Design Challenge (Open Thread)

Have any of y’all seen The Great British Design Challenge on Netflix? I started watching it because I’m jonesing for new episodes of The Great British Bake-Off, and I figured maybe some low-key British humor and good-natured competition in the decorating sphere might fill that void.

As far as the show goes, I don’t like it nearly as much as GBBO. The judges aren’t funny (though the architecture expert is amusing and informative), and the competition isn’t as fair. These poor schnooks have an absurdly short amount of time to transform a room, and there’s a wild card for the contestants in the form of clients (the people whose rooms are being redecorated).

Although they’ve had a chance to indicate their tastes and goals in a brief prior to the designers coming up with a plan and presenting it, clients on that show can and do derail an imaginative decorating scheme on the day work is to begin with some random-ass decree, such as, “I don’t like blue, and I hate louvres.” (That’s an actual example.)

But despite the program’s flaws, as far as what I need to see at this point in my life, decorating is far more relevant than baking. As regular readers know, we took up residence late last October in a ramshackle money pit. It’s got a million-dollar view — honest to dog, I doubt Bill Gates has a better one — but the folks who lived here before waited until the place was falling apart before decamping.

I’ve enjoyed decorating on a budget ever since I got my first off-campus hovel, but that impulse was derailed by motherhood somehow. We undertook an ambitious DIY kitchen renovation at our old house, but aside from that, my efforts to create a welcoming and serene home environment during the nesting years were confined to mopping when the kitchen floor became adhesive enough to snatch off shoes.

Now that impulse has returned with a vengeance, sparked by necessity. Every wall in this house save the bedrooms was painted pale blue by the previous occupants, a color augmented by a sticky residue of nicotine from their 25 years of indoor smoking. The walls have been scrubbed, primed and repainted, so lately I’ve turned my attention to the furniture and decor.

Our old furniture doesn’t suit the new place. Like an idiot, I chose dark furniture when we lived in the old house because I thought it should match my husband’s piano. The piano is in a different room now, but even if it was still in the living room, the furniture is out of whack with the bohemian vacation-shack ambience of the new place.

I can’t afford to get new stuff, so I’m painting and re-purposing things and attempting to locate yard sale and thrift shop items. My mother-in-law is an invaluable ally in the latter. Here’s an example of the former — our crappy old black IKEA TV stand with a fresh coat of paint:

The difference is astonishing. Even my husband — who would eat dinner off an old mattress crate for 20 years without complaint — noticed how it brightened the room. And it cost less than $20 to fix it up.

My next project is going to be to decorating our bedroom. We’ve been married for nearly a quarter of a century and have never owned a headboard or set of drawers with a full set of knobs. I’m planning to make a retro-looking tufted headboard and re-do the dressers with paint and matching knobs for a change.

The main bathroom needs a new shower, and I’m going to let the professionals handle that because we would fuck it up. But it also has a hideous laminate-covered particle-board cabinet with a crappy sink. I’m thinking of replacing that with an antique (junk shop!) dresser and setting a sink in it. (Got the idea from a bathroom in a house we looked at before settling on this place.) There would be sawing and pipe-hooking involved, but I think we can handle it.

Anyhoo, my ultimate goal is to get this swampy shit-box into good enough shape to qualify as the BEFORE scene in a decorating show. Maybe the kids can achieve AFTER when we’re dead.

I know John has undertaken extensive renovations and nest-feathering, and I’m aware that some of y’all have too. Any tips, resources or cautionary tales would be greatly appreciated. Or feel free to discuss whatever — open thread!



State of the Rebellion (Open Thread)

Hubby and I opted to skip the SOTU in favor of continuing our Game of Thrones marathon. This morning, I watched WaPo’s three-minute highlight reel and read the transcript. Looks like our prediction yesterday — that the speech would be a discordant amalgam of white nationalist scaremongering and pseudo-loftiness — was on target.

As anticipated, it reflects its authorship, a committee comprising xenophobic incel goon Stephen Miller and Fox News-trained turd-polishers under the tutelage of network hack Bill Shine. But as many societies have discovered at great cost, when you give bigots a seat at the table, they consume the entire feast and then burn down the house with everyone in it.

