2 Movies, 2 Books & 1 Inspirational Quote

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 March report.

2 Movies

Butter – Satirical + jumbled.  With Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, Rob Corddry, Alicia Silverstone and Hugh Jackman in it, this uneven movie has its moments– and those moments are hilarious.  All the action revolves around the Iowa State Fair butter carving competition– and the politics associated with it.  Recommended if you can overlook the mocking anti-conservative slant and want something light [and rather pointless] to watch.

How Beer Saved The World – Informative + upbeat.  This is a short, fast-paced documentary about beer.  The narration is wonderful, the cartoon reenactments of history are delightful and the interviews with academics are great.  Recommended if you like history and smart, happy people.

2 Books

Mad About Undead You: A Zombie Apocalypse Love Story – Clever + unique.  A  mad scientist miscalculates and suddenly San Francisco is overrun with former water drinkers turned zombies.  This is the backdrop for Carl S. Plumer’s fast-paced novel about love.  Yes, love.  With characters that could easily be your friends, this slightly campy novel is a different sort of love story that made me laugh out loud.  Recommended if you like San Francisco and enjoy a modicum of gore.  [H/T to Kristen at Kristen Loves Design for recommending this book– that just happens to be written by her husband!]

Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me – Not what I expected.  I picked up this book thinking that I was buying a book of essays written by British mums a la Listen To Your Mother.  I was wrong.  Instead, Lucia van der Post’s book is a charming, well-written guide to living an upper class, stylish life in London or NYC.  I enjoyed it, but will admit that I skimmed through parts of it that seemed too high brow for me.  Recommended if you want detailed information about where to shop and how to create a glamorous lifestyle.

1 Inspirational Quote

Winston Churchill said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”  I’m focusing on this quote because March was not the productive month that I had hoped it would be.  In fact, there were a few days when I wanted to crawl into bed and never come out again.  Nothing seemed to go right.  With the weather.  With how I felt.  With what I said.  With what I planned on doing.

In other words, March, one of my favorite months, was a bust.  But then I remembered this Churchill quote and figured that for me the lesson of March 2013 was to just keep going.  Which I did.

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?

2 Movies, 2 Books & 1 New Mantra

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.  This is more difficult for me to do than you might imagine, but I’m giving it my best shot.  Here is my January report.

2 Movies

Hachi, A Dog’s Tale – Delightful.  The story of a college professor, the stray dog he found on a train platform and loyalty that goes on forever.  Highly recommended if you like Richard Gere, fables and house porn.  {have tissues nearby}

The Queen of Versailles – Compelling & whacked.  This is a documentary about a ditzy woman and her billionaire husband who set out to build the largest residence in USA.  Can you say conspicuous consumption?  Can you say bad judgement?  Can you say slobs?  Highly recommended because, well– Whiskey Tango Foxtrot— you’ve never seen anything like this.

2 Books

13, rue Thérèse – Fascinating.  On the surface, this is a novel about a college professor who finds a box filled with letter, photos and personal objects.  He decides to document each item and to research the timeframe from which the objects came.  What makes this novel so unique is that the author, Elena Maui Shapiro, who lived in an apartment building in Paris when she was a girl, inherited the objects when an older woman in the building died.  Using these objects as a starting point, the author wrote this novel.  Recommended if you like history and the idea that nothing is quite as it seems.

The Buddha Walks Into A Bar – Informative.  It’s been a long time since I read a book about religion.  This one, written by Lodro Rinzler, is quietly funny, well-researched and difficult to put down.  I hesitate to call it personal development, but I suppose that’s the genre it fits in.  I read it more as a refresher course on Buddhism than a how-to guide.  Recommended if you’re feeling the need to think about life from a different point of view and be mindful.

1 New Mantra

A friend’s second grade daughter came home from school with a long, involved story about playground intrigue.  My friend, who was making dinner as she listened to the story, said that she wasn’t absorbing the details.  Instead, she was listening to the tone-of-voice.  Eventually her daughter stopped talking and my friend realized that she needed to say something Mom-like.  So she asked her daughter what she thought about all that had happened and her daughter, with a sigh, summed it up with: “People are silly.”

No truer words, my little one.  And a perfect mantra about relationships, if you ask me.

Looking For Fun & Feeling Wordy

•  Please take a moment to peruse the 50 Best Literary Insults.  You never know when you might need one.  CLEVER.

•  I may have found the perfect Weekly To Do List.  It’s pretty & free.  YES!

•  Do you need to figure out what the heck some business wonk is talking about?  Is jargon like Thought Shower | Gently Toggle | Weblication being tossed around the table?  Then check this out.  SNARKY.

•  Have you ever wondered what are the Top 10 Most Read Books in the World?  SURPRISING.

•  In case you were wondering, I give you the 12 Buzzwords You’ll Need to Know in 2013.  INANE.

