Sunday, August 2, 2015

Identity Crisis

I don't know if it's obvious to people who have been reading Pink Nightmare for awhile, but things have changed quite a bit over the years. I didn't really notice that until recently when I started thinking about how I would describe this blog to people who didn't know about it.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I like to read about and what types of posts tend to get the best reception. I've been thinking about trying to revamp the whole identity of my online presence -- not to change myself into someone that I'm not, but more to focus on that which I want to focus.

When I started this blog in May 2011 (wow), it held a completely different purpose than it does now. When I first started, I never anticipated that I'd still be doing it 4 years later. I didn't anticipate that I'd meet some really great bloggers who I connect with. I never expected that I'd ever find a reader base who actually engages with me in discussions and shares their opinions on topics I pose. Granted, it is a small reader base, but it does exist.

My intentions at the beginning of this blog were pretty simple. I had just gotten a job on my university's yearbook writing staff and I wanted to keep my writing skills sharp over the summer so I wouldn't go back in the fall and forget everything I ever knew.

The yearbook job ended up falling through because the university cut funding for it, but by then this blog was serving as an outlet for me to talk about my personal frustrations. I blogged about my roommate situations, the struggles with my aging cat, and annoyances at work.

Over time, this changed. While I still blog about my personal life, I've learned to put a filter on it. I now work a more professional job with a company that I don't want to bad mouth. I live with roommates who don't keep my life filled with useless drama. I still have a cat (and my roommate has two more), but thankfully they are all healthy and there isn't anything depressing to talk about there.

But I'm still blogging. Only now, I'm blogging for a different reason.

I am blogging because I'm a little lost and a little confused. I'm in a very scary time period in my life -- my mid-twenties. I thought being a teenager was bad, but really that was cake compared to this. There are some wonderful things about my life right now -- but there are also a lot of uncertainties.

So, for now, I am blogging to try and connect with people who feel like me. People who don't quite have it figured out yet and who kind of miss the days before we had to worry about responsibility and income and taxes. I'm blogging because there's a big part of me that misses childhood and that wants to hold onto as many pieces of innocence as I can.

All of this has really been just me introducing a slight shift to what I've been doing on my little piece of internet. I'm still going to blog about things in my personal life and I'm still going to blog about my opinions on things that make me angry, but I'm going to be shifting my focus a little bit.

Here's a short list of the types of things you will likely be seeing from me on a regular basis:

  • Nostalgic posts: me talking about things of the past and how cool they were, similar to my post about '90s toys and Disney Channel original movies
  • Childhood stories: recounting amusing stories about my behavior as a child. I don't know if people enjoy these, but I enjoy writing them so I'm going to keep doing it
  • Talking about my generation: I like to think I'm not alone in my struggle to become a functioning adult. I feel like I'm mentally breathing into a paper bag and doing breathing exercises every single day. I play it cool on the outside, but inside there's a neurotic mess just waiting to escape
  • Entertainment: Because I like to forget about my burgeoning life crisis, I regularly ingest large doses of entertainment in the forms of movies, television shows, books, music, YouTube videos, etc. I love entertainment and I have a lot of opinions about it, so I'm gonna keep talking about it.

Honestly, this has made up the bulk of my posts for the last few months anyway. So there won't be a lot of changing. This is really just me announcing that things have changed and accepting the new direction in which my blog has taken.

I can't say when, but I am planning to eventually move over to self-hosted Wordpress site and potentially change my blog name. I have very little free time these days, so this will be a work in progress for awhile. More on that to come. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Growing Up

I blog a lot about adulthood and the things about this time in life that fascinate me. I think that these things -- which are as simple as whether it's appropriate to have a bunch of stuffed animals and how some aspects of being a grown up just plain suck -- interest me because I still don't really see myself as an adult.

I'm not sure why that is. I don't feel like a grown up despite the fact that I can do everything a grown up can do. I can check off all the boxes on the checklist:

Can I serve my country? Check.
Can I buy alcohol? Check.
Can I rent a car? Check.

