“Murder” will leave you breathless

If you’re like me, and when you heard ABC had added another (kind of) crime-solving drama to their lineup, you probably rolled your eyes. Sure, there are differences among them all (“Castle” has a great comedian in Nathan Fillion and sometimes “Criminal Minds” may cause me to lose some sleep), but the crime shows were wearing thin, in my opinion. But boy, was I wrong. “How to Get Away with Murder” is like no other show currently on TV.

In an opening with four law students huddled in a dark field, the audience learns immediately they have clearly just done something illegal. During a campus-wide bonfire for some sort of homecoming event, it’s difficult for these students to get rid of the evidence with people milling about. The audience is then transported back and forth between the present time in the field and what happened leading up to this illegal occurrence. I won’t give away much here, but, although the audience learns what the law students have done, there are still more questions lingering than answers explained when this first episode ends.

Enter Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), the optimistic first-year law student who admits he was on the university’s waiting list until the last second, and the audience knows he is more trusting and kind than his fellow students. I for one was more than looking forward to seeing Ginny Weasley’s ex-boyfriend not only pull off an American accent, but act like a Muggle as well. For me, besides Enoch (who appears to be our main character), Viola Davis and Liza Weil, the rest of the cast was completely unknown. But they were cast superbly well. When we see Wes Gibbins speak to Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King) for the first time, the audience really gets a sense of how annoying and almost stuck-up she’ll be; the first encounter of Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) shows the audience how cocky, yet self-assured he will be; and though she seems confident in her first moments on screen, Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) shows how unsure she will be. Watching each character and seeing what they’ll do to top each other and to impress professor Keating (Viola Davis), makes me wonder: what secrets are all these law students hiding?

And it’s not just the students; the people close to Keating are hiding things as well. Bonnie Winterbottom (Weil) is making eyes at professor Keating’s husband; Frank Delfino (Charlie Weber) is having a tryst with a student; and professor Keating’s husband seems too attached to that missing student of his. With brief but resonating scenes, we witness two other university students get in a shouting match over said missing student. Watching these scenes only lead to the question: did they have something to do with her disappearance?

I’m a sucker for a mystery. Suspense and wanting to find out whodunit before anyone else does both leave me on the edge of my seat. (Hence why I’ve been glued to the Pretty Little Liars book series for the past eight years). So when a fire was lit in the dark field of the opening scene, and it was revealed what our four main students had done, I knew I’d be sticking with this show. Because, like any good suspenseful story, I wanted to know how it happened.

With every character hiding something (with the possible exception of Wes), countless mysteries not adding up and loose ends that I just know will somehow all tie together, “Murder” will take your breath away — only, you’ll be able to catch your breath unlike the fate of some of the show’s characters. It may just be a good week for TV premieres, but I’m giving “Murder” a solid A for its pilot episode. The writing, the acting and the crave for wanting to know more have me captivated. “How to Get Away with Murder” needs to be added to everybody’s must-watch list, even if it means you’ll be anxiously awaiting the next episode. This isn’t your grandmother’s crime-solving drama.

There will be light for “Gotham”

Batman has always been my favorite superhero. So when I heard there was going to be a show all about the goings-on of Gotham and Detective Gordon, I was thrilled. The Dark Knight has taught his fans many things, like how to face your biggest fear by embracing it. Or how you don’t need superpowers to be a superhero (just gobs of money though). The buildup to this latest comic book creation of “Gotham” was intense; Twitter and Facebook alike were filled with conversations about the show. Even Pandora had the occasional ad pop up about how my playlist wouldn’t thrive without watching the show. Call me hooked. So, like any Batman fan, I settled in on the couch for an evening of learning about the Caped Crusader’s home. And boy, was it a roller coaster of a ride.

The opening with our soon-to-be Catwoman, a young(ish?) Selina Kyle, leaves me pondering the villain’s age. Maybe I’ve just become accustomed to Christopher Nolan’s depiction of the Batman universe, but I had thought Catwoman was supposed to be around the same age as Bruce Wayne. And Camren Bicondova’s IMDb page was no help either. Maybe I’m just really bad at determining the age of a person by his or her face. Regardless, her silent but cat-like intro showed viewers a look into the gritty, crime-ridden streets of Gotham.

