Archive for November, 2014

Tarot cards

We’re reaching the end of the Treat Yo Self project and as I’ve looked back over the year, trying to plan out the end, I wanted to make sure my activities didn’t become redundant in the final months.

Coming up with these adventures is not as easy as it might appear, and as I’ve said before Salt Lake City is not exactly a bottomless well.

But I was talking to someone the other day who told me about having their star chart read. It occurred to me that with the exception of yoga, I’ve had relatively little exposure to new-age, meditative and spiritualistic therapies.

So I looked for a place where I could have my fortune told, and I invited my friend Lia to come along.

I met Lia two years ago through a religious congregation that we were both attending at the time. I had recently moved back to Utah and she, myself and two other friends became a social unit, much like a mixed gender and less-boozy Utah-ized version of Sex and the City.

Lia’s a total Samantha. I don’t actually know what that means.

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She’s OK.

We checked in at Crone’s Hollow for our appointment and Lia went first while I perused the shop’s selection of crystal balls, incense, candles and birch bark.

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Her reading went well over her allotted 20 minutes, but then it was my turn to pass through the beaded doorway of a makeship velvet tent set up in the shop’s lounge area.

Crone’s Hollow employs a number of readers, with names like Starfyre and Lady Luna, who specialize in various methods of divination.

Our guy was a card reader named Rob.

Rob gave me the choice of the tarot deck, which he said is more emotional and esoteric, or the Lenormand deck, which is more literal and external. I’m a literal guy. I’m certainly not esoteric.

He asked me what I wanted to talk about and I gave him the usual response: work and relationships. Then he proceeded to lay out a square of nine cards (the “Nine Witnesses” he said), which represented my ambitions and aspirations (the top row) and what I have the most control over (the bottom) moving from the past (the left column) to the present (the center column) to the future (right column).

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But he also made sure to emphasize that no matter what the cards said I still possess free will. “The cards are not set in stone,” Rob said. “The future is plastic.”

We talked a lot about what I’m looking for in love and in life and Rob advised me to live in the present, be genuine and not worry about things I can’t control.

It was interesting and pleasant but I remain a skeptic. I’m not sure it takes a gift to tell someone to be assertive at the office and sincere in the bedroom.

Properly pampered, Lia and I headed over to Curry Fried Chicken to conduct our interview over some shwarma.

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Wood’s Stock: Who are you and what do you do?

Lia Bliss: My name is Lia Bliss. I work as a hairdresser and I work at a women’s gym and I am a mom.

WS: Was today your first tarot reading?

LB: It was absolutely not.

WS: Are you a frequent…reader?

LB: Readette?

WS: Readette.

LB: I have my own tarot deck so I’ve done my own. I’ve gone to the farmer’s market and had some done and I’ve had friends of mine who are fairly clairvoyant do them, but nothing as serious or professional as today was.

WS: So you’re a believer?

LB: Totally. I’m deep in.

WS: Walk me through today, what it was and what you did.

LB: Like when I woke up this morning?

WS: No just the tarot reading.

LB: We went to a wiccan/pagan kind of coffee shop supply center and there’s a little booth that You walk into.

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WS: That was a great booth.

LB: It was. It was dark and velvety and you feel all mystical. The guy, a bald man with a fantastic goatee, tells you about himself and there’s two different decks that he does. A tarot deck and another one.

WS: Which one did you pick?

LB: The other one.

WS: Lenormand?

LB: Yeah.

WS: Why did you pick that one?

LB: He could tell that it piqued my interest because I didn’t know anything about it. I knew about tarot and he used the same deck I use. So I did the other one.

WS: So at least that part of the experience was new to you.

LB: Totally new. And he did the 36 card spread, the whole thing. And it was interesting because the first three that he laid down he said “Oh, you’re moving soon” and “Oh, you have a soon, not engagement, but renewal of commitment.” Oh do I? Great news! But the way that the deck works, as it was explained to me, whatever is closest to the card representing you are the things you have the most effect on. The further away the less effect.

WS: He arranged mine in a 3 by 3 square. Is that not how he did yours?

LB: No he did all the cards of the full deck and laid them all out. And he told me it’s usually an hour and a half reading but he thought I needed it.

WS: Without telling us too many intimate details, what was your reading? What did he say?