The only thing left is that, when I turn 26, I'm going to have to stop freeloading off of my parents' health insurance. That's the last string that's going to get cut -- and it's going to get cut very soon.

It's all happened very quickly and I don't think it's fully hit me yet. Little aspects of adulthood come at me from time to time.

A few years ago, I realized that I was no longer one of the youngest people at my job anymore. I'd always been one of the younger people before but now this is not the case. Especially at Pizza Hut, where I still work two evenings a week. I'm actually one of the oldest people there now. It's insane how quickly that happened.

There are people working with me at Pizza Hut who were born in 1997 and 1998. I can very clearly remember those years and these kids were fetuses. How is that even possible?

On top of that, people my age and younger keep having babies and getting married. I don't feel like I'm a person who should be allowed to reproduce or enter a legally binding marital agreement. I logically know that I am in my mid-twenties and that it's perfectly normal for people to be starting families, but my stupid brain keeps telling me that these people are the minority and that they're doing these things way too young.

The thing is -- they're not doing these things way too young. Mid-twenties is a perfectly appropriate -- heck it's a great -- time to start a family. But my brain still thinks I'm 17 and thinks that all these people on my Facebook page posting pictures of ultrasounds and bridal gowns are making the biggest mistake of their lives by starting too young.

I'm honestly afraid that my mind is never going to catch up. I'll be turning 45 and and people my age will start to become grandparents and I'll be sitting there, incredulous, like, "Grandparents? We're not even old enough to have kids! How is this happening?"

This is something that actually concerns me. Does anyone feel this way as well or am I going crazy?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Importance of Looks in Entertainment

I've been excited about the new movie Trainwreck for quite some time. As SNL's Stefon would say, this movie has everything -- my #MCE (man crush everyday) Bill Hader, direction by the always fun Judd Apatow, a screenplay by the fabulously funny Amy Schumer, John Cena's ass, etc.

I saw the movie on Friday and it was very good and funny. 8/10, would see again. However, this post is not a review of the movie (although -- go see it). Instead, this post is a rant about how annoying people are being about Amy Schumer and her lack of traditional good looks.

When I get excited about a movie, I tend to read up on it a lot. This includes reading articles and interviews, reading critical reviews, and -- for some reason -- reading up on what the little people think via IMDb, Reddit, etc.

I don't know why I do this last thing because it almost always makes me angry.

My complaint here is not that people were saying Amy Schumer and/or Judd Apatow were not funny. Humor is totally subjective and I know not everyone is going to find their humor appealing. I personally don't think Bob Saget's stand up is funny and I am rarely amused by Will Ferrell. People love them and I don't get it, but that's fine. Opinions are like buttholes.

My complaint about this is how so many people are harping on Amy Schumer's looks -- or, in their opinions, lack thereof.

Here are just a few of the wonderful IMDb posts about this subject:

There are many more that basically say the same things.

This is an issue to me. To me, it doesn't really matter how attractive the actors are in a movie if the movie is good. And, although there is some hate toward average looking dudes in movies, this type of complaint is very often only voiced when the "unattractive" person in question is a woman.

No one complained that Reservoir Dogs was a bad movie because it starred a bunch of average looking dudes. No one bitches about The Big Lebowski because Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi aren't hot pieces of meat.

There are tons of male actors with extremely successful careers despite having average to below average looks. How many women are on that list?

I read Rachel Dratch's book a couple of months ago. If you don't know Rachel Dratch, she's a comedian who is best known for the Debbie Downer character on "Saturday Night Live." She's not known for very much else. Why? Because she is usually only offered side roles as the token fat person or lesbian. It's really pretty sad because she's hilarious.

(Universal Pictures)
I just don't understand why we have to feel sexually attracted to the female lead in order to enjoy a movie. Who came up with this and why are so many people rallying behind such a sexist idea? On top of that, why do we have to be attracted to comedians now? If someone is funny and can make us laugh, shouldn't that be enough? Not everyone can have it all like Kristen Wiig.

