Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hold On To What You Believe

My friend Serena recently wrote about completing the first draft of her novel. CONGRATS! It's a huge accomplishment and great feeling. One which I guess I sort of know. A year or two ago I wrote a complete story: beginning, middle, end. It has characters, plot, conflict, resolution, and kissing scenes. I'm super proud of myself for completing the project, but once I was at the editing stage, I realized that I had another, more complex story I really wanted to tell. That is the story I am working on right now. And I'm super excited about it!

But, the point of this blog post is to talk about musical inspirations. Serena mentioned a couple of the works she listened to while writing, which happen to be some of my favorite compositions out there! Holst's "The Planets" and Lalo's "Symphonie Espagnole". There is no one song inspiring me for my current project, but I did want to share what I was focused on while working on my first story. Mumford & Son's "Hold on to What You Believe". It's amazing:


Friday, March 21, 2014

Pretty Little Liars Intel: To Kill A Mocking Girl

The girls, on the advisement of Mrs. Fields, are headed into the woods to do something to remember Ali. I'm willing to bet that Emily's mom did not mean for them to go alone into the depths of the woods, but whatever, I guess they used to hang out at a shed there back when Ali was still alive.
  • Spencer is either super suspicious or super crazy and knows the exact number of steps from some random tree to the shed. 
Their outfits continue to be questionable and I can't wait until they all settle into their styles. They all have great hair from episode one, but it does take a few for the fashion to really gel. These outfits aren't terrible, but they seem a little baggy for TV.

Hanna, who is more worried about the insects out in nature, let's the bomb drop that she doesn't believe Ali is dead. (Honestly, I think Hanna is going to end up being the one to crack the entire mystery.) She points out that they've all received texts that include things that only Ali knows.

On cue, and after being freaked out by a snapped twig nearby, they receive the follow:

(I can't wait until they get normal cell phones, too.)

The next day (I guess? This show is insane with telling a one night story over four seasons, but then they fail to make it clear when it's one day or the next...) Hanna comes down to find Detective Wilden in her kitchen..wearing only a towel. I love when Hanna asks her mom while he is still around and says, "it was one pair of sunglasses and they were last seasons."

Meanwhile (?), Aria is at breakfast with her parents and is talking about her To Kill a Mockingbird love to her dad while her mom goes inside to get another muffin, but not before referring to the "father worshiping thing" in the book. This seems pointed, but I can't see where it would fit into the plot of who A is.

But someone worships Aria's daddy, because Jody from Center Stage saunters up and is all "I'm Meredith and I'm the one who boned your dad last year." EW!

It's all very awkward as Byron plays nice with Meredith and Aria is horrified and glares at the hussy the entire time.

Check out her feather earring, though:

I love it, but I also am so afraid of having saggy earlobes when I get old.

Speaking of cheaters...

Over at the Hastings house, it is Ice City in the kitchen where Melissa seems more upset about people finding out about her breakup than the actual losing her fiance thing. I love when Spencer walks into the room and Melissa pointedly gets up and throws all of her wedding magazines away. I also love when their mom makes Spencer eat her breakfast in the kitchen because she just got her bedspread dry-cleaned.

It should totally be noted that Troian Bellisario and Torrey DeVitto play such spectacular sisters! They're both so good!

At school, Mona and Hanna arrive, wearing horrible outfits, and find out Noel Kahn is having a party the next night:

  • I thought there might be something more to Noel's last name. Something implied. But it is not spelled like the Star Trek guy and the only thing I see online is that it's a German name meaning "small boat". And, I'll be honest, I tried to google the other Khan, but man, nerd alert. 
Aria is like, totally over high school parties, though, and instead makes googly eyes with Fitz in the hallway and then later asks him out. He declines the invitation, which was, hilariously, to hang out with her AT HER MOM'S ART OPENING! Der, you've gotta hide that shiz, girl! (It's funny, though, because at the art opening, Meredith ends up weaseling her way in with an invitation and it's all very awkward. Meredith has balls to show up where Byron's wife is!)
  • Check out the blackboard behind Fitz this time. These have to be on purpose, but I'm not sure what this one could mean. Insight vs. Intuition

