7.24.2016

Jennifer's Way: My Jouney with Celiac Disease.... by Jennifer Esposito

Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease--What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live AgainJennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease--What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again by Jennifer Esposito

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I was diagnosed with celiac disease in October 2015 and found it interesting to read about someone else's diagnosis and recovery. My symptoms are different than Jennifer's and thankfully, I haven't (yet) come across any doctors, employers, friends, or family who questioned me or treated me poorly when I'm not feeling well. I thought the book could use some editing--there was a lot of repetition, so I did find myself skimming quite a bit. Still, it was interesting to read another perspective. I also think it would be a good read for non-celiacs so they can get a better understanding of the disease and learn the differences between this auto-immune disease versus a fad diet. Those points really resonated with me.

I do look forward to trying some of the recipes at the end of the book.


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6.24.2016

Not my thing, but...

The other day, four separate friends were posting on Facebook that they were at the Cure concert.  They were reminiscing about the old days and saying the band sounded as good as ever.  I started thinking...do I even know any songs by the Cure??  When I was in high school, there was an alternative rock radio station that I only listened to occasionally.  I know they played The Cure, and Depeche Mode, and, and and....  Stuff I never got into.  It just wasn't my scene.  (Though, I know they played the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I somehow got into them in college.)

ANYWAY.  I went to iTunes and pulled up The Cure's Greatest Hits album.  Out of 18 songs, I recognized two:  "Just Like Heaven" and "Friday I'm in Love."  And that was it.  And the only reason I recognized those two songs is because they were in movies I enjoyed.  (Of course, I can't remember what movies those were.) 

I started thinking about how I have pretty diverse musical tastes, but there are still things I don't care for.  Like The Cure, I realize now.  And as I've mentioned plenty of times, I'm not a real fan of country music.

HOWEVER.  There are exceptions.  There's an album my dad had called "Rhythm Country & Blues" which was a collaboration of country singers and R&B or Blues singers.  I love that album.  (I'll have to write another post about this at another time--someone remind me about "Patches.")  I love the Zac Brown Band's "Free."  I have Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" and Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" on my iPod.  I eventually got the Rhythm Country & Blues album for myself.  I even downloaded a few songs from the TV show, Nashville.  So, every once in  while, a country song will slip through.

This morning I texted my dad and sister to announce that another country song is being added to my country collection.  Steven Tyler was on the Today Show this morning.  He has a new country album coming out and he debuted the title song, "We're All Somebody from Somewhere."

Well.  I LOVED that song!  I rewound and watched the performance about five times this morning.  Here's the kicker for me:  It's a FUNKY country song with a horn section and everything.  I can get down with that.  I just loved it.  I'll definitely be adding it to my iPod and I'm actually looking forward to hearing what else Steven has to offer in the country genre.



Actually, that bass line that starts at about the one-minute mark reminds me of one of the Chili Peppers songs.  Can you hear it?


6.19.2016

Man. Season 4, Orange is the New Black (SPOILERS!!)

Warning--this post has SPOILERS!!!!!

I watched Season 4 of Orange is the New Black this weekend, and as someone said on Twitter, it was both deeply disturbing but also the best season yet.  I agree whole-heartedly.

Around episode 11, I texted my friend Alicia saying, "I've never been so infuriated with the show.  Not because there's anything wrong with it at all, but because of the plot lines."  After I confirmed that she was watching, I wrote, "These new guards are KILLING ME!  So much abuse and the ladies taking all that abuse are not able to say anything.  I want to smack Caputo in the head.  I had this same feeling when I read the book."  Alicia wrote back:  "Watching this is so uncomfortable.  The abuse of power is especially terrifying, since it's probably pretty realistic."

At the end of last season, the old corrections officers walked off the job.  This season they were replaced with militarized guards who had serious issues with abuse of power.  Abuse of power was a big theme in the book as well, and it's infuriating to read, because the inmates are people too, and I think that thought gets lost in the correctional system.

When I was watching the final episode, I was literally on the edge of my seat, screaming at the TV and covering my mouth with my hands in anticipation.  It was INTENSE.  Alicia wrote: "I just finished this season" with what I would call an "OMG" emoji.  I wrote back and said, "Me too!  Just now!  Holy fuck! (Pardon my French!)"  I later said, "Oh my god.  My heart is still pounding.  I'm all cried out from Poussey's death.  All the feelings!  Oh my god."