LB: I don’t have necessarily a career to talk about so I wasn’t worried about that. He knew I was moving soon but knew it was just happening. We talked about how me and my boyfriend are very much in line with our timelines. We’re very synced up that way. But I also take on a lot of emotional burden and he was concerned about my physical health. Right next to my card was the representation of physical health in a negative way so he asked if I was OK. He said that I take on a lot of responsibility for the emotions of people around me.

WS: Do you?

LB: Absolutely. 100 percent. When you’re a parent and when you’re essentially a spouse that’s what you do. You take on responsibility for people’s emotions. You want them to be happy. You try to make a loving household. But he said there was a lot of negativity that it was stressing me out so bad it would start affecting my physical health.

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WS: Moving away from the tarot reading, you are a woman in society yes?

LB: Correct. I agree that I exist in this society and I am a woman.

WS: I’m a man in society and can’t really comprehend the female experience. What do you think is different about being a woman?

LB: With women there is no right. Regardless of what you do/are/say/believe, you are wrong. If you were to interview a group of women and ask if they see themselves as an accommodating person, the women who say “yes” would be considered a doormat or a pushover and the women who answer “no” would be seen as a bitch or overly aggressive.

WS: Like the idea of how a man is a boss but a woman is bossy.

LB: Yeah.

WS: Would you consider yourself a feminist?

LB: Yes but not in the bra-burning, I hate men, radical sense.

WS: In what sense, then, are you a feminist?

LB: I obviously think women have a place in society and they shouldn’t be kept at home. I didn’t really consider myself a feminist until I read an article about how women exist in public in a male-controlled space.

WS: Like male gaze?

LB: The article described how a woman can walk down the street and an older man will reach out to her and say “Sweetheart, you’re so beautiful, you should smile more.” It’s so degrading and so disrespectful because fuck you, I should be allowed to not smile whenever I want. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t’ mean I need to smile and be pleasant and attend to your, whatever. I’m allowed to have a personality and bad moods and things like that.

Do I get up in arms about the wage gap? No, it’s not my fight. Do I think the rape culture needs to change? Absolutely. I have five sisters. That should not be a thing. But I’m not a crazy person.

WS: What do people who haven’t thought about gender not realize about gender?

LB: I think there are times when women don’t realize what it’s like to be a woman. And that’s almost worse.

WS: Such as?

LB: When I became a mom I had the biggest internal personality shift, which I thought was supposed to happen. But then I had to have this huge intropersonal, introspective crisis basically where I said I can still be a good mother and raise my child nurturingly without necessarily liking to crochet or quilt. I can still like to twerk on the weekends and also sing lullabies to my baby.

WS: We men often see the pressure that women put on another women and it’s quite strong.

LB: I think men inadvertently compare women to each other because they think all women have the same base level. But people are complex emotional creatures and they’re all going to be different. But I don’t think men are necessarily tough on women, I think often it’s a woman versus woman situation and the men are just around because we need them to procreate.

WS: Are we men caught in the crossfire?

LB: Absolutely. We say that we want attention from men, and attention from men is nice, but it’s like how there’s girl hot versus guy hot. Mila Kunis is guy hot.

WS: Oh yeah.

LB: But Lady Gaga is girl hot.

WS: Gross.

LB: Right. Women like crazy painted acrylic nails and men do not give a shit.

WS: So to wrap up, would you recomend that someone do a tarot reading?

LB: Absolutely. It makes you feel better after.

WS: Anything you want to promote.

LB: Health?

WS: Are you on twitter.

LB: Yes @bestliabliss

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*Note: This review was first published during coverage of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

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I like Miles Teller. I liked him in The Spectacular Now, I liked him in the Footloose remake and I liked him in the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be 21 And Over. But his performance in Whiplash is what I like most.

In Whiplash, Teller eschews his typical Gen-Y Vince Vaughn cool guy to play a drummer named Andrew so singularly-driven by his desire to be the best that he is misanthropic, abrasive and willing to undergo what can only be described as emotional (and sometimes physical) torture at the hands of his director, a terrifyingly volatile and terrific J.K. Simmons. Insulted and occasionally assaulted, Andrew only hunkers down further to practice until his hands literally bleed.

