9.16.2017

My Top 25 on iTunes - September 2017

I just revisited my Top 25 Most Played list on my iPod recently.  I created a Spotify list of those songs.  Some of the list isn't surprising to me at all because a lot of these are my favorite songs, but some of the songs are quite surprising.

Here are the Top 25--note that there are only 24 songs on it.  That's because "Rock with You" by Michael Jackson is on their twice, from two different albums.



The biggest surprise is Trent Harmon's "Falling" -- he was a contestant on Amercian Idol and this was his final song and I love it, but I haven't listened to it in a long time.  I clearly listened a LOT when I first downloaded it.  Another surprise is Madonna's "Keep It Together," because again, although I love the song, I didn't think I listened to it that frequently.  Most of the other songs are on a playlist I created called "Makes Me Happy" which I do listen to all the time--it includes "Mercy," "Love on Top," "Outstanding," "Love Never Felt So Good," and others.

I don't remember the last time I reset the count, but the range of "listens" on this list is from 137 times ("Drink You Away") to 285 times ("Can't Feel My Face").  "Love on Top" is second at 241.  That surprises me too, because based on how I listen to music, I would expect "Love on Top" to be #1.  I often listen to that song 3-4 times in a row when I hear it.

I'm going to reset the count on my iPod now and see how it looks after six months, just out of curiosity.  (I'm going to have to put this on my calendar, because otherwise I'll forget!)

9.07.2017

Summer TV is ending

I'm looking forward to the new fall TV season, but until it starts, here a few things I've been watching.

Ozark - great show!  The finale was crazy.  I heard it was renewed for a second season, so I look forward to that.  It's in the show's description that Jason Bateman is playing a financial adviser who launders money for a drug cartel.  Things go awry and he moves his family to the Ozarks.  Besides starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney--both of whom I love--what I really liked about this show (and I don't think this is a spoiler, but maybe it is, so if you don't want to read it, skip to the next section) is that Jason was always completely honest with his wife about what was going on, so there was no part of the plot where he was trying to hide secrets from his family.  I feel like we have enough shows like that, so this one was a bit original.

World of Dance vs. So You Think You Can Dance

So a while back, I mentioned that I kind of liked World of Dance better than SYTYCD.  Now that SYTYCD is getting close to the finale, I can say that at least for this season, I like them both equally.  What I liked about World of Dance is that each week, the participants danced in their own style and were judged numerically, highest score wins.  It moved quickly, the judges were likable and the performances were great.  Last season of SYTYCD is the first season I didn't watch, and that was because it focused on young dancers, and I just wasn't interested.  I also get a little creeped out at young kids dancing ballroom--they remind of of Jon Benet Ramsey with the makeup and costumes.

Anyway, I digress.  What I've liked about this season is that they brought back 10 All Stars from previous seasons and during the audition process, they each select a partner to dance with.  So you get to see the new talent, and you get to see old faves.  Once they got down to the Top 6, I think, the contestants were paired with each other, but we still got to see them perform with the All Star.  It's been really good and there are so many great dancers this season.  My favorite personality of the group, Mark, was unfortunately voted off last week, but everyone remaining is so good, I'm rooting for all of them.  I think that Lex is in the running to win.

Dave Chappelle 

I had some friends over last weekend and because our weather was so crappy, we scrapped our plans to visit a few neighborhood haunts and instead ordered in Italian food and watched Dave Chappelle's two specials on Netflix.  We laughed SOOOO hard.  He is just a funny guy.  We thought the first special was funnier (The Age of Spin), but they both had us cracking up with tears streaming down our faces.  (The second special is called Deep in the Heart of Texas.)  I just called my dad and told him to watch, but also warned him that it's not appropriate for my mom.

My mom asked when my fall TV schedule will be posted.  I'm hoping my Fall TV Entertainment Weekly arrives tomorrow and then I'll be able to pull my list together.  Stay tuned!


7.19.2017

Blown away

This week on World of Dance, they selected the top two performers from the teen group.  These two young ladies have stood out from the very start, and wow, did they bring it this week.



In case you're wondering, their final scores were separated by 1/2 a point. Diana (11 years old!) in the first video got 92, Eva (age 13) got 92.5. Next time they compete head to head. How do you choose a winner from these two?! Amazing.