Alicia said the season did a good job of showing that there are good people and bad people.  On both sides--the guards and the prisoners.  I told her, "Wow.  What writing.  So many of those ladies deserve acting awards.  Alex contemplating what she did.  Taystee when Poussey died.  Pennsatucky.  Piper during the branding.  Holy shit. There was so much."

Then I added, "My head hurts from crying.  I was seriously sobbing when Poussey died.  I don't usually react to TV like that.  Goodness."

Alicia said, "Goodness.  I can't even process how emotion this season was."  I said, "I know!  Oh my god!  When Diaz picked up that gun, I was screaming in my house.  By myself.  Nooooooooo!!!!   Oh man."

So there you have it.  My reaction to Season 4.  I cannot wait until Season 5.  What did Diaz do?!?!?!

UPDATE (6/21/16) - I opened up a Vanity Fair article and just this photo of Taystee and her grief made me tear up.  The photo alone should garner Danielle Brooks an Emmy award.

6.17.2016

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - SPOILERS!!

Luckiest Girl AliveLuckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


SPOILER ALERT!!


Mixed feelings about this one. The first half was better than the second. The parts written about what happened to TifAni was difficult and painful to read. The part about the school shooting was also tough to read, not just because it was a school shooting, but also because I didn't see it coming, and read it just days after the horrendous Orlando shooting at Pulse. After that took place, the last third of the book dragged along and I found myself skimming quite a bit.

I was prepared to give the book 2 stars because I didn't enjoy it that much, but then I learned that the author herself was a victim of rape (http://www.elle.com/life-love/a35202/...). I then understood why that section was so painful to read--it was because she was writing from a horrible, personal experience. I bumped my rating to 3 stars because I have to respect that she was able to write that down. I hope it was cathartic for her.



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5.30.2016

I hate feeling disappointed.

When I first turned on the TV this evening, I saw that a hockey game was starting on NBC.  I immediately said out loud, "Jesus.  Is hockey still on?"  It's got to be the sport with the longest season, ever.  It seems that an ice sport shouldn't still be on in the final days of May.

Anyway, I checked the guide and saw that So You Think You Can Dance was on.  I felt excited, changed the channel, and then was reminded that this season is for the "next generation," meaning, 8- to 13-year-olds.  Eh.  That was a bummer.  I didn't realize the whole season was kids...I thought they were just a part of the show.  I'm not taking away from these kids' talent at all, but I'm not really interested in a full season of young kids.  I'll give it a try, but definitely feel disappointed in the new format.

Sigh.


5.24.2016

Feeling old with the Billboard Music Awards

I recorded the awards so I could see Madonna's tribute to Prince.  I saw that it was panned pretty badly in the reviews the next day.  But, I wanted to see it anyway.  I also like what Questlove had to say:  
So I know there is gonna be A LOT of ‘feel a certain ways’ about who you want to see do his music justice – but you gotta put that aside y’all....Every Prince rendition will not be a life changing orgasmic [experience]. Just to SING his work is brave enough. Again feeling are on high, and EVERYBODY wants and deserves a chance to say goodbye in their own way. But remember: there will be AMAs, SoulTrain, NAACP, mtv, GRAMMYS, and a gazillion other tributes. But the point is let’s not get ugly with playing the ‘Prince would and wouldn’t approve’ game.

I admit, I wasn't thrilled at first to hear Madonna was doing the tribute, but the more I thought about it, why shouldn't she?  She, Michael Jackson and Prince were all born in the same year.  Prince was a friend of hers. She's from his era.  She knows his music.  It makes more sense than some up and comer doing a tribute, who wasn't even born when Purple Rain came out.


5.13.2016

Okay, I'm done.

I've been mulling this post over in my head for quite some time now, and today I'm finally ready to put the words down.

