Film


I’ve been on bed rest for 30 days (read more about that here). I’ve managed to not finish a single book, but I did watch two episodes of The Prancing Elites Project and have played a lot of a game called Wordbrain. My husband and I finished Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and I watched the first eight episodes of Fargo. I’ve flipped through three issues of People magazine. I have seen more of my friends in the last month than I have in the last six months. I’ve eaten a lot of cookies. I have stared out the window a lot. My finger nails are long and painted. I’m not hooked up to machines and I can walk around my room, which is very comfortable and cute. It’s like being held captive in a Microtel (“held captive” isn’t the right phrasing, but I can’t leave the hospital, or leave the floor by myself).

I should be using this time to be productive and organize photos on my computer, work on projects, or write new stories, but I’m not. I wouldn’t have been productive on my maternity leave, which this is basically going to have to be (also “maternity leave” doesn’t exist in America).

Being on bed rest is frustrating and hard, but it’s one of those “for the greater good” things. I try not to get too down. It could be so much worse. And as of today I can say that I will most likely be home next month.

Since I have lots of time to myself, plus basic cable, I spent a morning half-watching Almost Famous this week. I loved the movie when it first came out, but it’s one of those movies that falls apart more each time I see it. I’m bothered by Kate Hudson’s character, Penny Lane. Why does the movie focus on the age of the boy and never on her age? They’re both teenagers. She’s been messing around with a married, older man since she was 15. At the end of the movie, because they don’t want to upset Russell’s wife, the teenage girl is given away to another band for a case of beer during a poker game. And then the band can’t believe that a fifteen-year-old boy can write an article!? That’s messed up. Not very many rom coms about sex slavery have great soundtracks, though. I’ll give it that much credit (okay, she says that the “band aids” don’t have sex with the musicians, but that doesn’t make anything that happens less about taking advantage of a young girl).

Plus, where does she get money to buy a plane ticket at the end? She must have sold Anna Paquin’s character to Deep Purple.

That’s been bed rest.

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If Forrest Gump was set decades later, each time the story checked in on Jenny she would have been a Suicide Girl, then into burlesque, then in a roller derby league, then a doula, and then she would have died from celiac disease.

It’s not the end of the year if I don’t have a best of list, right? In no order and not including life events (becoming an aunt, duh):

Best things:

  • Microtel in Jonestown, NY
  • Stella’s in Richmond —  I dream of pastichio
  • The scene from“Louis” when he performs the Who song in the car in front of his unfazed children (Season 2, episode 5, “Country Drive”)
  • The reaping scene in “The Hunger Games”
  • Marisa Wompler’s “Comedy Bang Bang” podcast appearances and on her own Christmas special
  • Going to the houses of people who already have small children
  • This recipe (creamy lemon pasta with spinach and greens
  • My daughter yelling “COME ON, MAN” when I wouldn’t let her put on her favorite shirt which has a skateboarding hot dog on it
  • Amy Poehler’s performance this year on “Parks and Recreation,” especially the Halloween episode
  • Jens Lekman
  • C&M Galley Kitchen – It’s going to be the only restaurant we go to from now on when we’re not in the mood for something specific.  It’s so close, it’s reasonably priced, it’s kid-friendly, and I once had an apple juice/bourbon cocktail there that was very good.
  • NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts — Two or three songs performed by almost every musical act that I like
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – We went for the first time to see the butterfly exhibit and never left we have gone many times since then. I had no idea that the children’s garden existed. Definitely worth the membership fee.
  • Renting a cabin in James River State Park in September
James River State Park. COME ON!

James River State Park. COME ON!

