Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mr. Selfridge on PBS

PBS is premiering it's new series Mr Selfridge tonight. If you've spent anytime in England you're probably familiar with the department store. This is the story of it's creator. Starring Jeremy Piven as Selfridge himself.

The Selfridge character doesn't come off that likeable in the previews, but I think he might be the kind of character you love to hate. A womenizing, cock sure, con man who makes it big, at least for a little while...

All that and the story takes place in the early 20th century, with all the spiffy costumes and sets. See video

For all you twitter people you can tweet along with the cast, PBS, and MASTERPIECE during the two-hour premiere. From 9-11pm Eastern time actor Tom Goodman-Hill (Mr. Grove in Mr. Selfridge) will be tweeting and on the West Coast, star Jeremy Piven will join the conversation 9-11pm Pacific time!

Dont forget the hashtag #SelfridgePBS,

Friday, March 22, 2013

Little Big Planet Karting

Here's a great Easter basket stuffer. My daughter loves the Little Big Planet games and Little Big Planet Karting is the next installment. Little Big Planet Karting is a super fun racing game. Sackboy is behind the wheel and ready to save Craftworld from the Hoard, who have invaded and are looking for treasure.

If that isn't fun enough, you can also build your own tracks and customize your kart and character.My daughter likes building the tracks so much she has barely done any racing.  If your kid spends all their time in creative mode of Minecraft, like mine does, they'll love the building part too.

I received this game as a member of the Playstation Family and am not compensated otherwise.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lily Tomlin in Admission

Admission opens March 22nd. It stars Tina Fey and Paul Rudd as a Princeton admissions officer and a high school principle with a surprise. But for me the real star of the film was Lily Tomlin.

Tomlin plays Tina Fey's feminist author mother. She's one part Betty Friedan and , at least, 40 parts Gloria Steinem. I kept wishing for more scenes with her. She is brilliant in this part. She plays quirky like nobody else.

Keep your eye out in Tomlin's scenes for Easter eggs. Like fish riding bicycles and a cameo appearance by Bella Abzug.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Save The Chocolate Bunny with Mattel

I can't believe Easter is just two weeks away. It was just a minute ago it was Christmas. Time is flying.

 If you're like me you need to get busy filling that Easter basket. I love finding fun little games and toys for my daughter's basket. Really how much candy does one child need? If you're looking for some candy free ideas for Easter baskets, Mattel hears you. Check out this video about saving the chocolate bunny.

Love the idea of limiting the candy in Easter baskets and short on time? Enter to win a Mattel toy Easter basket below. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mad Men Season 6 Poster

AMC's Mad Men returns for it's 6th season in less than a month, April 7th. Yesterday they released this season poster and it's quite a departure from the Mad Men Posters of the past. The others have either been our beloved black silhouette or a photograph. This one is a drawing that is derivative of the late 60' and early 70's.

Now what does this poster tell us. Well as usual our Don is looking over his shoulder wondering if those cops are there for him. I kind of hope he reveals his alter identity this season and he can finally fully merge them. Although, I don't know what that would do for the dramatic edge of the show. Probably nothing good.

All the Megan haters are probably happy to see her out of frame. I'm assuming that hand he is holding is hers. Perhaps that means this season she'll be busy with her acting and while they are still together she is out of the picture. Betty will be happy about that too, she's the ultimate Megan hater.

Beyond that I can't imagine where they're going.The firm is successful again and they'll all be rolling in cash. Hopefully Joan is finding some kind of happiness, I'm guessing she's off men. I really did hope Roger would have gone off the psychedelic deep end, but based on the pictures that have come out it doesn't look like it. Though, my grandfather's name sake, Harold Crane seems to be on something.

Of course, I have faith in Father Weiner to  bring us another great season, so I'll see you all on April 7th on AMC. I'm sure there will be lots of tweeting and blogging and facebooking and any other way we can find to share our love for this show. 

See you then!

UPDATE: here's a peak at the new seasons direction.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Orphan Black Premiering on BBC America

BBC America is debuting their new show Orphan Black March 30 at 9 pm (check listing). I've seen the first episode and it is riveting. Without giving too much away, I'll tell you it's a thriller that takes identity theft to a whole new level. The first episode was action packed with a huge amount of information imparted, so pay attention. I get the feeling this is going to be one you need to remember the tiniest of details.

The show is premiering right in the middle of BBC America's Super Natural Saturday. Which means it's lead in is Doctor Who and The Nerdist afterward both premiering their new seasons March 30, . Coincidentally  I'll be attending a taping of The Nerdist on the 30th of March. So I'll have more details on that show for you soon, though I'm already a big fan, and can highly recommend it!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

TCM The Essentials with Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore is back for a second season of The Essentials on TCM. I love this show. It's fascinating to get the background on the films from expert Robert Osborne. You can see the films featured in this season above. Click here for the entire list of The Essential films.

 I'm trying not to let the fact that I saw The Big Chill on my first date, when I was 13, make me feel too old. But I have to admit it is a classic film.

Of all of these I would have to say I am most looking forward to The Lady Eve. Definitely, one of my favorite roles for both Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck. Stanwyck is a con woman on a cruise ship with the uber rich Fonda, who doesn't even see her coming. They're hysterical together.

