Questions from the mail bag

I titled this blog as if I receive loads of questions from all over the world and I'm taking some time to answer a few questions I've received.  This isn't quite that since all of my "mail" comes from one person in the form of responses to earlier blogs, but it's close enough.  My friend Kerri commented on some recent posts and I decided to respond to some of her responses here, just because.

Regarding my post about Truly Madly Guilty

I added a spoiler to that post, saying that even though I didn't give away specific plot points, my discussion of the structure might ruin it for some. Kerri commented:

you're funny to warn of potential spoilers because there really aren't any

I know what you mean Kerri, you wouldn't think there's a spoiler there. HOWEVER, because I've had such a weird experience in spoiling something for someone, I figured I should add that. By "someone," I mean my sister.  WARNING:  This story really does contain spoilers:

Years ago, I read James Patterson's Kiss the Girls. As I was reading, I could picture the book so clearly as a movie, and I told my sister that they should cast Cary Elwes (Westley from The Princess Brideas the killer if they make it into a movie. So, sure enough, they did make it into a movie.  Debbie went to see it and as soon as she saw Cary Elwes, she knew that "he done it," and it ruined the movie for her.  How was I to know I was such a good casting director?!

End spoiler

Regarding my post, "Back by Popular Demand - My Fall TV Schedule"

Kerri wrote:

I'm so curious which ones you liked, and which ones are still on. i haven't heard of several- like ghosted.... Is "Kevin" still on? is it good?
This is a good opportunity to follow-up--I'm glad you asked, Kerri! Of the new shows I started, I didn't really care for Ghosted. The bad reviews I read for it were spot on, which was a shame, because I liked the cast.

Same for 9JKL - my mom really likes this show, but I found it too annoying. The premise is that Mark Feurestein is an actor whose show is canceled, and I think he also is getting a divorce (he's single, anyway), and he moves home to New York to his family's building.  His parents live in Apt. 9J, he's in 9K, and his brother and sister-in-law are in 9L. Hence the title. This was one of those CBS sitcoms that does too much with it's laugh track. The "audience" was cracking up at things that weren't that funny. Linda Lavin and Elliott Gould played the parents--his mom is supposed to be overbearing, but on this show, it wasn't cute nor funny. It was just annoying.

10 Days in the Valley was good, but I guess it didn't do well in the ratings. It stopped airing after the 5th or 6th episode and then they put it on Saturdays to run it out. I still have to watch the finale on Tivo to see how it comes together.

White Famous was just okay. I watched the whole season, but it honestly didn't make me laugh that much.

I watched all of The Menendez Brothers - it was okay. It kept me interested enough to see what happened, but it wasn't NEARLY as good as the OJ Simpson show. It's a different franchise, since Menendez fell under Law & Order, but you could tell they were trying to achieve the same magic as the OJ show. The next American True Crime show (which OJ was) is going to be about Versace's murder--it looks good too.

Will & Grace is probably the biggest disappointment.  It's really hit or miss. Some episodes have been really funny. Others have been tired.

The Good Doctor is good, but, and I feel terrible saying this, but the actor portrays the main character (a new doctor who is autistic) with this sing-song lilt when speaking that really grates on my nerves.  I ended up dropping the show. The actor has beautiful eyes though.

I dropped Great News. Hopefully NBC will drop it too.

Kevin is still on and I love it. It's a feel-good show every week. Jason Ritter is just great and it's fun.

Young Sheldon is great too. And I really like The Mayor.

What's not on the list is SMILF which I also loved. It started after White Famous and is about a single mom. It's so well done. Rosie O'Donnell plays her mother. Connie Britton's in it. It's hard to explain why it's so good, but it is.

So that's it for the mail bag.  Until next time....


Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Truly Madly GuiltyTruly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.  I don't reveal the exact plot points of the book, but discuss the structure of the book which for some could spoil it.

