Category Archives: television

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Currently OBSESSED with The Gianni Versace miniseries. It is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen. And that’s really saying something because I have to close my eyes a significant amount of time during nearly every episode. Darren Criss portrays the murderer, Andrew Cunanan, as squirm inducing in the worst possible. Andrew is intensely dislikable, yet able to inspire an iota of pity because he is just so friggin insane.  He literally makes my skin crawl.

I vaguely remember when Versace was murdered, and the tragedy of losing another wildly talented artist, but no real details beyond that it occurred in Miami Beach. Maybe it was because I was so recently in that exact area, but this retelling of a famous crime has really hit me and it’s a struggle to ration episodes. The front steps to his villa, currently a restaurant and boutique hotel, remain as they were the day he was shot down. People take selfies on them.

That Andrew Cunanan was so damn crazy. I guess we don’t really know how many of the details have been fictionalized, but the conversations between the characters are so riveting. Penelope Cruz slays as Donatella Versace and Judith Light brought as the wife of a men who hires Cunanan as an escort with bad results. The soundtrack is familiar dance tracks from the early 90s and eerie mood music that causes me to shudder. Don’t watch this alone in the dark.

At this point, I can’t decide if want the series to be over or never to end. I can be a real glutton for sensation, even when it hurts. Time to go run the golf course.

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Filed under Fashion, favorites, ideas, News, Recommendations, television, Uncategorized

Tidying Up

What does one watch after they blow through Mrs. Maisel, Season 2? Well, if you’re feeling inspired by the start of a new year, or as if your life is somewhat out of control, you can’t go wrong with the Netflix series Tidying Up.  It’s the perfect antidote to an overly consumptive holiday season and promises to provide a pathway to a more simple and satisfying home life. Interested? I’ll tell you more…

Marie Kondo, “world-renowned tidying expert,” has developed a process which she calls the Konmari method for eliminating clutter and home organization and I’m hooked. She divides what can be a daunting task into 5 distinct areas of clutter to address – Clothes, Books, Papers, Komomo (a catchall of kitchen, bathroom and garage miscellanea) and Sentimental. I don’t know about you, but the first and last of these categories are the ones that really can hang me up – especially when we’re talking about items which straddle both of those groups, like articles of clothing I no longer wear, but which retain a strong sentimental value. I could do a series of blogposts on that topic, believe me.

Here’s how she suggests dealing with your specific clutter:

1. Commit.
2. Imagine the ideal life you wish to live.
3. Discard first.
4. Tidy by category.
5. Follow the order above.
6. Ask yourself “Does it spark joy?”*

I’m three episodes in and witnessing three different families apply these rules to their individual situations has been really interesting. Each family has their own personal accumulation of possessions with which to deal, but the Konmari method adapts to address their unique circumstances and helps to create a more peaceful home environment. Who doesn’t want that?

While a lot of the focus is on ridding yourself of physical items, based upon the emotional prompt of “does it spark joy?,” it isn’t just about tossing things in the trash. Marie is a creative user of containers, boxes and folding techniques to manage what one retains and I can’t wait to explore how my home might benefit from her wisdom. Even though I get a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach at the thought of discarding stuff I’ve owned for perhaps decades, I’m even more excited by the possibility of simplifying my life.

I can’t wait to create my own personal mountain of clothing to sort into piles to be folded or to be kissed goodbye. Looks like my February break is going to be spent with Marie Kondo. It may not be quite going to Japan, but if things go well I’ll treat myself to a sushi feast when I’m finished, with sake.

*copied from housebeautiful.com.

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The miseducation of Megyn Kelly

EA35741F-D438-4A06-BCD2-191A164884E8Last spring I ran a half marathon in NYC, kind of a bucket list item if I were to have such a thing. I originally registered for the race because a childhood friend brought it to my attention and it sounded fun. Anything to go to NYC, you know?

It wasn’t the cheapest half I’ve ever run, but I was ok with the entry fee because it was an all women race and I think there may have been some charity component to it. Until I saw that Megyn Kelly was the media sponsor for the event, that is. Then, in all honesty, I considered bailing because, yes, she bothers me that much.

195CD914-570A-4548-A772-0D5CFDE6FBE8Why? Because anyone willing to sit down with, provide a forum to, and pose for photos with, a man who denies that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School ever occurred, is despicable, in my opinion. I’m not going to even mention his name because I find him so reprehensible, but I’m sure you know about whom I’m speaking. I have some understanding about journalism and the fact that media professionals don’t necessarily endorse the beliefs of those they interview, but, this guy has deeply offended and caused pain to families who lost their children in a horrific way. He doesn’t get a pass, nor does she, in my book.