The only one I haven't seen is Gun Crazy, which looks like a seedy noir about a husband and wife crime spree. Sounds good to me.

If you get lonely while watching any of these, check in on twitter with #TCMParty. There's always a group of people live tweeting the TCM films.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Best Camera To Take on Safari

I had my husband write up this review of our camera, Fuji X-S1, for the safari. I think he gives some great insight into picking a camera for safari. Hope it's helpful.

Fuji  X-S1 Camera Review By a Novice  – The Right SLR Style Camera for a Safari, and Every Other Important Picture Taking Opportunity

How We Got the Chance to Use the Fuji X-S1 Camera
Eight months ago, our family was invited to go on an African safari trip.  We said yes, and immediately I began thinking about cameras. 

Two years prior, I bought a Nikon D5000 SLR camera before a trip to Yellowstone National Park.  The pictures that I took were great compared to my pocket camera, but the Nikon had big setbacks. 
             * It came with two lenses, one zoom lens for wider angles, and a second zoom lens for telephoto shots.  I found that swapping the lenses on a regular basis was not easy, and required the use of a fanny pack to carry the extra lens. 
               *Another setback was the built-in flash.  It did a poor job of lighting inside and night photos for any subject over 12’ away.  I finally bought an external flash, but then I had a third item to carry. 
              *The Nikon D5000 also had a very long lag time between pressing the shutter and having the camera take the picture (2 to 10 seconds), when using the lcd panel instead of the viewfinder.  I found myself always using the viewfinder.

The thought of going on an African safari made me think about replacing our Nikon camera.  I began reading reviews of cameras that were used on safaris.  I found out that there were high performance cameras that had fixed lenses with incredible zooming capabilities.  Nikon makes a couple models, and I seriously considered buying one, because I was already use to the Nikon controls.  At around that time, our cousin offered to loan us a Fuji fixed lens SLR style camera for our trip (she works at Fuji).

How the Fuji X-S1 Camera Performed
The camera took great pictures right out of the box.  The camera feels good in the hands, with a soft rubbery skin and is shaped for a good comfortable grip (much better than my Nikon).  There was a small learning curve for the basic functions, but nothing that inhibited picture taking. 

Taken from 20 ft in dark with flash
Safari drives were done in the early morning and late afternoon/evening.  Lots of good pictures would have been very difficult to take with my Nikon, due to the low lighting.  The built-in flash on the Fuji camera worked really well, with great pictures of cats at 30+ feet, in the dark.  This camera has an EXR setting, which greatly improved pictures in low light situations where the flash was not effective.  I also liked the way the camera can be set to use the flash when manually popped up, rather than automatic at its discretion.

Taken in low light from 100 ft
          I quickly learned that the camera has an automatic setting that swaps the lcd screen for the viewfinder just by holding your eye to the viewfinder, which is a blessing.  The zoom lens had a better range than my Nikon had with both of its lenses.  Everybody on our trip envied the close-up zoom on this camera which is stated to max out at 624mm focal length, where my Nikon maxes out at 200mm.  The fast shutter speeds compensated for most of the jiggling, and I got a good percentage of crystal clear pictures at the maximum zoom, from the bumpy Range Rover, while it was moving.  I also toyed around with the panoramic features, which produced solid, clear pictures (but I am not sure what to do with them). 

I took over 2400 pictures on this trip. A lot of the bad and redundant pictures were deleted in the field, and the deleting process on this camera is easier to do with this camera than on the Nikon (two less button presses).

Taken from 600+ ft in low light

Only two downsides with the X-S1 Camera
Battery life was much shorter than the Nikon.  With similar use, the Nikon battery would have to be charged only once during this two week trip, where the Fuji had to be charged every night.  I was shocked when the Fuji ran out of juice after 400 or so pictures.  There was a lot of reviewing, sharing, and deleting, as well as some HD movies taken, but the battery life was less than I had hoped for.

Additionally, the price of this camera is higher compared to cameras with similar features. 

I love this camera.  Everybody we traveled with loved this camera.  The pictures from our safaris are brilliant and clear, even when taken from football fields away.  I doubt the comparable Nikon would stop the jitters as well at full zoom.  The battery problem is not a deal-killer, and charging the battery daily on most trips is not a problem.  The low light pictures were all so clear.  The feel of the camera as well as the other features make this camera great.

Not being able to test the other comparable fixed lens zoom cameras, I would still buy the Fuji.  Owning a fixed lens SLR camera rather than what I have, is for me, a no-brainer.  I am now going to seriously consider buying the Fuji, and selling the Nikon.  Thank you  cousin Dana, for the opportunity to use this camera on our big Africa trip (hopefully not our last time there).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sullivan's Travels and O Brother, Where Art Thou

Just saw The American Cinematheque at the Aero in Santa Monica is running a double feature Sullivan's Travels and O Brother, Where Art Thou . I love them both. The connection is O Brother, Where Art Thou gets it's name from the film Sullivan wants to make in Sullivan Travels.

The screening is Sunday March 24th at 7:30
$11 general admission and $7 for members

Aero Theatre
1328 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90403