I could understand this way of thinking a little more if Amy Schumer were playing the role of a Victoria's Secret model -- but this is not the case. Amy's role in the film is that of a party girl who works at a magazine. Nowhere in the film is she referred to as a hot piece of ass. She's referred to as funny, smart, and an emotional mess, sure. But the list ends there. 

There were a few complaints about another Apatow movie -- Knocked Up -- and the fact that Seth Rogen could never score Katherine Heigl in real life. There might be some truth to that, even though I see stereotypically hot women with average looking dudes all the time.

Some people may even compare Rogen as a romantic lead to Schumer, but there is a big difference. While I love Bill Hader and think he looks sexy as hell in a suit, there is absolutely no way that he is the male equivalent to Katherine Heigl. To me, Schumer and Hader are very well matched in that they both look like people you'd see on the street and not judge one way or the other on their looks.

The only reason people are hating so hard on Schumer's looks is because she's on magazine covers and movie posters. If she were someone you ran into at Wal-Mart, no one would be whispering, "Oh god, just look at that cow. Who does she think she is?" In fact, she'd probably be one of the better looking people at Wal-Mart. Let's be real.

So many people are quick to jump on Hollywood and blame the entertainment industry for why women are so hard on themselves when it comes to looks and weight. But is it the entertainment industry that we need to blame? I think we need to take a look at ourselves and ask if we're perpetuating that ideal just as much as Hollywood is trying to thrust it upon us.

Maybe we're the real problem.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Movie Sequels that No One Needs

There have always been movie sequels, but I've noticed that there has been an exponential increase in the number of sequels that were absolutely unnecessary over the past few years. 

In the coming year, there are going to be even more of these worthless films hitting theaters everywhere. Here is a short list of some upcoming sequels that I don't think anyone (except for the people profiting) really need.
Ben Stiller with... the Biebs? (x)

Zoolander 2

I like the original Zoolander. It is campy and outlandish, but it's good, dumb fun and highly quotable. I probably even would have been down with a Zoolander sequel if it had been timely.

Unfortunately for us, the sequel is coming out a full 15 years after the original film. At this point, where is the draw? Sure, people in theirs 20s and 30s are probably going to see it. But are teenagers going to be interested? Heck, I myself was only 11 when the original came out.

I just don't see the point. But I hope it proves me wrong.

Beetlejuice 2

I'm not sure if this is definitely happening, but there are rumors that the classic Tim Burton movie Beetlejuice may indeed end up with a sequel and rumors are that Winona Ryder might be back for it.

I love Tim Burton and all his kooky quirks. I think Winona Ryder is great. But this could end up being one of those instances where the sequel, if not done properly, could end up tainting what is considered a classic film. Do we really want the risk?

Kung Fu Panda 3


Fast & Furious 8

Disclaimer: I've never actually seen any of these movies. But can we just give it a rest already? The first few films in this series weren't even that highly regarded, critically speaking. And -- not to sound like an asshole here -- are we really just talking about it so much because of Paul Walker's untimely death?

Is there ever a real need to make a movie series of 8 films? Unless we're basing it on a book series a la Harry Potter, I just think it's all motivated by greed. 

Now You See Me 2 and 3?

According to this, not only will there be a follow up to 2013's Now You See Me, but the studio feels confident that they'll make a third. Talk about jumping the gun. How do we even know that the second movie will be successful and well received enough to merit a third freaking movie?

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

I checked out of the Pirates of the Caribbean series after the third movie in 2007. The first movie? Great. The second movie? Good. The rest? Ugh. The third movie bored me to death in the theater, but I got through it. I was so done after that that I didn't bother with the fourth movie. One of my friends ended up renting it, though, and I genuinely fell asleep.

I get that these movies are absolute cash cows, but at this point it's like beating a dead horse... or a dead parrot. Paulie want a break from filming.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 3

I'll admit that these movies are a guilty pleasure of mine. They are cliched, sappy, and unoriginal... but they tear at my heartstrings man!

