Hannah Scribbles

Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page

Oops! Finding Unexpected Enjoyment in MTV’s Teen Wolf

In Movies/TV, Pop Culture! on March 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm

When asthmatic 16-year-old Scott McCall is persuaded by his ADHD-afflicted best friend Stiles to go looking for a body, he gets more adventure than he expected. After Stiles is rounded up by the search party, Scott finds himself lost in the woods at the mercy of a werewolf. The rest is history.

Scott must balance grades against his tenuous relationship with his new mentor, acerbic werewolf Derek Hale, prevent his new girlfriend from finding out his secret and avoid being killed by her werewolf hunter relatives. Did I mention he also plays lacrosse? High School got a lot busier since I graduated.

MTV’s Teen Wolf has all the elements you’d expect from an MTV show: fashion, social progressiveness and music. It has the dubious distinction of being the only show I’ve seen that tells viewers what song is playing in the background. Special effects are often cheesy, but luckily it’s the story and characters that catch your attention.

Told in 13 episode story arcs, the writing leaves little room for empty episodes. In an era when many TV shows meander through a quarter of their 23 episode season without affecting plot, each episode of Teen Wolf is packed with action, character development and great dialogue.

stiles sarcasm, stiles quotes, stiles stilinski

Stiles Stilinski, providing comic relief and witty dialogue.

Each season leads decisively into the next. The outcome of the season 1 finale, which culminates in an attack against the werewolf that bit Scott, sets up the plot for the second season. The same can be said for subsequent seasons, which stem from precious happenings and not merely the whims of script writers. In a town where anything can happen, it’s refreshing to see that nothing just happens.

While each episode pushes the overall story forward, it would be unfair to say Teen Wolf is plot-centric. Compelling interpersonal relationships drive the show, adding richness to the world building. From Lydia, who downplays her intelligence for social acceptance, to the successful yet insecure Jackson, each character has a subtle detailing that fleshes out their personality.

Allison Argent, descended from a line of hunters, became my favorite character in a matter of episodes. Introduced as the New Girl Love Interest for lead Scott McCall, she spent her early days on the show in increasing suspicion of the strange happenings around Beacon Hills and being protected from harm. The writers could have kept it that way, too, but the show doesn’t revolve around Allison’s romantic relationship to Scott McCall.

allison argent, teen wolf allison, bad ass allison argent,

Instead, learning about the supernatural opens up Allison’s character. Actress Crystal Reed does a wonderful job balancing Allison’s teenager uncertainty with her mental and emotional maturation. At first fearful, Allison soon begins training to become a hunter like her father and aunt and becomes an excellent archer. Although not endowed with supernatural abilities like her friends – the werewolf pack is almost entirely male – they respect her fighting skills. She fights to protect her friends and family from harm, challenging her father to be more tolerant toward supernatural creatures. Though she takes on more prominent leadership roles as a hunter, Reed never lets the viewer forget that Allison is also a teenage girl.

In another happy surprise, Teen Wolf separates itself from other teen supernatural dramas (I’m looking at you, The Vampire Diaries) by making prominent use of adults. That’s right. Adults with speaking roles who give life advice and aren’t just used as plot devices.

stiles and sheriff stilinski,

The teenagers on Teen Wolf don’t exist in a space-time vortex with absent parental figures. Despite their otherworldly responsibilities, they still come home and kiss their parents goodnight. Scott McCall brings his mother dinner at work when she works late. Stiles stays up helping his father on casework. Allison Argent has a curfew.

Amid the ridiculousness of modern television, it irks me when people laugh off supernatural dramas as somehow being more ludicrous than Duck Dynasty or 20 seasons of Law & Order. Behind the impossible premise, Teen Wolf  remains a solid show about family, friendship and tough decisions.

Let me sum up the reasons I enjoy the show:

  • References to Classical Greek mythology
  • Teenagers who actually have parents!
  • Openly gay character on the lacrosse team
  • No out-of-left-field plot twists!
  • Strong female characters with emotional range
  • Characters living with ADHD or PTSD

3 Galactic Tips for Would-be Gardeners

In The Great Outdoors on March 20, 2014 at 11:49 am

Spring is in the air, and for me that means two things:  nosebleeds and gardening.  I enjoy balancing my unsustainable eating habits with food grown closer to home, so March 20 means it’s time to log out of Netflix and get to work on my garden. That Star Trek marathon can wait!

I have the benefit of many years’ apprenticeship to my father’s vegetable garden.  Over the years, I learned a few tips on getting the garden going once springtime rolls around.  Let me share them with you!

Find your place in the star system!

The USDA divides the United States into different hardiness zones. Based on lowest regional temperature, hardiness zones are a useful guideline for when to plant – and what will thrive (if you’re in northern Maine, I’m just sorry for you).

hardiness zone,

For example, I live in Zone 6b with an average winter minimum temperature of -5 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ll use this as an indicator of what vegetables to plant in my garden as well as when to begin seeding.

Hardiness zones increase as you move toward the equator. Someone living in Montgomery, Ala. would find themselves in Zone 8a (10-15 degrees Fahrenheit). That gardener would also have a longer growing season, making it possible to begin planting earlier.

Terra-form that garden bed!

If you’re making a new garden, you’ll need to define your garden perimeter and remove the sod. Till the ground as deep as you can to loosen the soil. If the garden is in a region with low-moderate clay content, consider spreading a few shovels of coarse sand and organic material across the garden bed and tilling it back into the soil. Using sand alone might hurt rather than help.

why till a garden, when to till the garden, how to till the garden

Spring prepping is easier when you’ve worn the garden in. Till the soil to loosen it. Add some “organic material” – manure or compost – and mix it in. This aerates the soil, builds it up and helps reduce erosion. You can buy manure from the store or pay a midnight visit to the local alpaca farm, but don’t start planting immediately after you fertilize.

Patience, young padawan. Let the fertilizer do its job. Only then will the microbial activity nourish your seedlings without interfering with seed germination.

Don’t eat purple-fleshed melon!

Okay, that last one is a Hunger Games reference and a reminder that sometimes the power of keeping a vegetable garden goes to your head. There’s an allure to making homemade salsa or experimenting with unusual foods.  Celeriac, fiddleheads and hairy cucumbers may peak your curiosity, but don’t plant exotic vegetables on the off chance that you will. Because you probably won’t.

fiddleheads, ferns, edible ferns,

Before buying seeds, take an overarching look at your diet. What do you eat most? Does it make sense to grow it in your garden?

For example: some people enjoy home-grown tomatoes, but I think they taste like the underside of Satan’s cloven hooves. My dad planted tomatoes every year because they grow well in my region, and every year the rising fumes of foul tomato sorcery would overpower the garden. Now that I’m in charge, there shall be nary a tomato in sight. Instead, I’m planting basil, thyme and rosemary.

My staple foods are spinach, avocado, peppers and zucchini. However, avocados are not on the list of best plants for Zone 6; avocado trees are subtropical plants that faint at first sign of frost. I’ll plant green beans instead because they grow well in my area and can be replanted halfway through summer for a longer growing season.

 More great gardening content (and embedded sci-fi references) coming soon!

Seeing the Irish Flora Up Close

In The Great Outdoors on March 17, 2014 at 3:50 pm

I don’t know the names for any of these plants, but they took my breath away.  In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, check out some of the gorgeous plant life I encountered during my trip to Dublin, Cork and Galway!

If you are a genius who knows any of these plants (or a native of Ireland), leave a comment below!

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