Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving and the world's worst pie

I can cook about as well as I can sing, which is to say it's possible for me to do, but no one else wants to be around when it happens. Most of what I'm making for Thanksgiving will come from mixes or frozen pop-in-the-oven stuff (that cook-in-the-bag turkey breast is a delicious lifesaver!).

I wanted to make one thing from scratch, but it needed to be easy. So I tried a recipe for crock pot pumpkin pie. This is what I got:

Saturday, October 31, 2015

10 picks for a book club reading list you can't resist

 Book Club (courtesy of
Maybe some of you could resist my list if you really tried, but why deprive yourself of delectable reading material just to spite my love of rhyme? Hang with me; the payoff is in the pages.

One of the hardest parts of any book club is selecting novels all the members will love every single month. While you're about as likely to find that as a unicorn, what you can find are wonderful books that most members will enjoy and the disenchanted few will at least be able to appreciate for some aspects (like gorgeous writing) and find topics to mull over.

I think of book club choices in terms of heavy and light. Alternating between the two strikes a balance to meet members' differing tastes and lets you temper that beautiful yet complex book one month with a breezier read the next. My heavy choices aren't really *that* heavy (War and Peace didn't even come close to making my list), but they weigh more in both effort and impact than light options. That doesn't mean they're suffocating or boring, but it does mean they should be masterfully written and leave you feeling like the time invested to read them was well spent.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book review: "Just Kids" shares a rapturous look at art, love and friendship

How did I not read this beautiful, lyrical, infatuating memoir before now? Just Kids waited silently on my Kindle for nearly three years, bought on a whim thanks to a sale price and lush reviews. But with almost no knowledge of Patti Smith or her work, I foolishly let it languish along with so many other titles destined to collect digital dust.

The swell of articles and interviews for Smith’s recently released follow-up M Train rained down more praise of the preceding book as well as the new, reminding me that I really should see what the fuss was about. Already in possession of Just Kids, it was easy enough to get started. The hard part, I discovered, was to stop thinking about it.

The book details her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe that spanned from the late ’60s until his death from AIDS in 1989. Smith made her bold arrival in NYC at age 20 with only one suitcase, little cash and no fixed residence. She met Mapplethorpe the first day, and they soon forged a close bond that left them emotionally entwined and dear friends long after their initial romance ended. Just Kids focuses primarily on her early years in New York with Mapplethorpe before they both gained artistic renown, and before their lives and loves took them separate ways – physically, at least. They always maintained an emotional connection, one that Smith lovingly and eloquently recreates for readers.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Patti Smith drops some knowledge on us, and it's awesome

I've recently been reading the wonderful Just Kids by Patti Smith, and in searching for more information about her came across the video below. It's inspiring life advice for the young, the artistic, the human. Anyone, really.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Streaming video picks worth a click

Streaming options that entertained me over the summer months but I was too lazy to write up until now:

-Peaky Blinders: Love, love, love this drama about a criminally inclined family in Birmingham, England, set after World War I! Based on the real life Peaky Blinders gang, it includes an awesome and appropriately gritty soundtrack. It took me a few episodes to really get into it as I don't always care for harsh, gritty tales of crime and such. But once it pulled me in, it had me. It's kind of a British Boardwalk Empire. Two seasons are available on Netflix. Check out the oh-so-perfect for the mood theme song below.

-Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel: This sci-fi comedy features the adorably clumsy charms of both Chris O'Dowd and Anna Faris. It's fun, silly and pleasant. That may not sound like a ringing endorsement I suppose, but a good comedy is hard to find and this is one you'll enjoy. And it's streaming free on Amazon Instant Video for Prime subscribers.

-Catastrophe: This sitcom about an Irish schoolteacher and an American ad exec unexpectedly finding themselves in the family way after some casual hook ups is loads of fun. It's often surprising and just ever so occasionally a bit disturbing (I think that's unintentional -- the male lead has a layer of menace behind his words a couple of times, and I think it's just his expression and the way he says the lines that may be adding more than is meant. Otherwise, this could turn into a show about a serial killer and that would be a bummer). This also streams free on Amazon Prime.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Affair recap: Season 2, Episode 1

Helen sitting on her stoop, having a vape, not giving AF. Nothing to see here folks, move along. The Affair is back on Showtime, and it's got us hooked at the Choco household. Again.