Spencer, poor girl, is still totally stressed about being iced out of her family while dealing with her super difficult course load. I snapped a shot of her locker dry erase board but it doesn't look like it has any clues on it:

Everything stops, though, when Jenna comes walking down the hall, escorted by Toby! We get a flashback here.
  • Toby saved Jenna from the fire that was caused by the stink bombs the girls through into the shed. 
  • Toby is older than the girls. 
Wilden speaks with Hanna "for an hour", which is ridiculous because what the hell did he talk about for that long? Hanna, of course, one ups him during the informal interrogation, pointing out that her 10th grade yearbook photo wasn't in the book and he only saw it because he's been hanging out at her house wearing a towel a lot lately.
  • Hanna says "it would be stupid to compete with Ali." 
  • Hanna had mono in 10th grade.
  • Wilden was the class of 1996. That makes him super old. (In comparison to the girls, I mean.) 
  • Hefty Hanna! 

 After school, Spencer jets off to Philly, which I think is supposed to be an hour away, to plead with Wren to tell her family that he instigated the kiss. I love when she compares the Hastings house to the Hurt Locker.

Wren tells Spencer that he has already tried and, duh, they're not going to all of a sudden listen to Wren and stop being angry with Spencer. He is charming as eff and also tells her that maybe his "real mistake was falling for the wrong sister." DAYAMN!

We haven't really established Emily as being a huge jock yet, but she is. So much so that she is at school swimming and is somehow the only person in the locker room. Perfect for Sean to come in and be super aggressive and gross. I have to point out that I didn't appreciate his comment that she was treating him like "a marching band geek with funion breath". (I may have hated marching band, but I was in it and I was not a geek!)

Toby is there (WHY?), thank goodness, and beats up Sean while Emily is sort of not sure who she is afraid of, but then she is all "We're done!" to Sean so I guess she decided which boy was the real threat.

At the Marin's, Hanna is getting ready to head to Noel Not Khan's party, but Wilden is still in detective mode and tries to look in her purse after spotting her 'Hanna' bracelet. Ashley turns all "mama bear" (his words, not mine) and kicks him out finally! Woop!

For such a big lead up, you'd think that the party would have more clues, but nope! Actually, barely any clues in this episode at all, when you think about it. The party is out in the woods at Noel Not Khan's cabin and: Hanna tries to get Sean to sex it up, but he declines, Emily shows up with Maya and disses Sean, Spencer (jk, she is at home) steals Melissa's old paper and passes it off as her own, and Aria shows up for a hot minute before heading to her mom's art thing where she threatened Meredith.

  • CHO-1274 Maya's license plate
  • Melissa's paper was from 3/24/04 and Spencer turns it in on 9/24/10. We are to assume they are about six years apart in age. 
  • They never saw Toby peeping in the window. (Remember when Ali yells that she saw him looking at them?)
  • In a flashback, Spencer sees Ali threaten Toby to never tell anyone what really happened when Jenna lost her sight. Ali had something on Toby, which is why he took the fall.
  • Ezra lives in apartment 3B
Noel Not Khan somehow has a photobooth at his cabin and Maya and Emily head in for some major flirting and...a kiss! But A steals the photos! Oh no!

Hanna receives this text after Sean says she seems desperate:(

Then she 'steals' his car and ends up crashing it. Sheesh! 

Emily thanks Toby for saving her and Jenna is creeping in the corner and all "WHY IS SHE THANKING YOU?!" Ugh, she is the worst.

 The girls do end up back in the woods for their Ali Remembrance thing and are again wearing kind of terrible outfits, but they're getting better!

And then they see this:

Alison's bracelett! ZOMG!

And, that's it! Well, we end with A printing out hundreds of copies of Maya and Emily kissing and posting them on the wall.

So, what's up with all of the To Kill a Mockingbird references? SPOILER ALERT. The one connection I can find now is that Ezra is kind of like Boo Radley. He gets accused of something he didn't do (being A), but he's actually innocent and has been watching the girls all this time and ends up helping them.

The other thought is about the symbolism of a mockingbird. These birds got their name because they don't have a call of their own and end up copying the calls of other birds. Is this referring to Ali's history of pretending to be someone else? We know she was hooking up with older guys. Is she a mockbingbird for pretending to be older? Or maybe the title of the episode is alluding to someone pretending to be someone else later? A twin, perhaps?

