June 28, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader, hello ... ?

When it was announced a few months ago that Google was doing away with Google Reader as of July 1 (that's Monday!), I'll admit, I had a bit of a panic moment. To whom would I turn to keep my blogs organized? To whom would I turn to to keep all of the blogs I read in one place? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME, GOOGLE?!

The Internet had a bit of a panic moment as well. For days, my Twitter feed was filled with cries of anguish over the RSS feed reader's demise. Since the intital announcement, however, I think we've all come to terms and moved on. I know I have—and it turns out that the announcement was a good kick in the pants for cleaning up my cluttered blog roll and starting fresh. (That 1000+ unread count made it awfully hard to know where to start some days.)

When I went looking for something to replace Google Reader, I knew that I wanted something very similar. Clean lines, the ability to organize blogs into user-created folders/lists, preferences that included starting to read new posts from oldest to newest, etc. Ideally, I also wanted something that synced through the cloud and had a mobile version, so that everything was connected and updated at the same time.

After doing a bit of research, I decided to go with Feedly. In look and use, it's very similar to Google Reader, and it has a really nice companion iPhone app.


A particular feature to the application that I like is the Mini Toolbar, an unobtrusive toolbar that sits at the bottom right corner of a browser window and allows users to save posts for later, add blogs to their lists, and email or share links via social media. (This feature is currently undergoing updates and therefore isn't working, but I can survive without it for a bit.)

Here's a screenshot of the desktop app:


And a couple of screengrabs of the iPhone app:


Bloglovin' is another reader I considered using, but it's just not as clean or user-friendly as Feedly. The one feature that made me really consider it, however, is the fact that the service uses a frame system. When reading posts, you're "taken" to the actual post page, and the blogger's page views will count it as a visit. I don't believe that reading a blog through Feedly has the same effect.

You can subscribe to C&CC via Feedly here and Bloglovin' here. (There are also a bunch of other ways to follow/subscribe using those fancy icons in the right sidebar underneath my photo if you've chosen to go a different route.)

Not sure how to start the switch process? This Lifehacker post does a great job at explaining the steps you need to take to transfer your RSS feeds and offers alternatives to the two readers I mentioned above.

Have you made the switch? If so, what service did you move to? If not ... you better do it soon!

June 27, 2013

Nerd News: Disney showgirls, RED 2 clips, RDJ back for Avengers 2+3 and more

Vol. 4, Issue 24

It's been a crazy week for politics in the U.S. and Texas. Let's take a bit of a breather with some news of the nerdy variety, yes?

In TV news:

Oh, Matt. You are an adorable human being, and I will miss you. (Thanks, Rebecca!)


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If you enjoy Game of Thrones and are a fan of ska music, I think that you will enjoy this cover.


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June 26, 2013

Haiku Revieu: Much Ado About Nothing


Much Ado About Nothing (*****)

The Bard and the Joss
Lovers and villains
A beautiful play


POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. (But really, you should know Much Ado About Nothing.) The Mister and I have been trying to see this movie since it premiered at South By Southwest back in March. It finally opened nationwide this past weekend, and we (and TGG and his wife) jumped at the chance to get to see it on the big screen. It did not disappoint.

This version of Much Ado About Nothing—a play originally written by William Shakespeare—was adapted by Joss Whedon and filmed with a bunch of his friends over the course of a few days ... at Joss' house. The film is a modern version of the play, but only in setting; the original iambic pentameter is used throughout. This might turn some people off, but I love how well such an old and unfamiliar language can be understood through good acting. The basic story is about misunderstandings, revelry and the power of love. It features a variety of characters, both comedic and dramatic, and a happy ending (after a bit of tragedy in the middle.) The entire film is also in black and white, which makes it feel artsy, but not in a pretentious way.

A lot of familiar faces (mostly all from other Whedon shows/movies) fill the movie's roles—Clark Gregg, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion, to name a few—and they all do an amazing job at the centuries old roles. Alexis, Sean and Nathan (who play Benedick, Don John and Dogberry, respectively), however, were my favorites. (Nathan is so good at being ridiculous.)

