Tag Archives: nerd alert

jeff bezos doesn’t want me to watch movies; or, the 2017 mcpolish movie list

29 Jan

I think the best word to describe my movie watching in 2017 would be “anemic.”

I had some substantial meals in there—The Last Jedi, the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary, for example. But when a list of only 11 contains almost a third of Netflix and Lifetime holiday movies* (yes, they count), there are clearly some essential movie vitamins and minerals missing here.

I can make you all sorts of promises that I’m going to up my movie game in 2018, but almost a month into the year and it’s not looking likely. There’s hope, of course, as there are a quite a few movies out currently that I want to see.

But let’s be real—getting out to a movie, while I love going, requires carful coordination these days, thanks to Baby McSwedolishan not being old enough to A) attend R-rated movies, 2) not being old enough to watch himself, and III) his general lack of sleeping through movies like he did as an infant. Also, he hogs the popcorn, so going to the movies with him these days is just not enjoyable.

You know what, though? I don’t want to be one of those moms who blames her lack of social life and movie cultural knowledge on her kids. And if I’m really being real, Baby McSwedolishan is not to blame. Jeff Bezos is.

I love Amazon as much as the next person who has fallen under their dreamy 2-day delivery spell—despite that they are often lying liars who lie about when a package was delivered, and yes, I will call customer service every damn time this happens—but they have played an enormous role in my lack of movie watching. Where they could be a huge boon to my movie consumption they are more often a hindrance—either Prime doesn’t have the movies I want to watch, or they do, but I can’t rent it, I have to buy it for $15.

For God’s sake, Bezos, get it together. Why would I want to buy a movie I’ve never seen?

Sure, I’d pay the same to see a movie I’ve never seen in a movie theatre. But for the cost of a movie ticket, I also get surround sound, recliner chairs, and a screen the size of my house. You know what watching a movie at my own home doesn’t include? Surround sound or a screen the size of my house. It does sometimes include a recliner chair, I’ll give you that.

So no, I don’t want to pay the same amount to watch a movie online as I do to watch a movie in a theatre, simple as that.

I guess we’ll see what 2018 will bring by way of movie watching, though neither my bar nor my hopes of busting this year’s number are set terribly high. Jeff Bezos, you can change that. Be a helper, not a hater, Bezos.

In the meantime, and in at least an effort to queue up some worthwhile films, do you have any suggestions for movies I should see, dear Interwebers?

*And it’s safe to say that that number is actually higher, because I know there are other holiday films I watched throughout the season that I forgot to write down though does it really matter because let’s be honest after awhile they all blend together anyway.

Movies I Watched + 3 takeaways from each

January 1, 2016-December 31, 2017

  • Joy*–1. Robert DeNiro and Isabella Rosselini are in this movie? I had no idea!; 2. Jesus Christmas, Robert DeNiro and Isabella Rosselini’s characters are awful people in this movie; 3. I should watch more QVC.
  • Hidden Figures*–1. God, I love Octavia Spencer; 2. I want to watch this movie 100 times; 3. Why don’t people dress up more for work today? They really should, it adds an air of elegance.
  • Pride & Prejudice (the Colin Firth 1995 version)*–1. Holy Mother of God, I don’t know who is more annoying, Mrs. Bennet or Lydia Bennet; 2. I’ve always liked Colin Firth, but I understand now how he came to be the hunk that he is; 3. Lydia is played by the woman who plays Saffy in Ab Fab, and I like her MUCH better as Saffy.
  • Becoming Warren Buffett*–1. Warren Buffett essentially had two wives at the same time; 2. I find his friendship with Bill Gates kind of brodorable; 3. Warren Buffett seems like a relatively happy, normal guy for being a billionaire, but I also get the sense that he can be a real asshole and crabby sometimes.
  • Legal Eagles*–1. There’s something very jarring about 80s movies, like half the plotlines never get fleshed out, or maybe some of the key elements get left on the cutting room floor; 2. Robert Redford is goofy in this movie, but it works; 3. Seriously, what is up with Daryl Hannah? She is the most emotionless actress I’ve ever seen.
  • Wonder Woman*–1. So good. SO GOOD! 2. Is the guy who played Steve supposed to be like a new, young Matt Damon? Because he kind of looks like a new, young Matt Damon. 3. I think there should be a Wonder Woman 2.)
  • A Christmas Prince–1.Yes, Netflix holiday movies totally count. 2. So many plot holes. So many. 3. But who doesn’t love a good cheesy holiday film?
  • Naughty & Nice–1. I quite like Haylie Duff. 2. Why are all these cheesy holiday films suddenly casting wooden, expressionless male leads? 3. Again with the plot holes.
  • A Christmas Note–1. Meadow! From the Sopranos! Now in Holiday movies! 2. Wait, the husband isn’t dead? 3. Sisters forever!
  • The Vietnam War (Ken Burns & Lynn Novick)*–1. This was incredibly hard to watch at times. 2. All 20 hours were worth it. 3. The lies from the government were/are absolutely astounding. Like, mind-blowingly inconceivable and terrible.
  • The Last Jedi*–1. I love BB8. By far my favorite character. 2. I keep calling this movie Return of the Jedi in my head, which is obviously not correct. 3. How did I not catch on to the whole “Luke using the Force” thing when Kylo Ren was trying to blow him up? Well played, movie people. Well played.)