Besides a few punches thrown that were some bad stage combat, the fighting and gunshots seemed to portray how dark Gotham could be. With these gunshots and punches filling almost every other scene in the show, it’s no surprise “Gotham” has had a “Viewer Discretion Advised” banner plastered on every one of its advertisements. However, this, the tragic introduction of the murders of Martha and Thomas Wayne and the overall gray tone displayed in the episode all set the tone for the show. Though, I was curious as to why Harvey Bullock was so scared and almost eager to shirk off the murder case of the Waynes to another set of detectives. It looks like we have a lot to learn about Detective Bullock.

In comes the brand-new character, Fish Mooney, played by Jada Pinkett Smith. As I’m a purist, and like all of my book-to-film (and comic book-to-TV) adaptations to relate accurately to the original story, I was a bit skeptical upon learning of her creation. But this story isn’t about Batman; it’s about James Gordon and how Gotham came to be the city Batman fights so dearly for. So, the character of Fish is a new addition who looks to be the toughest crook in Gotham. We get a peek at how Fish currently runs the city and somehow shaped the Penguin into his infamous moniker.

Having already been introduced to Catwoman, Fish, the Penguin and what appears to be a young Poison Ivy, there seemed to be an overwhelming number of introductions to the numerous well-known villains and allies of the Dark Knight. Someone just learning about the Batman universe may have difficulty keeping everyone straight and wonder why they are all relevant in the first episode. As I previously stated, Batman is my favorite superhero, so being introduced to countless characters in the pilot was exciting. It looks like the first episode is showing the audience not only will we be learning about Detective Gordon’s backstory, but how all of these other characters came to be as well.

The brief glimpse of hope Bruce sees when he shakes the hand of Gordon at his parents’ funeral is only that — a glimpse. But with an excellently scripted cast, numerous characters who have backstories to be developed and writing that didn’t seem too over the top for a superhero show, it looks like there will be light in Gotham after all.

All in all, I give “Gotham” a solid A. Maybe it’s because I’m biased (did I mention Batman is my favorite superhero?), maybe it’s because I hope for there to be a show on FOX I actually enjoy besides Bob’s Burgers — these could both be deciding factors. But taking a reviewer’s opinion, I think it’s because the writing and acting isn’t at all campy for how some comic book adaptations can be. The pilot of “Gotham” had me hooked, wanting to know more about the home of the Caped Crusader.

Change of thought (again)

Well, it’s been about a year since I’ve been informing you every so many days about what’s on my mind and how it grinds my gears. And while I’ve explicitly stated that I hate prolonged absences, I have to chalk up the past few months and my lack of writing to being human. I work two jobs, a friend of mine was getting married and I was in the wedding, I’m attempting to move — all of these have taken precedence over updating all of my fine followers about what irks me. And for that, I apologize. While it may not seem like a good excuse, it is the only reason I have for my lack of writing.

It seems though, I have run into a wall when coming up with ideas of things to complain about. I know; that sounds like it can’t be possible as I filled almost a year’s worth of thoughts to a blog based strictly around me complaining. Odd, right? Well, if it pleases everyone so, I will continue with the occasional post about a rant, but the majority of postings will be reviews from now on.

Why reviews, you may ask. As I initially started this blog three years ago for my review and criticism class, I could write some phoney-baloney reason of getting back to my roots, but that’s not the case. I enjoy critiquing shows, movies, books, etc., and I felt since I’ve hit a roadblock with what grinds my gears, perhaps switching up my subject matter will get me more enthused about writing (as writing is what I enjoy doing!). Besides, we all can’t be Roger Ebert or Gene Siskel and get paid to review films and shows (but one can only hope!).

As of right now, the layout and theme of this site will be under some construction until I get my reviews officially up and running. So say goodbye to Peter Griffin and my constant complaining. From now on, think of this blog more as “Wiita At the Movies.”

 

This Song

That's What "Grinds My Gears" template. Annoyance level: 2. Image: FOX.

That’s What “Grinds My Gears” template. Annoyance level: 2. Image: FOX.

As mundane and trivial as me complaining about a song is, I did warn you in the ABOUT section that I would write about what annoyed me, no matter what it was. And currently, it’s a song.

The now über-popular Ingrid Michaelson song, “Girls Chase Boys” has constantly been in my head since it came out earlier this year. Don’t get me wrong; the song is catchy. But since it’s been playing in and out of my mind for quite some time now, well (you guessed it!), it grinds my gears.

I have nothing against the talented Ms. Michaelson. I attempted to see her when she visited my university a few years back, but it wasn’t meant to be. Though, all the classmates I knew who went said the concert was phenomenal. It’s just the fact that I’ve somehow heard this song on an endless loop that I can’t escape from is what’s irking me.

