Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to Going Green, Part 1: 15 Easy Ways to Save the Planet

Welcome to "A Beginner's Guide to Going Green," a 2-part blog series about living more sustainably, no matter where you live or what your budget is!

BEFORE I START, A CAVEAT: So, a lot of people disagree that our planet is in crisis. I'm not really interested in debating that here. I've done a lot of research and have come to my conclusions based on careful studying of the issues and prayerful thought. If you're not interested in changing your lifestyle or disagree with those who want to change theirs, I invite you to read something in another corner of the internet. I'm continually researching global warming and environmentalism, and I invite you to do that research on your own as well.

Okay, now that's out of the way.

Look, something you can pin to Pinterest! If you're into that sort of thing.

So let's say you want to live greener. You want to live more sustainably. You want to exercise better stewardship over the earth. But then you start to think about all the changes you would need to make and get totally overwhelmed.

Don't worry. That's common.

The thing is that we're so used to our high standard of living that we assume our lives will have to change DRASTICALLY in order to save the earth. But those drastic changes don't have to happen all at once, and even if you only make one or two small, non-drastic changes, that helps!

My husband and I have been slowly trying to make our lives more sustainable and earth-friendly over the last year or so, and it's a journey that will continue for a few years yet. Each of these changes in our lifestyle are minor, but over time, they can make a big difference. Many of these changes aren't necessarily COMPLETELY sustainable, just a lot MORE sustainable. You gotta start somewhere. And a lot of these tips will save you money as well!

I'd recommend doing these things one month at a time if you're feeling overwhelmed. You don't have to make all these changes at once. You can say, "For the month of April, we'll implement idea #2." Then the next month, add idea #6. Etc.

IDEA #1 - Phase out the use of plastic bags.
Plastic is made with fossil fuels, and it takes decades for a plastic bag to biodegrade. We actually don't know how long it takes them to biodegrade because the first ones ever used are still in landfills. Invest in some canvas bags for groceries. A lot of grocery stores sell them for around $1 apiece, and offer small discounts when you use them. It's harder to phase out plastic bags when it comes to taking out the trash, but consider using a bag multiple times (just empty it into the bin) or investing in recycled or biodegradable bags.

IDEA #2 - Phase out the use of disposable plastic water bottles.
Not only will this save you TONS of money, you're keeping more plastic out of the landfills! The making of plastic products releases a lot of greenhouse gases as well. Why pay $1.89 for something you can get for almost free? Invest in an at-home water filter (either for the faucet or a pitcher for the fridge) and buy a more permanent water bottle.

IDEA #3 - Cut back on red meat
The farming, slaughtering, packaging and distribution of beef is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas release in the United States. By choosing a salad or fries or chicken nuggets instead of that burger, you're lowering demand for beef. As demand lowers, less will be produced. AAAAnd you'll be healthier! You can also consider cutting meat out altogether.

IDEA #4 - Unplug things when you're not using them
Many appliances use electricity even when they're not turned on, so unplugging them will save some electricity (and some money on your power bill). Electricity is commonly generated by burning fossil fuels, so you're lowering carbon emissions by using less electricity.

IDEA #5 - Turn off lights
Open curtains to let natural light in whenever you can. At night, only use lights in the room you're in. This will save you even more electricity.

IDEA #6 - Recycle
If your area has a recycling program, start using it! If you're not sure where to put your recycling bins in your house, remember that unlike regular garbage, plastic and paper doesn't smell, so you can put recycling bins on your front porch, in a coat closet, or anywhere else. You can also use two smaller garbage cans instead of one big one. (There's some debate about the value of recycling...the process of recycling releases some greenhouse gases and other chemicals. But from my research, buying new things is even WORSE.)

IDEA #7 - Buy things second-hand
The production of "new things" is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. They have to be built using machines that use electricity (burning fossil fuels), then transported (using fossil fuels). Consider shopping at thrift stores, swap meets, and on craigslist for things you need. Re-using things keeps them out of landfills, and it keeps the demand for "new things" low. Try organizing a swap meet in your neighborhood for appliances and clothing.

