Category Archives: Entertainment

What’s your go to “Feel Good” movie?

I have always been a huge fan of watching movies. Whether it be in an actual theater with a bucket of artery clogging popcorn and a fresh pack of Twizzlers or lolling about on my comfy couch eating the infinitely healthier microwave popcorn and my favorite chocolate truffles, I find movie watching to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. 

I like a variety of genres: comedies, dramas, thrillers, bio-pics, westerns, and musicals. And I’m pretty open minded about what I will watch. Especially if it is included with my Amazon Prime or on Netflix, where I have the lovely option of simply turning a movie off if it totally sucks. This doesn’t happen very often, however. 

Because I’m such a movie nut, I can’t in good conscience just pick one movie and tell you all why I think it’s great and why you should absolutely positively watch it as soon as you possibly can. 

Depending on how this goes, I might make this a regular feature. I like that idea: a regular feature. I think I’ll put a pin in that one. 

I’ve just got so much to say about how I feel about so many movies

Think I’ll start with the type of movie I love the very most, “my favorite favorite”, as Barney, that goofy purple dinosaur used to say through the t.v. screen to my kiddos when they were small. 

This would be the “Feel Good” movie. Those movies that make me laugh and/or make me tear up (I’m not a big crier when it comes to movies, but now that I think of it, perhaps I ought to pen a post about those rare films that did actually make me cry-and not because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t help myself). Those movies that amaze and inspire me. Those movies that I actually can enjoy again and again and again. 

Movies like:

“Love, Actually”. If I absolutely had to pick one film that is my favorite this would be the one. It’s a movie full of good cheer and humor.  It tells several different love stories, with the characters in each story biologically related to and/or entwined in each other’s lives. Each of the main characters are lovable, albeit imperfect.  The soundtrack is great too.  It also takes place during the Christmas season, which to me adds much to the charm of this movie. And it’s set in England so there’s plenty of those lovely British accents to enjoy. And it has a very happy ending, one that assures you that everyone is going to be alright after the credits are over. 

“Mama Mia”. Oh, the music in this one. It amazes me that the songs of “Abba” could be used to tell the story of a soon-to-be-wed young woman, living in a resort in Greece with her mom, who is searching for her biological father. Her mom, Donna, had summer flings with three different young men 20 years prior, and became pregnant. Her daughter, Sophie, invites all three of these now older men to her wedding. Each of these men, fortunately, embrace the possibility that they could be her father. It is simply a joyful, fun, uplifting movie that I can’t resist. 

“As Good as it Gets” also ranks as one of my all time favorite “feel good” movies. It is an unlikely love story between a curmudgeon afflicted with a severe case of OCD, played by the one and only Jack Nicholson, and a young waitress, who is a single mom of a very ill son, played by Helen Hunt. The (IMHO) greatly underrated actor Greg Kinnear has a starring role as Simon,  as Melvin’s (Jack Nicholson) gay neighbor who becomes a victim of an assault and needs someone to care for his little dog (Verdell) while he recovers. Jack Nicholson’s character slowly bonds with the dog and over time his heart opens to the possibility of real love with Carol, Helen Hunt’s character. This movie is as much about the characters (maybe even a bit more) than the actual story. The scenes with Carol and Simon are especially heart-warming, as they form a special bond between them.  The scenes with Melvin and Verdell are quite precious as well. 

My hope is that you all are able to carve out some time for yourself during this busy, stressful, mentally taxing time of the year (aka the Christmas/Holiday season) to kick back and re-watch your favorite “feel good” movies. Or if you haven’t caught any of the three mentioned above, you’ll take my recommendations and rent, buy, or find one of them via your favorite streaming service. 

I’m not really that much of a couch potato

I recently wrote this piece  on my blog. I stand by my conviction that quantity vs. quality should apply to those of us who fancy ourselves writers. I also continue to stand by my conviction that quality ought to trump quantity when it comes to consuming television while lounging on a couch like a damned potato. Though, it should be noted that potatoes don’t actually lounge. It seems more fitting to refer to this state of being as sloth potato, right?!

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Bet you didn’t know you needed a pic of sloths in a hammock today!

While I have indeed been “slothing” it up this fall, enjoying some quality t.v. on my couch with and without the Hubs, I was entirely incorrect about the amount of time I wanted, or thought I actually had, for watching said quality t.v. My bad.

I actually said, in public (aka this blog) no less, that I had 14 hours per week to spend watching quality television. Geez Louise, I am such a silly goose sometimes.

It turns out that I have other, more valuable and indeed necessary, activities to accomplish in the evenings, which precludes me from having 14 hours to simply watch t.v. on my couch like a cute little sloth. Like chatting up my spawn. Like making food. Like checking my Twitter feed. Like reading blog posts and creating my own.

But I most certainly have found time to enjoy a handful of shows to enjoy in the evenings. The shows that, to me, are of the highest quality. The shows that enlighten and educate me, like “This is Life with Lisa Ling”, who recently featured the devastation that can be caused when people become addicted to technology.  How this addiction can change one’s personality and cause them to isolate and lose interest in the pursuits that once fueled them. I give big props to Lisa Ling for bringing to light issues that many of us had not been aware of.

Another t.v. show of high quality which I’ve been consistently watching with Hubs is “9-1-1”.  Actor Peter Krause, from one of my favorite-of-all-time-but-now-unfortunately-canceled shows, “Parenthood”, is one of the main characters. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a fictional show about the Los Angeles Fire Department and their acts of heroism in the field, and the trials and tribulations of their personal lives. Some of the characters are police officers and some are 911 operators, and they are all connected to each other, whether it be through blood, friendship, or romance. It is exciting to watch and the acting is very good. I highly recommend it.

Then there’s “The Good Place”. Hubs and I have watched this since the very first episode and it never disappoints. In case you haven’t seen it yet, it is a one of a kind gem of a show. If I had to summarize it, I’d say it is a thought-provoking comedy featuring characters that all could be considered hot messes, who each die, go to “The Good Place”, learn that the “good place” is actually the opposite, try as a group in vain to get to the actual “good place”, then get to come back to earth, fully alive, where they have opportunities to make different life choices to redeem themselves so that when they die “for real” they will go to the for real “good place”. And this is all at the mercy of Michael, an “angel” played by Ted Danson. This show is a trip. It’s most definitely a show that you need to start from the very first episode, as Hubs and I did. Or it will make zero sense. Nevertheless, if you haven’t seen it, you should. It is epic.

Other high quality shows that I am making time for this fall include “This is Us”, another one that, if you haven’t watched it yet, must be watched starting from the first episode to make any sense. The relatability factor of the characters is incredible. It drew me in much like “Parenthood” did.

“Shameless” is the other high quality and for many, highly inappropriate show I make time for. Hubs and I started watching it, ironically, while sitting in a hotel room on a New Years getaway to Chicago (where the show is filmed), a few years ago. This was the last time I recall in my adult life I experienced the special hell that is being hungover. Binge-watching “Shameless” got me through that New Year’s Day. The acting on this show is incredible. The story lines are unpredictable. The show is pure dark comedy with heart.

I have continued to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” as well. I’ve watched this show since it started and I continue to watch it primarily because of the character Meredith. She’s such a good egg. She’s the character that we all want to be friends with. Unlike “9-1-1”, Grey’s Anatomy, to me, is much more about the characters as opposed to the medical emergencies they find themselves in the middle of.

I’ve essentially given up on watching “Dancing with the Stars”. Too much of a time commitment for me, as the first episode of the week is 2 hours long and the second episode of the week feels like it’s 2 hours long but I think it’s really just an hour. 

What with watching the news every night (God help us), in addition to Real Time with Bill Maher (thanks to 3 free months of HBO), and our weekly dose of Samantha Bee, these few shows above are the only ones I have time for.

What t.v. shows are you making time for these days, fellow couch sloths?

My next random blog post

It’s Tuesday morning and I consciously made the decision to get stuff done around the house instead of spending an hour or more typing up the next blog post. Now I’ve got less than 10 minutes.

I also have not been particularly jazzed about writing about any specific topic this week. There are two ways for me to think about this: procrastination might be my friend. In other words, perhaps penning a post with a finite time limit will propel me to write something of substance, something I can be proud of. Giving myself a time limit will prevent me from over-thinking, which is a talent I sadly excel at. The other take I could have is that this could be an opportunity for me to “chill”. Remind myself that I am not in a race. Remind myself that I will not face any truly negative consequences if I choose to not publish this post on Wednesday, which is my typical publishing day. I could wait till Friday, or heck, even Sunday morning.

So here goes nothing. Or something. More likely something in between.

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My theme of the week

 

The other day at my volunteer gig at a local food bank, Santa donated several crates of Nutella. That kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, right? That’s why I love my job helping senior citizens and volunteering at the food bank. I’m interacting with loads of different people and no two days are the same! But for real, he did look like Santa and he shared that he performs as Santa professionally. Funny thing is, I actually know two other male retirees, both from our old church in Wisconsin, who are also happily enjoying gigs as Santa post-retirement. I love those little happy coincidences that life serves up sometimes, don’t you?

I had to acknowledge my age recently when dining out with Hubs in Denver, prior to the James Taylor concert (which was absolutely fantastic, btw). Unbeknownst to me, the  female servers at this restaurant/bar were essentially costumed as strippers. I’m talking bare midriffs, teeny-tiny short shorts, and heavy make up on their precious baby faces. The experience reminded me of those awful reality shows where the little girls are competing in beauty pageants. It was just really troubling to me as a mom.  I struggled to keep myself from telling these young ladies to put on a sweater, for God’s sake!

Lately, Hubs and I have been binge-watching “The Walking Dead”. I find it terrifically fascinating. We actually started watching it a few years ago, but at that time I only made it to the second episode due to the gore and violence. I surprised myself by agreeing to try watching it again, just a couple of months ago, with Hubs. For some reason, the gore and violence, while certainly disturbing, didn’t impact me as strongly as it had a few years prior. When I started getting a little heebie-jeebie-ish, I decided to remind myself that the scenes weren’t actually real (duh, right?) and instead to focus on the amazing make-up, special effects, and costuming that was being showcased. I got to thinking, how much fun must it be for make-up artists to work on this set? So with that little change in perspective, I found myself drawn into the predicament these folks found themselves in. Intrigued by the characters and how they interacted with each other. I think if I was a high school or college instructor of say, psychology, leadership (that’s a thing right?), or philosophy, I would frequently use clips from this show for my lessons. There’s so much material there.

In closing, and more importantly in the spirit of randomness, I present to you the best thing I saw on NPR this week. While it is indeed sad that Koko is no longer among us earthlings, this video made me smile. And it reminded me of what an awesome individual Robin Williams was.

 

Happy fun-day Sunday, blogging peeps!

Loving ’em while they are still here

I know a parent who often told her adult children, in reference to the parental relationship, to “Love us while we are still here”. Now, this may be a phrase that this particular parent uses to elicit feelings of guilt in her children, but no matter.

After the untimely death of Tom Petty not to mention Prince, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey,  I see that this phrase has an alternate meaning for me. As in, I want to enjoy the great musical artists that are still among the living. As in, let’s hear it for those senior citizens who are still rocking.

To celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary next month, Hubs and I will be attending a James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt concert at Fiddler’s Green in Denver. I’ve created a playlist of my favorite tunes from both of these artists to enjoy in the meantime.

Funny thing about James Taylor, for me, is that while I was certainly familiar with tunes such as “Fire and Rain” and “You’ve Got a Friend”, from my growing up years, I didn’t fully appreciate his music until I dated the biggest jerk in the world (for clarification, this is not Hubs) back when I was in college. In spite of his squirrely demeanor, unreliability, and general lack of couth, this dude had great taste in music. He introduced me to JT’s songs “Mexico”, “Sweet Baby James”, and “Walking Man”. Fortunately, I no longer picture his stupid face when I listen to the music of James Taylor, as these songs have been featured on my playlists for so many years now. Time is indeed a wonderful thing.

