A Book & A Show

Oh this is January, and what have you done?

I think I just spliced several different concepts, songs, quotes but we’re all good with that right? Right. Happy New Year everyone! Times they are a changing and it’s 2016 in the big town baby.

Wow, my brain is just one giant pop culture machine.

So, as you may have noticed I haven’t blogged in a while. There I said it. The old me would be obsessing over this fact, but obsessing is so yesterday people (thanks Hilary Duff). Also, as part of my job I have to blog for 4-7 other entities, post to a myriad of social media accounts as a ghost writer (spooky), and type until my little fingers chap (yum), but I know, I know…I should dutifully blog for the few folks who love books, television, traveling, more books, and general craziness.

Guess what, though? This blog is for you, yes, but it’s also for me. It’s a way for me to be bonkers and discuss the things that make me happy—the same things that I think might make you happy—and so I’m not going to apologize because enough women out there have apologized for lame reasons (I’m sorry for you bumping into me. I’m sorry for serving food that’s too hot. I’m sorry for being smarter than you.) so I’ll just refrain this time.

Whew, now that that’s over with, let’s get down to biz-naz.

Everyone loves talking about goals and resolutions and new beginnings in January. Not sure if you’ve noticed that…

Normally I love digging into a good cliche and tearing it to pieces through thinly veiled sarcasm and biting apathy but this time, you guessed it, I’ll refrain. I mean what’s wrong with trying to be better? What’s wrong with trying to push yourself to learn a new language, try a new workout, stop guzzling Diet Coke (too good, though, y’all.  Just…too good), or make an online dating profile (a personal nightmare of mine).  The new year is exciting and fresh so it’s kind of a no-brainer people would grab on to it with all of their might, even if that zest only lasts a month or so. 

There was my (second?) soapbox and now on to what you really want—recommendations. Let’s start the new year off on the right foot with some quality. We get enough trash already with the internet and television (even though, when one consumes trash willingly say, by binge watching Real Housewives…that’s, like, a whole other thing) so why not try out a few things with some substance?

The Book

After finishing this book I had that thick teary glob that gets stuck in the throat and kind of hurts but also kind of reminds you you’re alive. Anyone tracking with me?

When I get the glob, I know it’s a good book.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest is the real deal people. J. Ryan Stradal brings to life the food, the flair, and the people of America’s Midwest through weaving the lives of each character around the story’s protagonist—Eva Thorvald, a cooking savant.

Each character that is introduced is real and engrossing and their stories, although varied and unique, seem to somehow orbit cohesively around Eva and her cooking abilities. You don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy the book, though. The way Stradal shifts from lighthearted tales of young love to deeper situations like the death of a mother or divorce will keep you guessing and prevent you from feeling complacent.  Even though, if you’re a foodie, you’ll definitely enjoy the descriptions of every type of food from new age organic concoctions to homemade butter-laden “dessert bars” passed down from generation to generation. There are even recipes in the book!  Kitchens has a whole lot of heart and exhibits deep, beautiful knowledge of the unique Midwestern culture. It’s the perfect way to begin your reading journey for the new year.

The Show

I’m a self-proclaimed Netflix fangirl. Also, I adore Parks and Rec. So when Aziz Ansari came out with his show on Netflix called Master of None, I was sold. The show chronicles Dev (played by Ansari) and his dating experiences in New York.  It’s a whole lot more than “The Bachelor: New York Edition,” though.

Firstly, it’s not total garbage.

Secondly, it’s got range.  From what happens when everyone around you starts having kids, to dealing with racism and sexism, to trying to navigate how to live with someone, Master of None strikes the perfect balance of biting commentary and farce—the writers acknowledge that millennials are self-centered and insecure while creating endearing, hilarious characters you can’t help but love. Master‘s wit is biting and the stories are memorable which is basically what everyone is looking for in a television show.

So there you have it, a couple worthwhile things that can fill up your time without making you feel like a total sloth.

 

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Lady Love Part 3: The Many Talents of Lorelai Gilmore

So I have a bit of a confession. In my spare time, instead of solving issues of world hunger or tearing through my (GROWING!) reading list or trying new, exotic cuisine or showering, I’ve gone rogue. I’ve went through the looking glass, and there’s really no turning back.

Yep, I’m re-watching all of the seasons of Gilmore Girls. I went back to the very beginning (a very fine place to start) of Rory and Stars Hollow and Dean (the boy she SHOULD have broken up with much earlier) and Jess (the boy she SHOULDN’T have broken up with…at least until Junior year of college). It’s such a frothy, fast-paced world of perpetual fall days and festivities and old timey barber shop quartets and cars that stay unlocked because, heck, there aren’t any felonies in Stars Hollow.

