Sunday, June 13, 2021

Killer robots and the best sentence of my week

A cool thing on Twitter is something called #SundaySentence, wherein readers share the best sentence they read all week and tag it for others to enjoy.

I had one that was kinda awesome this week for being funny, rather than the usual sentence that's plucked from the pages and shared due to beautiful construction, lovely imagery, or profound sentiment. My tendency toward anxiety led me not to tag it for #SundaySentence lest someone say it didn't fit the theme of great sentences or was offensive. I didn't want to harsh my mellow this lovely Sunday with any negativity about a funny line. 

I posted the sentence on Twitter, sans hashtag, which of course means none of the other word lovers saw it. I definitely, probably, should've tagged it. Maybe? Seriously, I would've laughed out loud if someone else had. Luckily, I have a blog and can post whatever I want here without fear of anyone but me reading it (hardy har har).

It was from Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema by Lindy West. The book of irreverent yet often on-the-nose movie reviews peeled back the layers of Terminator 2: Judgement Day with a fair and fabulous comment about time-travelling robots and essential details the script should include.

Here, solely for my own enjoyment, is the greatest sentence I read this week:

"Call me old-fashioned, but I think it’s weird not to explain why your robot is Austrian and has a dick."

She's not wrong, y'all. Have a great week, and may you encounter many wonderful sentences on your reading journey!

Friday, June 11, 2021

The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A good audio play is a thing of beauty, and The Sound Inside is simply wonderful, serving up a little Broadway for your ears. That's exactly how I like it — enjoying a high-quality show while keeping my butt at home in frugal comfort.

This recording features the original cast (Mary-Louise Parker and William Hochman), and they deliver a seasoned performance that would've been worth paying for. But free is better, and that's how much this cost with my Audible membership. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The great celebrity dish and candid stories I'd hoped for were not in this book. The dish is drab, the story lifeless and sanitized. It feels very carefully crafted to conceal a lot for a memoir called "Open Book." It's simply not that good.

As someone who isn't a fan of Simpson's, I picked this up on recommendations of many online that this book had great gossip and uncommon candor for a celebrity memoir. This was a load of hooey.

The most dirt you get will be on John Mayer, but it basically confirmed that he's as big a jerk as he seems, and in the end it's not that interesting. It could've been if she'd reflected on what motivated her to keep going back to him, to put her career on hold to follow him around on tour, etc., but her waters don't run deep, y'all. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

What to Watch June 2021

June and its new shows will soon be here! My watch list is a little light this month, but some real gems are among the offerings, like Loki, Workin' Moms Season 5, and Raya and the Last Dragon (which will be coming down off premium pricing and be available to anyone with Disney Plus).

As always, I've compiled a list of shows I'd like to see that will be available soon, and I'm sharing it here along with links to everything coming to streaming services so you can go through and pick your own must-watch viewing. And away we go! 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book without having paid much attention to the description. I'd heard it was good from several sources, and I liked the title. It's lovely to give in to the allure of a book on first sight.

And it paid off. I don't know what I expected from this book, but it wasn't what I got. It starts off about cops on a beat in New York? That is so not a book I'd normally pick up. Then it's about families in the suburbs? Eh, yeah, I can go with that. But what else was it going for? I had no idea.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Lovers & Writers by Lily King

I loved Writers & Lovers! It expresses the struggles and joys of a writer, as well as the turmoil and wonder in relationships – both with lovers and mothers. It also has moments that reveal the crap women deal with, the things men get away with or refuse to hold each other accountable for. I ended loving both the main character as well as Lily King by the time I finished.

Casey is a young writer struggling to complete her novel. Anyone who's set pen to paper will relate to reaching a point in the process where you can't judge your own work, you're too close, you've read over it too many times and you can't stand it anymore. Do you submit it or light it on fire? The eternal question, the lingering fear. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

What to Watch May 2021

What to Watch May 2021

Spring is in the air and lots of new and returning shows are on the airwaves (or wi-fi waves?) Whatever, more good stuff to watch is on the way! Mythic Quest returns for season two (a show we've grown to dearly love at my house), Black Monday is back with season 3, Shrill says farewell with its third and final season, and my favorite housewives are ready to rock in New York.

As always, I've compiled a list of shows I'd like to see that will be available soon, and I'm sharing it here along with links to everything coming to streaming services so you can go through and pick your own must-watch viewing. And away we go!

Friday, April 23, 2021

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Larry McMurtry tells a story like few can. He creates a palpable sense of time and place for his settings, while deftly building characters and plots that feel incredibly real and intricate.

I picked up Lonesome Dove shortly after McMurtry passed away. Fans were expressing their love and feeling of loss for him online, and quite a few mentioned this book as particularly beloved. So I read it. Given that I don't enjoy westerns and I typically would rather read two or three shorter books than one big 'un weighing in at nearly 1,000 pages, the fact that I finished and enjoyed it says a lot about how good this novel is. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron’s writing sparkles at times with witty, smart, insightful passages. But Heartburn is like a lawn strewn with divots that trip you up and knock you flat, making you want to call it a day and go on home.