I endeavored to switch off between these two artists with my playlist, though towards the end it ended up leaning more heavily in JT’s favor. While there are a total of 21 songs on this playlist, I won’t bore you with anecdotes about each and every one of them. Just the ones that I am most looking forward to hearing them perform live.

  • James’ “Your Smiling Face”. This is one of those songs that has an opening that you remember. It’s an upbeat and endearing tune. I always like how the first line gets right to the point of the song, don’t you?
  • Bonnie’s “Something to Talk About”. Such a fun, flirty ditty. Love the story and the bluesiness of this tune. This woman is in a league of her own when it comes to quality blues music.
  • James’ “Fire and Rain”. Great metaphor for life. Bittersweet in that he “always thought I’d see you again”.
  • Bonnie’s “Thing Called Love”. She ain’t no queen of Sheba. And we ain’t no amoebas.
  • James’ “You’ve Got a Friend”. Originally written by the one and only Carole King, another one of my favorites. A special, sweet, simple song that everyone knows. Hard to beat that.
  • Bonnie’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. Heart-wrenching, raw, tender, personal. I seem to recall a time or two back before I met Hubs of course when circumstances existed to make this song very relatable to me.
  • James’ “Up on the Roof”. Beautiful lyrics and piano music. It evokes that feeling one has upon arriving home after a long, hectic day at work where you just emit an “Ahhh”, take your bra off, and sit down with your favorite adult beverage. Except I’m too scared of heights to actually go up on the roof for real. Unless Hubs was up there with his ukulele. I’d have to make an exception for that.
  • Bonnie’s “Love Sneaking Up on You”. Such a fun, sexy song. One of the best lines: “Do you light up at the mention of my name?”
  • James’ “Something in the Way She Moves”. Wowser, what a love song! It’s on par with Billy Joel’s “Always a Woman to Me”. Soooo romantic.
  • Bonnie’s “Right Down the Line”. Gerry Rafferty wrote and originally performed this song. I love how Bonnie put her own, slightly reggae twist on this version. It’s a slinky, sultry, cool ass song. Like so many of her songs.
  • James’ “Mexico”. I love the tropical, laid back feel of this song and the pretty guitar opening.  I hope some day Hubs will say “Oh, Mexico, sounds so simple I’ve just got to go” with passion. Because he’s never been. I have, but likely would enjoy it much more as a grown adult woman with my Hubs than I did as a 7 year old searching for a pinatas and ponchos with my family.
  • James’ “How Sweet it is (to be loved by you)”. What a positively positive song, right? I just want to stop and thank you, sweet baby James, for this special song.
  • Bonnie’s “I Will Not Be Broken”. This song really speaks to me. I mentioned in a recent post that I had discovered a new self help book, “Soul Song Playlist”. Let’s just say this song is at the top of my soul song playlist.
  • James’ “Shower the People”. I ADORE this song. It should be everyone’s mantra because it would make the world a much happier place: “Shower the People you love with love, show them the way that you feel, things are going to be much better if you only will”. Truer words may never have been written in a song.
  • James’ “Steamroller”: This is the song that made me realize how much I love the blues. And to see it performed live would be simply amazing.

DWTS Love: Next season’s star picks

I recognize that some of you may not be familiar with the acronym in the title of this blog post. For those people, it stands for “Dancing with the Stars”. This show is my not so guilty pleasure. And a new season is coming soon.

I believe DWTS is the best reality show ever. You’ve got three very different judges, all with years of dancing experience. You’ve got very attractive, talented, professional dancers. You’ve got two affable hosts, Erin Andrews and Tom Bergeron. And of course, you’ve got the “stars”.

