May 2 2014

Thoughts from my reading chair

Recently I have read some books that I didn’t really like:

No Book but the World

You Should Have Known

All Our Names

A couple good mysteries that resolve nicely:

Unseen

Her Husband’s Secret

But the main thing I want to tell is that I read a sweet little story about a sad, misanthropic bookseller whose life and outlook change through a series of events that add up to a good life.

1) Super easy to read

2) Funny and sweet

3) Hyper-literate characters who talk in the language of people who love books. You will enjoy all the references as a side benefit to a lovely story.

- Jen

 

 


Apr 29 2014

Oh my darlings!

The Grand Budapest Hotel is so good. The one-two punch of Schindler’s List and Lord Voldemort (and let’s be honest, Maid in Manhattan) had led me to believe Ralph Fiennes was incapable of being likeable on film. I was so wrong. I am now pretty much in love with him.

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Side note: A while back I had decided to try and excise “darling” from my vocabulary. (It’s my favorite term of endearment, but I feared it was making some people uncomfortable…too lovey and familiar, I surmised.) After Budapest though…I’m thrilled to say “darling” has been returned to me and I delight to use it again!

I do not hesitate to say that for me, this is Wes Anderson’s finest effort yet. If you don’t like his movies this will be no fun for you, but for those of us who do…I think it’s great fun to rank them, and I do it by how happy I was as I left the theater.

So from least happy to most happy:

Tenenbaums

Rushmore

Life Aquatic

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Darjeeling

Moonrise

Budapest

Cheers to Wes all the way around!

- Jen

 


Apr 25 2014

Looking for joy

Update: I’m on a work deadline and you’ve probably figured out that when I commit to a deadline, I’m obsessed with it. So I’ve been absent from this blog as well as @tbtljen on Twitter. I miss it and I miss all of you and I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

In the meantime, I find myself using the time I have to look for things that make me happy. So here’s my list this week:

**The Parks and Rec finale was as close to perfect as it gets. I would give anything to have been at the Unity Concert!

I made a pork roast using this recipe and it was a triumph!

I rented About Time from Redbox and I loved it. It’s all about all the good things in life, it’s by the same guy who made Love Actually, Four Weddings and A Funeral, and Notting Hill and it’s funny and romantic and heartbreaking and ultimately joyful…the stuff that makes me cheer. (Plus, Bill Nighy is a god among men)

And the song, “Birmingham” by Shovels and Rope

(Quick notes about the song and video: a)don’t worry about the dog in the video…he’ll be okay & b) a “nickajack man” is slang for men from the foothills of the Appalachians)

- Jen

 

 


Mar 26 2014

Thoughts on the “Girls” Season

I wasn’t too thrilled with the finale. Shosh being desperate, Marni being a bizarre-giggling weirdo, and Jessa agreeing to euthanize someone she barely knows all felt disconnected and uninteresting.

I had gotten used to the rhythms of Adam and Hannah as a couple. I really enjoyed Hannah’s birthday party, Hannah’s job at GQ, the trip to pick up Jessa from rehab. In terms of adjacent characters,  Adam’s sister was fascinating every moment she was on screen (the brother/sister therapy session with Hannah as the therapist was a favorite) and anytime Elijah showed up the scene became hilarious and quotable (Hannah encouraging him not to feel bad about misunderstanding the word “inertia” was a perfect moment.)

I think I realized that it’s Adam and Hannah’s interactions with each other and with the world that keep me coming back. I would be perfectly happy to have next season set at the Iowa Writers Workshop with just Hannah and Adam.

Well, as long as Caroline and Councilman Jam (see Parks and Rec) stop in to visit often.

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- Jen

 


Mar 18 2014

You actually can help find #370

NYMagazine ran an article this morning about how Courtney Love has joined the search for Malaysian Flight #370. When I saw the headline I rolled my eyes. Then when I saw this picture she posted, I laughed:

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HOWEVER…

After reading the article I realized her heart is not only in the right place, but there’s an actual website set up where you can sign in and be assigned a search area (via satellite).

Tomnod.com

There’s something wonderful about learning a lesson in humanity from Courtney Love. It’s a good morning!

- Jen


Mar 17 2014

Veronica Mars lives!

As a huge fan of the greatest teen detective ever (Harriet and Encyclopedia were a little young to be in this category and there isn’t time to get into Nancy here…) I couldn’t wait for this Kickstarter-funded movie to open.