IDEA #8 - Eat locally and seasonally
When food has to be transported long distances--especially fruits and vegetables--they have to be picked earlier, treated with chemicals, and then trucked thousands of miles using fossil fuels. Consider buying fruits and vegetables at a local Farmer's Market, and cutting back on fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter. If you really want to get domestic, you could can and preserve fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer to enjoy them all year long.

IDEA #9 - Eat organically
The jury's still out on exactly HOW good eating organically really is for the earth, since organic food often has to travel long distances, using fossil fuels. BUT organic farmers grow their food without the use of pesticides, which is really good for the earth. Pesticides are not only pretty bad for people, but they kill a lot of bugs that the local ecosystem needs. A healthy earth depends on biodiversity, and eating organically helps preserve that biodiversity.

IDEA #10 - Walk, bike, carpool, or use public transportation
This is especially easier when the weather gets nice, but it is possible year-round in many areas. Cutting back on personal car-driving cuts back on the emissions going into the atmosphere.

IDEA #11 - Buy energy-efficient appliances/vehicles
If you're, like, a real grown up who has to buy appliances and stuff, and if you need new ones, consider purchasing some that are energy-efficient. It will use less electricity, saving you money and reducing the use of fossil fuels. If you're buying a new car, research which vehicles have the lowest emissions, or purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle.

IDEA #12 - Use old jars instead of tupperware/plastic wrap/ziploc bags to store food. 
A glass peanut butter jar does just as well storing food as a plastic tupperware container does. You're re-using something, so you're keeping the production of "new stuff" low, and you're avoiding plastic, and you're saving money!

IDEA #13 - Replace lightbulbs in your home with CFLs.
"CFL" stands for "compact fluorescent lamp." CFLs do the same job as regular lightbulbs, but they use way less energy and last lots longer. Be careful when you're throwing them away, though...they do contain small amounts of mercury, so they need to be taken to a recycling facility or the local trash company.

IDEA #14 - Compost or start a wormery
I'm still doing my own research on this, but food scraps, yard waste, and some paper products can be biodegraded on your own property, then reused as fertilizer. If you have a backyard, you can start a compost pile. If you're in an apartment, you can start a "wormery," an indoor compost box with a few worms to speed up the process and keep things from getting smelly. Check if your local library has a book on composting or building a wormery.

IDEA #15 - Organize a co-op or neighborhood garden
A co-op is a great way to save a little money and take your food sources into your own hands. The basic idea is that you get together with a few other families and share the cost, labor, and benefits of a garden or raising chickens or cows. If you live out in the country, this may be a little easier. But apartment dwellers can also ask the property manager if an area can be set aside for a garden. You can even go to your local city council and ask if there's a patch of ground that can be used. Take turns weeding and watering, and when the time is right, share in the harvest.

Happy green living! 

Tune in next time for Part 2: Big Ideas to Keep In Mind. I'll list a few of the basic concepts behind green living that can help you make more sustainable consumer decisions.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The report and a new list.

A few years ago, my BFF Carrie started doing this thing..."25 Things to Do While 25," etc. I stole her idea and have really liked it, so I'm continuing. We've both had to cut the list a little short as we've gotten older, since life would get more and more overwhelmingly full as the years went on, but I still like the idea. So I'm continuing it! But first, a report on this last year!

SEPTEMBER 8, 2013: 7 done, 2 in progress, 6 incomplete

1. Do an street art installation of some kind. Rules: Must be impermanent! No damage to property allowed.
I'm gonna count this. Not exactly a "street art installation," but it was fun and whimsical and public. And no damage to property. 

2. Self-publish a book of poetry and sell it (online, local stores, etc.).
DONE! Officially available for purchase as of January 26th. You can buy your copy here

3. Complete the T-shirt quilt project that's been languishing in various closets for over ten years.
It's still languishing. 