I didn't really enjoy this much. I think seeing HBO's great "Big Little Lies" ruined it for me. Reading the same back-and-forth structure between some "big event" and the following days was tedious. When what happened during the big event was finally revealed, I was completely unimpressed. I'm annoyed with myself for reading all the way through and finishing the book. I was strung along and it kept my interest long enough to find out what happened on the big day, but I should've stopped reading after that. I guess I kept waiting for something interesting to happen, but it never did.

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Unbelievable by Katy Tur

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American HistoryUnbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. I listened to the audio version and shook my head in disbelief more times than I can count as Katy was describing the various stages of the campaign. It's like I relived the whole thing, which isn't really a good thing. However, I like Katy Tur and it was interesting to see behind the curtain of a journalist following a presidential candidate.

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Wonder by R. J. Palacio

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this story about Auggie--a young boy born with severe facial disfigurement who enters school for the first time as a 5th grader. (He'd been home schooled previously.) There's a good message for everyone, no matter the age. My only issue with the book is that it seemed sometimes the author forgot she was writing about 10-year-olds. It often felt like I was reading about high school freshmen or sophomores rather than 5th graders, and I'd stop and ask myself, wait, aren't they only 10?! Overall though, this was a very enjoyable book and I look forward to seeing the movie.

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The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing WorldThe Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With all of the negative emotions I've had over the past year, and after seeing the Dalai Lama and his joyful belly laugh during his interview on 60 Minutes, I really wanted to read this to try to have a better outlook with what's going on in the world. There is a lot of good information in the book and good advice from these great men, but I fear that the people who most need the message about being compassionate towards one another, wouldn't seek out a book like this in the first place. I LOVED the exchanges between Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama, but could have done without the author/interviewer's explanations. It would have been sufficient for him to ask his question, and provide their responses without further summarizing and interpreting what they said. That's the explanation for 3 stars instead of 5.

If there's a movie of this, I would love to see it.

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Back by Popular Demand - My Fall TV Schedule

Yes!  You heard that right.  Back by popular demand!  What that translates to is, my mom asked me when I'm going to do my list.  So, here it is.  What I'm watching this fall.

I'm more excited about this season than I have been the last couple of years.  I'm adding 13 new shows, but two of them don't count because they've been on before:  Will and Grace and Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Looking forward to the return of both of those.  

Last season I added 10 new shows, and five of them lasted.  Insecure aired this summer and was great and Atlanta is coming back at some point.  For the fall, the others include This is Us, Speechless, and Better Things (love!).

The show I was most looking forward to (and just finished watching) is This Is Us.  It's such a good show.  

The show I'm most dubious about is Ghosted.  I'm watching because I love Adam Scott, but I read a really bad review of the show.  I'll give it a couple of rounds and then decide.  

Other new shows include Ten Days in the Valley, which I'll watch because, Kyra Sedgwick.  I'll be watching 9JKL to 1) figure out what the title means, and 2) Mark Feuerstein.  White Famous looks funny.  Law & Order - Menendez Murders is on my list because of Edie Falco.  I just saw a few minutes of it and see that Joel from Parenthood is in it too, so, BONUS!  Kevin (Probably) Saves the World has Jason Ritter--I really like him too.  The actors and actresses are really what is drawing me in this year.  Star power!

I'm disappointed that black•ish is no longer on Wednesdays and that they moved American Housewife to Wednesdays.  That was one of my new shows last season, and though I like the lead actress, I didn't care for the show.  BUT, it looks like black•ish will be a good lead-in for The Mayor which is about a rapper who runs for office to promote his album but then actually wins. It's gotten good reviews, so here's hoping it works out.  

The biggest surprise on my list is Young Sheldon.  I watched the first couple episodes of The Big Bang Theory when it first started, and it just wasn't my thing.  Something about Young Sheldon intrigues me though--a lot of it is 80s/90s nostalgia, and aslo, I like the little kid who was in Big Little Lies.

So, that's the scoop.  If there's anything else I should be watching, please let me know!


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!)


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!


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.


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.