*Denotes recommended movie

 

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welcome to 2018. i have no idea what’s going on.

11 Jan

Well, it’s happened. 2017 ended, and its ups and downs are packed away to make room for new highs and lows for the year to come. We can look back fondly on the good parts of the holidays; the fun summer days picking cherries and making it to the beach exactly one time which may have technically been in the fall if I’m going by the calendar but whatever it was still blazing hot out; the smell of wet grass and mud in the spring; the cozy winter nights when red wine flowed like delicious, delicious…red wine.

And we can look at those things that were maybe not so great with some distance, so maybe they don’t sting as much or perplex us as much or concern us as much, before we simply put them off to the side, knowing that they’re there, we can see them, and remember them if need be, but the things that aren’t so great don’t have to be in our direct line of vision anymore.

I love a new year, and if you haven’t guessed that about me by now, after how many years of New Years posts, then Hello. Welcome to this blog. You must be new here. Sit down, I’ve got some chips and Diet Pepsi around if you like. I love a new year because of its clean slate, its stretch of days ahead of you of which you can make whatever you damn well please. You own your life so you’re responsible for how you live it.

While I’m not one who goes around throwing confetti and blowing noisemakers every time change comes my way, a new year is a time I herald it gladly. I like not knowing what’s going to happen in the next 12 months. (That thump you just heard was my Swede falling over in shock and disbelief.) I like the idea of things being a little off balance because we don’t know what’s about to come our way. I like the idea of so many things that could potentially take shape, knowing that any one of them may come to fruition. Or maybe none of them will. Hard to say because as much as I’d like the capability, I unfortunately do not have ESP.*

I know. I’m sad about it too.

So here’s to the New Year, to 2018.** Here’s to you, may this year be your best yet. But most of all, here’s to the unknown, and here’s to the possibility of it all.

*And also because as I am the owner of my life, I’m responsible for what I do or do not do. And knowing that I am sometimes (often) easily distracted by books and other things that are not what I “should” be doing, like decluttering my bakeware rather than working on a blog post, or discussing with my dog how she is just the best little pibble on the planet rather than get my ass organized for a big work project, it’s hit or miss as to whether cool shit happens.

**Yes, I realize it’s not like SUPER New Year anymore, considering this post is coming in almost two weeks into 2018. But today is always a good day to start new, amiright?

dear buyer, i’m just wondering

19 Oct

Two weeks ago the sale on our bootbox of a condo was finalized, and I’d be lying if I said that since then I didn’t have a few anxiety-ridden, hand-flapping moments of oh holy fuck, maybe we made the wrong decision how on earth could we have sold a place where so much life happened for us and eeeeeeeeeeeennnggggggonlydogscanhearmypanicnow.

But in my heart I know selling the condo was the right decision on so many levels, the top of which is that we Needed. More. Space. The mental sanity of my child depended on it. The mental sanity of my main squeeze depended on it. My own mental sanity depended on it. As wonderful as the bootbox of a condo was to us for the past four years, it was time to go. It was time to go, and it was time to let go, and it was time to let the condo be a place for someone else to make memories of happy times and sad times and angry times and sexy times and drunk times and bored times and frustrated times and dreaming times and humble times and worried times and righteous times and crying times and laughing times.

Yet I can’t help but think about the new owner, and I wonder how she’s settling in.

I wonder if she pours a Very Large (no judging) glass of wine at the end of the day, and sits on the balcony watching the sky fade from twilight to dark, which is never actually too dark because the streetlights pop on, illuminating Michigan Avenue, casting people in shadows as they walk down the street.

I wonder if the smell of grilled meats that twirls through the neighborhood makes her reconsider her dinner plans, and say Fuck This Noise, I Am Not Cooking Tonight, Yay, Margaritas, and turn off the stove and dash through traffic to the Mexican restaurant across the street.

I wonder if she keeps her windows open at night, so the sound of the garbage trucks banging through the alley at the barest break of dawn wakes her up on the regular, to the point she wonders why she even sets an alarm.

