Category Archives: Television

A Lord of the Rings TV Series? I’m Not Sold Yet…

lotr1

You should know how much I love my Tolkien.  My Hobbit Hole of a home office is plastered with all kinds of stuff, like my tapestry throw, my Shire and Middle Earth maps and Sting letter opener.  Trust me, that’s just a taste of it all.

Side nerding: I had to call Chewy.com‘s customer service line over the weekend, having not received an order as expected, and the agent I spoke with asked about my cat Rivendell, and we went on to have a 15 minute conversation about our love for the stories and what collectables we each have while he researched my order.  PS: Chewy has excellent customer service, they are sending me a second bag of food for free.

I love the movies, and will happily endure all ribbing for the “why didn’t they just get the Eagles to fly to Mount Doom??” and “it’s a year of them WALKING!” – don’t care, I loved it all.  I even enjoyed The Hobbit films, for all their flaws.

But this has me a little worried.

Warner Bros. Television and the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien are in talks with Amazon Studios to develop a series based on the late author’s “The Lord of the Rings” novels. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is said by sources with knowledge of the situation to be personally involved in the negotiations, which are still in very early stages. No deal has been set.

helmsdeep

Do I want to see more epic battles?  HELLS YEAH!

GanandAra

Do I want to see more Aragorn and Gandalf?  OH HELLS YEAH!

frodo1

Anxious Frodo is anxious.

Do I want to see it turn into Game of Thrones, Middle Earth?  NOOOOOOOOOOO.

Unfortunately there isn’t much information to go on right now, so we’ll just have to wait and see.  My fingers are crossed that if they do seal a deal, the product will be much better than what I fear it may be.

Mr. Popularity – Why David Harbour is the Next “It Girl”

It goes without saying that Hopper is one of the most beloved characters of Stranger Things, despite clearly having a lot of very normal character flaws.  But judging from his castmates, they’re all wanting more screen time with him.

HopperDance

But scratch the surface just a bit and you’ll find he’s got a hilarious instagram account, where he pokes fun at Joe Keery (Steve Harrington) for “stealing his hair”:

DandJ

Not only that, but he agreed to pose with someone for their senior pictures if they got 25K retweets – well, guess what…

HarbourTweet1

Now, just because we can’t get enough of him:

Fandom Guest Wifi Signs – the BETTER Newest Trend!

Have you seen one of the Cutest Ideas Ever™?  They are the Guest Wifi Signs of Pinterest. Some can be kind of clever, but for the most part they just aren’t my STYLE.

However, I do see a huge advantage to having a WiFi login just for visitors.  It does allow to partition off your personal devices, not that your friends will intentionally go snooping.  But perhaps someone in the house has work files or access through their desktop to other more sensitive job networks, and with the amount of hacking going on, it’s just an added security measure.

So what does one do when they want to offer their guests the login but want to make it reflect their personality?  GO GEEKY!

HPwifi

This was a super easy, very inexpensive DIY that I was able to do in about 10 minutes once I had all the elements in hand.  Want to do something similar?  Here’s what I did:

The Fandom

So many to choose from, only one guest login!  I will list some other ideas I had at the end of this post (including Lord of the Rings, Supernatural, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Firefly and Game of Thrones), but I decided to go with Harry Potter theme for now.  I thought the Connecto Patronum network name was really great, but I also considered:

  • Hogwarts Express WiFi
  • Professor McGonagall’s Office
  • Hogsmeade
  • Shrieking Shack
  • Ministry of Magic

Because this is such a cheap and easy thing, I can change it whenever I get bored!  So the first thing I did was look for the decals.

The Decals

WARNING: I first ordered what I believed were decals from Amazon, which I thought fit perfectly, however it turned out that they were only stickers (despite the product descriptions) and I was not as happy with the finished project.  So be VERY careful when you purchase decals, make sure the design or letters TRANSFER to whatever you are putting them on.