•  So you say that you’re interested in setting type?  Then KERNTYPE {a kerning game} is just the place for you.  GROOVY.

~ That’s all I got for you today, gentle readers.  Enjoy!


Back When TV Was Truly Refined

… After yesterday’s constant stream of sad news I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today.  

This is funny and sweet.  It’s a reminder of how smart + delightful television used to be.  So. Very. Calm.

I miss watching TV shows that were in black & white.  I miss seeing TV shows that don’t *flash* and *bang* all over the place.  I miss being entertained by TV shows that don’t try to impress me with their super hipness.

But mostly I miss the kind of innocence that allowed a pleasant “nobody” to outsmart a panel of curious “somebodies” by merely being herself.  With a smile.



[H/T to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings.  More info + other video clips here.]

[Unrelated to this video, but interesting to know, the contestant later wrote a memoir titled Look Back and Laugh.  Writers are everywhere, aren’t they?]

Reading Between The Lines. Literally.

Our current Kindle is one of the original ones.  They’re called Kindle Keyboard 3G now, but when we bought it this style was the only one available.

After many years this Kindle [who I never named – missed opportunity there] has gone wonky.  I think we overused the poor baby because she can no longer ante up all of her pixels.  Whole horizontal rows of pixels have bugged out.

The result is a screen that looks sort of like the handwriting practice writing paper we used in first grade.  Do you remember that paper?  It had one solid horizontal line all the way across the top of the page.  Then a dotted horizontal line below it.  Then one solid horizontal line below that.  The last two lines were then repeated down the entire page until the bottom.

That’s what this screen resembles.

Now add to this dodgy-looking screen words in any font size— and you have my first grade writing assignments.  Complete with words above, below, through & on the lines.  Marginally readable.

Cute?  Yes.  But not all that desirable on an e-reader.  Rather annoying to be honest.

So I suppose that it’s time to buy a new e-reader.  A Kindle Paperwhite 3G perhaps?  Or maybe a Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight?  I think I’ll let Santa take care of that decision.

And in the meantime until Santa decides what to buy next, I’ll go back to reading good ole paper books with words printed clearly between the lines.  As if second grade me had printed them.  😉

[Hello FTC!  Just talking about my experience here.  Nothing more than noting what happened with this product.  No one is paying me, or us, a cent or dollar to say this.  No compensation whatsoever here.  We good, my friend?]

The “Reader Appreciation Award” Meme

:: The Introduction ::

Gemma at helloitsgemma tagged me with this award.  Isn’t that kind of her?  The deal is that I answer the following questions.  Then I tag some other bloggers who I appreciate for leaving comments on my blog.  They then answer the questions on their blogs & tag some more bloggers.  And the award goes on ad infinitum…

:: The Questions ::

Where do you do most of your writing/blogging?
In our home study using my desktop computer, Coraline.

What books were your childhood favourites?
From my mother: The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh + Charlotte’s Web + the Little House on the Prairie series.  From my father: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer + Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Who is your favourite fictional character?
Tricky question.  I’m going to stick with childhood books and say Cassandra Mortmain, the narrator in I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.  Cassandra, a teenage girl, starts the novel as a detached observer who records events + her impressions of people in her journal.  But eventually Cassandra becomes a participant in her own life and learns a few adult truths.  She is, I believe, one of the most charming narrators ever.

What is your favourite time of day and why?
Morning, when it is quiet, is my favorite time of day because my mind isn’t overtaxed with the daily minutiae yet.

Have you ever Googled yourself and been surprised at what you’ve found?
Yes, I’ve Googled myself.  No, I wasn’t surprised.  This blog is all there is about me out there on the interwebs.

Who would play me in a movie of my life?
Let’s ask Christina Applegate first, shall we?  I think she’d be a good choice.

One material possession I could not live without?
Our electric Cuisinart coffee maker with a timer.

Have you ever been naked in public?
Does skinny dipping, while in college, with friends, in a friend’s grandma’s pool count?  If so, yes.  If not, no.

What is your dream car?
Any car that I own.  Right now it’s a 9-year-old Honda Accord coupe, Olivia.

What/who/where was your first proper kiss?
I’m going to interpret proper kiss to mean the first one with the man who I married.  So the answer would be: long smooch/Zen-Den/college dorm room.

:: The Next Step ::

Here is a list of some wonderful bloggers who frequently comment on The Spectacled Bean.  I’m choosing these bloggers for this meme because, like me, they are doing NaBloPoMo– and I figure that they might be looking for something to write about.  

J at Thinking About…

Cheri at Naples Girl Blog

alejna at collecting tokens

Melisa at Suburban Scrawl

Relyn at Come Sit by My Fire

[There is, as always, no obligation to do this meme.  You won’t hurt my feelings if you choose to ignore all of this.  I realize that memes aren’t for everyone.]