And Lorelai. Beautiful, batty Lorelai.

Sometimes when life is getting me down, when I feel extra paranoid or kind of blue I remember that one time when Lorelai turned on her car lights because her porch light went out and the yard needed illumination and think, hey kiddo, you’re doing just fine. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from the coolest lady around:

get. it. girl.

get. it. girl.

1.) Staying true to yourself is the only real option.

Kooky, oddball, hilarious, weird. These are all words that consistently come to mind when describing Lorelai. Obviously she’s striking and lovely to look at, but that’s not who Lorelai is, yafeel? She doesn’t cook (at one point she becomes upset with Luke for making her stir), she doesn’t people please (one look at Emily Gilmore’s perpetual side-eye at her daughter and you know Lorelai honestly doesn’t care), and she raises her kid the way she sees fit. Pizza, Twizzlers and coffee for dinner? NBD. Lorelai is Lorelai and won’t be bothered with who she is supposed to be…or who she’s supposed to be with.  That’s actually a really powerful quality in an Instagram filtered society bent on being perceived as perfectly perfect. For the record, if Loreli had an Instagram I feel like it would be filled with photos of piles of dirty laundry and unflattering shots of Michel.

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2.) Pop culture is actually pretty powerful.

Pop culture gets a bad rap.  The thinking goes, if you have enough time to make E! news and People magazine your daily bread then there isn’t enough brain space for things like global warming, politics or existential questions. It’s a valid argument, but one that fails to give credit to the lack of sleep many pop culture fiends can live on. I like to think my existential thoughts in the morning and leave the Marry, Do, Kill Celebrity Style for my late night ruminations.

The thing about Lorelai is she is QUICK. Not only in her talking speed, but in her wit. She’ll drop a reference to Anna Karenina and in the same breath deconstruct the meaning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And it works. It works in a scary kind of way. Similarly, my knowledge of pop culture occasionally scares me. I frequently find myself asking How in the hell do I know this much about Gwen Stefani or The Kardashians or Ina Garten. Sometimes I feel like I should dedicate my brain to other things, but then Lorelai reminds me it’s okay to have copious amounts of frivolous knowledge. In fact…it might make you a more well-rounded person.  Go with me for a second, pop culture is the great connector. I can’t tell you how many awkward conversations the mention of Blue Ivy has gotten me out of. It relaxes people and allows them to open up, much, much more than global warming does, for the record.  So maybe Lorelai was on to something…or maybe she just really, really liked “Breakfast Club.”

3.) Never underestimate the power of a strong woman. 

Lorelai is one tough broad. She raised a child on her own when she was basically a child herself. Yeah she was privileged growing up and yeah she wound up in a pretty idyllic little town, but for a good chunk of her life, it was just her. She is incredibly self-reliant. I on the other hand tend to lean toward leach-hood when it comes to people I really care about. I think Lorelai appreciates her friends and family (kind of), but when it comes down to it she’s able to create a life in solo fashion. This is a powerful example, not only for women, but also for everyone.

Do you watch Gilmore Girls? Who is your GG character spirit animal? If you don’t watch it, why are you crazy?

Citing erraday:

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If This, Then That or Your Ultimate Guide for What Show to Watch (Netflix Edition)

Well hi there, I hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day Weekend, and (for the non-vegetarians out there) ate your weight in meat.

Hamburgers for dazzze.

One thing about me that you may have ascertained from reading the blog thus far is I harbor a deep, longing love for the telly. Television, though slowly killing my brain, has been a great companion to me over the years. I find myself becoming really (unhealithly) tied to TV characters so much so that I remember ugly crying in middle school when I watched the last episode of the Wonder Years.

“B-b-b-ut I need more!!!” I recall wailing.

Yeah, totally normal reaction.

Since I’m an enabler and misery loves company, I’m going to recommend shows like other shows you’ve most likely binged on via Netflix. That way, the heartache once the final episode is watched can be soothed, not by a box of Hot N’ Spicy Cheez-Its, but by more TV.

If you’ve already watched the recommended show, then these options can be switched. I’m a genius like that.

If you like Scandal

Handled.

Handled.

If you’re like the thousands of people who bring a notepad and pen to the couch and furiously write down Olivia Pope’s incredible outfits only to realize that they and she are out of your league—oh is that just me?—then you know Ms. Pope’s insane “handling” of all the things is tough to resist. Scandal’s fast paced D.C. politics, the cliff hanger after cliff hanger after laptop screaming cliff hanger, and, yes, the lip-quivering relationship between Fitz and Olivia all combine to form one of the most addictive show on Netflix. Olivia Pope is a boss lady with a capital B.  I absolutely love how she manages to get more done in an hour than I do in a productive month. I compare my relationship with Scandal to my relationship with Uggs. For a while I snootily thought they were nice, just not for me, but then after sliding my feet into the oh so soft, luxurious sheep skin booties, the next thing I knew I was walking out of a gas station with Cheeto puffs and Uggs ala Britney, and refusing to take them off even though, you know, I had a job.