I watched Stacey Abrams’ response in its entirety and am relieved that she escaped the SOTU rebuttal curse. She received scattered criticism for the staging, but the dim lighting, sharp focus on Abrams and soft focus on the crowd behind her appealed to me. It evoked a Star Wars rebel alliance leader’s speech on the eve of an attack on a Death Star. FWIW, I’d fly my X-wing up Trump’s bunghole on Abrams’ orders.

Still, for my money, Speaker Pelosi’s devastating exasperated participation-trophy clap was the highlight of the evening:

Wingnuts on Twitter are still sputtering with rage about her paper shuffling, impassive expressions during GOP applause lines, eye-widening as Trump unspooled particularly egregious whoppers, etc., so I gather she managed to strike exactly the right balance between decorum and disdain. Well done, Madam Speaker!

During our Game of Thrones marathon, I had an epiphany about which major character I find most relatable: Daenerys Targaryen. Like her, I recently returned to my ancestral homeland, where I am a stranger. I assembled a fleet (of canoes and a jon boat). And I am the mother of (snap)dragons.

Open thread!



TV Bleg: Any Reviews of The Good Place?


 
The Spousal Unit and I like to watch a little TV together to wind down in the evening… but our tastes don’t have a lot of overlap. He doesn’t like anything ‘too depressing’, or that involves people shouting at each other for long stretches; I’m not a big fan of whimsy or slapstick. Leverage was the perfect sweet spot for us, also (the first ten seasons of) New Tricks (after Amanda Pullman left, I felt it degenerated into fanservice). We both enjoyed the first four seasons of Elementary, but haven’t gotten around to finishing the second season of the BBC’s Sherlock. I’m looking forward to watching the new Murphy Brown online, but it’s probably a little too ascerbic for him…

Given those parameters, any of you want to explain why The Good Place would or would not be something we’d both enjoy? I’ve got the first disc of the first season queued up on Netflix (yes, we’re old, the actual TV is upstairs in the bedroom and he ‘hasn’t gotten around’ to running a cable for the Roku box through the attic), but it’s marked ‘short wait’, so we may be testing the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries first.

Other suggestions, of course, would be more than welcome!



The Rich And Powerful Take What They Want (Open Thread)

John Rogers is a Friend of the Blog, co-originator of the “27%” crazification factor, and creator of (among other things) the show Leverage (2008-2012). For those who don’t know, Leverage is about a team of grifters and thieves who turn their considerable talents to defrauding corporate criminals. (It’s fun, good-hearted, and a bit silly; you should watch it!).

Leverage first aired when I was twenty-three and fresh off working for the first Obama campaign. Well, being young and jobless in that era, I had lots of free time to read about politics and watch television. I can’t remember if the plots seemed ridiculous to me at first or not. Soon enough, though, I knew that only half the show was unrealistic. White-collar crime really is as widespread and banally-accepted as the show portrays. But, of course, there’s no strike-team of good guys stealing the money back.

Anyway, I saw this and figured I would share:

Leverage is off Netflix and Hulu right now, or I’d fire it up… There is also a tabletop RPG version I’ve always wanted to try.

Open thread!



Late Night Media Notes Open Thread: Any Game of Thrones Fans Out There?


 
According to NYMag‘s media subblog Vulture:

When it comes to Game of Thrones spinoffs, HBO’s got multiple irons in the fire, but it looks like one of those irons is now a little hotter than the others. The network announced Friday that it ordered a pilot for a GOT prequel from George R.R. Martin and Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service), one of five GOT spinoff projects currently in development. According to Deadline, the untitled pilot will take place thousands of years before the events of the series, near the end of what is known in series lore as the Age of Heroes — a time when the Children of the Forest still lived alongside humans, when Winterfell (the home of the infamous Starks) and The Wall were built, and crucially, when the White Walkers tried to invade Westeros with an army of the dead for the first time. So basically, it’s the closest a Game of Thrones spinoff can get to being Game of Thrones, without actually being Game of Thrones