Worst things:

  • Virginia General Assembly vs. women — Sadly, there will surely be a 2013 edition and then a special gubernatorial election edition, but we are ready.  By “we” I mean the people on Facebook who tell me where to go and quietly chant things.
  • MCA RIP
  • My last dining experience at Don’t Look Back — Seriously, the worst.   Although the waiter was nice enough, by the time I had to point out the 6th thing that was wrong I thought I was maybe secretly being taped for a reality show about pushing mild-mannered people to the edge.
  • Contraband — A movie.  A very dumb movie
  • The end of “Everyday Food” in print form
  • Rainbow Fish —  It’s like 4 pages long, one page is the fish asking a starfish why no one likes him and the answer is “I don’t know, ask the octopus.” WHY EVEN BOTHER WRITING/DRAWING THE STARFISH PAGE? Was the book just accidentally written during a lesson on how to draw starfishes?
More like RainBORE Fish

More like RainBORE Fish

Not sure:

  • Our daughter going from shouting “you butt” when she’s mad at us to “you bad boy,” because although “you bad boy” is very funny it’s still her basically swearing at us. However, she has many times said quietly to herself “you bad boy, Charlie Gown” and it’s adorable to hear.

So, the good outweighs the bad. I win this time, year!

I have zero interest in going on a cruise.  At least not until I’m old and the only thing left on my life’s to-do list is to go whale watching, then I’m going on one of those boring Alaskan ones and I’ll die in my cabin after spotting a sufficient number of whales.

I recently found out about a “Saw”-themed cruise and about bands from Weezer to 311 having their own cruises.  It’s a weird niche-market thing and has led me to wonder what kind of subject/artist could I love so much that I would want to be stuck on a boat with that idea for most of the week.

Those things are:

Fried chicken

David Wain-directed movies

The new Fiona Apple album

The “Flirt” fit Old Navy pants

Trader Joe’s.

Image

NO!

I would probably find out about those cruises after they happened, though. Will wait for whales and death. Also have not seen a “Saw” movie, but I hope that little guy bikes into every room at night with margaritas.  That’s what the movies are about, right?

I have the usual resolutions: gain 10 lbs, spend more money.  In addition, I have thought of a few other things I’d like to be sure to do in the next twelve months.

Become good at humming.

I have a terrible singing voice, but I still sing constantly.  I don’t care.  It feels good and I want to do it.  Having a baby has made life a musical.  There is a song in anything, and sometimes a dance, and it’s probably because she’s not old enough to tell me to shut up yet.  Lately someone I spend a lot of time with has been humming constantly, and I realized how comforting it is.  It’s like the audio version of having your hair washed and combed by someone else.  It’s so relaxing and pretty.  My grandmother hums a lot, too.  She has a nice voice.  If recordings I’ve heard of myself are accurate, I sound like a shrill baby, so I hope that I can train myself to produce a nice, calming hum.  I think it’ll be useful when I have a punchy, shouty toddler.

Spatchcock a chicken.

If you read thekitchn daily, as I do, you’ll notice that the same recipes/posts reappear, and although the linking to links to links gets irritating, I always will stop and look at Spatchcocked Ricotta Chicken.

It looks delicious and it sounds awesome.  However, working with a whole chicken grosses me out, plus I’m going veg for a little while.  In the meantime, I’ve been working on a TV series to sell to Mystery! on PBS called “Spatchcock.”

Edward Spatchcock is a detective based in London in the 1930s.  He’s a bumbling, small man who tries to keep his detectivery in business after the death of his father.  He always gets to the bottom of things, either because of his bumbleness (is that a word?  It sounds British) or because of Poppy, the young secretary who was secretly working as an apprentice to the late Spatchcock (women would not openly be allowed to be detectives for some time, although they could wear trousers on Fridays) and was, the younger Spatchcock thought, just coincidentally useful.  I will get him to play Spatchcock:

I guess I will be Poppy.

See “the Hunger Games” in the theater.

I only went to the movies twice in 2011.  We talk about going to one occasionally (I would never had taken the baby with us, and those days are long over, anyway), but it’s also one of those things that I don’t miss.  Since I’m used to watching things after their initial runs, there is no immediate need to see movies when they’re released.

Except for “the Hunger Games,” which looks awesome.  I think I’m more excited to be excited about a thing that people are excited about for once.  I don’t have high hopes that the movie will be that good.

Make good on a promise to host a party, see a friend, have someone over for dinner.