Do you have any theories!? I will admit that after the winter finale that aired this week, I am even more confused about who A could be. Alison answered a million questions, but then created a million more! Ahhhh! Let me know on twitter!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day 7: Explore Orkney

Remember when I went to Scotland? And then I was blogging about it? Yeah, it's okay if you don't. It's been awhile!

You guysssss, Orkney is AMAZING! Before going on the trip, I did a little bit of research about the sites we would see on our Megaliths and Mysteries tour by Explore Orkney but was not prepared for how cool it is to see things that are thousands of years old.

We started out pretty early and met up with our tour, which was just us, one other guy, and our guide, who was a native Orcadian.

Our first stop was not far away and I readied my camera as we drove down the muddy driveway of a working farm and parked next to a fenced in area.

Rennibister Earth House

Rennibister is believed to have been built around 1000 BC, but wasn't discovered until the 1920s when a threshing machine fell through the roof. It was a neat thing to see, but I was shocked when our tour guide said that we were going to climb down into it! WHAT?! It just seemed unreal!

But we did it! And it was tiny down there! And short.

I just couldn't get over how this amazing archaeological thing was just...chillin' in the middle of a farm.

Next we drove just up the street to get a good view of the Bay of Firth where it is believed that ancient stone sculptures are. We didn't see any, but it's a great view.

And, from this spot, we got a great view of an upcoming destination, the Standing Stones of Stenness.

But first, Maeshowe! One of the coolest things I've ever seen.

They think Maeshowe was built 2800 BC, which is incredible because it is made out of large rock squares and is impressively well designed. There were two features that were most notable to me. First, to enter the tomb, one must lean down and walk along the very short entryway. (My sister had a great picture of us emerging from the tomb, but this photo kind of shows someone scooting out.)

Our guide explained that it was likely that this design was to force visitors into a kneel of respect upon entering. The other feature that is so insanely cool is that the structure is designed on a specific slope and position so that on the winter solstice each year, the light shines perfectly against the far wall on the interior.

Our guide was AWESOME and told such fun stories about Maeshowe and the people who built it and the people who later found it-The Vikings!

This is a photograph of our guide demonstrating the age of Maeshowe:

"The pyramids? Meh...Stonehenge? BOOO! And wayyyyy back here, Maeshowe."

Yes, Maeshowe is older than Stonehenge.

As you can kind of see in that photo above, there is tons of Viking graffiti on the walls inside the tomb. Our guide explained that it was ~3,000 years later when Norseman (Eric?) found the tomb and probably used it as shelter. I loved the stories of what the graffiti says because while in such a majestic and old tomb, one would expect there to be profound words carved into the walls. But, no, mostly the walls say things like, "So and so, the son of so and so was here." And "This chick is hot."

Maeshowe has the largest collection of runic inscription that survives outside of Scandinavia.

We LOVED Maeshowe:

And how do you follow up Maeshowe? Well, with this:

The Ring of Brodgar

The Ring of Brodgar is a true circle of large stones with evidence of a trench around it and is believed to be from between 2500 and 2000 BC. It's not known what is in the center of the circle so, if you're a millionaire, be sure to donate to the excavation!

Following the Ring, we saw the Standing Stones of Stennes, which, like the Ring of Brodgar, is impressive and just really effing cool. These stones are actually larger than the Ring's, but there are fewer of them and they date to about 3100 BC making them one of the earliest stone circles in Britain.

Our guide told us that in more recent years (like, the 18th century), the stones seen above were used or engagements, where the couple would hold hands and walk between the stones or something. It's also interesting to note that you can see Maeshowe between those stones!

Next up: Skara Brae!

(And no, 5000 BC is not a typo.)

Skara Brae is right by the coast and is basically an entire little village underground. It's insane.

Owning the nickname "Scottish Pompei" because of it's preservation, Skara Brae is a collection of eight houses built into the dirt, most likely to protect against the winter weather.

Last for this most incredible tour was the Broch of Gurness.

We learned that whomever built this structure, made a perfectly round building...with no instruments to aid them.

The Broch is practically a baby, though, built between 200 and 100 BC.