I believe the creators of this show use the term “stars” rather loosely. But no matter; the “stars” I enjoy watching the most are the ones that I have not necessarily ever heard of. The ones that have a little spunk.  The ones that have actual dancing abilities or the clear potential to develop them.  Think Kelly and Jack Osbourne (two different seasons). Or Ricki Lake. Or MMA star Paige VanZant. From the most recent season, my favorite contender was the actor Frankie Muniz. He was a revelation. He was so relatable which made him easy to root for.  His confidence and talent increased exponentially each week. Of course, the teen idol from the Disney channel, Jordan Fisher, won-but hey, he was absolutely terrific so I wasn’t too terribly disappointed.

I’m especially enthralled with DWTS when there’s obvious sexual chemistry going on between the professional dancer and the “star”. That just takes the show to a whole other level. Like these two:

Heads up: this is the part of this post where I’m going to play as if I’ve been hired to pick the next batch of “stars” to dance their ways into our hearts on DWTS. Because that could happen, right? Ha ha!

I recently learned that the upcoming season of DWTS is going to feature professional athletes. This makes coming up with a slate of epic contenders challenging for me, a woman who pays minimal attention to professional sports. But  as a die hard fan of this show, I’m going to take a stab at it anyway.

Troy Aikman, former NFL star and current NFL commentator. Image result for troy aikman images

He’s quite a good looking guy who I am certain has some dancing ability courtesy of his football playing days. I’d pair him with Sharna. I could see them performing a wonderful Vienesse waltz together.

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Serena Williams: Now who wouldn’t root for this woman? She is without a doubt a phenomenal tennis player, and I heard recently that she’s not planning to play in the next big tennis tournament. Australian Open maybe? Anyway, she recently gave birth to her first baby. There is a history on DWTS of female “stars” joining the cast after giving birth. Well, maybe not directly after giving birth. That would just be wrong on so many levels.

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Serena would totally rock those glitzy costumes DWTS puts the stars in, right? I’d pair her with that sexy beast Maks.

Tonya Harding: The disgraced former Olympic ice skater would certainly have the right moves and the determination to go all the way. Although I would hate to see her hit poor old Len in the shins if he gave her some negative criticism. Maybe I should scratch that idea. It would not surprise me in the least if she ended up on this upcoming season, however. The movie chronicling the attack on her competitor Nancy Kerrigan (herself an alumni of DWTS), from her perspective (I, Tonya-which I only want to see because of the amazing actor Alisson Janney) is getting lots of buzz, so for sensationalism’s sake I bet they do it. I mean, they did it before, with this douchebag.

David Beckham, professional soccer player/model/Mr. Posh Spice:  Boy, he’d be a bid draw, right? I mean, just look at him! There’s no doubt he’d have some wicked dancing skills.

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Without a doubt, I’d pair him with the gorgeous and talented Peta.

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Michael Phelps, a swimming phenomenon and most decorated Olympian of all time. He would be a fun pick. He does appear to be all arms and legs, so dancing may be a challenge for him. But as a professional competitive swimmer, I suspect he’d be up for the challenge.

 

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I think he’d be best paired with the fun loving Aussie dancer Emma Slater.

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Danica Patrick, professional race car driver: I really think she would be fantastic. She’s got that competitive spirit and she is drop dead gorgeous.

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I think the obvious choice for her dancing partner would be this handsome dancing devil. I would love to see the two of them tango their way to winning that Mirror Ball trophy.

I don’t know that DWTS fans will be lucky enough to have any of these athlete/stars on our screens this spring, but I will be anxiously awaiting to find out who will be cast.

In the meantime, dear readers, I would get some major enjoyment from any opinions you may have about future DWTS contenders that you want to see salsa-ing, cha-cha-ing, or paso doble-ing with the epically talented professional dancers on this show, whether they are athletes or not. Come on, play some “fantasy DWTS” with me!

Why Oprah shouldn’t run in 2020

I along with I suppose gazillions of people on earth watched the Golden Globes last Sunday night. Oprah’s speech was a major highlight, as she inspired us all with hope for the future. People cried, cheered, and many took immediately to Twitter, declaring “Oprah for 2020”.

I get it. If the election was held today, I would vote for her. She has earned the trust of the American people by her inclusiveness, her honesty, and her integrity over the span of many years. And I suspect she’d probably win by a wide margin, especially if she was running against Trump. 