I wonder if she is happy.

I wonder if, on the first morning she woke up in her new condo, she tried to have a Maria von Trapp moment as she stepped out onto the balcony, arms spread wide and ready to greet the city, but forgot that the screen door was closed, put her foot through it, and then had to duct tape over the hole so the cat wouldn’t try and use it as a cat door, except he was too fat to fit through it and got stuck.

I wonder if she is full to bursting with ideas for her life in this new neighborhood, this new part of the city she’s living in, a complete unknown except maybe it’s close to her work, so, bonus for that.

I wonder if she’s adopted a big baby of a pitbull.

I wonder how many times she’s thought to herself, Oh, fuck me, there are only two closets in this place.

I wonder, while unpacking, how fast it took her to say, “In my next home, the first thing on my wish list is more space.”

I wonder if she’s finished unpacking.

I wonder if she drops the F bomb a lot.

I wonder if buying this condo is just the first of several decisions she will make that will alter the course of her life in ways she can’t even begin to imagine.
I wonder if she’s noticed I only gave the tub a cursory scrubbing before we left.

I wonder if she will have a good life there.

Because that’s my greatest wish for her, and any owner who may come after her, that that little bootbox of a condo be a home, for however long that may be.

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: october 2017

11 Oct

ONE: I have some terrible news.

Remember how I was gloating over my awesomeness of keeping a whole one New Years Goal? That I was making ice cream like a champ, and hadn’t missed a month because I’m totally awesome and an ice cream rock star?

I didn’t make a new ice cream flavor in September.

I KNOW. I FEEL THE HORROR, TOO.

Sure, September was a shitshow of a month, and packed to the gills with our anniversary, Baby McSwedolish’s first birthday, buying a house, selling a house, moving, and driving to Baltimore for a friend’s wedding, all of these things taking place within two weeks of each other.

But that’s no excuse! Because what about those first two weeks of September? Where the hell was I then? I couldn’t have whipped up a quick batch of something to stay on track? I’ve failed you, Interwebs. And even worse, I’ve failed myself.

I may never recover.

Meanwhile, I’m taking suggestions for a flavor to make for October. And don’t you dare say anything involving pumpkin.

TWO: I went to my 20-year high school reunion last weekend. That merits a post of its own, one that I may actually get to at some point. But for now, I’ll just say that it was in all honesty a very good evening, and I truly enjoyed talking to my former classmates. Way more than I generally enjoyed talking to them in high school. Not that I didn’t enjoy talking to them in high school (I generally did, I think? Hard to say, high school was 20 years ago, my friends, and I can’t even remember if I brushed my hair this morning*), but you add 20 years to a person’s life, and they’re bound to be more interesting now than they were then out of the sheer increase in number of days on this planet.

THREE: Have you seen the show Finding Your Roots on PBS? I caught it the other night, and it’s fascinating. I’ve learned all sorts of things about random celebrities, for example, Fred Armisen is not a quarter Japanese, he’s actually a quarter Korean, and there’s an entire museum in Tokyo dedicated to his grandfather. (Why in Tokyo and not in Seoul, I’m not really sure. I may or may not have tuned out for part of the show.)

It’s this exact sort of randomness that I love about PBS, you guys. Seriously. I can’t get enough. PBS is amazing.

FOUR: Since we moved** into a home that has more than one bedroom, Baby McSwedolish now sleeps in his own room.

And it’s terrible.

Not for him, of course, but for me, because every time he whines or cries in his sleep (which he does with surprising frequency. What, exactly, is he crying about in his dreams? He’s a baby. The worst thing in his life is a full diaper or not being allowed to poke the dog in the eye.) it’s amplified by the video monitor that sits on Swede’s nightstand. It used to sit on my nightstand, but that wasn’t working out very well, as I’d lie in bed and stare at it at 2 o’clock in the morning, which, in case you didn’t know, is not conducive to sleeping well. So now it’s out of my reach but it’s still loud when he cries, and my heart breaks even though he seems entirely unbothered by it because he doesn’t even wake up and sweet Mother of God, I should probably just turn the volume on the monitor down for the love of all that his holy and decent and accept the fact that my baby is growing up and clearly doesn’t need me anymore. 

I may need a nap.

 

*Chances are slim.

**More on that later.

 

 

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: august 2017

10 Aug

One: Have you ever noticed that the women on the storytelling shows on NPR all sound the same? I’m sure that they’re all different people, and not just one woman who has lived a thousand lives and has the stories to show it. At least I’m pretty sure.