And so concludes or tour of Orkney! Truly an amazing day. With a VERY early morning upon us, we had a good dinner of fish and chips and some brews at a bar by the water and turned in as early as we could. I was definitely sad to say goodbye to Orkney. It's a very special part of the world.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Pretty Little Liars Intel: The Jenna Thing

Just to review, clues (or what could be clues) are all in bullet points. Do you have any theories? Tell me in the comments or on twitter! 

Also, this is a super fun project and I am already really enjoying it, but work leaves me exhausted most days and the one thing I just can't do is take photos without the "pause" icon on, just deal with it for now, okay? I kind of like seeing the minute marker for the show, though. Makes it all more official.

Okay, let's dig into the second episode of season one: The Jenna Thing!

We pick up right after Ali's funeral from the pilot with the girls all at the Grille discussing Ali, their texts from "A", and Jenna. Why was Jenna at the funeral!? The girls totally realize that their friendships with Ali were a little one-sided. She seemed to know everything about them, while they knew very little about her.
  • "Ali know all of our secrets."
But Spencer fesses up that she "knew some" of Ali's and reveals that Ali was seeing an older guy that summer she went missing!
  • Emily is a lil upset about this. It should be clear now, and no spoiler, that Emily is a lesbian and (surprise!) was totally in love with Ali. 
Side note- Pretty Little Liars uses the same set that Gilmore Girls did for Stars Hollow. (Oh, hey! Are you a Gilmore Girls fan? Go listen to my podcast I do with Serena!) Is the Grille the building that is Luke's Diner on GG? Very interesting!

Remember how during the first episode I commented that I always check the time on clocks in the background? Well, it's the next morning and 5:45am at the Marin house! WHAT? At first I thought it was that evening, but they're getting ready for school and work so the timing only works for it to be the morning. I mean, I had to get up super early for high school, too, but they're damn chipper for it being early and it's super bright in there. Plus, none of them have bags under their eyes and if it's truly 5:45am, then I hate them for that.

Anyway, on the TV, Detective Wilden is giving a press conference about the newly reopened case and reveal how Ali died:
  • "blunt force head trauma" with "suffocation" being the official cause of death.
  • This might be nothing, but Hanna's mom, after turning off the TV, remarks on Hanna's lipgloss, which is "Amber Rose". 
I guess it's wicked early at the Montgomery house, too, and Byron mentions he has a late night, which is super awkward. Aria makes a pointed remark about it, which makes the mom suspicious. I really can't blame her, though. It's definitely established that Aria has kept her dad's secret and the mom has no idea that he cheated on her.

I love the interaction between Maya (with way better hair than in the pilot) and Emily over at her house. Emily offers her some tea and Maya says "Can I have a sip? I'd rather share yours." HAHAHHA! It's just such a cheesy come on. It's also hilarious when Pam Fields comes home and is SO straight-laced and all "Uhhh, is everything okay?" when she sees them hugging on the front porch. But then she invites Maya to stay over for a few days in Emily's bed, which is kinda weird because it's not like they're 10. Maya accepts (duh) and she and Emily skip off to go get coffee, stopping at Spencer's house first to invite her. Maya totally puts her foot in her mouth in regards to "the dead girl", but I loved the Brad Pitt reference.
  • Maya says that Ali "is everywhere" when referring to living in the DeLaurentis' house, but maybe it means more.
  • Spencer is practicing for field hockey. This is a cheat clue because I already know that the blunt-force trauma is caused possibly by a field hockey stick.
Finally someone is actually at school: Aria has gone there to ask Mr. Fitz to sign her form so she can transfer out of his class. She says how she just can't stand to call him Mr. Fitz when he is Ezra to her. This is cute since they made out once. Humph.
  • Ezra is right-handed.
  • His classroom is Room 108
All four girls get paged to the office where Det. Wilden is waiting for them. On the way, they get a text from A:

It's totally shady that he questions them at school. He says it's just a "routine follow up". He comments that their answers sound rehearsed.
  • "Why did you all fall asleep?"

And check out these outfits. 

Still not the best, but each girl is starting to have her own style. Emily is the sporty jock. She rarely wears things that are super trendy. Spencer almost always looks like she could be in a handbook for how to be preppy. If she's not wearing something buttoned up then she has a tie or oxfords or something to make up for it. Aria usually looks the craziest. I'm not sure she understands the concept of matching, but she usually looks good. I like it when she wears weird patterns especially. Hanna has amazing outfits and in regards to shapes and fits, she is the most daring. She also loves heels.