I'd definitely recommend this film to anyone who's a Shakespeare fan, a Whedon fan, or, like me, a fan of both!

June 25, 2013

obsessed.: Young Americans, fantasy cycling and XKCD's "Time"


I recently read a book (The Burning Sky) that reminded me of a favorite TV show that aired during the summer before my senior year of high school. The show, Young Americans, aired on The WB (precursor to today's The CW) for only eight episodes. As ridiculously cheese-tastic as they were, I was totally obsessed. with the show that summer. I watched it with my best friend and my mom, and they both loved it too. (So much that my mom and I both bought bootleg copies off of ebay because we couldn't find it any other way. These days, the episodes are also on YouTube.)


The show centers around a group of kids who live in the fictional town of New Rawley, somewhere in New England. Most of them are in town to attend the summer session of Rawley Academy, a prestigious all boys boarding school. Of course, typical teenage hijinks (and standard 2000s-style WB drama) ensue.

Thanks to the book, I was inspired to re-watch the series. Here's a teaser:



I've really never been able to resist this sort of overly dramatic teenage angst. Even now, when I have 15 years under my belt since being a 15-year-old, I can still appreciate it, albeit in a bit more of a cynical sense.

(If you're interested in rewatching with me, I'm doing a series about the series for FYA.)

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And this week, from the Mister:

The biggest and most exciting event in all of pro cycling—the Tour de France—starts in T-minus three days (give or take a few hours.) Colt, who loves him some bikes, is super excited about the event. Combine that excitement with a love of fantasy sports, and you get the CyclingNews Fantasy Tour de France Game. According to the game's rules, "Fantasy Tour de France is based on the 2013 Tour de France cycling race. ... You will score fantasy points based on the real-life performances of the riders, cycling teams and bonus stages that you select for your fantasy team."


I know far less about cycling than I do football (the only fantasy sport I've ever played), so I won't be taking part in the game, but I think it's fantastic that he can get this excited about the sport. (I'll admit—I like watching for the lovely French scenery!)

And from TGG:

XKCD is a webcomic you're likely familiar with, and one which Wes is a big fan of. Most often, the comic is just a few panels of stick figures or walls of text making some comment on science, math or philosophy. But occasionally, creator Randall Munroe surprises everyone by randomly releasing a comic so ambitious that it makes regular readers question its significance and delve deeply into the meaning behind it.

(This is not one of those ambiguous ones. I just thought it was a cute example of Munroe's art.)

The comic labeled "Time" was posted on March 25 with the hover text "Wait for it." Since then, readers have discovered that what they were waiting for was an ongoing story told through single panels updated at regular intervals. For the first 5 days or so the comic was updated with a new panel replacing the previous one every 30 minutes. Since then it's updated every hour on the hour. This has been going for over 90 days and is currently sitting at around 2300 frames. It's still not totally clear where the story is headed, but there are plenty of theories.

Only one frame is shown at any given time on the XKCD page, but there are several places that have made them all easily accessible and viewable, like this link which even has controls to allow you to make your way through the story at your own pace. (For a breakdown of what's happened so far and some of the release history of this comic, here's a link to the Explain XKCD article.)

June 24, 2013

Recently Read: The Beautiful and the Cursed, Far Far Away and 45 Pounds


I don't know about you, but my to-read list doesn't ever seem to get smaller, regardless of how many I read. Not that that's a bad thing, of course, but there are so many books I want to read, and so little time.

What have I been reading lately?


The Beautiful and the Cursed (The Dispossessed #1) by Page Morgan

Here's the book's synopsis:
After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.

In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.

June 20, 2013

Nerd News: DC hipsters, no more Loki (!?!), Microsoft does a 360 and more

Vol. 4, Issue 23

Guys. Guys. Joss Whedon has revealed that Loki will not be in The Avengers 2. I know that it's ridiculous to think that he'd be the villain (or somehow involved) in every Avengers movie after being the villain in both Thor movies and The Avengers, but ... *SOB*

In more positive movie news:

Here are a whole bunch of trailers:

Anchorman 2


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Despicable Me (There are six more clips at the link.)