Yesterday, I hosted a Halloween related event in my library and I was a bit dismayed by the some of the behavior I observed. We had set out some snacks for the kids, like you do, but failed to stand guard at the table where the huge box of goldfish crackers, Oreo cookies, clementines and candy corn were being offered. Without direct adult supervision, the middle school kids were shockingly selfish about helping themselves to as much as they wanted to have without consideration of the fact that the kids behind them might end up with nothing. I was kind of appalled. I wanted and expected better.

Reflecting on it last night, I couldn’t help but see a parallel between the pattern of actions of Ms. Kelly, beginning with that controversial interview referenced above, and those of the children yesterday afternoon. There’s a sense of entitlement and lack of consideration for anyone but themselves that, quite honestly, repulses me on some level.  This failure to demonstrate empathy for parents who have lost their children, and, on a much smaller scale, those who may not enjoy the same treats we have due to our own greediness, distresses me.

What do we expect from our children? What should we expect from personalities who want to be in our homes via social and more traditional media? I want and expect better. How about you?

 

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Filed under Education, Libraries, Local, moms, musings, Observations, politics, Schools, television, upstate New York

A Star is Born – in two takes

2573C958-C5A5-4FC8-9295-F9C63732A587The media blitz worked.  I needed to see the Bradley Cooper version of A Star is Born and I planned to make a Saturday matinee. But first, I needed to see the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Hello, Friday night and Amazon Prime.

I was 10 when that version was released and I don’t recall seeing it, although the song, “Evergreen,” certainly landed on my radar. That particular song, along with “The Way We Were,” was one of the first songs I remember crying to during the those overly emotional pre-puberty days. More than forty years later, it remains a tragic romance tour de force and I loved hearing it as part of the soundtrack. To be honest, it was the only song I found listenable in the entire film. The rest was just awful – and while Kris Kristofferson may have been  a delight to look at, his voice was just terrible. 

Back to the positive…Barbra Streisand’s wardrobe was totally on point and I loved everything about her appearance. Many of her outfits were extremely low cut, but there was no silicone spillage and she just looked great. That cream colored sweater she wore at the first concert is my current obsession and I’m requesting any and all assistance in landing one just like it for my own wardrobe. Get on it, please.

So, you could say that I wasn’t really too impressed.

On Saturday I settled into my seat at the Spectrum for the early showing of the latest remake.  An aside – if it’s not playing at that particular theater, I’m not going.  The opening scene with Bradley Cooper shredding his guitar to a song that I wouldn’t mind hearing again, immediately grabbed me. It took me twenty minutes or so to realize that I was physically on the edge of my seat trying to get closer to the action on the screen. He was absolutely compelling and, basely, totally friggin’ hot. Oh – and he can sing!

When Lady Gaga hit the screen, I was delighted, and the first time I heard her sing I was completely blown away. La Vie en Rose is one of my favorite overwrought ballads and her performance was magic. I loved her look and found her completely believable and genuine. Wow.

So, the movie was a little long with some extraneous character development, but since it meant more time in the dark with Bradley and Gaga, it wasn’t a problem for me. The music was really terrific with songs I can actually imagine purchasing and adding to my Apple library. The performances were sincere and  totally believable and I absolutely loved this film. 

Guess I need to check out the Judy Garland version. How about you? Have you seen any/all of the Star is Born movies? What’s your favorite?

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Filed under art, favorites, Local, Movies, Music, Observations, Recommendations, television, Uncategorized

Films x 5

I’ve been on a bit of a tear recently when it comes to watching movies. I’ve seen 5 in the last couple of weeks, a combination of new releases and catching up on older releases that I hadn’t previously seen. It’s kind of what happens when you’ve exhausted all the other options in our Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime household.

First up was the latest Spider-Man flick – Spider-Man:Homecoming. By no means have I have seen every incarnation of this superhero series, but this one is up there in terms of my favorite versions. It’s really nice to go to a movie with my 12 year-old and not have a single awkward moment prompted by whatever is being displayed onscreen. The movie had light moments, Peter Parker had a buddy, the cast was good (and wasn’t exclusively white) and Robert Downey, Jr had a number of scenes. Definitely worth seeing in the theater.

Next, on a customer friend’s recommendation, was The Great Beauty. It’s been a long time since a movie with subtitles, other than Manga, was viewed on my old television and this one was compelling enough to make me seek out more. The images of Rome have me beyond excited for next winter’s trip and there was a lovely melancholia that has stuck with me even days later. The scene when Jeb takes a woman down verbally is brutal, but I saw enough beauty in the film to keep me interested until the end.

We were back at the Spectrum a second Saturday to see the newly released Dunkirk. Two of my three boys are huge European history fans and they constantly teach me about geography and war. I’d never heard of Dunkirk before, but the story is remarkable and I really liked this movie. The images of those men and boys fighting for survival and to save one another is powerful and my respect for soldiers knows no bounds. I also really appreciated Christopher Nolan’s handling of the material – lots of tension, yet no blood or gore. Looks like Dunkirk is now on the list as a potential destination for Quinn’s 2020 trip, along with Paris and Bruges.