According to this article, America Ferrera said there is a script being written for the third installment in the series.

Now, I haven't read the books or anything but... weren't they about teenagers? Or, at the very least, about girls who are college age? With the exception of Blake Lively, all of the sisterhood girls are in their 30s now. I just don't think it would be keeping true to the spirit of the books. What's the next one going to be about? Them enrolling their kids in kindergarten? 

We don't need it, so don't make it.

Sequels are rarely as good as the originals, but there have been some exceptions. Recently, I laughed uproariously at 22 Jump Street. So I won't hate on all sequels, but it rarely seems to be about telling a good story and more often than not just presents a way for the studios to make some big money.

How do you feel about these sequels and do you have any to add to the list?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Worst Sunburns Ever

I went to the beach a couple of weeks ago. For the first time in probably my entire adult life, I actually got to spend three nights and four days with my friends in a cute hotel room, eating whatever we wanted, and relaxing. We also got to see Fall Out Boy. Yes, again. Normally, my vacations last 2-3 days, so this was a real treat. And we ended up going to the beach twice.

It wasn't good for my pasty self. Somehow, despite the fact that we all used and continually reapplied sunscreen, the sun still waged a battle on our skin and the sun came out victorious. We're calling it the sunscreen betrayal of 2015.

The next few days were spent using copious amounts of aloe and whining about the pain and subsequent peeling/itching. I'm not sure which part is worse: the actual pain of the sunburn or the gross peeling that comes with the healing process.

When I was a kid, I trapped a grasshopper and kept him for a few days as my pet. His name was Vester. One day, I thought that Vester was dead. Turns out, he'd shed his exoskeleton. That's what I felt like I was doing last week.

I was finding pieces of skin all over the place -- in my bed, in my chair at work. It was weird. Anytime that I am conscious that I'm leaving pieces of my DNA all over creation, I think of the movie Gattaca. Is that weird?

Anyway. Now, my sunburn has mostly healed but I'm still finding myself pretty itchy. No me gusta.

Being a very pale person of mostly Scottish decent, I'm no stranger to sunburns. The worst sunburn of my life was completely my own fault and I rightly paid the consequences. If I ever develop skin cancer, I'm going to blame my stupid, 13-year-old self for not being very discerning.

In the summer of 2003, I spent a week with my much older half sister in Missouri. This was the year after I'd moved to Virginia. It was the summer following the death of my father that past fall (also the father of said half sister).

Now without getting into how weird my family situation is, I'll just say that my sister's oldest child -- my niece -- is the same age as me. We were very close while growing up and had a relationship that is probably more like most people have with their cousins than with their aunts.

Anyway. I went to the pool with Lacey, my niece, and some of her friends. It was the height of summer, probably July, and I didn't think it was necessary to use sunscreen at all. We were in the pool for probably 3-4 hours.

It was bad. My sunburn was so bad that I actually had leaking blisters on my shoulders. I know, it's a gross thing to picture. My face was so burned that it didn't even feel like skin when you touched it. It felt dented and constantly oily. I don't know how to better describe it, but it wasn't good.

I wasn't able to wear a bra for several days because of how badly the straps would cut into the blisters on my shoulder. Sorry if that's TMI, but it was a struggle. 

I just remember sitting on Lacey's bed and talking to my mom on the phone, crying and wanting to go home.

After the sunburn healed (which took awhile), my shoulders peeled and left me with a bunch of freckles that I didn't have before. So now I have a permanent reminder of how stupid I was, even though I actually kind of like the freckles.

The second worst sunburn I ever had happened in 2010. I went on a one night, two day mini-vacation with my first boyfriend, John. We went to Virginia Beach and spent the majority of our second day on the beach. We applied sunscreen when we first got there, but we didn't find it important to reapply the sunscreen later in the day.

Both of us regretted that in the end. I really think that John may have actually had sun poisoning because he became physically ill that night -- throwing up and everything. Both of us were exhausted and cranky on the drive home and I actually fell asleep at the wheel on a busy highway for a very frightening nanosecond. 