4. Become a certified secondary school teacher and receive my Bachelor's degree.
DONE! Although I still haven't actually seen a physical Bachelor's degree, so it doesn't feel real. I have my teacher's certification though. 

5. Eliminate red meat from my diet (uuggghhh...I love it so much! I don't even eat that much! Oh, this is going to be hard.)
Ha ha ha!

6. Eliminate the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags (shopping = reusable canvas, trash = biodegradable).
Do you have any idea HOW HARD it is to find biodegradable trash bags? 

7. Learn to juggle. (Shout-out to Carrie Chapman!)
In progress? I can kinda do it, but not consistently. 

8. Travel to a place I've never been before, and be cool about it. (Sometimes I suck at traveling...I get stressed out. I want to live life more stress-free anyway!)
DONE! I'm gonna say our Mediterranean trip was a success...I was relaxed and cool about things the whole time, even when our trip back home took 27 hours. 

9. Do yoga outdoors.
DONE! At the last 10:30 pm on September 7th, I ran into my inlaws' front yard and did a few brief poses. 

10. Build a bookcase. A sturdy one. One that shall stand for many years. But also be affordable and easily rearranged and transported.
In progress, but will need to be put on hold for a little while. Possibly a few years. Materials for this are expensive, and we need to pay off some debts first. So our books will just sit on the floor, driving me crazy, for a while. 

11. Go on a hike. (I didn't hike AT ALL this past year! How silly!)
DONE! I lived in West Yellowstone all summer, after all. My parents and I hiked the Riverside Trail in August. 

12. Attend a Parson Redheads show.
Nope. But I do get to see Brette in a week at our 10-year high school reunion! 

13. Do the temple work for at least 5 family names.
Nope. But I'm slowly making progress on genealogy. 

14. Complete reading the entire Book of Mormon with Jacob.
DONE! Finished on December 30th! We started reading roughly a year ago--right before we moved into our new place, our home teacher challenged us to read the entire Book of Mormon over the next year, and we're pleased to say we've done it.

15. Go on a spontaneous road trip.
Nope. Partly because the best time to do this is the summer, and we couldn't exactly leave the Playmill. 

(I have a bucket list, too. Wanna see it? Click here.)

Not too bad. I think 15 things is a little much, so we're cutting it down a little. And I'm totally stealing Carrie's number of things. It was kind of hard to come up with 8 things, just because Jacob and I aren't really sure what the next year holds for us, but here are the goals! A lot of them are financial, but more on that later, I think.

1. Get $1000 in savings. 
A lot of money management programs recommend getting money into savings before you try to pay off debts. It seems counter-intuitive, but this savings fund is for emergencies, and there will ALWAYS be emergencies. This way, when you begin to pay off debts in earnest, you won't be financially "interrupted" by needing to pay for a new pair of glasses, or fixing the car or something. (Not that we have a car...)

2. Pay off all credit card debt. 
We've got a few thousand in credit card debt right now, which isn't too bad, but we'd love to be credit-card debt-free by September 8, 2014.

3. Pay off five student loans completely. 
I've got like, 14 of them, some larger than others. I was going to specify an amount, but I like the idea of just paying five student loans off. Bam. Gone.

4. Go an entire month without paying for eating out once. 
Eating out is one of my biggest weaknesses, and I'd like to slow down. And if I want to pay off debt, I'll have to. Notice, however, I just said without "paying" for eating out. If someone else wants to take me out to eat, that doesn't count. Really, we won't be able to afford eating out at all, but sometimes you get weak, and having this goal will be fun motivation.

5. Recover a chair. 
Or make a chair cover. They're kind of the same thing, but one involves fewer staple guns.

6. Face a fear. 
This is a hard one to measure, and I have a few in mind, but it's something I want to do. I originally wanted to "overcome a fear," but that's a lot of pressure to put on yourself within just a year, and how do you know when you've actually "overcome" it? So I'll just face one down this year, and if I also "overcome" it, more power to me.