On a quiet Sunday evening I came across 20th Century Women, a movie I wanted to love, but ultimately only liked a little bit. Annette Bening is an actress that I admire and I enjoyed her performance, but the movie just didn’t feel cohesive to me. It was like a cake that is missing some critical ingredient. Meh. I hope to see her again in something more worthy of her talents, but I wouldn’t recommend bothering to see this one.

Lion, though, I very much enjoyed. The young actor who portrayed the main character as a child was amazing. His chocolate brown eyes spoke volumes and I couldn’t stop thinking about his resilience under the awful circumstances he found himself in. I don’t imagine my own children could have survived if they were faced with the same challenges. The movie, based upon a true story, is a genuine tear jerker, but it ends on a high note and watching Dev Patel for an hour plus was not a struggle. He is a very handsome man.

So, what have you seen recently?

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Filed under Movies, Observations, Recommendations, Summer, television

Words can hurt, words can help

Recently the news has been filled reports about the YA book turned Netflix miniseries, 13 Reasons Why. I’ve read quite a few articles about the series and understand the potential for the program to “trigger” a reaction in those overwhelmed by depression and other issues that leave them vulnerable to the suggestion that suicide is a resolution to their struggles. I’ve already expressed my thoughts about suicide and the impact on those who are left behind to carry the weight of loss. That’s not my topic today.

I want to share something that happened yesterday that I can’t stop thinking about.

Each year at “my” library we are fortunate enough to schedule an author visit for our students. In the past we’ve targeted a particular grade, carefully rotating things around so that no class graduates without having had the opportunity to listen to a published author share their work and life story. This year we “split” an author, Ben Mikaelsen, with another suburban school district. Mr. Mikaelsen lives in Montana and being able to divide his expenses with another district made it possible for us to meet his honorarium and travel costs. It was kind of a big deal for us to have such an established author visit and we maximized our time with him by scheduling three individual presentations. All of our students would be able to listen to our special guest, and some would even be able to have lunch with him.

Lunch seems like such a simple thing, but I’m now convinced it can be so much more.

The presentations were engaging and the students were a great audience. Mikaelsen shared stories from his own childhood about being bullied and being a bully himself. He talked about the inherent weakness of bullies and the importance of writing our own stories, life stories that we create and reside within. He implored students to begin writing their own life stories the very minute they walked out of the auditorium and I could see the kids mulling the weightiness of his words.

Midday we had a couple of dozen students join the author for sandwiches and conversation in the Library Media Center, including one last minute addition that our principal sent down because he felt it would be a positive and meaningful experience for the child. After we ate, students filtered through getting their books signed until only one student remained, the one selected by the principal. The student approached Ben Mikaelsen and quietly said “I have a question for you.” After receiving an encouraging nod from the author, the child continued. “When does the bullying stop?”

I stepped away, tears in my eyes, to give them time to talk. Their conversation lasted a few minutes, enough time for me to grab an extra copy of one of Ben’s books, Touching Spirit Bear, and my camera. Ben signed the book for the child and they posed together for a photo. I’d like to think that young person left the library with far more than they had when they had arrived. And a book, too.

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Filed under Boys, Observations, Schools, television

13 Reasons Why (I struggle with suicide)

About 30 years ago a friend of mine committed suicide. His name was John and he was sweet with a mop of messy hair and jeans that sagged years before it became the trend. He had a kind and strong heart, along with a sense of responsibility that once found him driving behind his cousin and me one night after we had all been out far too late, just to make sure we got home safely. I’ll never forget him.

It never fails to make me sad when I think of him. So much living has happened since that day he took his life with a gun, living that he has missed. It would have gotten better, I think. The disagreement or sadness that caused him to believe his only option was to depart would have become less overwhelming. I just know it.

Since that first suicide there have been others, none however to anyone I was closer to than John. The distance between me and those other, more recently lost souls only provided a single buffer – I was exempt somehow from the guilt of feeling as if I could have done something to prevent the ultimate outcome. That being said, there’s no escape from witnessing the pain of those who are left behind and that’s my biggest issue with suicide – the neverending question of what we survivors could have done to convince that person not to end their life.

After having read the book years ago, I’ve been watching the Netflix series that folks have been talking about, 13 Reasons Why. I binged out on a number of episodes, although my attention sometimes wanders. I think the characters are a little too self aware for high school kids and the tattoos and drugs seem unrealistic. I have, though, been impressed with some of the acting and the creative way the plot and characters were developed to provide material for 13 episodes. The music is pretty good, too.

Regardless of the presentation of the material, the take away for me is this: the pain of the person who takes their own life ends with their last breath. That’s the moment for those of us remaining, when it just begins. Our lives are not better without them, but they continue. We miss them eternally and their absence is a void we’ll never fill.

Even thirteen reasons will never be enough.

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Filed under Books, girlhood, Observations, television