She drops quips throughout the text, always shooting for the funny. And I like funny, I’m a fan of the funny. Ephron manages to fold humor into a fictional book based on her very real split from journalist Carl Bernstein, a decidedly unfunny situation. The story features a main character discovering her husband is cheating at a time when she's got a 2-year-old and is 7 months pregnant. That either comes spilling out of your pen as tragedy, or you take it on the chin and spit it back out wrapped in humor. This works fantastically when done well; some of the best comedy is actually tragedy told with a humorous bent. (Don’t believe me? Watch Muriel’s Wedding and get back to me.) 

Friday, April 9, 2021

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Oh, to be youngish and in love–ish.”

The above is my favorite line from the book. It's funny and flip while being something I could honestly imagine someone feeling. It embodies the best of French Exit.

The worst, well, the worst for me was turning the final page and thinking, what the hell did I just read?!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ain't no party like a late to the party, amiright? Yes, no, maybe? Hey, that could be a book title! Hell, it probably is!

So, I finally read Eat, Pray, Love. Fifteen years after publication, but so what? (People still read Moby Dick and that came out in the 1800s and is boring AF.) I fully admit I only picked it up for a zoom book club (which proceeded to be cancelled the day of the meeting, which is just one of the reasons why you rarely catch me messing with book clubs anymore).

I actually gave this a whirl shortly after it came out and quickly lost interest. The reason why escapes me, but maybe it was early on when our protagonist fell to the bathroom floor and began to pray. At that point I probably wondered if the "pray" part of the title was more key than I first imagined, and if this was going to be heavily religious, which isn't my bag, baby. I may have wondered that back then because I wondered this time around, too. Only this time I plunged onward because it was for a soon-to-be nonexistent book club meeting that I wanted to attend so I don't become a full-on hermit. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

What to Watch April 2021

What to Watch April 2021

Spring is finally here! Will I be plotting all the things I'll do outside, or what I'll be watching inside? Haha just kidding, we all know the answer to that. New shows will rain down on us in April, and I'm most looking forward to the comfort viewing that is Younger (in its seventh and final season!). But there's so much more that looks pretty damn good for a wide range of tastes.

As always, I've compiled a list of shows I'd like to see that will be available soon, and I'm sharing it here along with links to everything coming to streaming services so you can go through and pick your own must-watch viewing. 

And away we go! 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll by Ann & Nancy Wilson

Kicking & Dreaming by Ann & Nancy Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Heart, at its height, was a kick-ass band fronted by two talented sisters, the queens of rock. The book they wrote together doesn't rock as hard as they do, instead offering a limp look back at their lives. Fans will find a little something here to make it worth the read, but newcomers to the world of Heart won't find much to keep them turning those pages.

Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll tells the tale of Ann and Nancy Wilson from the beginning – the very beginning. As in, going back to long dead ancestors, then recounting how their parents met, their own births and childhoods, etc., before getting to the meat of their musical journey. They make a weak attempt at employing the popular method of starting with a smashing story to pull you in and then going back to tell things chronologically, but even the prologue isn't all that thrilling. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It feels weird to call this a fun book when it's about a serial killer, but it kind of is. The tale of two sisters, one blithely homicidal, the other dutifully trying to protect the other, is a fresh take on both the experience of being a woman in the world and dealing with a difficult sibling that you love in spite of it all.

My Sister, the Serial Killer is not really a laugh-out-loud type of story, but there's a bit of wit to the telling of it. There's just enough depth to glean an understanding of the two sisters and their motivations, but it's not trying to delve deep into plot or motivation. It gives enough to make it a good read (or listen, in my case).

Friday, March 5, 2021

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On the surface, this is a tale of a young woman who's had some hard knocks and her friend who got all the gifts of wealth, privilege and beauty. And also it's about some kids that burst into flames when upset. Nothing to see here, move along. Wink, wink.

It's different, witty, and off-beat. It's also a sly examination of what parenting must feel like, about what even making the decision to become a parent might be like. Good and bad, welcome and unwelcome, all at the same time. A huge change in your life either way. I don't know if that's what you're supposed to see here, but I think so. It's what I saw, anyway.

Friday, February 26, 2021

What to Watch March 2021

What to Watch March 2021

The world's still a huge mess, there's not enough vaccine, I'm spending my days hunting for shots for family members and dealing with other needs of elderly relatives amid a pandemic. The rough ride isn't over yet. One thing we look forward to at my house each night is setting the worries aside briefly to watch a little TV. On that front March is looking up, preparing to bloom with shows, documentaries and movies (some of which are big-budget blockbusters premiering on HBO Max!).

As always, I've compiled a list of shows I'd like to see that will be available soon, and I'm sharing it here along with links to everything coming to streaming services so you can go through and pick your own must-watch viewing. 

