoy the day to day processes of running an office.  That doesn’t mean that any of those projects, or jobs, is not work.

I have a passion for food and I love to cook.  Sometimes the act of cooking is more job than hobby, but not always.

I love reading, listening to music and watching film and television.  While I have a better than average knowledge of the behind the scenes functions of most of those activities, I have never had the pleasure of being employed in those industries.

Quilting is a new-ish addition to my life that encompasses my fondness for color, pattern and (believe it or not) geometry.  🙂

I do these things in varying degrees because it relieves stress, allows me to create something out of my own imagination and gives me an outlet to not think about the 9 to 5 day to day grind.

I think it can be looked at as mini-mental health days.

I know people who look at hobbies as stress replacements.  They are not so much into a hobby as a way to relax as a way to do something until they can do something else.  I don’t understand that, either.  🙂

I also know people who have no real understanding of, or use for, hobbies.  There’s work to be done, why waste your time?

I had a parent who worked hard most of his life.  He also spent a good amount of that time doing things he actually liked doing (hence the reminder of doing things you love not being work…)  But there came a time when he was no longer physically able to do the projects he loved.

As he had no hobbies, he was left with nothing to fill his time with.  And he ended up having a lot of time to fill.

My suggestion to you is the lesson I learned watching this parent deal with life.  It is all well and good to have things you love to do, but diversify a bit.  You never know when it will be in your best interest to spend time doing things you never thought you would.

If you are a hiker, what would you do if you broke a leg and couldn’t do that for a while?  If you had issues with your sight, how would you deal with not being able to read printed text?

You get the idea.  Work is a wonderful and productive way to spend time and earn a living.  It provides a great sense of self worth.  But work is not the end all or be all of a life.  It should be a part of the whole.  Find something that you are interested in and give it a try.  Doesn’t matter what.  Once you find a passion for something, you will notice that the world is a bit lighter, perspective a bit brighter and work is less, well, work.

Armchair Traveler

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When I was growing up television (all three networks of it) embraced the idea of entertaining everyone, not just a target audience.  As a result, we had a variety of shows that pretty much everyone could enjoy.  True, there was the usual glut of one genre over others, but overall there was some balance in what you could find on the schedule.

Unfortunately, as time went on and the Powers That Be decided that folks didn’t watch such-and-such programming, the audience found itself pretty much stranded unless it invested in expensive cable or satellite networks.

PBS does an amazing job of providing a plethora of programming that covers that wide array of genres that the regular stations have decided that no one wants to watch.  Funny, but I’ve never seen PBS shows among the ratings lists that come out daily or weekly.  I have a feeling that the numbers just might prove the Powers That Be wrong.

Recently I discovered some gems that allow armchair travelers like myself the opportunity to explore new places with beautiful vistas and pleasant travel companions.

Explore The English Countryside

Recently I discovered a wonderful four episode documentary on Acorn TV that was hosted by the wonderful and funny Julie Walters.  You might know her as Mrs. Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter films.

Said documentary, Coastal Railways with Julie Walters, is available through Amazon Prime, Acorn TV and YouTube.  It is a wonderful travelog of Britain that takes the viewer across the country and into nooks and crannies that the average traveler might miss.

The premise is based on Ms. Walters love of the coast.  Each of the four episodes covers a five day journey in which she experiences the landscape and the people.

Now, For Something A Little Different

Also found on Amazon, Acorn TV and YouTube, Penelope Keith’s Hidden Villages takes us on journeys into the English country where we experience life in small country villages.  There are three seasons available of this great series.

If you want a slightly different taste of English life, Ms. Keith has also done an excellent series, At Her Majesty’s Service, which takes viewers behind the scenes at Her Majesty’s royal residences.  We get a chance to meet the people who keep the traditions alive.

Out and About

Another rather unusual discovery were Escape to the Country and Escape to the Continent, which were found on Netflix and YouTube.  The former documents one couple’s search for a new home in the English countryside.  Each episode takes us to a different part of the U.K. providing not only spectacular vistas, but some great local history and a chance to get to know some of the locals.

Escape to the Continent takes the escaping British couple to a country on the Continent.  While the search for a new home is interesting (the homes themselves run the gamut from ordinary to OMG), the ability to see the country and meet the residents is the best part of the show. 

I admit I enjoyed each show for a different reason.  The Escape to the Country series allowed me to see various parts of the U.K. and get a feel for what I preferred and what I didn’t.  I also discovered some interesting aspects of life in that country (cast iron cook stoves) that I had not know about.

Escape to the Continent allowed me to look back and ponder what life might have been like for the moving couple in light of evolving political states. 

The trains, villages and such that were provided by Ms. Walters and Ms. Keith introduced me to some beautiful vistas, but more importantly, some amazing and wonderful people.  At the end of the day, it is their stories that make the travel so much more than a ride on a train or in a car.

Last year I stumbled across Better Homes and Gardens from Australia on YouTube.  While the home improvement projects caught my eye, it was the ability to see the country that kept me coming back for more. 

Even if you are not inclined to travel, sampling these shows provides an amazing opportunity to learn more about an area or a country than can ever be gleaned from a book or magazine.  And you don’t even need to pack a bag to have an adventure!

Categories: travel TV

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