It’s hard to explain exactly how he does it, but (the shockingly young) director Damien Chazelle portrays a series of jazz music performances with the same pulse-pounding tension of a Paul Greengrass car chase. In J.K. Simmons he creates a true villain, sneering and dangerous, and the cat and mouse between teacher and student escalates to a fever pitch typically reserved for thrillers where lives are at stake.

The movie is not seamless. Outside of the central duo the supporting characters serve mainly as placeholders. Paul Reiser, as Andrew’s father, is never quite established as supportive or discouraging and a throwaway plot with a romantic interest is introduced in what could only be a design to illustrate just how myopic Andrew’s interests are. In other words, she’s little more than a prop that demonstrates just how committed the musician is to his art.

But those critiques are minor, as Chazelle has crafted a film that is ambitious in its simplicity and utilizes sound to an at-times uncomfortably visceral level. Whiplash will leave you exhausted in the way that a runner feels after a sprint, pulsing with adrenaline and perspiring.

Grade: B+

*Whiplash opens in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 7.

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We’ve finally reached the end of the broadcast TV premiere season (sorry Katherine Heigl, but I’m not waiting around for State of Affairs), which means we can all go back to watching cable where the quality content is.

I wrote 7 weeks ago that broadcast TV becomes a little less relevant each year and 2014 did little to change that. I only gave a “Subscribe” to one new drama (Gotham) and one new comedy (Marry Me) this year, and of all the Keep An Eye On shows the only two that I’m actually keeping an eye on is How To Get Away With Murder and A to Z, which was recently cancelled do to anemic ratings.

Here’s the final two premieres and my one-stop breakdown of this year’s new shows.

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The McCarthy’s (CBS)

I hold CBS comedies to a lower bar than other networks and as grating as the laugh track-a-thon style of The McCarthys is, it never quite reaches the aggressive discomfort of sibling sitcoms 2 Broke Girls or Two and a Half Men.

The McCarthys focuses on Ronnie, the The Good Wife-watching, black sheep, gay son of an otherwise blue collar Celtics-obsessed family of Irish Catholic Bostonians.

In the premiere episode, Ronnie is considering a move to Providence Rhode Island (“That’s not a real state”) where he looks forward to a more vibrant gay community (“Aren’t all gay communities vibrant?”). But his plans are sidelined when his father asks him help out as an assistant basketball coach in order to secure a star player whose parents are looking for an inclusive and tolerant team.

It’s a lot of politics for a sitcom pilot and at first I worried things were going to turn ugly, but The McCarthy’s manages to skate on top of the ice by keeping things light. If anything the show suffers from being too light, relying on call back gags and an omnipresent laugh track to hammer in the funny.

It’s not great, but it’s not particularly terrible.

Grade: C+

Class: Keep an Eye on

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Elementary (CBS)

Hey, did you know I write about Elementary for the Entertainment Weekly Community? It’s a new gig, but you can read my full recap of the premiere episode here.

The short version is that Season 3’s premiere sees the return of Sherlock to NYC with a new partner in tow. But it’s going to take some time before Holmes’ friends and former partner fully welcome him back.

Elementary is one of the better crime procedurals on Broadcast, benefiting largely from the quirky and fully-committed performance of Jonny Lee Miller and his chemistry with Lucy Liu’s Joan Watson.

If you haven’t been watching, you might want to pick it up. And remember to keep an eye out for my weekly posts on ew.com.

Grade: B

Class: Keep an Eye On

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Marry Me - Season Pilot

2014 new series rundown

Gotham: Subscribe

Marry Me: Subscribe

How to Get Away With Murder: Keep an Eye On (*Upgraded to ‘Subscribe’)

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A to Z: Keep An Eye On *Cancelled

Red Band Society: Keep An Eye On

Scorpion: Keep An Eye On

Black-ish: Keep An Eye On

Selfie: Keep An Eye On

Gracepoint: Keep An Eye On

Constantine: Keep An Eye On

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Mulaney: Kill and Bury

Cristela: Kill and Bury

Mysteries of Laura: Kill and Bury

Madam Secretary: Kill and Bury

Forever: Kill and Bury

Manhattan Love: Kill and Bury *Cancelled

Stalker: Kill and Bury

Bad judge: Kill and Bury *Cancelled

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