Stretched that analogy pretty thin.

Point being, Scandal is a great show, and if you want more delicious Scandal-esq drama…

Watch House of Cards

In my humble opinion, House of Cards is the best show out there right now. Watching Frank Underwood’s twisted, grueling rise to power despite his adversaries, despite things like the law or common decency, is surprisingly gratifying and a little terrifying. The similarities between Scandal and HOC’s cut-throat setting of Washington D.C. are undeniable. People are slimy, politics are shifty, and everyone gets. theirs. yafeel?

ruthless pragmatism

Ruthless pragmatism.

Although some believe HOC goes a bit down after the first season, I see it more as the first season is so insanely good and different from any other show out there, that it’s nearly impossible to trump. Watching the creators of HOC try to top the drama cornucopia that is season one, is pretty fun, though.

Also, I would love to see Claire Underwood (Frank’s fashionably icy wife) and Olivia Pope have a stand off of wills because both of those women are so cunning, so powerful, so intelligent, and so very fabulous that I feel like I’d turn to stone just watching the two of them in the same room. Similar to Scandal, the plot of HOC takes you down a winding labyrinth.  HOC is definitely darker, most likely because it doesn’t have the lively motown score that Scandal playfully employs. If you in any way feel intrigued by the human condition and how far people are willing to go to get what they want, then tune into HOC and thank me later.

If you like New Girl...

anigif_enhanced-buzz-23971-1375453571-5Who’s that girl? It’s your best friend who you’re obsessed with, Jess. New Girl is a show that I can come back to again and again. I find myself laughing at the roommates’ nutty lives with the same satisfaction I did the first time I watched it.  What makes New Girl great, is the characters.  Zoe Deschanel’s portrayal of Jess is so easy breezy, you feel like it’s gotta be life imitating art imitating life. Seeing Jess interact with people so very different from herself is sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes shocking, but always hilarious.

The show is about roommates trying (and usually failing) to survive as adults, a concept that I can totally get behind. Jess is the smart, wacky voice of reason when it seems the rest of her roommates will crumble without her telling them not to plunger the sink or to stop being so grumpy about every.stinking.thing (Nick). It’s the characters that hold the, sometimes overzealous plot, together.  Winston is the scapegoat friend who isn’t funny and then suddenly is the most hilarious character on the show. Schmidt is the curly haired nerotic after my own heart who loves pop culture, ze lay-deez, and himself, above all.  Nick is a hopeless doof that you can’t help but root for even as he bumbles through life and love without money, health insurance, or common sense. If there’s a warm space in your heart for New Girl then…

Watch The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Y’all I finished Kimmy Schmidt in a day. It was a Saturday. I think. Anyway, the show is tough to stop watching for a similar reason to New Girl–the characters.

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My main man, Titus.

Yes, the plot is pretty genius–Kimmy lived a good chunk of her life in an Indiana bunker after a charismatic preacher tells her and three other women that the world has ended. The series opens after Kimmy leaves the bunker and tries to make her way in the most difficult place for an adjusting “mole woman,” New York City. Even though I love the plot, I love the plucky, unflappable, determined characterization of Kimmy Schmidt more. Seeing her adjust to the information age after having been given the wrong information for the last 15 years is heartbreakingly hilarious.

You can’t talk about Kimmy Schmidt without mentioning Titus Andromedon, a striving star in the making who is one part crazy, one part self-centered, and an entire helping of divalicious. Titus is Kimmy’s roommate, and the trouble they find while trying to survive the big city life is addictive.  Music videos get made and self-actualization almost happens. Oh and Jane Krakowski as Jacqueline Voorhies is everything, especially if you liked 30 Rock, especially if you know any self-centered rich middle aged women going through a midlife crisis.

Now get to watching, loves!

What are your favorite Netflix shows on which to binge shamelessly?

Part 2 coming attacha soon…

Phot Cred:

Image 1: http://www.hammerandgem.com/get-look-olivia-pope-scandal/

Image 2: http://www.salon.com/2013/03/12/why_is_francis_underwood_a_democrat/

Image 3: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/the-27-most-relatable-jessica-day-quotes#.rjYDRgAQV

Image 4: http://www.tvinsider.com/article/1139/unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt-titus-burgess/