After the impromptu and very inappropriate interrogation, the girls are at lunch discussing "the Jenna thing", which is still a mystery to us, the viewers. Of course, as soon as they mention Jenna, she turns up and Aria invites her to sit with them. It's terrible awkward, but we get a couple of clues:
  • Ali visited Jenna in the hospital. 
  • Jenna says, "I knew exactly who she was."
  • Jenna has been, until recently, at a school for the blind in Philly.
Finally we find out what "the Jenna thing" is! In a flashback we see the four girls and Ali hanging out, trying on clothes when all of a sudden Ali yells, "I can see you!"
  •  It's the 4th of July.
  • No one else sees anything outside the window so who knows if she really did or not.
Ali says Toby was in the tree (ha!) spying on them so, because this makes total sense, they throw a smoke bomb into the barn where Toby supposedly is, but it ends up exploding!
  • Spencer is the one who had the lighter.
Back to current time, 12:40pm, to be exact. (Is this clock-noticing thing going to be annoying?? Let me know. I enjoy it, myself.) And the girls all get another text!

I love many things about this screenshot. First, Spencer has a way better phone than Aria and second, look at how huge that wrap is!

So anyway, back to class. English class! The one one Aria tried to transfer out of, but was DENIED! Boom! It's a good thing because they're discussing To Kill a Mockingbird.

Now, I've read that book twice and hated it both times so you'll have to tell me if you can think of any connections between the plot and themes and this show. But you can't deny the obvious placement of the word "innocent" and Ezra's head!

Remember when Ashley banged Wilden and then she told Hanna it was all over? Well, it's not and while Hanna and her prude, minister-son boyfriend Sean is over not-making out, Wilden shows up with takeout and Hanna looks like she wants to die. Wilden is SO creepy. Later that day, at the mall, he tells Hanna he thinks they know what happened to Ali.

Over at Lukes the Grille, Aria runs into Spencer, who is there with her family and Aria has amazing hair, which is basically a theme of this show:

There is a lot of subtle flirting between Wren and Spencer at dinner and later that night he stops by her bedroom (why is he upstairs at their house? He and Melissa live in the barn loft! This totally reminds me of Tom and the schoolteacher on Downton Abbey. OMG Maybe A is Thomas! I would totally believe that theory!!!) Anyway, Spencer and Wren have amazing chemistry despite her room being extremely distracting. It's interesting because I don't think this corner of the room has ever been shown again:

But, it doesn't stop them from totally kissing! And it's super steamy!

The kissing direction on this show is incredible. They linger on the Almost Kiss for soooooooo long. In real life, the Almost Kiss moment is practically non-existent, but it's super romantic and steamy on film.
  • Melissa totally sees the kiss! In the mirror reflection. MIRROR! Hmmm.
And the next morning, Wren is moving out. Goodbye (for now), Wren!

Meanwhile, over at the Fields' house, Maya and Emily are busy spooning in her tiny tiny bed, but before Emily can have some steamy dreams, her phone beeps with a NEW TEXT (lolz):

It's kind of mean to rub it in that they did not, in fact, kiss. The closest they got was Maya with her weird flirting. "Alison was always in the middle [of the bed]." "I sleep in the middle."

All the flirting freaks Emily out, though, and the next morning she practically attacks her boyfriend, Ben, in the car, which is hilarious. She also has a flashback of when Ali gave them all their name bracelets.

The end of the episode belongs to Aria, who is caught in the rain without an umbrella, but with some heavy duty waterproof mascara. And guess who drives by...*swoon*...Ezra Fitz who stops up ahead and opens his door for Aria.
  • License plate: CHV-3269
Everyone knows that kissing in the rain is super hot, but kissing after being soaked in the rain proves to be just as steamy:

I tried so many times to capture the perfect shot of their kiss that I started to feel like I was editing a p0rn. Go watch the episode yourself. Ezra is so hot. Sooo yeah, I guess he and Aria are a thing now?