7. Do a paid voiceover, television, or film gig. 
The time has come, people. I've done plenty of live theatre, and it's time to expand my horizons a bit more.

8. Do a "photo-a-day" or "video-a-day" project to document one month of my life. 
Maybe it's a little self-centered, but it's always seemed like a cool project. So I'll do it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Final Three Weeks...the last Playmill Highlights.

It’s been hard for me to write this entry. Partly because there’s a LOT to write—a lot can happen in three weeks. But also because I’ve got some kind of psychological block. You could probably just call it writer’s block, but I think writing this entry also has something to do with closure, and I just haven’t been ready for that yet. But the best cure for writer’s block is to just write, so maybe the best cure for not being ready for closure is to just close it.

So, here they are. The Playmill highlights of the last three weeks.

Week 17 was a week in which we learned to just go with the flow. By some cruel trick of the universe, we lost both of our technicians within the same week, so Katie Ludlow joined the Playmill family at the last minute as our cover technician. I became the sound tech for “Beauty” nights, since “Beauty” is complicated enough to need a separate light and sound tech. We had a…rocky few shows as we were learning. We truly learned what Stacey was talking about when she said that the tech booth is a horcrux and that it makes people cry. There were never really any HUGE mistakes, except one epic sound fail, which I’ll talk about in a minute.

The biggest crisis was that the first Saturday Luke and Joe were gone, we finished a show of “Beauty” and during the lunch break discovered that the “Seven Brides” lighting disk wasn’t loading. So we…didn’t have lighting cues for the show that was starting in oh, ten minutes. So, Katie ran “Seven Brides” off of the “Beauty” cues, which meant it was basically lights up, black out, and Stacey filled in as the sound tech, even though she hadn’t run tech for four years. Oh, and Roger and Jake were both gone. So that was crazy. But they ROCKED it, and Heavenly Father helped us through, and it was one hell of a Saturday. Joe drove all the way from Boise and reprogrammed everything on Sunday, then drove all the way back to teach school again on Monday.

The hardest thing about rocky tech stuff at the end of the season was that we had all gotten so USED to the rhythm of everything…the timing of each blackout, the volume of each song. When it was the tiniest bit different—one second earlier or one second later—it felt like a huge deal to the cast. In reality, the shows were really FINE, but it threw everyone into such a panic that the week felt rockier than it actually was. Katie rocked it, I think I might have rocked it, except for that one epic sound fail.

It was EPIC.

So, in the classic number “Gaston,” we had a choreographed face punch in the middle of the big dance break. It had a fun little sound effect that was a visual cue—you hit “GO” on the cue right when Squire wound up to punch Mason. All was well, Squire wound up to punch Mason, I hit “GO.” But instead of playing the face punch, SFX (the sound program) started playing the NEXT SONG. If you know SFX, you know that it means that both “Gaston” AND the next song were playing AT THE SAME TIME. It sounded chaotic and awful, so in my panic, I did what I was taught to do in sound design class…stop ALL the cues. In my memory, this moment happens with a mighty “shutting down” sound effect…the lights even flicker in my mental playback. In reality, it was even more awkward…everything just stopped. And I had NO IDEA where in the music to go to pick up again. I sort of tried to find a place to pick up, but it was hopeless. Stacey happened to be up in the booth, and if she hadn’t been there to talk me through, I don’t know what I would have done. She told me to just let the cast move past it and pick up as soon as we could. The poor cast just sort of stood onstage for a moment before kind of starting to wander off. Roger came on and began his scene about the beast having Belle locked in a tower, which normally has underscoring, but didn’t because I had just stopped all the cues in a panic. They did the whole scene and then Squire normally starts the Gaston Reprise (“Lafou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking…”). Squire looked up at me with this look of panicked hope, and I just gestured to him to keep going, since I assumed that the Gaston Reprise was part of the underscoring cue. (Which, ha ha, it wasn’t, so I totally could have played it.) Squire and Jacob sort of awkwardly spoke their lyrics, before allowing it to descend into improvisation:

Squire: Lafou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking…
Jacob: That’s a dangerous pastime…
Squire: I know. But that whacky old man that’s Belle’s father...he’s out of his mind.