Now that we already know the characters so well from season one, you fall into the first episode of season 2 like your comfy old bed -- with a dirty, dirty lover waiting in it.

The first episode shows us the viewpoint of Noah first, then his soon-to-be ex, Helen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Getting my geek on with Star Trek and William Shatner

You ever hear something that excites your soul and celebrate that knowledge by squealing like a stuck pig? Yeah, me too. It happened only yesterday when I learned there's a new book out called The Autobiography of James T. Kirk by David A. Goodman. Sqwee, gasp, engage wishlist warp factor 10!

Let's look at a few Trekkie tomes pulled from my bookshelf below. You think the Kirk bio will fit in? Hell yes, it will! Note two of the books by William Shatner are hardback. As in, purchased immediately after release (or received as a Christmas gift shortly after publication). 'Cause yes, I used to be that level of fanatic.

Star Trek delights from my bookshelf

I even used to love a good Trek Con. This was back in the days when most conventions were one actor visiting towns large and small to talk a little Trek smack and sell some signed photos (then I discovered Atlanta's DragonCon with the access and free entry of the hallowed Media Pass, and I was in geek heaven). I never went so far as to dress up, but I did get to interview and chat with various Trek luminaries.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why Sick in the Head should be on every comedy fan's bookshelf

Comedy fans who go deep will love Judd Apatow's Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy. Those who don't merely enjoy comedy but relish seeing how the jokes came together, including the life experiences and technique a comic draws on to create his or her act, will devour this book.

A compilation of 30 years of interviews with comedy greats on how they got into the biz and how they write, as well as some general experiences from the road, this book alternates between funny, fascinating and just plain fantastic. It even serves up insightful advice about life in general (for instance, check out what Chris Rock and Harold Ramis have to say in my excerpts below).

Seriously, go to Amazon now (or actually walk into a bookstore, if you've got one handy) and get this STAT. Don't sweat the price -- the proceeds benefit 826LA, a literacy charity. My frugal self bought this as soon as it came out rather than wishlisting it and waiting for a price drop or hitting up the library, like I usually would. My uncharacteristic full-price buy was not only because I greedily wanted to get my hands on it immediately, but because I could feel good about helping a charity at the same time. So grab a copy and pat yourself on the back for your largess.

Here's the gist of how this all came together: Apatow, before he was known for the groundbreaking show Freaks and Geeks and hit films like The 40 Year Old Virgin and Anchorman, was just a kid who wanted to know how to make it in comedy. So he did what any wise-ass teen would do -- he bullshitted his way into interviewing comedy heroes, starting with Jerry Seinfeld in 1983 (he follows up with a second Seinfeld interview in 2014, offering insight to where the comic was at very different stages of his career).

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Playing House: My new "comfort food" viewing favorite

I'm enjoying a moist, chewy brownie as I type this, thinking how the USA sitcom Playing House is to my soul what this brownie is to my mouth -- delightful, reliable enjoyment that lifts my mood and makes me happy in a warm and toasty kind of way. The show administers visual comfort food, if you will. And I've been on a binge.

You know what it's like? It's like watching Gilmore Girls in its general atmosphere, its aura, if you will. Yes, this show is approaching a Gilmore Girls level of viewing joy for me. One of the show's leading ladies, Emma, even name-checked its atmospheric predecessor in season one, saying her idea of a great night was to "steal a bunch of mini cupcakes and then go home and watch Gilmore Girls." It's like she sees into my soul and speaks my dreams.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Get Sick in the Head for $3.99

For comedy fans yearning to look behind the scenes and see how they make the donuts, it doesn't get much better than Judd Apatow's Sick in the Head.

This collection of interviews with comedy greats started 30 years when Apatow was just a ballsy teen seeking a blueprint on how to make a career in comedy. He decided the best way to educate himself was to pick the brains of comedians via interviews, at first purportedly for a radio station that his subjects didn't realize was just a tiny high school project. He interviewed dozens of big names in comedy over the years: Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Mel Brooks, just to name a scant few.

I'd been planning to post about some of my favorite segments of the book when I discovered it was on sale for $3.99 for Kindle! That's right, get it while it's hot -- there are no dates on this sale, but these little unannounced deals Amazon does usually come out of the blue only to disappear without warning within two or three days.

I'll be back later with some of the highlights and insights I found in the book, but for now, get your hot little hands on your own copy!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Why I don't dig Oyster ebook subscription

I heard of Oyster ebook subscription service long ago, but from what I could tell, it wasn't exactly the the "Netflix of books" it claimed. Yet curiosity got the better of me when I found a summer deal offering three months for .99, so I pounced. And basically wasted a buck (well, maybe not wasted, since it taught me I no longer needed to wonder whether I'd enjoy Oyster).

Before I popped on the offer, I searched Oyster for books I wanted which weren't already available from Overdrive at my local library (I prefer checking out ebooks -- I've gotten to the point where I like reading them better than physical books, and they're more convenient to get from the library). Oyster had every title I wanted, but they were only marked with a purchase price. I assumed that once I was logged in as a member, these books would be included to read for free. Haha. Hahaha. Silly me. Of course they weren't.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book club burnout: It's OK to ditch a dud

Whenever I cast about for ways to meet new people, I start eyeing local book groups. It’s theoretically a happy blend of reading (love it) and making new friends (hopefully).

It’s hard to find that magic combo book group where the time, place, and reading material perfectly align. So I settle for coming close – if the time and place work, I’ll sign on even if a few of the book choices don’t intrigue me, as long we’re swimming in the same general literary pool. After all, a benefit of book clubs is discovering some gem I never would’ve picked up if left to my own devices, so I’m willing to roll the dice a little.

Playing the odds, I decided to try two book groups after moving to a new city a few years ago, and wound up sticking with both for a long time. One meets at the library and is presided over by a librarian; it’s fairly focused and doesn’t stray too far from the topic at hand. The second is more relaxed – it meets at a cozy coffee shop, and the informal discussion meanders away from the book before long. I like both vibes, the one of seriously discussing the book, and the other of casually having coffee with the girls.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cool stuff to read and watch

Many lovely, good things await out there for the avid readers/watchers right now. Some notable choices I found worth my time and/or dollars (and maybe yours) include:

Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow: The writer and director Judd Apatow lives, breathes and loves comedy. I didn't even know he used to do stand-up, but yup, he did. He also made a point of interviewing his comedy heroes, going back 30 years when he was still in high school. This book collects those interviews and adds some new ones (I'm only about 25% of the way through and loving it). And bonus, book proceeds go to 826LA, a charity to promote literacy and creativity for children. Sick in the Head is interesting, funny, and an education in comedy and performing. You'll find a few useful nuggets about life and work in general, too. You'll even get the fun fact that Garry Shandling was a writer for Sanford and Son (?!), though you'll never learn how many times he used the word "dummy" per script (as in Fred's abusively loving line to Lamont of "You big dummy!").

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

7 awesome audiobooks to rock your road trip

The heat is on, the days are long, and the season of road trips has begun. Long, hot, boring road trips. Oh, the monotony as those hours roll past like the asphalt under your wheels. An amusing or compelling audiobook with kick-ass narration will hit the spot like a frosty glass of Long Island Iced Tea. Audiobooks let you switch things up with listening to music to keep you alert as the hours drag on. Besides, you're probably already over that road-trip playlist you spent hours making.

My choices have grown-ups in mind, so if you need to entertain younglings on the journey, these are not the droids you seek. To get these titles, check your library's digital downloads through Overdrive or look into Audible (here are some tips for finding deals and free trials there). These should also be at iTunes if that's your go-to spot.

Crazy good audiobooks for traveling, in no particular order, include:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Audible freebies and tips to squeeze the most out of your membership

I never knew if I'd be all that interested in audiobooks, but when I heard about free trials, I decided to give it a go (free is free, after all). I not only learned that I loved audiobooks (most often humor or memoirs, as I usually prefer to read fiction so as not to literally lose the plot!), but that there are ways to make the most of a free trial or stretch out the bargains when offered a cut-rate monthly price plan.

I've been meaning to share what I've learned about how to squeeze the most bang for your buck out of an Audible membership for awhile, and I'm finally turning my list of tips into an actual post. A couple of membership deals currently available make this the perfect time to drop some knowledge on y'all.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sunday night TV recap

Just some thoughts on Sunday night's shows (those that I've finished, I've still got a few to watch):

-I enjoy Silicon Valley, but that show stresses me out! Can anything ever work out for those crazy coders? They take one step forward and get smacked five steps back. It's just a show, but I still feel anxious for them. As an aside, I don't know why it took me so long to realize this, but Martin Starr, who played the geeky Bill Haverchuck on the tragically short-lived Freaks and Geeks, is Bertram Gilfoyle on Silicon Valley! (Wondering what all the F&G alums are up to? You ask and the Internet answers.)

-The Game of Thrones episode "The Dance of Dragons" seemed to fly like a dragon on wing, which is how I know I really enjoyed it (the shorter it feels, the more interesting it was). Despite the child murder and sex crimes that are a staple of the show's many horrors, its glories keep pulling me back in. When Daenerys climbed on her fire-breathing "child," I couldn't wait to see what happened next. Cut to credits. Blast! I also couldn't help thinking, what, um, about your friends that are still on the ground, surrounded by baddies? She's a bit self-centered; I suppose that's the royal bloodline and entitled ruler in her and whatnot.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Little House books: It's hard out there on the prairie

Note: For an updated take on the Little House books that includes talk of Prairie Fires (a Pulitzer-winning book that digs deep into the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder), see here.

I grew up cherishing the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As a child I didn’t just play house, I played Little House. I imagined living in a log cabin while pining for a piece of horehound candy and a tin mug to call my own. I craved a gingham dress even though I couldn’t pick a gingham anything out of a lineup.

The Ingalls family suffered adversity aplenty, from failed crops to dire illness, and endured many periods of barely eating enough to survive. The books resound with Laura’s wonder at the world and evocative descriptions of pioneer life to such an extent that it’s easy to overlook the underlying hardship. That’s the allure – the wide-eyed awe of the storyteller takes the sting out of the harsh bits (especially when you’re too young to fully understand).

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cool stuff to read and watch

What's taking my free time lately includes:

The Night of the Gun by David Carr. The full title to this memoir of drug abuse and redemption by the late New York Times journalist is The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life. His Own. It's a fascinating tale of how close you can come to drowning your life and potential in drug abuse and still come back from the depths (with the aid of a little writing talent and a lot of friends willing to help you get back to good).

Grace and Frankie on Netflix. The title characters played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin steal the show, whether they're sharing a scene or not. Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson are also great as the husbands who decide to leave their wives for each other, but the focus is on the ladies. The supporting cast includes four adult children (two from each set of couples), with the breakout character seeming to be June Diane Raphael, playing Fonda's daughter who runs her mother's company. I really enjoyed this show, and apparently so did Miley Cyrus (one positive tweet from her is credited with helping the show get picked up for another season).

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book review: Maybe We'll Have You Back

Actor and comedian Fred Stoller's Maybe We'll Have You Back: The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star serves up an engaging glimpse into life as a performer who's always the bridesmaid but never the bride. Or, as he puts it in the subtitle, someone who's a "Perennial TV Guest Star."

He's gotten countless small gigs and guest spots, but never struck oil as a series regular in a hit show early in its run (or even a modestly successful show -- he did land regular spots on a few series, but probably nothing you've ever heard of because they were gone before you could say "New issue of TV Guide"). He got or nearly got regular spots on a few higher profile shows, but it always came just before the series ended. This is not the guy to blow on your dice for luck at Vegas, 'cause he's got none to spare.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mad Men recap: A Satisfying Goodbye (Part III)

It's taken me awhile to get here, but let me finally wrap up my last Mad Men recap (even typing those words leaves a melancholy echo in my thoughts).