They all have a mildly self-deprecating tone when they share their stories, as if they’re not sure they should be telling a story, even though they think they should be telling a story, and their voices always have just a bit of scratch to them, as if they’re getting over a cold. And when they laugh it’s never an outright laugh, but more of a held-in, half-laugh-is-the-audience-laughing? kind of laugh. Their creaking-door voices and half-chuckles all blend together to my ears, I cannot tell them apart.

I don’t know if the same holds true about the male storytellers. I don’t know that I’ve heard enough of them on storytelling shows, to be honest. But I’ll keep my ears open.

Two: As I’ve expressed to one and all, I love the Great British Bake Off. Love it. I was talking with a colleague recently, who said she thought it was kind of cheesy, and that the drama over the baking was a bit silly. Which kind of befuddled me, because you guys, that drama is baking itself! Baking is Dramatic! Especially in a tent!

But I realized something: what makes the GBBO so alluring and enthralling is it speaks to my perfectionist side. (And yes, I have a perfectionist side.) (It’s not my best side, to be honest.) (Which drives its perfectionist self absolutely nuts.) To enjoy baking, or even just watching the baking process, you have to have at least a sliver of perfectionism in you. It’s too precise a process not to. And that’s why the natural drama of baking plays out so well on this show for its bakers and fans alike. (You don’t need manufactured drama. All you need is the nail-biting moments of contestants crouched in front of their ovens, counting seconds that could make or break their bake.) If you don’t have a bit of perfectionism in you, or if you don’t allow it to show its face and shake your hand every once in awhile, then I can understand why it all might seem silly. I don’t agree, but I can understand.

Three: During Amazon Prime days in July, I scored a Kindle Fire for $30, because my old, regular kindle crapped out on me after four years. I didn’t particularly want a Fire, because let’s be honest, the last thing I or the world needs is another device that links me to the distraction that is the Interwebs, but I did particularly want to not pay a lot of dough. And a regular, just-for-reading Kindle was like, $100.

ANYWAY, along with my Fire came a renewed subscription to the Washington Post—because this is a Jeff Bezos world and we’re just living in it. I had, for reasons unbeknownst to me, let my WaPo digital subscription lapse, and now, with this renewed access, I’m remembering how absolutely wonderful this newspaper is, and how much I absolutely adore reading their food section, particularly their Free Range On Food weekly live chats.

Their food section and staff are inspiring! And it makes me nostalgic for cooking dinner for myself, my friends, and eventually my Swede in my little apartment on Connecticut Avenue, with its two inches of counter space. And simultaneously makes me appreciate my current kitchen, with is six inches of counter space and a dishwasher.

Four: There’s a sign at my library underneath the directory that reads simply, Welcome Home.

Nailed it.

Thank you, sign designer.

 

checking in

12 Jul

It’s July, which by my math and calendar* means we are more than halfway through the year. Which means that seven months ago we all lolled about on our couches in a fog of cheese and leftover cookies and made a bunch of promises to ourselves, the universe, and our dog that we vaguely intended to keep, though in the far corner of our brains knew would be packed away like so many boughs of holly by February 5.

So! How are those New Year’s Goals** working out for you? Has anybody actually tackled any? Have any actually lasted beyond Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday?

Ahem.

waves raised hand wildly

Yes, actually, I have. And yes, actually, they have.

And yes, I’m totally tooting my own horn.

(toot! toot!)

How can I not? It’s not every year—or any year, for that matter—that I can actually say I have successfully completed or am successfully in the process of completing my New Year’s Goals. Or completing anything, really. (What? Mine is a world of inspired intentions.) So I’m going to celebrate the shit out of these.

Goal 1: Make one new ice cream flavor a month

What’s the point of having an ice cream maker if you don’t actually use it? Ever since I received this kitchen appliance two Christmases ago, I’ve had a steady stream of homemade ice cream go through my kitchen, much to Swede’s happiness. But this year I felt like I needed to expand my ice cream horizons, and put some of my Pinterest pins to the test.

And now this poor ice cream maker doesn’t know what’s hit it. Entirely possible I may blow out the motor by August.

I’ve made seven new flavors so far this year (I made two in March, because it was my birthday month and…well, it was my birthday month is the best reasoning I can come up with) (then again, do I really need a reason to make two new ice cream flavors in one month?). Some were better than others, but even the ones that were only meh were still good.

January: Red velvet ice cream with a cream cheese swirl

February: Brown sugar bourbon ice cream

March: Creamsicle ice cream; lemon mascarpone ice cream

April: Baklava ice cream

May: Mint chocolate chip (such a classic flavor, yet one I’d never actually made)

June: White chocolate blackberry

Our favorite has been the brown sugar bourbon flavor, with the lemon mascarpone a very close second. Tell your friends.