Then they do a whispering bit before launching into a full out reprise of “Gaston,” which there was no way they could speak through. They did the whispering bit, and Squire started saying something like, “We should put her father in the asylum…and I have just the man to do it…” then looked to Jacob to add to it. He saw this look in Jacob’s eyes and thought, “Yes! He’s got an idea! He’ll solve it!” and when Jacob opened his mouth, he said, “Yes. But first…” And between Stacey, Katie, and I, we all decided it was time for a black out, so the lights dimmed just as Jacob was saying, “We have to go…into the other room…”

That’s one for the books.

Also, during Week 17, Misha (Frumah-Sarah) fell during the “Dream” in Fiddler. It was bound to happen at least once during the summer. During the “Dream,” she’s sitting on Mason’s shoulders, who somehow does a great job of walking around under this huge dress on a nearly dark stage. At the end of the dream, Misha says, “Here’s my wedding present, if she marries Lazar Wooooooooollfffff!” and on the “Woolf,” she’s pulled up through the ceiling by Boyd and Jerry, Mason ducks down and exits and we all run offstage and it’s AWESOME. Misha’s exit upward is assisted by a few of us onstage who are gathered around her, pushing her feet up. Well, this one night, through a combination of factors, she just didn’t make it into the ceiling. Dave couldn’t find her foot in the huge tattered wedding dress, she wasn’t in the usual place onstage, there was something weird in the timing. So when she said, “if she marries Lazar Wooooooooollfffff!” instead of disappearing into the ceiling, she disappeared sideways and backwards into the crowd of us onstage. I like the think we handled it pretty well, most of us staying onstage to try to mask Misha as she attempted to get offstage. (Except for Jacob, who panicked and just ran off.) The problem was that Mason was still sort of under her, and she was wearing about 20 feet of tattered wedding gown, and it was really dark onstage, and she kept trying to crawl off, but we all kept stepping on the wedding gown in our attempts to hide her. Everyone made it off okay eventually, but it was an awkward few seconds.

So that was Week 17. The lesson learned was to be flexible enough to just go with whatever happens, and to trust that Heavenly Father will help you through.

Weeks 18 and 19 were far less dramatic, which was a nice change. Second to last Sunday, we went to Virginia City as a cast, which included wandering town, window shopping, the traditional candy store splurge, and the ghost walk. Now, later, one of my most vivid memories of that day is actually just the drive out to Virginia City. I rode with Squire, Jerry, Tanner, and my husband, and there was a big storm going on kind of around us, and we were listening to 90’s music. Just one of those moments that stand out in memory. Nevada City’s living history museum was closing right when we got there, but the kind people allowed us to come in and explore anyway, which was awesome. We also enacted a scandalous story of old timey saloon happenings (with Stacey's original captions, because they're awesome).

The lovers meet in secret.

His wife enters in a jealous rage. 

A brawl begins. 

The married couple reunites. 

The sheriff comes to check the saloon out. 

He arrests the wife for murder. 

Everyone fights again. 

The End. 

(Someone needs to take all this and make a fun, old-timey silent film out of it, with subtitle cards and everything. Maybe I will someday.)

In past years, the cast hasn’t done the ghost walk, but it’s one of my FAVORITE things, so I made phone calls to make sure it was happening and that we could go. Our tour guide couldn’t make it at the last minute, so the manager offered to either refund us or take us herself, even though she hadn’t done a ghost tour in twelve years. We decided to just go for it, and I remembered that I actually have a love-hate relationship with ghost walks. Because they’re fun and interesting and totally really actually scare me. But I’m the one who was all gung-ho about insisting on the ghost-walk, so I couldn’t let anyone know I was actually SCARED, so I just kept asking where my husband was and obsessively gripping his hand the whole time.