Joan, Roger and Pete -- I'm good with how all of those characters were left. It would've been nice if Joan and Roger had coupled up earlier in the series, but by this point I think it would've felt too artificial. They'd missed too many chances, and by "they" I mostly mean Roger. Remember after he had the heart attack and Joan realized how much she cared for him, and he seemed ready to tell her he loved her, but instead told her she was the best piece of ass he'd ever had? Yeah, that was the sound of him stomping into dust a lot of years of happiness he could've had with Joan. And they had a few other moments that just weren't grabbed. I see them as always being friends, and maybe if he's alone again as he gets old and frail, Joan may be the one taking care of him. Or rather, stroking his hand while she yells orders at the employee doing the actual caretaking.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mad Men recap: A satisfying goodbye (Part II)

We know for sure Don created the Coke ad because Matthew Weiner confirmed it. That makes the ending so much better than if we were left with uncertainty on that point -- if we didn't know he returned to advertising, we'd wonder if he ever went back to work (and his kids), or if he kept the wandering nomad routine forever (or met some grim end). I already appreciated how well things were wrapped up for the other characters, but if you weren't sure if Don had created that ad or where his life was headed, it kinda blew as far as his storyline was concerned. But even before it was confirmed,  I felt sure he'd created the ad. Everything we'd seen in Don's retreat seemed like the inspiration that came out in the finished commercial (sort of like with Seinfeld in the early days, when the episode was about his inspiration for the stand-up set included in each show).

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book deals

A slew of good deals await Kindle users with Amazon's Gold Box Deal of the Day.

My top choice of the lot is the SNL oral history Live From New York: The Complete Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by its Stars, Writers, and Guests. It's been a few years since I read this, but if I recall, some highlights included Tina Fey telling exactly what she thought of working with Paris Hilton, descriptions of what it was like to work with the famously difficult Chevy Chase, and Dan Aykroyd recounting just about any of his stories. There are also some touching recollections of the late Gilda Radner. I have it in paperback but snagged an ebook anyway.

Other popular books at a bargain rate include Water for Elephants, The Namesake, How to be a Woman, and many more.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thanks, Dave (nothing could ever be this good again)

Frickin' Foo Fighters, playing frickin' Everlong, one of the most beautiful, powerful songs possible to accompany the final rapid-fire clips of David Letterman's show before he signed off for good. I still haven't completely shaken the emotion of it. You should have to put a disclaimer before something like that. And it fit so well (of course, Everlong always seems to fit any mood and situation):

If everything could ever feel this real forever
If anything could ever be this good again
The only thing I'll ever ask of you
You gotta promise not to stop when I say when

But Wednesday night, Letterman did stop. He signed off for the final time to begin retirement. As much as I hate to see him go, I think he did the right thing at the right time for himself.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mad Men recap: A satisfying goodbye, (Part I)

I'm still recovering from Mad Men's series finale (Person to Person) two nights ago. I was so wired I barely slept after watching the wonderfully satisfying episode. It was better than I could've hoped for and gave more closure and answers to fans than I expected.

First, let's deal with Peggy and Stan. For years fans have buzzed with the hope those two crazy kids would get together, and damned if Matthew Weiner didn't come through. Yes, it was a little schmaltzy, but so frickin' what?! It was awesome and I think appropriate. I clapped my hands and yelled "Yay!" at the screen, and watched the scene twice (still clapping and uncontrollably yelling, "Yay! Yaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy!"). It was a joyous moment.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cool stuff to read and listen to

Books: I'm currently enjoying Anthony Doerr's beautiful novel, All The Light We Cannot See. For insight into how he developed the idea for the story, check out this interview.