And away we go!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Lowborn by Kerry Hudson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I was a private investigator, digging my way through my own deeply buried secrets, both desperate for answers and fighting to keep them hidden."

Growing up in poverty can leave lingering effects for the rest of your life. Author Kerry Hudson writes about surviving her impoverished childhood spent in public housing throughout a series of downtrodden towns in Great Britain in her insightful book, Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain's Poorest Towns.

She couldn't remember a lot about her young childhood, and had long-since broken contact with her mother. The erratic lifestyle and desperate poverty of Hudson's existence with her single mom left scars that lingered as Hudson, in her late 30s, decided to finally investigate her own past and put it down on paper. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

My Life So Far by Jane Fonda

My Life So Far by Jane Fonda

I can't remember the first Jane Fonda movie I ever saw. Perhaps it was Barbarella when I was way too young to take in all the sexual overtones, and I simply thought it was a fun sci-fi adventure (and that she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen). Also, that the biting dolls freaked me out.

Or maybe it was Barefoot in the Park, which bubbled with chemistry and charm so strong it almost sizzled off the TV screen. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford made a fizzy, fantastic pairing, and I couldn't resist watching whenever it came on.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Stonk stink made me think about investing

I finally find the stock market compelling, and all it took was a revolt against Wall Street.

Mentions of a tremor in the stock market pierced my Twitter feed here and there in late January, but I paid little mind. I understand the stock market about as much as I understand the appeal of heist movies – both baffle things me, but at least with the films I can follow the action and once in a blue moon enjoy it. I couldn't say the same of the stock market.

Then a Facebook friend shared a post explaining what the hell was going on with GameStop stock and the Reddit group wallstreetbets. (This post on Tales from the Geek gives an easy-to-follow rundown of what a short is and how Redditors took action when someone noticed that a hedge fund had dived deep into short trades against GameStop, making the stock ripe for a short squeeze, also explaining what the hell a short squeeze is.)

Friday, January 29, 2021

What to Watch February 2021

What to Watch February 2021

Ah, February is upon us, and the world is full of woe. But wait, what's that, does hope begin to grow? Who's to say, after all, I'm just here with the shows.

As always, I've compiled a list of shows I'd like to see that come to streaming soon, and I'm sharing it here along with links to everything coming to streaming services so you can go through and pick your own must-watch shows. 

And away we go!

Friday, January 22, 2021

Revisiting Sharky's Machine

Sharky's MachineEver harbor fond memories of a film you saw as a kid, then watch it again as an adult? Do that at your own peril, pal. Turns out you really can’t go home again, so to speak, but you might have fun trying.

Awhile back my husband and I sat down to watch Sharky’s Machine, a 1981 gritty crime thriller starring and directed by Burt Reynolds. We both originally watched it when we were too young to fully get it, possibly on HBO or cable. We couldn’t recall the where of it, only that we remembered Sharky as a badass with a cool name.

On our adult viewing, it looked a bit different. It’s hard to define – it wasn't good but not entirely bad, either; you could tell it was trying for something, a style, a mood, an artsy feel. As my husband put it afterwards, “I wouldn’t exactly call it good; it’s ambitious. It’s bizarre and trippy and very ’70s.” (Even though it came out in 1981, the lingering mist of the '70s was very much alive, especially in this film.)

Friday, January 15, 2021

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

This book is a wonder. It takes topics that normally wouldn't grab me (an old former soldier travelling around the Old West, a tragic tale of an orphan that sounds way too sad for me) and it snares me, hook, line and sinker. 

News of the World by Paulette Jiles introduces us to Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd as he makes his way through Texas post Civil War, making a living giving readings from a stack of newspapers to audiences seeking a window on the world. The old man has fought in two wars and lost a wife, and now enjoys his rambling life on the road. When he's asked to deliver a young orphan who had been captured and raised by members of the Kiowa tribe to her only living relatives, he reluctantly agrees. The heart, understanding and courage he displays on the perilous journey is matched by the young girl's bravery and tenacity in the face of being torn from the only family she remembers – her Kiowa family.

Friday, January 8, 2021

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel has a lot going on, a lot of different threads. There's a Ponzi scheme, ghosts, and moral dilemmas aplenty. It was a lot; at moments a little too much, but it somehow never quite went overboard for me.

Thanks to the dumpster fire that was 2020, my attention span for reading dimmed as the year wore on. I turned to short stories (and found many great ones), and still managed to get in several novels or full-length nonfiction books. But they seemed to take so long to get through! I didn't fly through this one at top speed, but I finished in less than two weeks, which was pretty damn good given my difficulty staying focused by the end of the year.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Slow Burner by Laura Lippman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't read a lot of mysteries, but this was kind of fun. 

In Slow Burner by Laura Lippman, a woman finds her husband's secret burner phone with flirty text messages to another woman. Whatever will she do?