I rented it on Amazon over the weekend and I loved it.

It felt like a four episode arc of the show…just nine years later.  After leaving her hometown to go to law school and start a new life, Veronica gets pulled back when her high school boyfriend is accused of murder. Of course the whole gang comes together to help her solve the crime. It had all of the action, humor, love, friendship and self-doubt we’ve come to expect from writer/creator Rob Thomas (he also created and wrote my beloved Party Down).

I don’t think it really stands as a movie; I can’t imagine anyone who didn’t watch the show would be that interested. (If you find yourself in that camp, by all means, watch the show. You can get all three seasons online and I guarantee you’ll love it.) But it was exactly what the fans wanted. It didn’t try to be something different. which I really applaud.

I can’t wait to watch it again. (Also, I’m definitely ready for the Buffy/Angel movie…as long as they’re both in it)

- Jen


Mar 12 2014

An alternative to banning BOSSY

Beyonce, Sheryl Sandberg, and the Girl Scouts have joined together to ban the word “bossy” because of the theory that it keeps women from becoming leaders.

I was born bossy, I’ve lived bossy and I’m hear to tell you “bossy girls get shit done.” I’m paraphrasing self-described BossyPants Tina Fey, who once said in response to Hilary Clinton being called a bitch:

bitches-get-stuff-done

I think this campaign has its heart in the right place. But banning words doesn’t generally work. I wish instead that we would simply encourage it. I’m incredibly lucky that I never felt put down or diminished because of my natural leadership skills. I liked being in charge and I was good at it.

Instead of banning bossy, why not help your little bossypants be the best she can be?

Teach her the rules to being bossy:

*Try to make things fair for everyone involved (Aaron shouldn’t have had to be the groom in every single wedding I planned under our pear tree)

*Take responsibility, not just authority; it’s your job to make sure everyone is having fun, not just you (If Naomi didn’t want to be the typhoid sufferer who gets thrown off the boat, aka the guest bed, I shouldn’t have made her)

*Look for opportunities to collaborate; let someone else be in charge now and then, you might enjoy the ride (I literally can’t think of an example from childhood where I did this and I fear I may have refused to let some other kid in my neighborhood stretch their own bossy wings…)

Anytime a kid’s natural qualities get squashed by the adults in their life, it breaks my heart. If you decide to ban bossy, that’s up to you. But most importantly, if you have a daughter with leadership inclination, I hope you celebrate it, because you’ve got yourself a future woman who gets stuff done!

- Jen


Mar 10 2014

The tale of my Twitter

I just used Tweetails.com to find out my Twitter feed stats (@tbtljen)

After inputting all of my tweets, the website gave me this rating:

Very clever indeed, and probably smug about it too. (I guess even algorithms are judgey)

Here are the words I use most often:

Screen shot 2014-03-10 at 8.56.59 AM

Immediate thoughts:

*It looks like my husband barely beat out Mr. Bates, but Harry is the man I mention most (which is probably a combination of Prince Harry and Harry Potter)

*Also, how much was I tweeting about those Chilean miners? Clearly more than I remember!

*Obviously I need to spend the day learning new adjectives that aren’t Adorable or Awesome.

I think this is actually a pretty good tool and it feels pretty representative of who I am and how excited I get about the things I love.

- Jen


Mar 6 2014

I like a little Game of Thrones in my Parks and Rec

This deleted scene from last week’s episode (When Leslie got Ben a replica of the Iron Throne for their anniversary) is proof that Adam Scott has figured out how to perfectly capture:

1) how important the Iron Throne is to fanboys/girls

2) how frustrating it is when your partner doesn’t get it

3) how hard it is to sit on the throne (both metaphorically and physically)

Oh, Leslie…starships and the Force? REALLY?

- Jen


Mar 5 2014

Book Review: Orphan Train

An historical novel set in the early part of the 20th century, Orphan Train is based on the thousands of orphans that were taken by trains from New York City to the midwest to be placed in new families. I had no idea this happened and for that I’m so glad I read the book.

Cutting back and forth between a modern day foster teen and an Irish immigrant orphaned after arriving in America in the 1920′s, it’s terrifying and inspiring and sweet and heartbreaking. It’s a quick and easy read that sticks with you (in a good way, not in the weeping on the floor in the fetal position way!)

- Jen