7.16.2017

Quick TV Review

I've said it once, and I'll say it again--there's too much TV!  There are so many shows to watch and it's getting harder and harder to keep up with what everyone's watching.  I've watched a lot of TV over the last few weekends and just wanted to give a quick review.  (And keep this as a reminder for myself of what I've watched!)

Orange is the New Black, Season 5 - did I already write about this?  I liked some of it, I hated some of it.  I hated the sadistic nature of the whole season.  It was really kind of gross.  I also hated that the whole season covered maybe 5 days.  The riot storyline got old.  But then it had some great moments like Tastee fighting for the memory of Poussey.  It did end with a good cliff hanger leaving me wanting to know what happens next.

House of Cards, Season 5 - this season left a lot to be desired.  I don't find it as clever and smart as I used to.  However, the last line of the finale will keep me watching.

Veep - Same thing.  Selena was particularly mean this season.  She's always mean, but this season I didn't find it as funny.  I kind of think it's because of all the mean-spritedness in real-life politics.  Watching Veep is no longer an escape.  It's too real.  This was my least favorite season.

Suits - Suits is back on.  It's not the same without Jessica, but it'll do.  As I was watching the season opener, I was thinking about the cast and wondering if working with Meghan Markle is any different now that she's close to being royalty.

Glow - I liked this Netflix series a lot.  It's about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, which was apparently a show in the 80s that provided a lady version.  In the series, Marc Maron casts a bunch of down and out actresses to create his show.  I read that some of the writers came from OITNB, and that's why this show has a similar feel.  All the ladies have their own back stories.  I've never had any interest in wrestling, but the show isn't really about that.  It's about the characters.  I liked it.

Friends from College - I really wanted to love this Netflix show, but in the end, I kind of hated it.  The first episode was promising, but then it just got icky.  There's no one to root for.  Well, I like Fred Savage's character, but he's not the main focus.  If this gets renewed for a second season, I'd be surprised.  I also don't plan to watch.

Playing House - I thought I had written about this before, but apparently I hadn't.  I LOVE this show.  It's about two best friends--one of them quits her job and moves home to help the other through a divorce to raise a new baby.  I love the women on this show.  Season 3 is out, but I decided to go back and watch the first two before I start 3.  I read that one of the actresses, Jessica St. Clair, had cancer in real life and they wrote that in to Season 3.  I'm sure it will be bittersweet, but also well done.

Handmaid's Tale - whoa!  I'd read that the show is better than the book, and it is!  They added a lot more dimension to the story and created storylines that I wondered about when I read the book.  It's very well done and Elizabeth Moss is great, as always.  Can't wait for season 2.

I think that's everything.  If I think of anything else, I'll come back later in the week.

7.10.2017

The unexpected juxtaposition of two books

The last book I read was The Handmaid's Tale.  I enjoyed it, but decided not to write a review because as I read through the reviews on Goodreads, I didn't think there was anything else I could add.

The day after I finished that book, I started listening to the audio version of Trevor Noah's Born a Crime, which is read by Trevor, and which I am thoroughly enjoying.  What keeps hitting me, though, are the similarities between the two books.

The Handmaid's Tale is a fictional account about the subjugation of women by white men (this was true in the book--I've seen the first two episodes of the Hulu show and they seem to have taken race out of the equation).  In Born a Crime, Trevor describes the real-life subjugation of black and colored (mixed-race) people by white people under apartheid in South Africa.  A true story that's not too distant in our past.  (Trevor was born under apartheid in 1984.)  That just blows my mind.

There's a lot of discussion in both books about how the men in power separate groups and maintain control over them.  In The Handmaid's Tale, the women were not allowed to read or talk with each other for fear of the women spreading ideas of uprising.  In South Africa under apartheid, black people weren't supposed to learn languages outside of their own tribe's.  Those in power had to keep the various tribes separate and apart.  It's strange to read these things back to back and it's  disheartening to think of how badly those in power can treat people in order to maintain that power.  And of all of these thoughts are happening in my head in the midst of today's political landscape where they're trying to kick millions and millions of people of health insurance.  

Sigh.  So, that's what been on my mind for a few days.  I'll do a proper review of Trevor's book when I'm done.  For now I can say it's quite educational and thankfully, also quite funny.  I can use the laughs.

6.06.2017

It all started with an alligator

Are you ever in a conversation with someone and then you say something out loud and the other person has no idea what made you say that? You may have been talking with your friend about mashed potatoes and then all of a sudden you mention something about having to take the car to the shop. The friend is wondering where that came from and then you have to explain that mashed potatoes reminded you of your trip to the grocery store to buy potatoes and how when you came out of the store, you discovered your check engine light was on in the car and therefore you have to take your car to the shop.

