9.17.2016

Fall 2016 TV - Meh

Last year, I was rather unenthusiastic about the new Fall TV schedule. This year is a little better, but it's not all that great.  The shows I'm most looking forward to are:  This Is Us, Insecure, and Divorce. 
   
Atlanta has already started and I'm liking that one.  I read a quote from Donald Glover, the star and writer, that said "Anytime we would get to a point where it's like, 'That feels like a sitcom,' we would try not to do it."  This is why I like the show so much.  There's nothing formulaic about it at all, and the humor is often subtle and just cracks me up.

Here's my plan for the fall:


I decided to drop Madame Secretary and Elementary on Sunday nights.  They got a little dull last season, and I decided not to go 'there' again.  As a result, CBS is getting no love from me this year.

Last year, I added four new shows.  Grandfathered and The Grinder were canceled (Grandfathered deservedly so, The Grinder should have had a second season) and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin are still on.  I enjoyed the first few episodes of Jane the Virgin, via streaming, but I decided not to dedicate a lot of time to it.  Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was good at first, but I became exhausted by the main character's stupid decisions, so I let it go. 

This year, I'm adding 12 new shows (11 are shown in bold italics in the chart...the 12th, Impastor, is in its second season, but I'm adding it based on my friend Kerri's recommendation).  I'm watching the first season on Hulu as we "speak" - it is pretty funny.  I'll give them all a fair shot and then decide.

The Washington Post gave Notorious a grade of F.  It's the only new show that received an F.  I'm curious to see what an F-rated show looks like, but since I tend to agree with Hank Steuver's reviews, I'm sure it won't last.  That's a shame because I do really like Piper Perabo.

So, off we go.  Here's to a new TV season.  At a later date I'll get into the streaming shows--looking forward to the new season of Transparent and there are some new shows that look promising.


9.11.2016

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

The Girl with the Lower Back TattooThe Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I listened to the audio version and overall enjoyed it. There were a few chapters (usually those about her celebrity) that amounted to a lot of humble bragging, but there were also a lot of chapters where her self-deprecation and humor was more personal and reflective--I liked those chapters the most. I haven't picked up the hard copy, but in other reviews I read that the writing seems choppy. That didn't come across in the audio version--perhaps it's the best way to enjoy this book.


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9.04.2016

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

The NestThe Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I usually try not to read reviews before I read a book, but did catch several reviews where people didn't like any of the characters in this book and therefore they gave it a low rating. As a result, I went in with low expectations, but that wasn't my experience at all and I ended up pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the characters and the relationships between the siblings. I think this was a good debut and I look forward to whatever the author comes out with next. I alternated between the physical book and enjoyed both the writing and the narration.

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8.17.2016

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adored this story about Ove, a grumpy man, and the people that invaded his life. It's so charming and funny and sweet. I laughed out loud many times, and also had a few tears. There's such beautiful and thoughtful language:

One of the most painful moments in a person's life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead. And when time no longer lies ahead of one, other things have to be lived for. Memories perhaps. Afternoons in the sun with someone's hand clutched in one's own. The fragrance of flowerbeds in fresh bloom. Sundays in a café. Grandchildren perhaps. One finds a way of living for the sake of someone else's future.

This was my favorite quote:

People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.

I simply loved this book.

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8.06.2016

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book made me laugh. A lot. I went back and forth between reading the book on my Kindle, and listening to the Audible version. One day, I'll have to go back and listen to the whole thing because as read--almost acted--by Martin Jarvis, it's even funnier.  The story is about end of the world.  Because the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale have come to enjoy life on earth as it is, they decide to try to stop it.  I really enjoyed the friendship between Crowley and Aziraphale, and Crowley was my favorite character, actually. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is because I was a bit disappointed with the ending. Still, I enjoyed every bit along the way.

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7.31.2016

Almost Interesting by David Spade

Almost InterestingAlmost Interesting by David Spade

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5 Stars

I've never been huge fan of David Spade's. I liked him on SNL well enough, but I haven't seen many of his movies, and didn't know much about him. At the recommendation of a good friend, I went ahead and listened to his audiobook, which he narrates. It's pretty crude and raunchy at parts, but through his story, his self deprecation, and the way that he chuckles at what he's reading, he endeared himself to me. I really enjoyed the chapters about SNL and movie making. I had never seen Tommy Boy, but after listening to that chapter, I watched it on Netflix, and was pleasantly surprised by what a sweet movie it actually is. I had no idea. The audio book with David's narration is quite funny and I'm glad I listened.


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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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