Someone knows, though, because she receives this when she gets home:

Frankly, I'm surprised anyone kissed her dressed in this monstrosity:

There is so much going on with this outfit that I wouldn't even know where to start with describing it, much less critiquing it.
  • The text Aria receives is interesting since we find out that Byron cheated on Ella with a student at Hollis College. Oh, and she works there now! Ugh, gross. 
There really aren't many clues in this episode, but we do find out a little bit more about Jenna and we got some solid flashbacks to Ali stuff. This biggest moment is probably the last, because it's when Spencer sees Jenna texting! OMG, is Jenna A!?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Pretty Little Liars Intel: Pilot

Now, let's be honest, I am not the first person to watch Pretty Little Liars looking for clues and I won't be the best, but damn it, I love this show and I want to rewatch it with a fine tooth comb, so to speak. I love this show because it's melodramatic and full of really pretty things so while I rewatch, I will be commenting on both the clues about the over-arcing mystery as well as the amazing style that each girl (and guy!) has. Clues will be shown via bullet points!

So, let's get started with the Pilot!

The episode, and the show as a whole, begins with a flashback! Aria, Hanna, Emily, Spencer, and Alison are all hanging out in Spencer's barn. An indeterminate time later, Aria wakes up and discovers that both Spencer and Alison are not there. As the other girls wake up, Spencer walks back into the barn and says she "heard her scream."
  • Not much clue-wise here that I can see, except that Ali definitely wants Aria to drink the drink. Did she drug them to sleep while she went out? Not sure. 
It's now one year later and Aria and her family are back from a year in Iceland. There's a tense moment when Aria tells her dad she is still keeping his secret, which turns out to be that he cheated on her mom. Boo!
  • We see this later in another flashback when Aria and Ali see Byron (Aria's dad) kissing a mystery blonde in his car. It should be noted that Mona had been trying to hang out with them and may have seen the indiscretion, too.
Aria heads to the Hollis Bar & Grill to pass some time before she has to pick up her brother, Mike, from lacrosses practice and while there, she meets Ezra Fitz!
  • It's 5pm when she is there. She has to pick up Mike at 6pm. This isn't much of a clue, but I love when shows get their clocks correctly set. 
  • There is a Missing poster for Ali in the bar.
  • Ezra says he "just graduated" from Hollis.
  • They have a moment over the song playing: B26. 
  • Does anyone know what Ezra is reading while at the bar? I couldn't tell. 
  • Ezra says he "tried writing, but didn't get very far." 
  • Question: If Ezra had gone to Hollis, it seems like he would have heard about Alison. 
Ezra and Aria end up in the bathroom (ew) making out (yay):

It's very hot. They have A LOT of chemistry.

  • It should be noted (?) that the camera pulls away and shows them kissing in the reflection. A reflection is often a symbol to show that someone has a different side to them. Is one of them more than who they're pretending to be? Are they both??
This is a terrible picture, but it shows the reflection:

The following picture is from the opening credits and isn't  a clue or even an alive person, but it really shows how amazing the makeup is on this show. I am constantly in awe at the perfection of it:

Elsewhere, Hanna and Mona are at the Rosewood Mall stealing things. (I did not like the glasses she got. I would've gone cat eye.) While there, Hanna sees Spencer, says hello, and ends up finding out that Melissa (Spencer's sister) has a new fiance. We also find out that Spencer is interning at the mayor's office, which I don't think is a clue, but is a great insight into the type of Spencer is: driven.
  • "She's gone, but she's everywhere." This is what they say about Ali. I can't imagine losing a best friend; it would be haunting, for sure. Especially since her body has never been found. 
This outfit of Spencer's is one of her worst. A jersey blazer? Ugh.

It's the first day of school and it's pretty awkward for everyone. To Aria's surprise, which she learns from Emily, all of the girls have drifted apart. And Hanna and Mona, who both used to be fairly dumpy and unpopular, are now the queens of the school and BFF.