The last two weeks were also filled with family—Dad and Mary and Isha came to visit, along with Melissa and Kyle, and then later, Mom came! (Dad and Mary and Co. actually came during Tech Hell Week 17, but whatever.) We also went home to Rexburg for one Sunday for the baby blessing of little Benjamin! It was a beautiful day at Jacob’s parents’ new house, which is a lovely house, enchanted by the spirits of L.M. Montgomery and J.M. Barrie and Laura Ingalls Wilder, full of trees and wild lawns and gables. And our sweet nephew Benjamin was big enough to get out of the hospital! Go Ben!

There were a handful of other good “Fiddler” moments, too. Like the one night when everyone’s headscarf came off during the wedding dance. (Bad Jews.) And the night that Crusty inexplicably panicked and forgot a line. We’d been doing the show for THREE MONTHS, and for some reason, he became incredibly uncertain what his line was. It was supposed to go:

Me: A pot.
Trudy: A pan.
Crusty: A broom.
Jerry: A hat.

But about halfway through the word “broom,” Crusty panicked and just stopped talking. He said, “Br—” The confusion of it made Jerry’s next line a question.

Me: A pot.
Trudy: A pan.
Crusty: A br--
Jerry: A hat?

The fun part about being tech for “Beauty” was that once we knew what we were doing, it meant we kind of got to watch the shows and anything crazy that happened onstage. (Even though Katie and I did two entire shows half-asleep once. We called it our “La la la putting on my lipstick” night, and every single cue we barely made on time because we were just orbiting other planets.)

Anyway, favorite moments include when Mason’s “fellow candlestick” hat came off during “Be Our Guest,” and instead of putting it back on and continuing, he just walked offstage, leaving Max and Tanner to their own devices. They both kneeled in preparation for Mason’s usual cartwheels before realizing he wasn’t there and doing ten extra Russian kicks to make up for it.

There was also a great moment in “Beauty” when Cogsworth’s pendulum fell off his clock costume. He couldn’t pick it up in his big clock costume, so he looked to Dave (Lumiere) and said, “Will you pick that up for me, please?” Dave looked at him for a moment, with his candle-covered hands in the air and said, “Look at me.” The two of them looked over at Heidi, who was dressed as a teapot, and they all realized that because of their costumes, NONE of them could pick up the pendulum. Eventually, Dave Walker entered and at some point in the scene picked up the pendulum, admonishing in his beast growl, “Keep your dangly bits attached!”

There were two moments of “feedback farting” in “Beauty” that are worth recording. The way the theatre is set up, there’s one or two areas onstage where you have to be careful of body mic feedback. Normally, I got pretty good at being aware of it and avoiding it, but twice it got the better of me. The first time, Dave Walker’s mic set the speakers off, and after an obnoxious feedback “waaaaaahhhh” from the speakers, he covered for it by waving his hand in front of his nose and saying, “Scuse me.” It sent everyone, audience and actors alike, into hysterics. Dave M’s next line, “What were we thinking? We will never be human again” was adapted into “With manners like that, we will never be human again,” and I think it took Hannah a solid five minutes to stop laughing. The second time it happened, it was Cogsworth’s mic, and Crusty did the same cover, with an added comment about the scent being “slightly pine-y, what with the wood and all.”

Closing night of each of the shows was emotional, although we did have a crazy dance party before closing night of “Fiddler.” Katie played the track for “Tradition,” and we did our own improv’d version, complete with Cam playing Tevye, who was actually just Bill Cosby. This cast has been told so many times to stop ad-libbing that it sort of just exploded out of our systems. We each played the different roles, did one another’s lines and dances, and experienced something between hysteria and catharsis. “Anatevka” that night was hopeless, though…during both the 6 and 8:30 shows, at least half of us were sobbing, myself included.