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Elysium


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Frozen


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I Give it a Year


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The LEGO Movie


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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones


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Riddick


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June 19, 2013

The eerie beauty of abandoned observatories

I am oddly fascinated by abandoned buildings, particularly those that had a specific purposes in their former lives—factories, military bases, theme parks (although those aren't really just buildings). I found this list of abandoned observatories a while ago, and meant to share it with you then, but it got shuffled to the bottom of my drafts list. (Apologies!)

I would love to explore these buildings, regardless of the dangers their aging construction might pose.

But I would do it in the daylight. I've seen too many bad horror/sci-fi movies to want to visit a place like this in the dark.

Observatorio Astronomico (Portugal) | Astronomical Observatory (New York)

University of Michigan’s Stinchfield Woods observatory (Michigan) | Tien Shan Mountains observatories (Kazakhstan)

Knightridge Observatory (Indiana) |  Warner & Swasey Observatory (Ohio)

Innisfil Observatory (Canada)

Mohon del Trigo observatory (Spain)
(All photos via.)

Do you have a fascination of this (strange) sort? I'd love to hear about it!

June 18, 2013

obsessed.: Judi Dench's saucy crafts, a bike T-shirt and Boot the Foot


Yesterday, I found out something amazing about a particularly amazing lady: Dame Judi Dench, in her downtime on movie sets, does needlework—of curses and rude phrases.
But perhaps the most arresting memory that they take away from being on set with living legend Judi Dench is not her boundless fascination with acting but her penchant for subversive needlework. Her work certainly did not resemble the delicately stitched roses of a Mrs. Bennet. "She makes these like needlework embroideries on set in the tedium of filming", says MacFadyen, "but they are all: 'You Are a C***'. And she gives them as presents. And it's Dame Judi Dench. And she is doing this beautifully, intricate, ornate (work). You kind of see the work materializing as the shoot goes on. Like: 'You Are a F***ing Shit.' Knightley never received her embroidered cushion from Dench but remarks: "I love that! She gives this fantastic air. She just sits there and she embroiders and you think: 'Oh, that's so nice! It's Judi Dench. It's so quaint; she's embroidering a cushion,' and you go: 'What are you embroidering?' And (it says): 'F***!' Apparently she's got hundreds of them just covered in swear words or rude sayings. (via, via)
Is that not just the best thing ever? She's the coolest. I'm now pretty positive that you have to be a total badass to become a Dame, and I love it.

I see that saucy glint in your eye, Dame Judi.

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And this week, from the Mister:

Colt's collection of pop culture tees is not quite as large as mine, but he does have 100-percent more shirts with bikes or bike-related jokes on them than I do. (Since, well, I have none.) His latest edition is a cheeky comment on Lance Armstrong and the culture that surrounds professional cycling.

(Not Colt.)

He's a bit bummed that not enough people comment on it when he's out and about, so if you see him wearing it, do say something? It would make his day.

P.S.—This shirt is only $6 at 6DollarShirts.com! Surprisingly good quality and great customer service.

And from TGG:

If you're still getting to know him, you might not know that Wes is a (huge) fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so it's a bit surprising that he hasn't submitted an obsessed. item about TMNT until now. (There was that one obsessed. on TMNT that I apparently wrote in my sleep ... but TGG totally wouldn't have abused his admin privileges for that ...) Wes' submission today is Boot the Foot, a collaborative effort of two artists, Skummie and BeastPop (SkummBeast), to have all of their online artist friends submit their own take on some of their favorite TMNT characters and then answer a few basic questions about their relationship to the TMNT franchise.


I scrolled through the first couple of pages on the Tumblr and pulled out a couple I really liked. To be completely honest, I'm not really familiar with TMNT characters past the familiar main ones, so I don't know who a lot of the side characters are, but regardless, they make for some very cool illustrations.