Every few months, the big wigs for my retail job give out a new soundtrack to pump through the speakers to sooth customers while they shop. During the majority of 2014, the soundtrack has included “Girls Chase Boys” on the playlist. In my opinion, the head honchos at my employer chose this song because they knew it was going to be a hit.

It’s not even the beat nor lyrics of the song that bother me. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what the actual message of the song is. I gather it has something to do with girls chasing boys chasing girls based on the lyrics. The bizarre video doesn’t help me in any way, either:

Lots of dancing in brightly colored dresses seems to be what “Girls Chase Boys” is about, apparently. An obvious message is that of a break up, based on the amount of times Michaelson croons about all of the broken hearts in the world still beating. But it doesn’t end there.

Within the past month, “Girls Chase Boys” not only filled my ears with its upbeat tune while I was at work, it has popped up in TV shows and commercials alike. Target has used Ingrid Michaelson’s newest song in their “Running” campaign, for the corporation’s new subscription offers. The continuously-full-of-drama “Switched At Birth” had the song play in their summer premiere episode on June 16. Ingrid Michaelson herself took to Facebook to let viewers and fans alike know about the premiere episode. Plus, it even played during the series’ premiere episode of MTV’s trying-hard-to-be-realistic-but-failing-miserably “Finding Carter.” How is it I can’t escape girls chasing boys chasing girls?

Like I said, it’s not like I hate the song itself. I loathe the fact that I’ve been hearing it for months on end and it seems like it will keep on playing. Possibly until the end of time. I don’t have a beef with “Girls Chase Boys;” in fact, I often catch myself singing along to it while toiling away at work. It’s a catchy pop song that I’m sure people will be bobbing their heads to for a long time. If there’s anything specific that about “Girls Chase Boys” that bothers me, it’s that its possible probable message is eerily similar to Panic! At The Disco’s racy “Girls/Girls/Boys.”

“It’s good.”

Why the F*ck? "Grinds my Gears" template. Annoyance level: 4. Image: FOX.

Why the F*ck? “Grinds my Gears” template. Annoyance level: 4. Image: FOX.

No, I’m not talking about that Maxwell House commercial. Rather, I’m talking about the response I typically get after I ask a friend, coworker or acquaintance why I should watch that show/read that book. What’s all the hullabaloo about “Game of Thrones?” Why is everyone bawling their eyes out after reading The Fault in Our Stars? “It’s good.” OK … can anyone elaborate on what that means? I don’t get any descriptors or any information what the plot of said TV show/movie/book is about. I receive a simple statement that doesn’t make me want to actually delve into those fandom scenes. Instead, it absolutely drives me crazy. And as you can guess, it’s the latest thing on my mind that grinds my gears.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Let’s do a not-so-scientific experiment. If you’re like myself and have never seen an episode of “Game of Thrones,” “Breaking Bad,” or even the ultra-meta “Community,” go ask your friends or coworkers what they think of those shows (This can also work with books like The Fault in Our Stars or Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children). If that person replied with “It’s good,” and nothing else, you get to continue on! If that person replied with a detailed description and gave you a synopsis for the series, congratulations; the people you know are more eloquent with their words than the people I know. (Can I come hang with you guys? I’ll bring cookies.)

Once those people have given you the brief “It’s good,” try and ask why? What do you like about the book? What makes it the best movie of all time? Shrug, “I don’t know,” is a typical answer. Urge these people to give you a reason why they enjoyed that book/film/show, and maybe you’ll get an inch of leeway. I haven’t received much else. None of these responses tell me what makes that story so good.

It turns me off from even picking up a book or changing the channel (read: stream online) when this is what people tell me. Occasionally I will receive an answer telling me about the author’s writing style or how the TV show’s storytelling is beyond compare. Occasionally. My favorite retort (that has also since caused me to not engage myself in this story whatsoever) came from a friend when I asked what makes The Fault in Our Stars so compelling? This is a bit of a spoiler ahead, so tread with caution. “There’s a plot twist that you don’t see coming.” That’s great and all, but you kind of just ruined the story.

This gets a ranking of 4 on my annoyance scale because of how often I’ve heard this lately. Maybe I’m hanging out with the wrong people, but if I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve gotten “It’s good” when asking about a series I haven’t heard of, well, I’d have a lot of dollars. I understand not everyone is not as well-spoken as Roger Ebert was about movies (whose website, by the way, gave “The Fault in Our Stars” film only two stars), but I myself would be more interested in a book or film if someone at least gives me some details about the plot. Why is it good? What do you like about it? If someone were to answer those questions for me next time I ask about a series, it would definitely pique my interest.

No one (thus far) will tell me why I should read this book or watch that show other than the terse “It’s good.” Till next time, I’m off looking for other adjectives and actual concrete reasoning that may give me more information as to why I should invest my time in a series. In other words, when people give me this response, it aggravates my accoutrements.

Picking up the phone when you shouldn’t

That's What "Grinds My Gears" template. Annoyance level: 2. Image: FOX.

That’s What “Grinds My Gears” template. Annoyance level: 2. Image: FOX.

While it may seem like today’s post is channeling a thought I had only a few weeks ago, it will not be covering the exact same thing. I promise. However, I have noticed as of late, there is a current trend of people who pick up their phones — when they’re in a situation where they shouldn’t necessarily do so. Many things go on throughout a day that mean a person can’t always pick up the phone: getting a car’s oil changed; being away from a desk at work; having left a cell phone at home for the day, etc. So why suddenly do people pick up their phones when their immediate response in an aforementioned situation is “I can’t talk right now?” Read on and you’ll find out exactly why this trend grinds my gears annoys me to no end.

From what I have experienced with this phone-picking-up trend, it tends to be younger people who partake in it. If I call my parents during the workday, and either of them are busy, they typically do not pick up the phone. Rather, they will call me back when there is an opportunity to do so. Maybe it’s a generational thing, as most people over the age of 30 will not abide by this rule. (I choose 30 as my closest friends have yet to hit that mark, but some coworkers of mine are over that mark.)

Most millennials I know would rather not pick up the phone but shoot off a text to whomever is calling instead. Or, as of late, friends and coworkers of mine pick up the phone when they are busy, so they shouldn’t really be picking up the phone in the first place (hence the reason I’m writing this post). I have called people numerous times only to be greeted with a hushed tone of “Hey, I’m at work.” All right, then why on earth are you picking up the phone? Just let my call go to voice mail and call me back when you can. Isn’t that the point of voice mail in the first place?

Another happenstance occurred when I called a friend to wish that friend a happy birthday. The moment the phone was picked up, I began singing “happy birthday to you … ” and when I finished, I was greeted with silence. After a pause, I received a response of “I’m at work. I have to go.” Click. No hello, no thank you, nothing. So why does it seem like everyone feels it’s necessary, as of late, to pick up the phone when they can’t/shouldn’t?

Perhaps it’s because most people in my generation are afraid of voice mail. The New York Times wrote about a recent study done of how younger people are leaving less and less voice mails these days. The article goes on to say how some people feel it is almost like public speaking and get dry-mouthed when going to leave a voice message. Others say voice mail is only used in a professional setting, like trying to contact a boss or superior, and even then, they get nervous when leaving the recording. As we live in a culture with technology that gives us instant gratification, it may make sense to some to shoot off a text instead of leaving a voice message, but it does not to me — among many other people.

It appears that people would prefer to ignore — even delete — that glaring reminder of a voice mail and pick up the phone in lieu of letting a phone call go to a message. This irks me to no end. Yes, it only receives an annoyance level of 2, but that is because it is out of my control and not everyone follows this anomaly. I suppose it’s just the people I’ve been around recently that are apt to do this.

From what I’ve gathered in my own personal experiences and from the Times article, younger generations would prefer to awkwardly answer a phone rather than risk receiving — and heaven forbid, listening to — a voice mail. Or, others screen calls because they would pick up if they want to talk to the caller. Me, I will intentionally not pick up a call if I don’t recognize the phone number. Maybe I’ve gained the same mindset as my peers, but I don’t feel comfortable picking up the phone when I don’t know who (nor why that person) is calling. But, if you call me and don’t leave a voice mail, don’t expect a call back from me. I’ll even take a text saying “Hey, call me back when you can.” But if there is no voice mail, I don’t warrant it important enough for me to return your call.

Why answering a phone in a situation that typically warrants the caller to leave a voice mail has become more of a popular occurrence recently is beyond me. Millennials and other young generations choose texting over phone calls. As this is the technology we’ve grown up with and become accustomed to, it makes about an ounce of sense why some people choose to send a text rather than leave a voice message. But, when those people choose not to screen phone calls, and thus make an inconvenient situation for everyone, well, it grinds my gears.

Being short

C'mon "Grinds My Gears template." Annoyance level: 3. Image: FOX.

C’mon “Grinds My Gears template.” Annoyance level: 3. Image: FOX.

It’s that time of week again, learning what currently is an annoyance in my life that I thoughtfully share with all of you wonderful people. I appreciate everyone tuning in week after week, listening to me go on and on about the most mundane — and sometimes ridiculous — grievances. Today’s grievance is something that has plagued me my whole life and can’t necessarily by fixed: being short. I loathe being short as a fully-grown adult. Buckle your seat belts, this post is going to be a whirlwind.

I’ll start with the obvious; yes, I could always opt to wear high heels to give myself a lift, but it isn’t that easy. I am as graceful as a giraffe roaming the savanna when I wobble around in heels. Wedges and stilettos alike, my feet and ankles kill me after a few minutes in them. I tend to opt for the more conservative kitten heel to take my 5-foot-2-inch frame to a more normal height of 5 feet 4 inches.

Besides, heels are only a temporary solution to an eternal problem. I was that kid who shot up early in middle school and by junior high, everyone else was towering over me. Even my friends who were in short stature would make cracks about how short I was (and still am). These friends were along the 5-feet-3-inch to 5-feet-4-inch range, by the way. Not that I’m saying anything about the pot calling the kettle black; I’m not saying that at all. Nope.

Anyway, all of my fellow diminutive folk can understand when I say the world is not accommodating to us. As I have stated before, one of my current jobs is retail. And let me be the first to say that the store I work at is not conducive to short people. Displays hang from the highest rafters, which customers aren’t meant to be able to grab the clothing from there, but guess who has to hang that merchandise on display? That’s right, the employees. (What, did you think I was going to say the short people?) Climbing that step ladder to hang things up and pull items down for customers gives me anxiety — and I’m not even afraid of heights! It’s not just the displays; clothing for sale may get put on high shelves or tall rolling racks, so certain items, like maxi dresses, have to hang higher so they won’t skim the floor. I get that. But it’s cumbersome when I’m out shopping somewhere or trying to help a customer and I have to reach an item via stepladder or grab one of those shepherd’s hook thingamajigs.

Even in the grocery store life is difficult for us short folks. It seems to work out in my disfavor that all the items and food I need tend to be on the top shelf. And if I can’t reach something, I may have to take a trip around the store in search of some worker who could assist me in reaching that box of Cheez-Its. I specifically remember a trip to the Athens Kroger with a few friends where I couldn’t reach the glass bottles of Cokes, and asked one of those friends to reach some for me. After a fit a laughter and making sure I really couldn’t reach the top shelf, that friend agreed to grab the goods for me. (You know who you are.)

It’s not just reaching items in far off places that irk me as a short person. I often get told that I look young because of how minute I am. Sometimes I feel that’s all right. I quite often use my university ID to get discounts at places even though I graduated over a year ago. However, all of you 21-and-up crowd (or 18-and-up for those across the pond) understand that this gets a little bit irritating at times. While I have been a part of the drinking world for two years now, I am constantly asked to produce my ID — at places where I am typically a regular.

Sure, sure, there are many of you out there right now saying I should be thankful for my youthful looks when I get older. When I get to that age, I will let you know. But the ultimate reason that this phenomenon grinds my gears is because of pants. I cannot recollect a time in my adult life where I have been able to find a pair of pants that not only fit my waist and hips, but also don’t drag on the ground. No matter where I have shopped, it seems that clothing manufacturers don’t take into consideration that short people come in all shapes and sizes. So a regular-length pant won’t cut it. And when you opt for the short-length pants, you run the risk of looking like Blaine Anderson wearing his omnipresent high waters. Don’t get me wrong; Darren Criss can rock those high waters, but not everyone can, unfortunately.

Of course, shopping petite collections is always an option. But many clothiers only offer petite and tall clothing online. So then you have the added hassle of trying to measure yourself to see if petite clothing will fit along with paying for shipping costs (did I already mention the dreaded high waters?). On top of that, some petite collections only go up to certain sizes, meaning not all short folk can find a proper length of pants. See where my problem is? Sure, I can always roll my pant legs, but recently I have gotten tired of always seeing cuffs at my ankles.

On my scale of annoyance, being short receives a 3. I would rank it higher, however, many everyday occurrences can have a temporary fix. Heels or hemming/rolling up pants may not be seen as an abhorrence (and sometimes actually are) but can also be rocked as a fashion statement. But other problems like having a youthful appearance or not reaching items on a high shelf are ones I don’t see to having an easy solution any time soon. I have lived 23 years being short, I guess I can find a way for my diminutive stature not to grind my gears for the rest of my life. Until then, never call me “fun-sized.”