Let me start by saying that my favorite night of television is Wednesdays on ABC.  I love The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, and black•ish.  Especially the first two shows.  It seems like each week, when those shows end, I say--out loud--"Oh!  I love this show so much!"  A couple of weeks ago, The Goldbergs had a "behind-the-scenes" episode and they mentioned how the first two acts are funny and then the third act will have a tender moment that gets you emotional.  It's a formula, but it works for me.  The Middle follows this same pattern, so really, when I'm saying, "Oh! I love this show so much!' there are usually tears in my eyes as I say it.

There are other great shows on that I just love every time I watch them--these currently include Veep, The Good Wife (which, sadly just ended), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Grinder.

Watching TV consumes my time, and I know I watch WAY too much TV.  And lately, I've been taking note of the fact that there are plenty of shows I watch out of habit or loyalty, that I really don't enjoy that much.  I don't end each show saying, "Wow! That was great."  And often, I'm moaning and groaning about what's going on.  These shows build up on the Tivo, which is a sign to me that I'm not all that anxious to watch.  The shows I love, I watch immediately.

With all this in mind, I'm starting to eliminate shows that I'm just not enjoying that much.  I already deleted Gotham. I think after Jada Pinkett left, it just wasn't as interesting.  When it was gone for winter break, I didn't miss it, and when I saw that it was on again, I let 2-3 episodes build up on the Tivo and I realized, you know what?  I really don't need to watch that, and I deleted the season pass.  The same exact thing happened with Empire.  I really enjoyed the first season, but then it just started to get too soap-opera-y, and I realized I was no longer interested.

Things came to a head today (and this is what prompted this post) when I was watching this week's episode of The Blacklist.  It was on for about 20 minutes, and I realized, I couldn't care less about what was happening.  It was dull and I miss Red and Liz's interactions.  I'm not convinced that she's really dead, but I'm not going to spend one more moment waiting to find out.  I stopped the show, and said, "That's it.  I'm done."  Deleted.

I've got some other shows that need to up their game, or they're going to be dropped too.  Nashville comes to mind.  Oh god--the drama is so bad and repetitive, and again, too much soap opera stuff.  Then there's Gray's Anatomy, although this week got interesting, so we'll see what happens.  I'm going to drop Madame Secretary now that The Good Wife is gone.  I really only watched it because it came on between 60 Minutes and The Good Wife.  

Meanwhile, this summer I'm looking forward to So You Think You Can Dance, though I'm not sure about the twist with young kids.  We'll see.

Speaking of young kids--Little Big Shots has been a joy to watch.  It's a nice way to end the weekend and head off the Monday blues. (Even though I don't really suffer from Monday blues anymore now that I'm in a new job I like, but still.)

It feels good to clear this clutter off of my Tivo.   It's freeing up time so I can work on the clutter in the rest of the house!

UPDATE:  Just saw that I'm not the only one ready to drop Nashville.  ABC is dropping them too--now I don't have to make that decision.  I'll go ahead and finish out the last three episodes and then it'll be done.

UPDATE 2 (5/16/16):  Now I just heard that Jada Pinkett is coming back to Gotham tonight.  Sorry Gotham.  You're too late.  I won't be back.

UPDATE 3 (5/24/16):  AND, I was right about Blacklist!  I'm still not going to keep watching though.  Too little, too late! Oh and The Grinder was cancelled.  That one upsets me.


4.29.2016

After You by Jojo Moyes

After You (Me Before You, #2)After You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


2.5 stars.

I read this immediately following Me Before You, and couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. It's still a quick read and I enjoyed parts of it, but I didn't connect with it like the first one.

***SPOILER***

I don't usually comment on (or even pick up on) these kinds of things, but it really bothered me that when Sam got shot, it was done by someone with an "Afro-Carribean appearance." Of course, a black guy did it. My feelings about the book took a turn there and I found myself really annoyed by it and that whole story line. It was too contrived. 

***END SPOILER***

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4.21.2016

Prince - RIP

Prince died today.

This one really hurts.  Just this past Tuesday, I listened to Prince all day long.  So many songs bring back so many memories.

When "Do Me Baby" came on, it reminded me of the time I was in junior high and singing the song while at home, minding my own business.  My mom came in and said, "You better not sing that at school, or someone just might 'do you,'" as if I went around singing through the halls at school.