Scratch that, I’m going to get better at letting my friends know that they have to be the ones to initiate a hangout.  We will often get pumped about the idea of having people over, but then we never follow through.  I think the best way to get us to do something is invite us that day.  It seems to work the best.

JUST SAYING.  The number of times I have half-made plans to see people other than running into them have all failed, and it’s depressing.  Also, if I had told you in the last two months that I was having a Christmas party, and you wondered why I didn’t invite you, please know that I didn’t have a party.  Instead I spent time with more than one baby and realized that our house was so far from being ready to be safe for children other than the one who by nature I will look after.

That’s it.  I do everything else perfectly.  Happy 2012, everyone!

I have had a busy year (by “busy,” I mean that I have a child now, and although she spends half of the day sleeping, I can still use that as an excuse for not getting anything done).  Because of this, my “best of” lists are not so much rankings of the quality of the numerous films, albums, and books I have enjoyed, but just a listing of the books and movies I did read/see, in order of when it happened (that is how “MacGruber” makes a list, although I also really liked it).  I think I caught up on last year’s Oscar films by summertime, though, so I’m not that far behind.

Here are things that happened this year that I did happen to catch:

Movie: Super 8 — I liked it.  You have to set a movie like this in the 80s, because with cell phones everything is less dramatic.  “WHAT WAS THAT?”  “HOLD ON, LET ME TAKE AND PIC AND THEN TWEET IT FOR AN ANSWER.  AN ALIEN.”

Book: Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” — Also really liked it.  We listened to the audiobook during a very long car trip, which was probably more fun than reading it since the SNL skits were played in their entirety.   I really appreciated her theory that she stopped lactating because she ran out of episodes of “Entourage” to watch while pumping.

I have been reading Don Delillo’s “White Noise” for an embarrassingly long time (like, I think I started to read it before he finished writing it).  I don’t know why.  I really enjoy it, and would underline half of the lines if it were my book, but when it’s reading time I would much rather refresh my Twitter feed than read a book.  I’m a dum dum.  I did read through the Hunger Games series as quickly as possible, though, so I can finish books.  Also I read “the Help” and loved it, but I think the movie looks bad.  I enjoyed reading all of the criticism about it, though.

Music: Bombay Bicycle Club, “A Different Kind of Fix”: I actually bought two albums this year, the other was Mumford & Sons, which I wasn’t super into.  Beady Eye was bought for me, and I liked it.  But I heard this song on WNRN and loved it, and bought it immediately, and even if I bought a bunch of other CDs this would still be my favorite.  It reminds me of the first Stone Roses’ album at times, and a bunch of other things that I like.

I actually heard a lot of new music this year, mainly because  my roommate is that person who still buys albums.  Mostly I spent my year listening to Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” the first Fleet Foxes’ album, and Belle & Sebastian’s “Write About Love” a thousand times each.  I have my fingers on the pulse of yesteryear.

TV —  Oh, “Friday Night Lights.” It’s one of those shows that I watched because I kept hearing how much everyone loved it, and since that’s how I watched “the Wire,” I figured that everyone wouldn’t steer me in the wrong direction.  Good job, everyone!  We blew through it.  It had already ended by the time I watched it, but it can still count as this year since it ended this year.  I loved so many of the characters (the plots weren’t always that great).  I definitely am ready to handle a teenage daughter, thanks to Tami.  And Baby, if you’re reading this, I WILL slap you if you hang out with a lifeguard who is too old for you and also has a girlfriend.  Texas Forever.

I also watch Jason Katims’ other show “Parenthood,” and while I also like that, the storytelling isn’t that good and I feel like it’s a retelling of FNL storylines in a different reality.  Also I hate Sarah Braverman.  She is Tyra from FNL all grown up, making bad choices and waiting for someone else to fix it for her.

I watched the Emmy’s alone this year (as opposed to the other years when I had big Emmy-watching parties?), and I enjoyed it so much.  I cried when Kyle Chandler won for playing Coach Taylor on FNL, shot off guns when “Downton Abbey” won all its awards, and live-tweeted and Facebooked all my emotions (I did not send most of them) because I was so emotional about it.  So I realized then that I love TV.  I used to be into the Oscars, but unless Will Forte is up for something, I will have not seen any of those movies until next summer.  I keep up with TV in real time and it is my soul mate.