During our final Saturday, as we ate between shows, we passed out yearbooks and Playmill rings, reminisced about the summer, and made nominations for the Braying Jackass Award. I don’t know when the Braying Jackass Award started, but it’s been a tradition at the Playmill for at least thirty years. One person gets the award for doing something stupid or irresponsible or generally jackass-y. Boyd won for “Disney On Ice,” which is what we call the night that he sprayed the stage with silicone before “Beauty and the Beast” for some reason that made sense at the time, but just ended up making everyone slip and slide and fall during the entire show.

Another fun thing about closing the shows was that Squire shaved his beard! It had become a pretty mighty beard by the end of the summer, so it was quite the event when he shaved it. It started out as Squire, Stacey, me and Mason in the boys’ bathroom, but as word spread, the crowd grew as more and more of the beard came off. It kind of came off in stages, and at one point someone pointed out that Squire looked like Jean Valjean. He started singing, “Do You Hear the People Sing,” and slowly the crowd in the bathroom started joining in, until it was real-life Les Mis in there. When he got down to a mustache and soul-patch, he put it to a vote, and the majority said to keep it, so he kept it. All night, I kept doing double takes, wondering who the guy helping with flats was.

There are a hundred, thousand, million other images I’ll carry with me from this summer, but I think the one I want to close with is this one. During the finale of “Beauty and the Beast,” everyone comes onstage and stands together as they sing. Katie and I were already crying sometime around the beast’s transformation, so we kept having to wipe tears away to see the stage well enough to hit our cues. As everyone walked on during the final 8:30 show, half of the cast was crying, and as they were singing, they slowly joined hands, until the whole cast was standing hand in hand, crying and singing…this big cast family that was sharing the stage for the last time after a beautiful beautiful summer.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Another list of...

...documentaries. Of course. During the summer at the Playmill, I didn't watch many, but now I'm back in Rexburg, and in my post-Playmill depression, I've been watching lots. Especially about ancient aliens. Here are a few to add to the list.

Ancient Egypt: The Mystery of the Rosetta Stone
A historical documentary with strong cinematography and great acting? Awesome. And an exciting and interesting documentary about history and language.

Real Ninjas
So awesome! This talked about the tools and weapons that real ninjas used, many of which gave rise to the myths surrounding their abilities (e.g. scaling walls, catching swords with their bare hands, walking through walls, etc). Ninjutsu is actually a pretty cool combines the skill of the samurai with the discipline and philosophy of Buddhism. Cool, huh?

There is a whole plethora of documentaries about how aliens visited/created ancient civilizations, and I love almost all of them. I've been on a big ancient alien kick, so I'll just link the handful of episodes I've been watching. (My opinion? I'm open to the possibility of aliens visiting earth, but I'm even more open to the idea that human civilization goes through cycles of knowledge and ignorance, light and darkness, and that we're insulting our own humanity by saying those who came before couldn't have done what we do. But there's still some pretty amazing stuff in the ancient world. Underground cities! Magnetic earth lines! Peru!) Anyway, have fun watching these.
Ancient Aliens - Proof They Set Up Our Civilizations!
Ancient Aliens - Mysterious Places!
Ancient Aliens - Underwater Worlds! 
Ancient Aliens - A Secret Code!
Ancient Aliens - Tombs! 
Ancient Aliens - Puma Punku!
Ancient Aliens - Power Plants! 

And I really debated about posting these last two, but I decided to because they were so interesting and it was totally possible for me to watch them appropriately. They talks about ancient traditions and beliefs about sexuality, the culture surrounding sex, and some of the laws involved. Fascinating. There's actually a whole series, but I've only watched the Egypt and Rome ones. Reader/Viewer discretion advised.
Sex in the Ancient World: Egypt
Sex in the Ancient World: Rome