This happens to me a lot. Sometimes I'm not sure what the connection is so I try to solve it like a mystery and then when I realize the connection, I feel so excited.

Maybe it's just me.

5.22.2017

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow SunHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the audiobook and give 4 stars for the writing and story, and the extra star for Robin Miles' narration. This is probably the best narrator I've heard. She does Robin Miles does a different tone of voice and accent for each major character, so you can easily distinguish who's speaking. It was fantastic to listen to. I see that Ms. Miles has also narrated Hidden Figures, so I will listen to that at some point.

The story is historical fiction about the main characters' experiences during the Nigerian-Biafran war, a subject I knew nothing about. It's always painful to read about how people suffer during war, but this really helps you understand life living as refugees and really tugged at my heart considering all that's going on in the world now.

View all my reviews

Update:  I just came across this interview of a man who describes when the war came to his village.  So much of this is described in the book.  Wow.

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/magazine-25737837/the-day-the-biafran-war-came-to-my-village

4.24.2017

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That HappenedHyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book had me laughing until I was crying, many times. Yet, it also has the best description of what depression is like that I've come across, so it was also very thoughtful. I wasn't familiar with the blog of the same name, but I will now be an active follower.

View all my reviews

4.16.2017

Mission: Tackle the TBR list

I came across this blog the other day about an approach to whittling down a "To Be Read" list of books.  I have an ongoing problem of buying books but never reading them.  I get distracted by new books and feeling like I need to read them right then and there, so I set aside whatever I was reading at the time (or what I was intending to read next) and then never go back to the original book because something else comes along.

In this blogger's approach, she only allows herself to bring in one new book for every two books of her own that she read.  Two out, one in.  I like this idea.  She set up some rules for herself and I'm adopting two of hers for myself:

  1. Rereads don't count.  I don't often re-read books but I do from time to time and these won't count for my "out" list. (It's almost time to read To Kill a Mockingbird again.)
  2. Books that are given to me as gifts don't count toward my "in" list.  As the original writer says, I can't help if people want to shower me with books.
  3. This one I'm adding -- books can include those on my shelves, those on Audible, and those on my Kindle.

The blogger uses a bullet journal to keep track of her books.  If you haven't clicked to go see the original post, her journal looks like this:

OUT: 
OUT: 
IN:

OUT:
OUT:
IN:

etc.

Then she fills in the books accordingly.  I'm going to keep a similar journal here on my blog.  As I just finished a book that had been on my shelf for quite a while, I'm starting there.  Another goal of this endeavor is to clear my bookshelves so that I'm only keeping books I love and I want all of my books to fit on the shelves I have, without having to expand to new shelves.    Here's where I'm starting:




I don't like how I have books in front of others, or books sitting on top of others.  I want this shelf to be orderly and I have a lot of work ahead of me.  Looking at these photos, I have a few other rules to add:

  1. I'm not going to read The Bible. 
  2. I'm also not including instructional books like the ones I have for photography. 
I also have a bad habit of starting challenges and not finishing them, so we'll see how this goes.

4.02.2017

The sounds of Big Little Lies

Tonight is the finale of HBO's Big Little Lies.  I've really enjoyed this show and can't wait to find out who got killed and who's the killer.  At this point, I honestly have no idea.  They've done a really good job of making you believe it could be anyone and that everyone is under suspicion.   I never read the book, and I'm glad I didn't because I've enjoyed how this showed has laid out the mystery with the snarky police interviews with the other parents at the school and the glimpses into the messed up lives of the three main characters.  I'm really looking forward to the finale.

The other thing I've REALLY enjoyed about the show is the fantastic soundtrack.  I love that Reese Witherspoon's daughter on the show is so into music and listens to these obscure, haunting, soulful songs.  A couple weeks ago, I checked iTunes to see if the soundtrack was available, and lo and behold, discovered it was coming out on March 31.  I just downloaded it and look forward to listening.  It seems like one of those albums you'd put on for quiet times or maybe when you're feeling melancholy.  I don't think it's something you'd put on to cheer you up.  Hopefully it won't have the opposite effect and depress me though!  I don't think it will, but I do think it will help when you're in a reflective mood.  I'll let you know.