Because Amazon surprisingly let me down on this one, I found a small online company that just does car decals, and though the decals are perfect for car windows, they are a bit larger than I originally intended and needed to modify them to work with the frame I had purchased along with the first set of stickers.  But these are the decals I got in BLACK MATTE (but they have almost any color you could want!):


I Solemnly Swear I am up to no GoodDecal

 

 

and


Mischief Managed Decal

 

 

I did also see this one which would work too:


The Deathly Hallows Decal

I found they have a lot of great Harry Potter things, but if you have a special request, they can help you so just contact them!

The Frame

I wanted something with a thick mat because I knew I wanted the decals around the network information, and found this picture frame with a 5″ picture and 4″ frame for $13.99.

Amazon didn’t let me down with that one 😉

The Fonts

For the Network and WiFi information, I wanted to stick to the Harry Potter theme and use appropriate fonts, so I found and downloaded the Lumos font and the Caslon Antique font, which I found to be great for this project.

You may also like this Harry P font which is the classic lighting bolt font, I just decided not to use it this time around.

Once your fonts are downloaded, for Windows users go to the font file via Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Fonts – they should then be visible in in any word processing program you use.

From there it was just a matter of making sure the printout fit the 5×5 picture opening of the mat – for reference, I used Lumos at font size 36 and Caslon Antique at size 32, but I did adjust the line spacing to make it what I wanted.

The Assembly

Here is how the decals arrived, with a white backing, the decal and a clear top transfer sticker:

decals

  1. Trimming – The wand and the very low-swooping “p” pushed the overall decal outside the visible mat area of the picture frame, so I decided to CAREFULLY trim off the wand and use that as a separate element.  Additionally, the Mischief Managed decal was quite large, so I EVEN MORE CAREFULLY cut that so the words were separated.
  2. Cleaning – I took the frame apart and cleaned the glass (pro tip: use glass cleaner and newspaper to clean, it will leave it streak-free!).  Then, on a flat surface, I placed the mat, then the glass, then the frame itself.  I did this so I could visually see where the decals would best be positioned.
  3. Application – I then peeled the backing off the decals and gently laid them onto the clean glass, being sure to only touch the clear transfer sticker – I find it’s best to get the positioning right about a half inch from the glass, then bend the transfer slightly so it starts sticking in the middle and work your way out.  This will cut down on any air bubbles.
  4. Pressing – Once the decals were down, I removed the frame just to get it out of the way, and used a credit card to gently but firmly press the decals onto the glass to get them to stick better.
  5. Peeling – I then picked up the corner of a transfer sticker and gently peeled it off.  If you’ve pressed firmly enough, the decal should remain on the glass.  You may find, as I did, that one or two places sticks to the transfer rather than the glass, just put it back down and try re-pressing, or coming at the peel-off from the opposite direction.
  6. Add your network info – Tape your printed network name and password to the mat, making sure it’s fairly centered.
  7. Reassemble – Put all the pieces of the picture frame back together and you’re done!

Other Fandom Ideas

Maybe Harry Potter isn’t your thing?  No worries!  There’s SO MUCH to choose from, so here’s a short list of ideas:

The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings

One of my other favorites is anything Tolkien! The decal place has this AWESOME decal I will definitely use if I decide to go towards this next:

Again, be super-sure it’s a car decal, not a sticker.

Network name ideas:

  • The Shire
  • Bag End
  • Mount Doom
  • Rivendell
  • Minas Tirith

Recommended Fonts: Ringbearer, Party Business, Aniron

Supernatural

Decal idea:

Network name ideas:

  • Baby’s Hotspot
  • Men Of Letters Bunker
  • Singer Auto Salvage Yard

Recommended font: Supernatural Knight,

Star Wars

OH THE POSSIBILITIES.  Here is just ONE decal idea:

Star Wars Rebel Alliance Emblem Car or Truck Window Decal Sticker

Network name ideas:

  • Rebel Alliance Base
  • Order 66
  • Death Star
  • Yavin 4
  • Millenium Falcon

Recommended fonts: Star Jedi, Aurebesh (for design elements)

Doctor Who

One decal idea:

Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver Car or Truck Window Decal Sticker

Network name idea:

  • TARDIS (obviously)
  • Gallifrey

Recommended fonts: Doctor Who, WS Simple Gallifreyan (for design elements), Dalek

Firefly

One decal idea:

Network name ideas:

  • Serenity
  • Kaylee’s Room
  • Persephone
  • Companion’s Quarters

Recommended fonts: Nuptial, Voluta Script, Joanna and of course Papyrus (which are likely already installed as a basic available font in your system)

Game of Thrones

One decal idea:

Network name ideas:

  • Westeros
  • AGirlHasNoWifi
  • Winterfell
  • House Targaryan

Recommended fonts: Game of Thrones, Trajan Pro, Mason

Hope you enjoyed! I’d love to see other people’s geeky wifi signs so link ’em up!

Stranger Things Season 2 Recap – NO SPOILERS

So yeah, we gorged ourselves on the second season of Stranger Things last night and wrapped up around 1:40am.  I’m not proud of this.  I’m old now and need more coffee, but I figure it’s time to do a short recap avoiding spoilers.

  1. I never thought I would think a Demogorgon was “cute” – it’s true, despite it being what it was, I couldn’t help myself.

    mrpeppy

    Hello, you adorable evil thing!

  2. There was an “IF SO-AND-SO DIES, WE RIOT” moment – because of course we have to have one.

    daryldies

    Daryl wasn’t in this one, so he was safe.

  3. Eleven is SUCH a 14 year old! It’s no secret she’s already developmentally stunted due to her captivity, pile on the hormones and the face she makes in all the promotional material is pretty much her…

    11

    Reminds me of my own “I will cut a bitch” face when I was a teen.

There’s quite a lot more, but I fear anything else would indeed be too much of a spoiler, so I’ll leave it for now so everyone can get in on the fun of the new season.  Overall, a solid second season with enough loose ends to pick at a third season easily!  Remember, if you decide to throw a viewing party, I posted up quick, cheap and easy ideas to get your party going!

Stranger Things: Season 2 is Here – Have a Last Minute Binge Party!

ST2pic

WOO HOO!

Anyone who loved the first season of Stranger Things knows that Season Two was released on Netflix today!  I’ve been reminded of this about 3 times a week for several weeks now by my son, who watched the first season at least 10 times.  So what is the only rational thing to do on an occasion such as this?  Throw a last minute binge party!

Being last minute means not a lot of time to prepare, create, sew, draw, etc.  And the point is that you are watching the actual SHOW, not spending hours preparing for a typical social event.  So for this, let’s stick with the bare bones ideas: snacks, drinks and a comfy place to watch the show for several hours.

SNACKS:

Ok folks let’s get real.  This is no time learn how to make – or hire a professional cookie maker to create – wonderful treats like these no matter how awesome they are:

STcookies

These are great, but mine would look like a hot mess or cost me $400 to have made. MOVING ON! (PS: Will happily give credit to whoever created these but I can’t find original source)

So what will you serve your fellow Stranger Things Fanatics?  A quick trip to the store can net plenty of great snacks that were available back in the last 1970s-early 1980s, so stick with those!  Starting with:

eggo

EGGOS, of course!  Create a waffle bar, where people can toast up some Eggos and create their own fun treats!  Topping could include:

  • chocolate chips
  • berries
  • whipped cream/Cool Whip
  • peanut butter
  • caramel syrup
  • ice cream
  • sprinkles

But check it out, even Eggo is getting into the Stranger Things action, go to their website and download a 1984 label you can put on a modern box!

Of course one cannot live on Eggos alone, so you could also grab some:

  • Pop Rocks
  • Twinkies
  • Devil Dogs
  • Jello Pudding Pops
  • pretzels
  • Doritos!

DRINKS:

Of course you have to have drinks you can get today that were around in the early 80s, but if you can grab a couple of pitchers (Tupperware pitchers get bonus points!), then fill them with Hi-C fruit drinks (add vodka or rum to make them even better!) – if you’re feeling creative, do something like this:

STdrinks

Love this! Also can’t find who to credit for this idea either, but they rock!