Music: Valerie June's Pushin' Against a Stone jangles my speakers at the moment. I read a review of this somewhere and added it my wish list, then forgot about it like hundreds of other things I mark to check out later. But with some Microsoft credit about to expire, I cast about for something to purchase and landed on this (thank you, Xbox Music). So far I'm loving June's unique sound, that's a bit country, blues, gospel and folk.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mad Men recap: Don set adrift, or how my head exploded

Last night's penultimate episode of Mad Men, "The Milk and Honey Route," blew my mind -- almost literally. By the time it was over I had such a throbbing headache I had to call it a night, though I couldn't fall asleep for hours and then work up a few hours later for good. Granted, I always have a problem sleeping, but this was extreme even for me. I don't know if the sharp, jagged blows delivered by the storyline did me in or if it was the margarita I subbed for ChocoVine to see me through the tense episode, but by the time the credits faded my head hurt so badly I couldn't keep my eyes open for the pain. It could also be the weather or allergies or who knows what, but I'm going with Mad Men being so startling it almost knocked me out.

I thought last week Don was fading into the ether, and that seems to be exactly where's he happily heading. The housekeeper/errand boy/junior criminal at the motel immediately pegged Don as rich, while it seems the village folk with their pitchforks must've thought he was a poor drifter. Who could blame them, seeing his Sears luggage (not a suitcase from Sears, but rather a paper shopping sack from the store that held all his worldly goods -- other than the millions he has in the bank, of course). But it takes a con man to know a con man, and the kid sized Don up a little better than the others. Don sized him up perfectly, of course, and recognized a kindred spirit who'd been dealt a shit hand and wanted out of Dodge.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Choco Wino kitchen: Fun with blueberries

Welcome to my first installment of cooking the Choco Wino way. Like most things in life, kitchen stuff (aka cooking and so forth) is made easier with a glass of chocolate wine in hand. So first things first, pour a little chilled choco wine in your favorite glass, mug or flask, take a sip, and proceed.

I recently found this recipe for Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberries, and it looks super yummy. What’s more, it’s so easy even I couldn’t mess it up. You just get a toothpick and dip each individual blueberry into Greek yogurt, swirl them around, spread ’em out on a baking tray that’s been covered in wax paper, set it in the freezer … eh, who am I kidding, I will never do that. 

How about this: put the blueberries in a bowl, dump the yogurt on top, stir it up, take a bite. Sip your wine. Take another bite. Sip more wine. Repeat repeatedly. You’re welcome.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cool stuff to read and listen to

Cool stuff I'm enjoying online today:

Podcast: You Made it Weird interview with writer/director Judd Apatow

Blog post: Author Hugh Howey explains the best way to support your favorite authors (hint: it's not just buying their work that helps, but WHERE you buy their work that makes a difference)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Top 5 funny books you won't want to miss this summer

When funny people write a memoir or collection of essays, I'm in. These make great reads (and usually great listens as well for audiobook fans). Below, in order of release date, are five highly anticipated books by funny folks set to be released this summer.

Reflections from Hell: Richard Lewis' Guide on How Not to Live by Richard Lewis
May 5
This is a bit of cheat, because the book has already been released (but just barely -- I missed it by a day!). You know Lewis from his decades as a comic and actor, and maybe you remember his hilarious role as himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm. This book is different than others on my list in that it's actually an illustrated look at Lewis' comedy. It's described as "jokes and reflections that are fantastically illustrated by the remarkable art of Carl Titolo." Only available in hardback (my Kindle weeps digital tears at being left out).

Happily Ali After: And Other Fairly True Tales by Ali Wentworth
June 9

Monday, May 4, 2015

Mad Men recap: Peggy forever

Peggy strutting into McCann-Erickson like a boss, like a straight up boss, will be one of my top memories of the show. She had that ciggie hanging, sunglasses on, freaky octopus porn under her arm (faced out so all could see, because she DGAF). I admit I couldn’t bring myself to hang that in my office, and I would’ve wrapped it up just to carry it home on the subway. But I definitely would’ve kept it as a memento of Bert, and besides, any art he owned was probably worth enough to buy a small island. Or at least a car.

In last night’s episode, Lost Horizon, everyone found out what a shit sandwich working at McCann would be. Except for Harry with his Amazing, Massive, Very Huge Gonkulator, who basically landed in a pot of jam, and Pete, who seems likely to thrive. But for everyone else, it’s a punch in the gut. Or the lady parts, as the case may be.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Book Review: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The Storied life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin was an entertaining novel that I liked, if never quite loved. The characters never seemed entirely real to me. This didn’t stop me from liking them greatly, however.