Which means that the top best thing to happen in 2011 (not related to real things in my life) is that “How I Met Your Mother” is on Netflix Instant (runner up is “Community” on HuluPlus, finally).  I love HIMYM so, so much.  It’s a show that rewards its audience.  While I get exhausted watching shows that have more than 13 episodes a seasonsand last longer than 3 years, the current season has been really good and I’ve also enjoyed rewatching last season, which I thought was the worst one yet.

While I’m on the subject of the things I’m usually on the subject of, I get riled up about things that make no sense or seem to be looked over on shows like HIMYM and FNL that are so good at developing characters.  My associate says that these things are done for story and they’re just TV shows, but I feel like they’re big holes in the reality of a fake world and someone on the show should have noticed.  What I mean to say is, what the hell happened to Riggins’ Rigs, and why would the entire gang fly to Ted’s hometown to go to the wedding of his high school best friend that they weren’t friends with?

Other: Who Charted is my favorite podcast.   Do yourself a favor and listen to Bob Odenkirk’s episode.  NOW.  I also like WTF a lot.  I don’t give myself a lot of podcast time, so I tend to just keep up with those.

Also, this:

http://www.nbc.com/assets/video/widget/widget.html?vid=1372642

The problem with listening to so many podcasts and reading the A.V. Club’s TV Club is that it keeps me from forming my own opinions about things.  Just passively listening/reading and not being able to engage is fun when you’re walking the dog or at the gym, but when I want to talk about what I’m into I don’t remember if any of my views are my own or if I’m borrowing them from the Internet.

For instance, TV Club will post reviews of a show within the hour after it aired (which is weird, I think, but only weirder that I look out for them).  When Ricky Gervais was on “The Office” I knew it was going to happen, and it was cute.  The reviewer of the show wrote that he wished it was going to be a surprise, and I spent the rest of the evening in a TV-grade upset because I ALSO wanted the cameo to have been a surprise.  In the review of the pretty stupid so far “Perfect Couples,” the reviewer mentioned that it’s a waste of single-camera use since the show doesn’t do anything with that concept.  Now when I watch it (while not paying attention because it’s on at a perfect doing-baby-stuff time) I actually want there to be a laugh track to tell me what’s supposed to be funny because the tone is so wrong.  I don’t know that I would have noticed it before.

I’m not sure that the last paragraph makes much sense, but the point is that I want to have opinions and discussions again.  I have my associate who is also into the same things I’m into, but 90% of our conversations go like this:

me: I haven’t seen “Alien”

him: GET OUT OF MY HOUSE

or

him: Joke about Oasis

me: I’M GOING TO POISON YOU!*

I don’t see friends that much anymore and our few minutes together are spent catching up on events, and not discussing the latest episode of “Glee.”  I don’t even know if my friends watch “Glee,” let alone if I even like it.  I miss talking about books, movies, and TV.  It’s fun to make something more important than it actually is.  I used to have opinions and I used to do the work required to get them.  Now when I think of something other than “I liked that” or “Jon Hamm is funny,” I can actually hear gears cranking and out comes a little nugget like (spoiler!), “the killing of Ned Pepper in ‘True Grit’ didn’t have an emotional payoff.”  And then I collapse at the effort of doing something other than mindlessly watching an episode of “Roseanne” on Netflix.

Anyway, in order to keep my mind sharp I need to think about things for real before just looking up a review online and letting that do the work for me.  I wouldn’t enjoy posting comments online as a way to take part in a coversation.  Maybe I should join a book club for people who take six months to finish a book.

*These things don’t actually happen, but there is a lot more tension in the house now that “Top Gun” is available to watch instantly on Netflix.  It’s like I’ve moved from not having seen it and refusing to watch it, to actively not watching it at all times.  I know that Goose dies, everyone.  I don’t think it matters that I know who or what a Goose is.

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