2 Movies, 2 Books & 1 Unique Bumper Sticker

As part of my attempt to live a more balanced life in 2013, I have given myself the assignment to watch 2 movies and to read 2 books each month.  Here is my February report.

2 Movies

The Magic of Belle Isle – Bland + trite.  With Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen in it, I thought that this movie would be a sweet, but nuanced, look at life in a small town on a lake.  It was not.  In fact, it was boring, mildly insulting to women over 40, and just a plain waste of beautifully decorated lakeside homes.  Not recommended.

Helvetica –  Fascinating + inspiring.  Helvetica is a font that was born in 1957 and permeates our lives.  It has been revered and it has been marginalized, but it is still here.  The interviews with graphic artists are compelling, even if you disagree with what they’re saying.  Recommended if you have an interest in typography and the world around you.  [H/T to alejna at collecting tokens for telling me about this documentary.]

2 Books

The Spice Necklace –  Charming + fun.  I enjoyed this book.  In a nutshell, Ann Vanderhoof and her husband decide to live on a boat, travel around the Caribbean and research the local cuisine.  Along the way they make friends with some nutty characters the locals, learn about alcoholic beverages regional history and decide to conjure up recreate Caribbean specialities in their tiny  galley kitchen.  Recommended if you like recipes, travel and cheerful adventurers.

Marrakesh By Design –  Beautiful + informative.  In this colorful book on Moroccan decorating, Maryam Montague explains the history of the region as well as the reasoning behind this style of decorating.  The photos of patterns, colors and homes are perfect.  I read the book all in one sitting, then came back a few days later to get lost in the photos.  Recommended if you have an interest in African history, art and/or home decor.

1 Unique Bumper Sticker

The bumper sticker on the back of the van said: Play More Viola.  I saw it first and was silently thinking about it when Zen-Den noticed it, too.  Naturally we needed to know more about it, so I googled it.  I half expected it to be a line from a Saturday Night Live skit a la “more cowbell.”  But its origins were much simpler than that.  It’s a bumper sticker encouraging everyone to be more joyful… by playing more viola.  Cute, huh?

12 thoughts on “2 Movies, 2 Books & 1 Unique Bumper Sticker

  1. Glad you enjoyed Helvetica! I remember after watching that, I became hyper-aware of the use of the font on signs, etc.

    Both of those books sound intriguing, and not like my typical book fare. (I’ve definitely been a fiction reader.) If I ever finish with grad school, I’m going to have to make a commitment to myself to start reading for fun again.


    • alejna, you are so right about suddenly noticing Helvetica wherever I go. I am hyperaware.

      I go through phases with what I read. I used to be crazy about mysteries, then novels, then memoirs– and now I’m into my travel/history phase. Don’t know how long it’ll last, but I’m enjoying it for the moment.


  2. I watched the Magic of Belle Isle recently and didn’t hate it. In fact, I seem to have given it 4 netflix stars which is rare for me. I “watched” it running in the background though, while doing other things and I can’t really remember what I liked about it so that’s not a great recommendation. Helvetica, however, I thought would have made a great half hour documentary. It was interesting but repetitive.

    The Spice Necklace sounds interesting and I love the idea of not only getting some new recipes but reading the stories behind them.


    • Zazzy, Magic of Belle Isle was a movie that Netflix suggested for me. Usually their ideas are good, but I thought that this movie fell flat. Loved the interiors in all of the homes, though.

      I bet that you’ll like The Spice Necklace. The author writes with a light heart and lots of detail. Only proviso is do not read this book when you are hungry! The descriptions of food will make you even more hungry. Oh my.


  3. I’ve got Helvetica on my list from LoveFilm – I thought you’d recommended it last month, or maybe I’m living in Canada. Love the car sticker thing. A few years ago there was a spate of graffitti along major roads around London saying “Brooke Shields Alphabet”. It made the papers, and I googled it, but never got to the bottom of it. I think playing more viola would bring me more joy than the Brooke Shields Alphabet!


    • Polly, Brooke Shields Alphabet?! That is peculiar. I thought the viola bumper sticker was a delight when I saw it, and even more so once I found out what it was all about. Of course, I don’t like it quite enough to put it on my car… but it’s still cute.


  4. My daughter is a graphic design major and she recommended Helvetica to us as well. It is in my Netflix queue. I should move it to the top of the list. It is funny . . . she notices and comments on typography all the time now and she has made me more aware of it too. Sorry to hear about the Morgan Freeman movie being bland. I so enjoy him and Virginia. Rats.


    • robin, watch this documentary and you’ll never look at signage the same way again! I found Helvetica fascinating.

      As for the movie, it bored me– but I kept watching it hoping that it’d pick up near the end. All-in-all, MF & VM’s talent could have been put to much better use. However, the sets were nice and the kids in the movie were cute. Watch it for yourself and see what you think.


      • My daughter says things like, “Can you believe they used the font Lucinda on that sign. Geesh. That is so cliche.” I nod sagely and try to remember to look up the font Lucinda.


        • I’m laughing here. I’d do the same thing. I guess what I’m saying is that once you know how ubiquitous Helvetica is, you’ll see it way too often. And in my case, not really love it anymore.


  5. I can’t tell one font from the other mostly! (not the regular ones anyway) I need to find some good movies to watch. The TV is awful and I don’t have much to read.


    • Margaret, I know what you mean. I can distinguish some features on fonts, but rarely know the actual name of what I’m looking at. Except for Helvetica which I now know is everywhere.


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