This is a good book for those seeking a tale that isn’t too heavy, but also isn’t without substance. And if you only have short blocks of time to read here and there, you can enter and exit the text without feeling you've lost a sense of the book's atmosphere or plot because the story is simple and sweet (and yes, at times sad). This isn't a bad thing -- sometimes readers are in the mood for stories that aren’t empty calories, but aren’t going to fill them up, either. 

This would be an ideal book to whip out on the plane or beach or overcast afternoon when you just want to decompress. It's a pleasant "buffer" book to take the edge off between reading more intense novels. It’s a light, quick read and a nice story -- when that's what you need, give this one a go.

Favorite line: "We are what we love."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cool stuff to read and listen to

What's entertaining me at the moment:

-Maybe We'll Have You Back: The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star by Fred Stoller (audiobook). Just started, but interesting so far. I enjoy these insider looks at creative types and their process, or how they got to where they are. Stoller is in the category of someone doing just well enough that he doesn't quit, but not so well that he can stop struggling.

Good line: He wanted to have a lemonade stand as a kid, but his neurotic mother quashed the idea with, "What if it goes under? Don't do it, Freddie." I wish I couldn't relate so well to that kind of childhood.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ohh, that's a burn, John Mellencamp

I didn’t mean to turn this blog into Letterman’s Greatest Hits, but what the hell, he’s kicking ass and taking names in these final episodes.

Last night, guest John Mellencamp plunked down an ashtray, lit up a smoke, and puffed his way through the interview (they better clean that chair, ’cause ain’t nobody wants to sit in his smoke stench, no matter how nostalgic they get over “Jack and Diane.”) He proceeded to talk about having a heart attack and discussing it with his doctor. Dave cut in with: “When it was all done, the doctor said, whatever you do, don’t stop smoking.” Burn! In jest, of course. Damn, I’m gonna miss Dave. Mellencamp had a chuckle, and then kicked a little ass of his own on stage (he's still got it).

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Seinfeld and Letterman, the dynamic duo

I could watch Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman banter for hours. Last night I caught up on Friday's episode of Late Show with David Letterman, which was basically two old friends chatting and making a farewell of sorts (though Seinfeld didn't voice it, many other recent guests have made the bittersweet observation that it would be their last time on the show because Letterman vacates the host's chair on May 20). Who knows, maybe Seinfeld will pop up on the last day.

That looming deadline prompted me to start watching Letterman again after many years of not bothering to tune in very often, even though he's my favorite talk show host (not that I'm very familiar with the others, it's just not a format I'm that into). I loved the show in high school and hold fond memories of staying up late to watch a guy who was funny and odd and cool. I couldn't stand to let it go gentle into that good night without raging against the dying of the light a little, so to speak, by catching some of the final episodes.

After an unexceptional stand-up set by Seinfeld (turns out it was the first routine he ever did on the show about 30 years ago, which explains why my husband kept saying it seemed dated), the two chatted comfortably like old pals. Seinfeld made a funny crack (I'm sure he made several, but this one struck me enough to jot it down) as the two talked about clowns (which sprang from talking about the circus, something they agreed still exists even though no one really likes it):

Saturday, April 25, 2015

It begins

Settle in, knock back a smooth draught of your favorite chocolate wine, and let’s kick this mother off. (It’s ok if you don’t like choco wine, whether you relax with pinot or a Diet Coke, just grab what gets you to your happy place). ChocoVino is my special treat, makes me feel all warm and pampered. A little goes a long way with choco wine, but it always feels so mighty fine. 

Now I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey. (If you know that’s a line from Rocky Horror Picture Show, take another sip. If not, take two sips and watch the movie stat). This blog isn’t about campy musicals in particular, but about the entertaining things we enjoy in general, sometimes with a nice chilled glass of whatever in one hand and a remote in the other. Or a book, or a tablet. It’s your hand, you pick.

I’ll comment on books, TV, movies, and anything else that strikes a chord. Welcome.