If you want some sodas, pick up some:

  • TAB (classic!)
  • 7-Up
  • Coke
  • Pepsi… if you can find any “Crystal” versions, I bow to you!
  • (add vodka or rum to make your sodas even better!)

DECORATIONS:

Now is not the time for overly fancy decorations, but if you want a quick and easy project that shouldn’t take too long, just do this:

  • From the store: grab a huge black Sharpie marker, a plain white shower curtain or plastic table cloth and a set of Christmas lights (if you don’t already have some at home, you KNOW the stores are already putting that stuff out)
  • At home: Tape the curtain to your wall and string up the lights in 3 rows.  Then under each light, draw out each letter, like so:
STlights

Bonus points for finding a shower curtain that matches her wallpaper!

 

THAT’S IT!  That’s all you need to make a great party with minimal effort and maximum fun while you watch the new season with your best mates.  Now… RUN!

How To Save $1500 or More Per Year!

save1500

I’m all about saving money, I’ve written before about couponing and budgeting.  For a while now I’ve been intrigued by the idea so foreign to those of my Generation X and older: cutting the cord.  A lot of people have already, and know how easy and money-saving it can be, but for a lot of others, it’s a whole different world.

We take our entertainment seriously in this household, which means we are willing to pay for certain entertainment luxuries.  Multiple TVs in the house, multiple boxes so people could record shows, fast internet connection for gaming and mobile device usage.  About the only thing we never sprung for was all the pay channels like Showtime and Skine…I mean Cinemax.

Of COURSE we had HBO.  We had to have our Game of Thrones.

But I was already feeling the wallet pinch with our regular $180/mo bill when our 2 year contract with Verizon FIOS was about to end and they informed us it was going up to $230+.

OH HELLS NO.  A girl has no patience.

giphy (3)
So I finally talk my husband into researching how to cut the cord.  I’d already heard that Optimum was introducing 400 Mbps, with talk of service being available up to 1000 Mbps (Gigabit).  For reference, our FIOS service was sitting at 150 Mbps and we were already stretching the limits with all the devices in our house in use.  But my husband made the argument that he much preferred to stay with Verizon and liked the FIOS stability much better.

Calling Verizon FIOS

So we called them up and asked about their highest level of internet speed – they offer straight up Gigabit for about $90/mo!  We were already sold right there, but here’s where we had to compare the shows we watched with our availability to access them on streaming services alone.

rebels

Priorities, yo.

When we looked at things honestly, we realized we spent the majority of our time watching Netflix or Amazon Prime which we would still be maintaining, so no change there.  However, the biggest concern was looking for a streaming service that offered our regular shows from places like DisneyHD (hey we need our Star Wars Rebels!), Syfy and DiscoveryID.

Calling Verizon Wireless

For this we turned back to Verizon, only we spoke with Verizon Wireless, which is the cell provider for my husband’s plans.  They were advertising a very nice deal with DirecTV.  After adjusting to a new plan (4 phones on unlimited data), they offered to add the basic DirecTV streaming bundle for a change in his bill of… $1/mo.  That’s right, for a single dollar extra per month, we could stream all the channels we always watched, AND we also gained BBC America, which we hadn’t had access to before!  And we should have no trouble streaming on any device, whether it’s the TV, desktop, laptop or smartphone!

Streaming Gadgets

Ok, so now we had to look for products that would help us stream all these shows (like a cable box) – the most obvious choice we went with was the Amazon Fire Stick.  As it simply plugs into our TVs and you can load up whatever app you subscribe to, it’s the easiest and most straightforward flat purchase to make.  Not to mention they worth with Amazon Alexa, which makes it SUPER easy to find what you want.

facehuggerrouter

I’m PRETTY sure it’s not an alien facehugger. But don’t quote me on that.

The next thing was looking for a powerful wireless router.  While Verizon does provide a wireless router calibrated specifically for their Gigabit service, they do charge $10/mo for it and the model is mid-range residential.  We’re pretty hardcore when it comes to gaming and streaming already, and we wanted to be sure our house was set up with the best we could.  Ultimately we decided that purchasing this Netgear Nighthawk would be the best for our needs.  We were super lucky to get it on sale and with some rewards cash we had saved up, we sprung for the 3 year warranty and still saved at least $100 over what we would have spent renting.