It's 8:30am (good job, show!) and all the girls get settled in their first class of the day...with, omg, Mr. Fitz! Ezra!
  • "Holy crap," says Ezra when he looks up and sees Aria. Wouldn't he have checked his roster before class? Maybe not. But, for future reasons, he does seem genuinely surprised that she is in his class. 
  • I want to say there was one red pen in a cup full of black ones. That might mean nothing, but I noticed it. 
And we have our first text from "A"! To Aria, after she realizes the guy she made out with, and pretending to be a college student with, is her teacher:

  • It should be noted that Ezra did NOT send this text, unless he scheduled it to send because he is currently standing in front of the class.
That afternoon, Emily goes to their new neighbors and meets Maya St. Germain who is now living in Alison DeLaurentis' house. Awkward. She and Emily have a lot of chemistry and Maya even charms Emily into smoking pot for the first time.

Over at Spencer Hasting's house, we get to meet Melissa and her new fiance, Wren, who is beyond cute and has an accent! Spencer likes, him, too. Ruh roh.
  • We find out it's the girls' junior year.
  • Spencer is reading To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Wren smokes. Even though he is a doctor...and Melissa would kill him.
Aria goes to Ezra's classroom to talk about this weirdo situation they have going on. She wears a lot of belts during this episode. Also, check out the blackboard:

  • Check out those two super large "A"s! Atticus. A-moral. 
  • To Kill a Mockingbird is on his desk.
Emily gets her first "A" letter while in the locker room:

  • Handwritten!
  • Graph paper
More Wren and his pretty face and accent. Spencer enjoys it, too, and even enjoys a back rub from him.
  • Wren went to Oxford
  • Wren rowed in college. 
Later that night, Spencer receives and email after she spots her sister and Wren kissing out by the barn:

Now, this is explained in a flashback with Melissa's prior boyfriend, Ian. We don't find out (yet) what happened, but Ali says, in front of everyone, that Spencer needs to tell Melissa what happened. Spencer refuses and threatens Ali that she will tell everyone what really happened with the Jenna thing.
  • Out of flashback mode, Spencer looks across the street and sees a blonde-haired girl in Alison's old home, which is now Maya's. 
  • This places Spencer and Maya as next door neighbors, which means Spencer and Alison were, too.
Emily goes over to Aria's and they talk about their weird note and text they each got.

At Hanna's house we learn that her dad left in the last year and how it's just Hanna and her mom, Ashley. Spencer texts, but before Hanna can go over, the police show up to arrest her for stealing at the mall:

It's awkward at the police station and afterwards, because basically Ashley let's Detective Wilden bang her in order to let Hanna off the hook. I mean, they do go on a date first, but it's super creepy when they get home and Ashley pointedly looks at Hanna so she can know it was her fault. But, Mom of the Year Award for Ashley? Maybe.

While at the police station, Hanna gets her first "A" text:

While walking home (from Aria's?), Emily sees a bunch of sirens in front of Maya's house and runs up, expecting the worse. It's pretty bad, though, as Maya tells her they found Alison's body.
  • Her body was found out by/under the gazebo, which had been built last summer, right around the time Ali went missing. Ew. 
Even though it makes sense why Emily is not with the other girls at this moment, it could be symbolic:

The pilot ends with the funeral for Alison, but a lot happens! Ezra kisses Aria!
  • Detective Wilden is at the funeral.
  • They all realize they've all been getting texts.
  • Jenna is there! 
  • The case is back open...for MURDER! 
They all get a text at the same time that reads, "I'm still here, bitches. And I know everything. -A"

Check out these outfits the girls wore to Ali's funeral.

Emily looks like she's not even wearing pants and Hanna looks ready to hit the club.
It should also be noted that each girl has AMAZING hair. I am seriously in love with their hair.

I remember when I watched this very first episode and thought that it was Ali's twin who was texting the girls. It was a popular theory based off the similar plot from the books, but since then it seems unlikely as it would be too easy for this to be the case. It should also be noted, that the show's creators and writers insist that they've known from the beginning who is "A" and that there are clues all over the place. I, honestly, am not too sure I believe that, but maybe I'll find some as I analyze!

Be sure to follow me on twitter where I can't help but tweet about Pretty Little Liars each week when it airs.


Monday, March 03, 2014

Things To Look Forward To In Spring And Summer

Okay, I actually don't have anything to add to this list because I don't have a pool and the beach isn't close enough for easy visits. So, you tell me...what do you look forward to in the warm months?

Oh, I thought of one thing:

  • Tennis*


*You know, before it's 90+ degrees because I tried to play once when it was about 100 and I almost died.