June 17, 2013

Haiku Revieu: Man of Steel


Man of Steel (****1/2)

No more red undies
How does Clark fit into shirts
So much destruction


POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. I went in to Man of Steel without high hopes. Many of the reviews I'd heard prior to seeing it this weekend were that the movie was good, but not great. I'd also heard/read many rumors that Zach Snyder had changed so much about the Superman legend that it barely resembled the original idea. (I'm not a huge Superman fangirl, but I like the story, and I feel like there are certain canonical things that are sacred unless you're on purpose telling a completely new story.)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the reviews were selling the movie short, and the changes that Snyder made, I think, only enhanced the Superman legend and made it work better both in a modern-day setting and with modern filmmaking technology.

Gone is the quasi-cartoony Superman (not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you) played by Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain (and most recently, Brandon Routh). In their stead is a Clark Kent who is both familiarly human and yet alien at the same time. Henry Cavil did a superb job at playing a Clark whose struggles with feelings of not belonging aren't at all, well, alien to those watching. I also appreciate that in Man of Steel we get a Lois Lane that lives up to her image as an observant and kick-ass reporter. Amy Adams certainly does the role justice. Michael Shannon is also quite awesome as General Zod, and the character has a sense of purpose that makes him feel much more like a whole person, rather than just a 'stache-twirling villain.

One complaint I do have is that the love story between Clark and Lois in the film felt very rushed. PROBABLE SPOILER AHEAD. Amy and Henry had good chemistry, but it was unnecessary to push them so far along their path to togetherness. I could have waited until the next movie, when Clark wasn't in the middle of fighting planet-destroying machines, for them to reach the point they did.

I also appreciated the brief easter eggs that tied Man of Steel into the Supermen that have come before, and to the DC universe as a whole. Man of Steel is definitely a step in the right direction for DC superhero films. 

June 14, 2013

Your Moment of GIF

I need to be honest with you guys.

Recently, I've been feeling like I've bitten off a bit more than I can chew. With work, blogging, writing for other sites, making sure I'm not neglecting the Mister or the Mollie, and attempting to get more than five hours of sleep a night, I've been spreading myself a bit thin. I know that I can make it all work, I just have to find the right system.

That said, I do not want to renege on my promise of posting five times a week. I also want to make sure that I am bringing my A-game to this blog and not letting it become impersonal or boringly routine. You guys deserve the best! There are times, however, at which I need to make things a little easier on myself, and that might mean not writing multiple posts a week that take 5+ hours to complete. (*cough*Nerd News*cough*)

I'm sure a lot of you find yourself in similar situations and don't always have the time to read an endless scroll, either. With that in mind, I've created a new quasi-series that I will use on the occasion that I've just flat run out of time (or metaphorical gas, as the case may be). Please don't see this as a cop-out; it's not. It's merely me wanting to provide you with the best I can, even if that best is, on occasion, something utterly simple (yet still entertaining!).

I know, I know, get to the good stuff already, Mandy. Without further ado, I give you:


You all know how much I love me some GIFs.  I have loads that I've never used saved to my Photobucket, and I want to share them with you. The emotion of the GIF might change, depending on my mood when I post, but my goal is to give you a tiny peek into my head/heart on a given day through the magic of the Graphics Interchange Format. Here's today's:


(Future posts of this nature won't have nearly as many words, I promise.)

A note on the graphic: The other day, I was having a conversation with TGG about the recent dustup over how you actually pronounce the acronym, and he mentioned that his brother thinks they should just be called "peanut butters." I love the idea. (Thanks, Justin!) When creating a graphic for this post, I knew I wanted to incorporate the idea somehow, so I searched "GIF peanut butter" and found this graphic. The colors didn't quite mesh with the C&CC palette, however, so I altered it to fit.

June 13, 2013

Nerd News: Desolation of Smaug trailer, E3 overload, V. Mars casting and more

Vol. 4, Issue 22

Hullo friends. The past week has been a bit of a blur, so I apologize ahead of time if I miss anything major. (If I did—leave a note in the comments!) Most of the big nerdy news the week came out of E3; TGG has awesomely condensed the high points below.

But first, in TV news:

Here are a couple of promos:

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.


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Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel


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Silly Daleks! TARDISes are for Doctors!

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