The Transition

giphy (4)So at this point we place our orders for the gear we need, which is definitely an outlay of funds in the beginning.  But since our new month was JUUUST about to roll over, we wanted to take care of things right away.  We made the changes, we installed the gear, and started testing things out.  Without boring you even more to tears, everything works great, with some small bugs with DirecTV, but nothing that makes us think twice about going back to the old ways!

Now, THE BILL

We just got our bill, and though I trash previously paid bills to avoid paper clutter, I was able to bring up my bill payment history online.  Here is what we paid from January through October:

Verizonhistory

 

And this is our current bill:

Vcurrent2

Breakdown of costs over the next 3 years:

What they wanted to charge us for 150 Mpbs, cable service and a landline we done even know the number to because we haven’t had a landline in 7 years – $8,280!

What we will pay for 1000 Mpbs speed, streaming all the same channels we want plus some we didn’t have before, no more landline, and straight purchases of streaming gear and equipment – $3,600!

Total savings over the 3 years – $4,680!

Excuse me while I book a vacation to Europe….

Bar Rescue, my guilty pleasure…

I love watching Bar Rescue.  It’s just another “reality” show about a guy with a huge resume in operating bars who comes in and does a complete makeover for a bar that’s completely in the red.  Funny thing is, I actually don’t like bars very much at all.  I find them to be money drains – why should I bother paying $5+ for one mix drink, when I can make one at home for a fraction of the cost, as strong as I want, get as drunk as I like, and simply have to stagger into my bedroom rather than having to wrangle up a designated driver or spend more money getting a cab or something?

But obviously there are a lot of people out there who love going to bars, and many bars are wildly successful.  Then there are the bars that are struggling.  Most of the time it’s poor management, whether by inexperience, unrealistic expectations, or just plain ego.  Here is where Jon Taffer comes in.  He’s got 35 years of experience, and uses demographics, market research and statistics to make bars successful.  And he’s not exactly there to make friends either.  Plenty of bar owners, general managers and employees end up hating his guts.  He’s brash and loud and won’t sit there listening to excuses and buck-passing.  I know if he was coming to see me about MY business, I’d be nervous as hell.

But what I like about him is that most of the time, he’s absolutely right.  He zones in on the problem areas, does an overhaul (sometimes dragging the owners kicking and screaming along), but in the end, the bar is a LOT more attractive, a LOT more appealing to the locals, and will more times than not end up doing a lot more business.

Last night was the season premier, which included two new episodes highlighting two very different bars.

The first episode focused on Piratz Tavern, a bar with a VERY heavy pirate theme, including complete costuming and acting, located in a corporate-heavy area.  The owner had been there 5 years, and was nearly a million dollars in debt.  As per the show’s formula, Taffer sends in a test patron.  Unfortunately, it was obvious that his wife, the first undercover patron, was made pretty quickly and the employees fell over themselves to be attentive.  So he sends in a couple in pirate costume, the owners of The Bone, a bar he helped turn around in a previous season (and the owners were more than happy to help him out by the sound of how well it was doing).  The couple are left at the front of the restaurant so long they seat themselves, then are berated for doing so, and their food is atrocious to the point where the Piratz owner comps the dinner.  Taffer goes in to meet the owner, and is immediately met with resistance from nearly everyone there.

Now, I understand this is “reality” TV, where you see cherry-picked video clips.  Getting the full story is going to be impossible.  But right from the start, Taffer states the obvious – the business if failing because the theme is too narrow and the atmosphere is too much like a Renn Faire to appeal to the types of people in the area.  I’m all for themed establishments.  They can be a lot of fun and entertaining, but when you are nearly a million dollars in debt, and living in your parent’s house, you HAVE to accept that it’s not working out and that something needs to change.

