Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Recent Distractions

It has been rough going in my house the last several weeks.  They are the sort of issues I am not yet comfortable posting for the world to see, largely to avoid any pain or embarrassment for those of us wrapped up in it right now.  Maybe I'll be ready to share more in the future, but just know it will be tough for weeks or months to come.

I've spent an obscene amount of time mentally reviewing all that is happening and sometimes I just need a good distraction.  Don't we all crave a little escape when times are challenging?  In fairness, I could read or watch TV every day if I was happy as a clam but it is especially welcome when a little gray cloud hovers above my head.  Here are some books and shows I have enjoyed over the last few weeks.

Last Tango in Halifax- This BBC romantic series centers around Alan and Celia, childhood sweethearts (now in their 80's) who have been apart for the last 60 years.  They find each other through a social networking site, realize they still love each other, and decide to get married.  If I have a little crush on Alan, I think you'll understand once you watch- he is so sweet and adorable! The lives of their children and grandchildren also come into play and it is a really interesting dynamic of blending a family that late in life. Personally, I think it is awesome to see older characters are the leads, not just the grandma that guest stars in an episode here or there.  They face realistic issues, and all the characters show some interesting flaws and redemptive qualities.  Netflix has season 1 (or series 1 as the Brits like to say), but will hopefully add season 2 soon.  I understand the series has been signed on for a third season yet to be filmed.

Girl Most Likely- This 2012 movie (on Netflix) stars Kristen Wiig in a more serious role of Imogene. The Netflix description reads "After staging an unsuccessful suicide to get her boyfriend's attention, a struggling playwright moves back home to live with her mother and two men." I feel I must warn you that this movie has received generally poor to average reviews on Netflix and Rotten Tomatoes, so it is clearly not everyone's taste.  I like kind of quirky movies, so I enjoyed it even though it wasn't the most deep or exciting thing I have ever watched.  Imogene (and her brother) appear to be kind of losers in the beginning of the film, but by the end I thought they showed much more complexity than I expected and vulnerability in a relate-able way.  

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (2 seasons on Netflix)- Most people either love or hate Anthony Bourdain, and I apparently love him.  I enjoy his general disdain for...everything and I love to new places so this is a sort of heaven for me.  Having never seen this show before, I didn't realize how much of the show was not just food, but history and culture and talking with people who are living in these environments every day.  I have three personal favorites episodes.  First, Libya (season 1, ep. 3) showcases some revolutionaries that helped overthrow Qaddafi.  When I think of revolution, I tend to think of 1950's Cuba or earlier, but these guys are younger than I am and were fighting just a couple of years ago.  Their struggle really touched me.  Second, Copenhagen (season 2, ep. 4) just for the food.  Chef Rene Redzepi's method of sourcing local ingredients (including moss) is showcased, and I loved the scene of his staff presenting dishes they have developed to everyone else on staff for criticism or applause.  Every bit of food in this episode looked delicious or intriguing (or both). My final favorite was Peru (season 1, ep. 7) for one reason: guest star Eric Ripart.  Do I need to say more?  : ) 

Hello Goodbye Hello, by Craig Brown- I borrowed this book from my library to read during the drive to vacation last week.  It is a collection of 101 meetings between famous people of varying backgrounds.  Each story connects to the next, for example, the story of when Frank Lloyd Wright met Marilyn Monroe, then the next story is when Marilyn Monroe met Nikita Khrushchev, and on.  This is written by a British writer with a fair number of British "well knowns", but there is a handy note to the U.S. edition explaining who some of these people were or some facts about them to help explain the context of the story.  Some of the stories were less interesting to me, but others were really fascinating.  Plus, I now feel secure in thinking that Phil Spector has been a crazy little man for a very long time and Madonna is probably every bit the jerk I always suspected.  Isn't learning fun?  : )  

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