Saturday, April 18, 2009

3 totally awesome things that have nothing to do with weddings

OK, I'm sick of weddings again. But that doesn't mean I can't blog! Here are three totally awesome things that I think you should know about. They have nothing to do with weddings, but did I mention they're awesome?

1. "Chuck," 8/7c Mondays on NBC

Image from

Take a sweet, smart guy whose life hasn't quite gone as planned -- that's Chuck Bartowski, our titular character. Now add a CIA-defector ex-roommate who plants the nation's secrets in his head. Throw in a gorgeous secret agent assigned to protect him (the fantastic Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah) and the hilarious Adam Baldwin as the National Security Agency's Major John Casey. Occasionally show us Chuck's screwed-up co-workers at the Buy More where he makes $11 an hour as a Nerd Herd tech support guy. Sprinkle with great alternative-indie music, ironic 80s references, and a bunch of villains named after obscure Philadelphia sports figures. The result: the most entertaining hour of TV all week.

"Chuck" sounds so off-the-wall that it's hard to explain to people who haven't seen it before, much less sell them on watching it. But trust me: all of those nutty elements I just mentioned work seamlessly in the show's context. If you're looking for 44 minutes of pure fun, go watch an episode on Hulu (I suggest "Chuck versus Santa Claus," one of the series' best episodes to date). Then tune in for the season's last two episodes, because if NBC cancels this quirky gem, I'm going to be completely crushed.

2. "Flower" for the Playstation 3
"Flower" is even harder to explain than "Chuck," but I'll give it a go. It's a short game you can download from the Playstation Network for $9.99 (i.e., don't look for it on or in stores). You play as ... well, sort of as a gust of wind. You steer by tilting the controller, and the object is to bring a barren landscape back to life by hitting a series of targets shaped like flowers. When you hit a target, you hear a musical note; hit lots in a row and the game becomes almost symphonic.

Image from

The graphics in "Flower" are stunning, and once you get used to the controls, it's an almost giddily good ride. It's unlike anything else I've ever played, and it's both exhilerating and oddly soothing.

3. The Matthew Shardlake novels by CJ Sansom

Image from

Matthew Shardlake, born a hunchback, is a lawyer in Tudor London whose connections with religious reform movements provide him with both powerful allies and terrifying enemies. In the first novel, Dissolution, Shardlake's patron and fellow reformer Lord Cromwell sends him to investigate a murder at a monastary, one that is being dissolved in accordance with King Henry VIII's new religious rules. The subsequent three books -- Dark Fire, Sovereign, and Revelation -- follow Shardlake as he continues to navigate the thorny webs of politics and religion, while trying to do right by his legal clients and solve murders.

The Shardlake books are alive with rich historical detail. CJ Sansom has a PhD in history, and it shows -- he gets the details right without beating his reader over the head with his knowledge of life in 16th-century England. The mysteries are sophisticated without being overly convoluted, his characters are fascinating, and his prose is elegant and readable. If you like historical mysteries, I strongly suggest you stop reading my blog right now and go immediately to the public library or bookstore. Dark Fire is my favorite, and I think Sovereign is the weakest of the four, but they're all well worth having on your nightstand.


Anonymous said...

I heart chuck!

Blablover5 said...

I'd heard of flower. I've been kicking around getting it. Seems like a lot of fun.

Bride in Exile said...

Blablover, if you have a PS3, definitely get it! It's gorgeous and so much fun to play.

Miss Rye Bread said...

hey, thanks for the book tip!
Have you ever read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett?