Friday, January 31, 2014

Merlin Club: Valiant or The One Where Arthur Fights Sir That-Annoying-Guy-From-Gym-Class

(Warning for my sister: Cait, if you were thinking about reading this post because of  possible pictures of Katie McGrath, I have to stop you right here. There are pictures of Katie McGrath, but there are also pictures of your biggest phobia. So you should probably come back to a later post. If you're not Cait, sally forth, dear readers. Sally forth.)

It's another installment of Merlin Club! Today, we're recapping episode 2. You can see Jess' post here and Jen's post here. And you can join us Monday night, 8pm EST on Twitter when we watch the next episode. #MerlinClub  (You can click on the awesome art above to embiggen it.)

Okay, so the episode starts out with our boy Valiant a.ka. Sir That-Annoying-Guy-From-Gym-Class—you know the one—the guy who was waaaaaayyy too competitive for everyone’s own good and was a little too fond of eye contact? From now on, he shall be referred to as Sir TAGFGC. 

                                     I'm pretty sure I was in gym glass with this guy in high school.

Anyway, he’s buying forbidden magic from some shady dude who clearly doesn’t give a shit about Uther’s stringent anti-magic rules. The magical item in question is a shield that’s painted with three particularly vicious looking snakes. When one utters the spell, the snakes come to life and do one’s evil bidding. 

After the shady dude hands over the shield, Sir TAGFGC commands the snakes to kill the dude, and of course, they do. Okay, now let’s say you’re a shady dude and dealing in magic, wouldn’t you, ohhhhhh, I don’t know, enchant the stuff you’re illegally selling so it can’t be turned against you? After all, people who are willing to buy a magic item that can kill people probably aren’t too picky about who they kill, you know? Well, if you’re this shady dude, obviously the answer is no, and you’re dead.

So Sir TAGFGC travels on to Camelot for some tournament Uther is having to live vicariously through his son while making him fill utterly inadequate. (Parent of the Year goes to… UTHER PENDRAGON!) 

                            This was a flimsy excuse to post a picture of ASH. But Uther really is a dreadful parent.

So anyway, we see Merlin helping Arthur get ready for the tournament, including sparring with Arthur and Arthur’s being an ass because Merlin doesn’t know jack about armor and fighting. All the competing knights get to meet Uther and Morgana at the reception and there’s some eye sex between Sir TAGFGC and Morgana and bicker-flirting between Arthur and Morgana which frankly ends up weird later on – but that’s for another episode.


It’s time for the tournament to begin and Merlin’s forgotten Arthur’s sword. He runs off to the armory to get it, and while he’s in there, one of the snakes on the shield hisses and winks at him. I assume this has something to do with magic recognizing magic. But before he can investigate further, Sir TAGFGC catches him and chases him off with the pointy end of his sword.

 Merlin grabs Arthur’s sword, brings it to him and the fighting begins. There are plenty of fight scenes and Sir TAGFGC and Arthur come out on top of their respective piles. In order to punish Merlin for forgetting his sword, Arthur orders him to clean and polish ALL the things, which gave the showrunner the leeway to have a “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” scene in which all of Arthur’s belongings are scrubbing and polishing themselves while Merlin lounges on the bed reading a forbidden spell book. Everything comes to a grinding halt when Gaius busts in and loudly reprimands him for using magic. You’d think that since this is such a secret they’d be a little quieter about it. The next morning, Arthur is stunned by Merlin’s super awesome housekeeping skills and is almost nice to him. 

                Look, I'm not gonna lie...if I had magic, I'd totally waste it on cleaning so I could relax with a good book.

More tournament matches ensue and Arthur and Sir TAGFGC continue to be the awesomest knights in the realm.  In order to do that though, Sir TAGFGC had to cheat and have one of his magic snakes (doesn’t that sound like the most unfortunate euphemism?) bite his opponent. 

                                                          Deadly rubber snakes are the worst!

The knight, Ewan, I think falls unconscious and no one is the wiser until Gaius discovers a couple puncture wounds in Ewan’s neck and observes that his symptoms are that of poisoning. Merlin remembers that Ewan was fighting Sir TAGFGC and sneaks a peek inside the knight’s chambers. He sees TAGFGC dangling a mouse in front of the shield and the snakes in the shield come to life for chow time. Merlin runs back to Gaius and shares his discovery and Gaius helpfully points out that no one is going to believe a servant over a knight. 

The next day is another elimination round. More fighting. After the battles, Merlin goes to check on Ewan who’s getting worse. While everyone is at the feast, Merlin sneaks back to Sir TAGFGC’s room and manages to cut off the head of one of the snakes. Gaius makes a potion and Ewan begins to slowly recover.
Now that he has proof, in the form of a giant rubber snake head, Merlin goes to Arthur, shows him the head and tells Arthur everything he’s seen. Arthur, surprisingly, believes him and informs his father. An investigation is called and Sir Ewan plans to formally accuse the other knight of attempted murder via magic.  Sir TAGFGC, figuring out what’s going down, sends one of his snakes on a secret mission while he waits to answer his accuser. 

Everyone STUPIDLY leaves Ewan alone while this little accusation fest takes place, and, predictably, the snake bites Ewan and kills him this time. With no witness, the charges of magic are dismissed Uther is a total douchecanoe and  Arthur has to apologize and he’s furious with Merlin because he trusted him and now looks like a total asshat. He also fires him as his servant. Sir TAGFGC, as expected, is suuuuuuuuuuuuuper smug and Arthur still has to fight him in the morning. 

Merlin goes to visit the dragon to tell him that he’s got the wrong person – that Arthur isn’t his destiny (Oh, but he is, Merlin. ) He’s about to leave when the dragon makes a dramatic entrance and he delivers the half/whole riddle and flies away.  Gwen offers Merlin some comfort – well, not really, she wants him to fix things. Arthur gets a genius idea and carts a statue of a dog up to his room.

He works all night on a spell trying to animate the dog figuring he can use it on the snake and prove to everyone that Sir TAGFGC is using magic. Meanwhile, Morgana has nightmares about Arthur. Arthur stays up all night practicing. 

In the morning, Merlin (who still hasn’t mastered the spell)  goes to Arthur in the morning and begs him to withdraw, but Arthur won’t, because the people expect their prince to fight. No one will trust him to lead men in to battle if he doesn’t. It’s his duty – blah, blah, blah. 

The last day of the tournament begins, and Merlin, unable to abandon Arthur, goes back to his room to practice the spell some more. It finally works. He turns the statue into a dog then locks it in his room and tells Gaius not to open the door. 

He races to the tourney field and waits for what I think is a fuck of a long time – seriously not until Arthur is in mortal fucking danger and then he does the big reveal with the snakes. 

                                                                                 Snake surprise!

Everyone sees them, the snakes slither out of the shield and try to kill Arthur, who’s dropped his sword. Morgana tosses him a weapon (thus saving his life) and he lops off their slithery little heads. The battle between Sir TAGFGC and Arthur gets more intense, though I don’t know why Sir TAGFGC bothered. Magic = death and Uther was right the fuck there, but whatevs.

Arthur eventually kills Sir TAGFGC and there’s a giant feast. 

This is the important part. No. One.  Ever.  Apologizes.  Or.  Says. Thank. You.  Ever.

Now, I realize that Merlin is a servant and Arthur and Uther are royalty, but that servant just saved the life of your son AGAIN. Maybe a fucking show of gratitude is in order? And how about a big old thank you for Morgana. She saved your life, too, dumbass!

Okay…now on to the questions!

1.                   If I’d written this episode, I would have changed… Actually, it’s a casting thing – I would have chosen someone different to play Sir TAGFGC. I just had a hard time taking him seriously. He was so...weirdly smarmy.

2.                   The thing I loved/hated most about this episode.

I didn’t like the saucy banter between Arthur and Morgana because of what happens later.

3.                   Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before.

How it looks like someone took a flatiron to Gaius’ wig.

4.                   Favorite Costume

Meh…most everything was chainmail and tabards in this episode, so I’m gonna have to go with Morgana’s blue dress.

                                For the most part, her wardrobe is pretty spectacular.

5.                   Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created.

I don’t really have anything in the head cannon spot yet, since it’s the only episode.

      6.)      What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about?
                The saucy look Merlin gives Arthur before sheathing Arthur's sword when Merlin's readying him    for the tournament.

     7.)       What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode?

    Leaving the only witness alone and too sick to defend himself.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Dream Home

In an attempt to be better bloggers, Jess Jarman and I are going to be doing some tandem blogging, and this week, we're blogging about our dream homes. You can see Jess' post here.

To be honest, right now, my main requirement for a dream home is just not buried under snow. But, if money were no object, my dream home would look a lot like this.

I'd love a kitchen like this.
And a living room like this.

With a fireplace like this.
And a bathroom like this

And this.
And oh, the bedrooms...

And the reading spots...

And all the little details...

Don't get me wrong, I do love my house (less crazy about the neighbors...) but if I could live in a house that looked like this, I'd do it in a heartbeat. What about you? What would your dream house look like?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Merlin Club: The Dragon's Call - or The One Where Merlin's Mom Exhibits Super Questionable Parenting Skills

Okay, so Jenny Trout and Jess Jarman got me into the show Merlin this past fall. I’d watched a few episodes with my youngest son when it was first airing and then we got busy and distracted and I got way behind. Well, I’m terrible at catching up with things like TV, so I never did.  Until Jen and Jess basically browbeat me into watching it.

I’m not complaining, mind you. I got sucked back in immediately plowed through two seasons and part of a third when Jess and Jen started watching it with me. We all got online at the same time, cued up Netflix, opened an IM conference chat window and watched the rest of the season. Not all at once, of course. We stopped for showers. And food. And sometimes to take our kids to school. We’re not monsters. 

But we decided some time after we were finished to do a blog/watch along thing. Mostly so we could watch it again. So each week, we’re gonna be watching and blogging with a short recap and a few questions we answer with each episode. So...welcome to Merlin Club.

Also, check out this freaking AMAZING banner Jess' daughter made for us! It could not be more perfect! I showed my kid, and he said, "It's like she knows you." For the record, I've never met Jess' kids. Not yet, anyway.

Here’s the recap: (Things may or may not be in the right order…)

Merlin, a teenage-ish boy, (it’s hard to tell in the Middle Ages. It’s also hard to remember that while Jess is lusting loudly over him. But he’s legal. It’s cool.) is sent to Camelot by his mother. Apparently, he can’t control his magic-using ways in their small, rural town, so his mother, in her infinite wisdom sends him to Camelot because she’s afraid people will discover his powers. 

                                            Awww... so adorably innocent. You know...for about another ten minutes.


Ruled by King Uther. The same King Uther who despises magic and is on a personal fucking mission to eradicate magic from the land. So much so that he kills anyone even suspected of using it. Do anything even remotely magical or something connected to the ubiquitous “old religion” and you have a date with the executioner.  Merlin witnessed this as his jaunty stroll into town came to a screeching halt.
So yeah…his mom sends him to Gaius, the grizzled old court physician in hopes that he can teach Merlin to control himself and figure out the purpose of his abilities. Now, maybe I’m just a smidge overprotective, but I’m not sure I’d send my magical kid, a kid who’s proven to have poor impulse control, to Camelot. That just seems like…questionable parenting.

So Merlin witnesses the execution of this poor hapless guy as well as the threat of retribution by his elderly witchy mother. We see the king’s ward, Morgana witnessing the death from the window and recoiling in horror and Merlin eventually makes his way into the castle to find Gaius. This doesn’t go particularly well since he startles the old dude while his on a ladder on a balcony. Gaius falls and Merlin has to use the forbidden magic to save his life by moving a bed to break Gaius’ fall. This seems dicey to me. It’s a medieval bed – so wooden slats and a thin (likely flea-ridden) straw-stuffed mattress. I can’t imagine this is going to be terribly helpful from that height, but Gaius with his very strange eyebrows, lives. 

                             His eyebrows do strange, strange things. You're just going to have to trust me on this.

He susses out who Merlin is and then warns him to never use magic again. (A promise Merlin will break. Over and over and over. But I digress.) He gives Merlin the room, conveniently located  off his chamber, and that becomes Merlin’s bedroom where he’s frequently wakened by a disembodied voice calling his name.
 Somewhere in here, we see Uther demanding that Morgana attend the feast celebrating the vanquishing of all the dragons in the kingdom (remember that whole Uther hates magic thing? Well, he really hates dragons.) and Morgana yells at Uther for executing that man and there’s a big old argument about magic and some serious sexual tension between the two of them. Uther storms off in a huff wearing his super sexy leather gloves that Jen needs to bestow upon Neil Elwood, and Morgana looks tragic and beautiful. 

                                            See? Beautiful and tragic. In my next life, I want to look Katie McGrath.

Back to Merlin and Gaius. Gaius gives Merlin some odd jobs to do like delivering medicine which Merlin totally fucks up. Like the potion for the nearly blind dude whose only supposed to have a few drops at a time. Merlin neglects to tell him that until after the dude has guzzled it. We never do find out if there were any horrible side effects. In the course of running errands for Gaius, he gives Prince Arthur the verbal smackdown about being an asshat to the servant who’s “helping” him train. Merlin, of course, doesn’t realize that it’s the Prince of Camelot he’s snarking at. But, it wouldn’t have stopped him. Because Merlin is really quite sassy and apparently unconcerned about a date with the executioner. Gwen, one of the castle servants and Morgana’s lady in waiting, gives Merlin the medieval version of thumbs up for dissing Arthur.

                                                                       Oh, pretty, pretty asshat.

Meanwhile, the old witchy woman (actually, this might have been a bit before, but I’m new to recapping and also easily distracted) has a plan to get her revenge on Uther for killing her son. To do this, she kills the famed singer, Lady Helen, who’s traveling to Camelot to perform for Uther and using magic (no surprise there) steals her identity. However, her true form is still visible in mirrors. 

She arrives at Camelot and Uther tries to be all suave and debonair. She didn’t fall for it. I don’t know how because Anthony Stewart Head. HE WAS GILES, WOMAN! DOES THAT MEAN NOTHING TO YOU!? *Ahem* Anywhoooooooooo, fake Lady Helen has a private meal with Uther in which she makes some foreshadowy observations about her plans for Arthur while Uther obliviously and unsuccessfully flirts with her.

                                        Yes. So...Giles. I mean, Neil. No! Uther, yes, that's it. Sorry...the gloves. Distracted...

Meanwhile, Arthur and his posse are strolling through the streets of Camelot being badasses, and they happen upon Merlin. Arthur taunts Merlin. Merlin is having none of that shit and challenges Arthur to a fight. Arthur chooses the weapons, and it’s morning stars – which of course Merlin can’t wield well. But you know what he can wield? Magic. That’s right. Merlin busts out the magic and almost beats Arthur, but instead, Arthur ends up knocking out Merlin and he wakes up in the dungeon where he again hears the voice calling his name. Then, he’s brought to the stocks and pelted with virtually all the fresh produce in Camelot.  Let’s just waste that food, people.

At some point, Merlin goes to deliver a sleeping potion to Morgana. Morgana, who’s changing clothes thinks he’s Gwen and is talking to him about the feast and what she should wear now that she’s suddenly no longer protesting over the death of that guy and planning to attend. Gwen comes in and catches Merlin but instead of being concerned about Morgana, she just shoos Merlin out of the room with a smile. Seriously, Gwen – you *just* met this guy. 

Later that night (I think) the disembodied voice again wakes Merlin and he follows the sound down beyond the dungeon sneaking past the guards with some handily timed magic. He ends up in a big cavern and demands to know who’s waking him the hell up. It’s a giantass dragon. Surprise! And the dragon tells him that his destiny is to protect Arthur and make sure he becomes king because he’ll unite the land, blah blah, blah, insert  Arthurian mythos here. Merlin is *not* down with this because Arthur is a pompous, arrogant douchecanoe. A different term might have been used. 

                                                                     Yay! The disembodied voice has a body, now!

Later the next day, Merlin drops off a potion in fake Lady Helen’s chambers, but she’s not there. He investigates the poppet (voodoo type doll make of cornhusks) on her dressing table where there’s a cloth draped over the mirror in order to keep her true identity a secret.  He’s wondering WTF and accidentally knocks the cloth askew.  She returns and hurriedly rushes out of the of the room and a young female servant enters to help fake Lady Helen get ready and she spots the witch’s true face in the mirror, so the witch grabs her wrist and magically kills her.

It’s finally time for the feast and Morgana sashays in a completely anachronistic gown that looks like it belongs at Club 54 during the late 1970s. There are the obligatory remarks from the young men including Arthur, about Morgana. Which ends up being way weird later in the series.

                                                                               A world of no, Morgana.

 Eventually, everyone is seated in ye olde great hall and it’s time for fake Lady Helen’s performance. Merlin is serving food at this shindig and is standing near the head table. Fake Lady Helen enters singing an ethereal song and suddenly everyone begins to doze off. Merlin notices something’s up and covers his ears. And as the spell and the sleep deepens, huge, giant cobwebs spread all over the people in the hall and fake Lady Helen heads toward Arthur with her vengeful intent obvious.  Also, she totally had a dagger. If she can kill with a touch, why bother with weaponry?

Merlin uses magic to drop the huge wrought iron chandelier on the witch crushing her and breaking her enchantment and turning her back to her haggy self. Everyone wakes up and looks around in a daze. Uther is horrified as he sees that Lady Helen is the witch from the courtyard. Only Merlin notices that she’s still alive and still attempting to kill Arthur. She throws the dagger (with surprising force and accuracy for someone who’s crushed under a huge amount of wrought iron) and Merlin jumps into action and knocks Arthur to the floor saving his life. 

Uther, at his most benevolent, insists on rewarding Merlin…and awards him a place in the royal household…as Arthur’s manservant. The expressions on Merlin and Arthur’s faces are priceless. 



1.       If I’d written this episode, I would have changed…

For fuck’s sake, I would have changed Morgana’s dress that she wore to the feast. Yes, I know there are more troubling plot issues, but damn it, that dress drives me insane.

2.       The thing I loved/hated most about this episode.

I love the interaction between Arthur and Merlin. No, it’s not realistic. Merlin probably would have been killed for being so disrespectful, but I do love the hate/hate relationship they have going on and I particularly enjoy their dialogue.

3.       Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before.

The little glittery stick on beauty mark thing Morgana had on her face. WTF, Morgana? This isn’t Cochcella.

4.       Favorite Costume

*NOT* Morgana’s feast dress. I really love her blue and purple number that she wore in the beginning of the episode.

5.       Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created.

This is the first episode, and I hate to be a poop, but I don’t really have an answer for this one, yet.

6.       What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about?

I’m gonna go with when Merlin was in his bed…looking all alone…and vulnerable.

7.       What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode?

Uther’s leather gloves which I feel certain inevitably led to spank-y thoughts.

You can find Jen's recap here. And Jess' recap is here.

Join us on Twitter, Monday January 27th at 8pm EST when we watch episode two of season one - well, watching. And tweeting. And probably snarking. #MerlinClub is the hashtag you're looking for.

Then check back on Friday, January 31st for the recap blog posts!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Somehow, I managed, to *not* stab this bitch.

I have the white-hot rage of a thousand fiery suns.

(I apologize in advance for my excessive use of the interrobang, but no other punctuation will do. )

Yesterday, I was at the orthodontist's office waiting for Corwin, and this family sat down next to me - mom, son and daughter. The little girl couldn't have been older than 8.

The mom hands her copies of two magazines - "Girls" and "Teen Vogue" and says, "Here, you should read these. They talk about important things like makeup and clothes and what boys like."

(Those words literally came out of her mouth.)

And of course the kid took the magazines and started flipping through them.

Are you fucking kidding me!? These are the lessons that you want to impart to your children!? That if you're a girl, the important things in life are makeup, clothes and what boys like!? And if you're a boy, that girls are are so invested in what your gender likes that there are entire magazine devoted to the subject!? That you're the center of the world, and that girls exist to orbit around you like the fucking sun!?

I quickly (and nicely) pointed out other magazines and books, but hell, no one wants advice from the crazy lady in the waiting room.

Fair enough.

I also did not stab this woman in the back of the neck with my knitting needles, though I was beyond tempted. I think the receptionist sensed that and called me up to schedule Corwin's next appointment before blood could be shed.

I am beyond horrified (and furious) though. Heaven forbid this kid develop interests of her own. Nope, mom's got that covered.
Parenting is hard. It's fun as hell, but it's hard, and I understand that none of us are doing it right a hundred percent of the time. I know I'm not. But come the fuck on! Why would you set your child up for a lifetime of eating disorders, an inferiority complex, sacrificing her sense of self for men and god knows what all else. I'm still too angry to think straight. 
I'm sure that the mom didn't set out thinking, hey, how can I fuck over my kids. But the thing is, she's conditioning this child to let the media think for her. She's conditioning both of her kids to think that boys are more important than girls. 
And if all this isn't bad enough, I came across this news story this morning. This clearly gifted young tennis player just won a major tennis thing (look, if you want technical terms, you're gonna have to read the article. Sports are so not my thing.) and instead of asking her about her game, how she felt about the win or anything else to do with the fact that she just accomplished something really great, this reporter asked her which celebrity she'd like to date. 
I'll wait here while that sinks in. 
Here's the link to the article if you'd like to read the whole, awful story
There is something seriously wrong with our culture.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sometimes, I'm a Horrible Person

Like the title says, sometimes I'm a horrible person. Like when I did this to my kid. Or...this.

This year, I wanted to play another Weeping Angel related prank on my son, Killian. Hubs and the boys and I put up the Christmas Tree right after Thanksgiving, tying it to a hook in the ceiling as usual because of this:

 And like we do every year, we put up the star.

Yep. That's a little mouse dangling up there. My youngest son, Corwin, and I giggled to ourselves knowing what was coming. My husband just rolled his eyes and muttered about us being jerks. Corwin and I waited patiently until Killian was at an evening class, and we replaced the cute little mouse with ... this:

I'd been secretly working on it in the basement. Along with other Weeping Angels for reasons that will become apparent. It took Killian longer than I would have thought to notice, but notice, he did. He jumped about three feet in the air with an expression of surprised horror on his face. Then he pointed at the tree and yelled, "What the fuck!? That is... ILLEGAL! What is WRONG with you people?" And Corwin and I just laughed and laughed. Killian pretty much glared at the tree whenever he was in the living room.

Fast forward to a few days ago. I had a knitting date with Jenny Trout. While I was making the Weeping Angel tree topper, I also made a couple extra angels. One for a friend's son who was desperate to have one of his very own. And one...for Jen. Look, she's already got a Cyberman head in her office, a K-9 and a sonic screwdriver. It seems only natural that she'd also need her own Weeping Angel.

Okay, I'll admit that's total bullshit. But it sounds like good rationalization, so I'm gonna go with it. When I got to Jen's, I had several bags with me. My purse, my knitting bag, her Christmas present bag and the angel bag. I figured I could camouflage my evil intent with all that other stuff. As it turns out, she got a phone call right as I was walking in (thanks, awesome person with great timing!) and I was able to scoot past her and right into her office where I had to stretch and jump to get to get the angel up on the top of her bookcase because I'm short. And I have T-Rex arms.

I showed Mr. Jen who laughed and said, "She's gonna have a heart attack."

I texted our friend Jill with this picture and the message: "The angel has the office!" Jill was just as delighted as I was.

Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

We were in and out of her office all day long and she didn't notice.

I was  feeling a little bummed out, but I figured I'd get a hysterical (in both senses of the word) phone call later.

But then it happened.

I was getting packed up to leave, and she went into her office so I followed her and stood in the doorway while she was talking. I can't even remember what she was talking about. One moment it was "She--" The next it was "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" accompanied by hysterical finger pointing, flailing of arms and hopping up and down.

Thankfully, there was a chair behind me because I was laughing so hard, I literally could not stand up. There were tears streaming down my face and my stomach hurt from laughing.  She had the best reaction to a prank that I've ever seen. I only wish I'd thought to try to film it.

Of course, now I'm screwed. Even if she hadn't posted this, I'd know I was screwed. She'll get me back. It will be awful, because Jen doesn't do things half-assed.

But you know what?

Totally worth it.