The premiere of the second season of this show aired last week and this is a series that I’ve meant to talk about since it started last year. So I figured this would be a good time to do so.
I was attempting to describe the plot of Being Human to a friend of mine and I started with “A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost…”
“Walk into a bar?” he interrupted. Honestly I should have seen that coming.
I’d read reviews about the original British version of this show which typically used the words “dry” and “soulless” and I wasn’t comforted by the fact that the American version was being produced by the SyFy channel. Normally anything produced by SyFy tends to be pretty bad but every so often they knock one out of the park. In my opinion, Being Human is one of those home-runs and I’m glad I took a chance on it.
The series follows two friends, Aidan and Josh, a vampire and a werewolf respectively, as they make a decision to try to stop living like monsters and instead attempt to live normal lives (or at least as normal as is possible for a vampire and a werewolf to live). They rent out a house close to the Boston hospital where they both work as orderlies and are surprised to meet Sally, the deceased fiancée of the house’s owner who was recently killed on the premises (being supernatural creatures, they can see and hear her). Sally soon joins them in their attempt to obtain some semblance of normalcy and rounds out the trio.
As cheesy as the plot may sound, it’s actually a great deal more layered and complex. There’s an overarching inference that a monster lurks inside all of us and learning how to resist those primal urges and desires is no small feat for anyone. However in addition to this, each of the three main characters brings a further metaphorical layer to that.
The vampire, played by Sam Witmer (who serious geeks may recognize from his role as Galen Starkiller in The Force Unleashed series), is a metaphor for addiction. Aidan is attempting to quit “live blood” cold turkey, ingesting only the pre-pumped blood of voluntary donors rather than seducing and biting living people. This puts him at odds with the coven he recently abandoned (and their leader who happens to be Aidan’s “sire”) as they don’t take kindly to either deserters or “vegetarians.”
The werewolf, played by Sam Huntington, is a metaphor for adolescence and the torrent of awkwardness and emotion that often accompanies it. What kid goes through their teenage years without thinking at least once, “no one is going to understand what I’m going though?” Josh was bitten two years before the show’s start and he still hasn’t come to grips with the fact that he turns into a beast every full moon. He up and left both his family and his fiancée for fear of hurting them during the transformations and he spends every full moon isolated in the remote woods hoping he doesn’t stumble across people he could potentially hurt. He carries that isolation even further by refusing to get close to anyone and thus refuses to date or even keep friends outside of his two supernatural roommates.
The ghost, played by Meaghan Rath is a metaphor for feeling lost. Sally, being recently deceased, has no idea how to exist as a non-corporeal entity. There are rules to being a ghost that no one ever taught her, specifically those governing how she is supposed to “move on.” To make matters worse, she doesn’t remember the circumstances of her death and she is reluctant to leave the house for fear that she won’t be able to return and it the only anchor she has to the world.
Of the three main characters, I can relate the closest to Josh with his awkwardness and isolation and he has fast become my favorite character (compound this with the fact that I’m more fascinated with werewolves than I am with either vampires or ghosts). Both Sally and Aidan’s plotlines are definitely interesting however and still manage to keep me interested. If anyone is going to relapse and give into the monster, I’ve got my money on Aidan.
I’ve never really been into the True Bloods, Vampire Diaries or any other vampire-centric television show. Admittedly, I’m the kind of viewer who always looks at the deeper meaning in everything I take in and I feel that Being Human is more of a meatier production than a lot of what’s out there now. In addition to that multi-layered storytelling, there is a healthy dose of both drama and humor and they all combine to form something really worth watching.
As with most SyFy shows, each season is only 13 episodes long so it’s doesn’t take long to experience. In my opinion it’s worth it.
The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy by Nada Surf
I’ll be honest here, I haven’t really been nuts over a Nada Surf album since 2003′s Let Go which is definitely on my list of favorite LPs of all time. Some of the more recent additions to their discography were simply weaker than Let Go. This isn’t to say any of those albums were bad; they’re still great indie rock, mind you, but weaker nonetheless when compared to that insanely stellar performance.
The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy may not quite reach the lofty heights of that album, but it comes about as close as they’ve gotten in almost a decade. This newest LP takes me back to that moment almost 10 years ago when I laid down on the floor to listen to the first track and stayed there transfixed and unmoving for the length of the disc as I mentally turned phrases like “drowning in my id” over and over in my head.
Nada Surf is quite well known for not loading their albums with “filler” songs. Their albums are meant to be experienced as a whole and I’ve never had to buy an mp3 of one or two songs to test drive them before purchasing one of their full discs. You can trust Nada Surf to deliver an experience that’s worth the price of admission. The melodies on this album remain smooth and lyrics are still delightfully poetic.
Some of my notable favorite songs so far are Jules and Jim, Teenage Dreams and the rather catchy Looking Through. However Waiting for Something is without a doubt the most memorable track on the album and manages to hit a deeply personal note with me (so I could be biased). Bear in mind I’ve not yet had the experience of absorbing the complex layers with multiple listens so these are surface favorites as of now.
If you’re a long time fan of their music, you’ll dig this album, and if you’re new, I’d recommend starting with the aforementioned Let Go before moving into this one. Understand that Nada Surf is coming up on almost 20 years old which probably puts the trio close to their forties if not there already. “Age is a state of mind” is not a phrase that is lost on them and The Stars are Indifferent is their proof-positive of that.
The Recipe Project
The Recipe Project was a Christmas Gift given to me over the holidays by one of my closest friends who really knows how to hit the nail on the head when it comes to books I’ll dig. I never really thought I’d be reviewing a cookbook, but this particular one is something special. I’ve made no secret about my love for cross-media and I’ve written numerous articles detailing specific instances over at the Cover Stories website. Hell the entire premise of Cover Stories itself is the fusion of music and prose. This is probably why I’m enjoying The Recipe Project as much as I am.
The main goal of the Recipe Project is the merging of food and music. Recipes from some of today’s top chefs are simply set to music by the band One Ring Zero (the CD of which is included in the back of the book). It all seems kind of arbitrary at first until you actually sit down and try to cook Mario Batali’s “Spaghetti with Sweet 100 Tomatoes” dish while listening to the music which is surprisingly catchy and quirky.
The recipes themselves are varied and I’ve loved the ones I’ve tried to make thus far. The book also includes various essays, stories and musical playlists from the included chefs as well as some of the country’s most notable culinary writers and food bloggers.
I think the Recipe Project initially intended itself to be more of a gimmick but it wound up totally transcending that and becoming a legitimate culinary curiosity in its own right. As the back of the book states, it’s “fun stuff for the super-music-nerd-foodie who has everything.”