When "Diamonds and Pearls" came on, it reminded me of one of my favorite days ever--the day my college roommates and I took a one-day bus trip to NYC.  I bought the Diamonds and Pearls CD at Tower Records and listened to it for three hours straight on the way back to school.

Anything from Purple Rain just makes me happy.  Any time I come across the movie, I stop to watch it.  I own it, but I watch it on TV anyway.  The acting is so bad, but it's so good.  My uncle's girlfriend at the time, had three sons who were in the audience during the Let's Go Crazy scene.  We always tried to pick them out, but were never really sure.

There was a headbanger that lived down the street from me in junior high and high school--he was all about the hair bands and had big and long hair himself, and often wore black eyeliner to school.  We were hanging at his house one time and he pulled out the Purple Rain album.  It was so cool to discover we had that in common.  I'll never forget when he put on "Let's Go Crazy" and when Prince sang, "Called my old lady, for a friendly word, she picked up the phone, dropped it on the floor-- 'Ah, ah,' is all I heard," Eric raised his arms above his head and did two pelvic thrusts in time to the "ah, ah," just like Prince did in the movie.  I cracked up--it was such a surprise!

As I listened all day, I alternated between whether "Purple Rain" or "Adore" is my favorite.  But then I realize I have to say favorite slow, or favorite fast song.  Other favorites are "Pop Life," "Gett Off," "Erotic City," "7."

I sometimes cry through the song "Purple Rain"--if it catches me in a certain mood.  Today was definitely one of those days.  I put the movie on this evening just to watch that performance and the finale with "I Would Die 4 U" and "Baby I'm a Star," which definitely helped lift my spirits.

What about all the times we heard "1999" the year before the year 2000 rolled in?

The best concert I ever saw was Prince when he was touring for Musiscology.  We paid $60/ticket for nosebleed seats--those were the only seats left ten minutes after tickets went on sale.  The CD came with the tickets too.  My coworker sold his $60 tickets and bought $150 tickets on the floor from a scalper.  After seeing the amazing show, I vowed to pay whatever it cost to get floor tickets the next time I saw Prince in concert.  Unfortunately, I never had that opportunity.

And there's this...my favorite performance of his.



I will really miss those sexy eyes and that sly smile he had that always suggested something mischievous.



The world lost such a talent today.  I'm devastated.

4.18.2016

Thanks for the surprise, iPod!

I have a LOT of music on my iPod touch.  I'm not at home right now so I can't check the exact numbers, but I have a vague memory of seeing at some point I had more than 2500 songs on the iPod.

There are plenty of albums on there that I rarely listen to.  How could I get to them all?!  As a result, when I use iTunes' "Genius Lists," I often find myself surprised by what comes up.  (For those who don't know, iTunes has a feature where you pick a song, and then it will create a playlist of similar songs from the rest of your music library.)

This morning, I created a Genius List from The Commodores' song "Oh No*."



I then settled in to my seat on the Metro (subway), closed my eyes, and listened.  After a few songs, I was completely surprised to hear, "Islands in the Stream."  But it wasn't Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.  I was thinking, "I have this song on my iPod?!" and "Who's singing?!"  I opened my eyes, pulled out the iPod and discovered it was the BEE GEES!  The Bee Gees?!?!  And it was an album cover I didn't even recognize:



When did I buy that? I don't even remember. And apparently I had never listened to the whole thing, or just forgot that they did "Islands in the Stream." I had no idea. (I have to admit, I've always liked Kenny and Dolly's version of the song.) This was a pleasant surprise.

*For what it's worth, I remember the song "Oh No" from the movie "The Last American Virgin."  As I was listening to that song this morning, I was also reminiscing about seeing that movie with my best friend when we were about 13 or 14 years old.  We had rented it on VHS from Erol's video store, which was our store long before Blockbuster arrived.  Then I started wondering, how did we slip that movie past my mom?!  She would've had to be the one renting it.  It seems totally inappropriate for two 13/14-year-olds to be watching a movie about a geeky kid trying to lose his virginity.  Hmmm....I'm going to have to ask my mom about this!  Anyway, I remember the kid being upset, driving in the car, and listening to "Oh No."  I think he had tears streaming down his face. And I, meanwhile, fell in love with the song.