While I could just as easily pen a post declaring the reasons why Oprah should run,  I maintain she shouldn’t run for POTUS.

Why, you ask? In a nutshell, I think she’s got more important things to do. I also suspect that in her heart of hearts, she doesn’t want to be POTUS. I’ve heard her say multiple times in interviews that she has no interest in serving our country in this capacity.

Oprah is an expert, in my opinion, of lifting others up. I loved that unlike some people, she used her podium in this speech not to talk about herself and her own accomplishments, but to lift up the #metoo movement, making sure to note that this movement includes women from all fields, all walks of life, who have been sexually abused or harassed by men in power. She lifted up Recy Taylor  (who I had never heard of before this-thank you Oprah) and Rosa Parks. She emphasized the need for all of us to speak truth to power in these tumultuous times. She said what I think we all needed to hear.

You see, Oprah has exquisite judgement of who it is that deserves our attention. Our support. Our loyalty. I think we need to pay close attention to who she champions as our next political leaders. The female leaders that have political experience. The female leaders that have the right combination of heart and intellect. The female leaders who have the vision to move our country forward, in a positive direction.

Oprah has the financial means and the social influence to shine a bright light on whoever our next candidate for POTUS should be.

That should be her role. At least for now. I would suggest that whoever is our next POTUS, that she appoints Oprah to her cabinet, perhaps as Chief Advisor. That’s something I could really get behind.

One Word Prompt: Enjoy

When I first started blogging, I often checked the daily word prompt, hoping for inspiration for a fresh and witty blog post. For the most part, I found myself coming up empty with the word of the day. So I would click for a new word. Ponder it for a moment. Nada. Then I’d clicked again, certain the next word would unleash the uber creative writer lurking inside of me. Bupkis. 

Having several sort of “meh” moments this week, it occurred to me that what I most need to do right now, in this moment, is to enjoy life. Savor it. Make the most of the ordinariness of it all. Laugh. Play. Enjoy. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “enjoy” is 1) to take pleasure in and 2) to keep, control, or experience as one’s own.

For my purposes this weekend, I’m going to focus on 1) what I’m enjoying, 2) who I’m enjoying it with and 3) how I’m enjoying my chosen subject of enjoyment. With the Christmas holiday upon us, this is surely not too complicated a task.

The what: Our church Christmas pageant rehearsal this afternoon. Hubs and I accepted a request from the mother of the writer/producer of this year’s production to play Mary and Joseph. I find this absolutely hilarious! Here we are, him just a couple of years and a few months from turning 50, and me, careening towards 51, playing Joseph (who I always presumed was in his 30’s when Jesus was born) and Mary (just a teen at the time). Hubs comment upon receiving this request was “I could see us playing Abraham and Sarah-but Joseph and Mary? Really?!”

More of the what: Watching Christmas movies. Eating good food plucked from our beloved crockpot. Making more Christmas cookies whilst jamming out to my favorite Christmas cd (Michael Buble). The simple things. Nothing fancy for this duo this weekend.

The Who: Hubs, of course. Duh. I intend to find that Santa hat he dons when he’s feeling especially merry during the holiday season. I’m going to insist he wear it for my enjoyment. He will tell me that his favorite Christmas song is “Silver and Gold” from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. He, the only human in this family of four who doesn’t possess a sweet tooth, will tell me that his favorite Christmas cookies are the spritz ones. He will mimic the character’s lines while we watch Christmas Vacation, telling me his favorite one is at the end, when the policeman tells the grinchy old boss that good old cousin Eddie kidnapped and brought to the Griswold’s with a big red bow tied around his torso, “That’s pretty low, Mister, if I had a rubber hose…”.

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Santa Hubs, circa 2004

The How: With a joyful spirit. With music in the background. Dressed in comfortable clothes (wisdom of being 50 is that comfort trumps fashion). With a sense of playfulness.

What will you be enjoying this weekend? This Christmas season? As one of my Christmas wishes is to receive more comments on this blog, please share with me what you are or will be enjoying!