 

Goal 2:

<crickets>

<twiddles thumbs>

Huh.

Totally thought I had accomplished one of the other goals on my list.

No?

Okay! Just the one goal then. But! That’s one more thing I’ve done/am doing. Let me just extend my Go Go Gadget arms and pat myself on the back again.

Well done, me.

 

So as to be completely transparent, you should know that for this one goal I can claim as successful (so far), there are at least 63 that have been failed somewhat and terribly.

Write how many words a month on the novel I’ve been thinking about for 10 years? Okay, I’ve written some. I’ll give myself partial credit.

Exercise how often? Huh. Not so much.

Make fresh pasta using the pasta maker we were given at our wedding shower two years ago? Actually, I attempted that one, only to have the motor on our KitchenAid mixer burn out. We have the parts to fix it, we just…have yet to fix it.

But that one! That one goal! I’m totally making it on my ice cream goal!

I encourage you all to look back at your own statements of intent, your New Year’s Goals, or whatever you want to call them. Did they fall by the wayside? Are they even valuable or interesting goals to you anymore? If they are, restart them. Give them a go. See how far you get. If they’re not, screw ‘em. Don’t waste your time busting your ass toward a goal you couldn’t give a hoot about. What’s the point in that? If there’s something more intriguing you want to work toward, why aren’t you doing it? Do it! Do it now! Because that’s the thing—no one says your yearly or monthly or daily goals have to start the first of the year. There are 365 days in a year, you guys,*** and any day, any day at all, is a good day to start.

*You may want to double-check me on that one. Math and calendars have never been my strong suit.

**I call them goals because resolutions are just asking to be broken.

***Seriously, check me on that one.

things i’ve been meaning to tell you: june 2017

7 Jun

One: I’ve come to the conclusion that 87% of children’s books are F’d. Up. I’ve already mentioned the fact that Jamberry? Motherf-ers had to be hiiiiigh when they wrote that shit. And now, I have to say I take umbrage with the book Frederick.

Do you know the story? A little family of field mice, getting ready for winter, and while most of them are running around collecting wheat and corn there’s little Frederick, collecting words and colors.

Words and colors.

Words and colors aren’t going to feed you and keep you warm in the winter, dammit!

Please don’t misunderstand me. Whether you can tell or not, I’m a writer. Words are incredibly important to me. Colors, too. But you know what? I’m pretty sure that I could gather some words and colors at the same time I was gathering some of the harvest for our winter hibernation. It’s called multi-tasking, Frederick.

Two: The other day my gym was celebrating its 12th anniversary. There were balloons! And free giveaway things! And food! And booze! And all I have to say about that is if my gym gave away food and booze regularly I would go there a hell of a lot more often.

Three: There has been a significant lack of learning in my life. Sure, sure, I know what you’re thinking: Every DAY is a new learning experience. And it’s true! It is! And that’s great!

But I still want to learn things.

So I signed up for a cake decorating class.

All About Buttercream!

If that’s not a class description that will lure you in, then I’m not sure you and I should speak anymore. That would be like turning your nose up at a class called, “Let’s Eat All The Melted Cheese.” If you can’t get behind that then you and I will have to relegate ourselves to curt nods in passing when we see each other.

I said good day.

Anyway, I’ve picked up quite a lot in this short, four-week class. I can make rosettes! And roses! And primroses! And daffodils! I can make all the flowers! And swag-things that go around the edges of a cake! And shell-borders!

20170527_124904

Making buttercream roses? Surprisingly easier than I anticipated. I’m going to flower the hell out of all the cupcakes near and far.

But you know what I haven’t yet learned?

How to straight up frost a g-d cake.

And so I continue with the learning.

Four: I went for a massage last week and it was wonderful. But there’s always that strange moment when the massage therapist leaves the room, you get undressed and get on the massage table, and then the therapist knocks to come back in. At that point—when she or he knocks—what am I supposed to say? “I’m ready”? Or perhaps, “Come in”? I feel the same way when I’m at the doctor’s office, sitting in my paper gown, waiting for the physician to enter.

Neither of those phrases seems right to me. “I’m ready” sounds oddly bizarre, when you think about the after part of that statement. “I’m ready…for you to start digging your elbows into my back!” Or, “I’m ready…for you to palpate my stomach to make sure there are no foreign objects lingering about.”

“Come in!” doesn’t seem right either. It’s not my home, for God’s sake. It’s a massage studio. Or a women’s clinic. I’m not about to serve my massage therapist tea, or offer my midwife cookies.

Maybe I should go with, “Door’s open!”
What say you, Interwebs?