They fight him tooth and nail in the beginning, but as the show goes on, they seem to step back and let him do his thing.  He brings in a mixologist to help the bartenders, and brings in a chef to help the kitchen staff.  He pulls out the market research he’s done and points out the corporate offices within just a small area around the bar.  He tells the owner that she’s missing out of a lot of revenue, but she needs to drop the overbearing pirate theme.

Here is where Taffer makes a critical mistake.  While I agree that the over-the-top pirate thing was just nutty, I would have loved to have seen the theme done in a modern, more subtle way.  Instead, Taffer completely overhauls it into a strictly corporate atmosphere (literally calling it “Corporate Bar & Grill”, with the logo of a silhouetted business man).  I hated the logo.  It was stuffy, and clearly the owner and employees were totally uncomfortable.  I could tell this was not going to last at all, and I was wondering by the end if Taffer had seen the writing on the wall and was just pushing so hard against them to get the drama factor going for the show.

Within a week the place went back to the old Piratz Tavern.  I can understand why, but if I were in their position, I would have at least modified the business to try and find a happy medium.  Sadly, the owner and employees didn’t appear to take anything from the experience, and in fact posted a mind-numblingly childish, 5+ minute video of them burning the Corporate Bar & Grill sign and singing a “shanty.”  There’s nothing wrong with trying to build a business you really love.  There’s nothing wrong with playing dress-up, and if you want to do that all the time, have at it.  But the owner appears to be in complete denial about the fact that she’s drowning in debt, living in her parent’s house with her husband and teenage daughter.  There may be a little bump in business due to the show, but in the long run, I don’t see her getting out on top.

The second episode yielded better results.  It centered on the beachfront Bamboo Beach Tiki Bar, where the owner seems to enjoy the blondes more than focusing on cleaning up the decaying bar and getting rid of bartenders that consistently show up hours late for work.  The bar was in a prime location, and the owner was extremely lucky to have very little competition.

So Taffer sends in his test patron and discovers that the bartenders are using a terrible, cheap mix to make drinks with, that bar is really dingy, and to top everything off, she finds a blonde hair in with her food (there’s video of the server sitting there twirling her long blonde hair right before picking up the food plate).  Taffer goes in, and starts doing his schtick…  points out the non-working refridgerators they filled with ice (but there’s no drainage), the hole in the floor they covered with a serving tray, the open mix containers that for an outside bar just attracts bugs.  He also calls out one of the waitresses for not showing up the day before and not even bothering to call in.  For the second day in a row, Hair-twirler shows up hours late, and Taffer demands that the owner let her go.

Which he does, but Taffer smells hesitation, and when he hears that the owner will “talk to her after [the show] is all done” he gets him to promise that she will NOT return to the establishment, because that would undo his authority and he’d lose the respect of his employees.

The second act of the show is where the staff is being supervised and retrained on mixing drinks and learning new, easy recipes to serve a higher-end clientele.  The bartenders are having some trouble getting things done quickly, and the head chef is exploding, but overall there is great improvement.

Taffer finally gets to renovate the bar itself, and the designer has to work through driving winds and rain in order to get things moving (the poor woman looked like a drowned rat).  When the new bar is revealed, the name changes ever so slightly to the Bamboo Beach Club & Tiki Bar…  a subtle change but one that definitely gives the bar a different feel.  Broken appliances are replaced, the flooring is re-done, the bar top is rebuilt, and even the old outdated TV sets are replaced.  Cloth curtains are placed along the perimeter to complement the furniture that was brought it.  Where once you expected a frat boy to walk up and get loud and obnoxious, now one would expect a high level executive and spouse to come by for a drink and light dinner right on the beach.  But it’s not so exclusive as so deter the fun tourist crowd.

The complete opposite of the first episode, I don’t see the owner of the Bamboo having any trouble getting his business from failing to fantastically successful.

Doctor Who, Metal Style

Currently recovering from my annual “back decides it hates me and goes into complete spasm”, and will return with more reviews and other tasty morsels of interest.  For now, however, if anyone wondered what happened to Geek Metal, it’s all residing in this guy (the Green Lantern tattoo really kind of seals it).  \m/  \m/

 

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