I remember that going to sleep for the next few days was a very taxing effort. I would have to lay very still and be cautious not to move around in my sleep because the pain would be so searing that it would wake me up.

The funny thing about this particular incident is that John and I worked together and were therefore prohibited from dating. People at work assumed we were together, but we never confirmed it. We pretty much didn't have to after this cosmic failure. What's the likelihood that two people would be off of work on the same days and come back with similarly crimson skin? The sunburn pretty much confirmed all suspicions.

Thankfully, my most recent sunburn was not as bad as these. But you would think I would have learned my lesson by now.

Do you have any sunburn stories?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Quarterly Book Updates: Part 2

This is my second book update of the year. You can read the first one here.

I ended up making a lot more progress during this go around than the last one. During this three month period, I managed to read 8 books. That's 3 more books than I read during the first quarter! Go me! 

I'm still probably not going to read my goal of 50 books in 2015, but I'm at least making a dent. Here are the books I read this quarter and my opinions. 

1. Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen

Rating: 5/5

After starting the year by reading a few decent but not great books (with the exception of Fangirl from the last review I did), I was really pleased with Tomorrow River. At the end of the year, I plan to do a "best of" and "worst of" books I read this year and I can't see very many books topping this one.

This book was suggested to me by a friend. I saw her reading it one day and remembered enjoying another book (Whistling in the Dark) by the same author. My friend let me borrow this one, swearing to me that this book was even better than that one. She was right.

Tomorrow River takes place in the 1960s from the perspective of 11-year-old Shenandoah ("Shenny") Carmody. A year ago, her mother disappeared without a trace. Her sister has gone mute from the trauma. Her father has started drinking and lashing out at the girls. Shenny is determined to find out what happened to her mother and bring her home.

Kagen tells this story brilliantly. She has perfectly captures the thought process of a sharp, but still innocent, child. I find it extremely difficult to write from a child's perspective and many authors fail at this, but Kagen excels. As the plot unfolds, you as the reader come to realize certain things before the narrator figures it out. It's interesting to read as Shenny works things out in her mind. The story also takes several very interesting and surprising turns. It's part mystery, part coming of age, part period piece. I can't say enough wonderful things about it.

2. Paper Towns by John Green

Rating: 3/5

This is the third book I've read by John Green. I adored the first two books by him that I've read -- Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. This book I enjoyed less, but overall still found it entertaining.

Similar to Looking for Alaska (which is my favorite Green book that I've read), the story is told from the perspective of a nerdy teenage boy who is in love with a free spirited teenage girl. Margo, the mysterious lady of Paper Towns, runs away after taking our hero, Quentin, on the ride of his life. The two neighbors wreak havoc on Margo's enemies, break into Sea World, and stare down at the city from the top of the SunTrust building. Then she's gone.

Quentin, who has pretty much adored Margo from afar for his whole life, is determined to find her. Even if she doesn't want to be found. With the help of his two friends and one of Margo's friends, Quentin learns more about Margo -- and himself by extension -- during his quest.

The book was a quick, fun read but there are some things that didn't sit right with me. I've given Green a pass on this before because the other two books I've read contained characters with more depth and development than this one, but I just can't get behind some of the conversations these teenagers have. And I know that some teenagers are more mature and more well-read than others, but Green's teenage characters tend to use a lot of metaphors in their daily conversations, analyze Walt Whitman poems, and contemplate the meaning of life.

It's getting a little old. Similarly, Quentin didn't really have much of a personality to which I could relate. There was very little insight onto who Quentin actually was outside of his obsession with Margo. Margo, who was the object of everyone's desire, never really became more than a two-dimensional character. 

3. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Rating: 5/5

Jodi Picoult was one of my favorite authors when I was in high school. As a freshman, I read and was blown away by My Sister's Keeper. From there, I read The Pact, Nineteen Minutes, The Tenth Circle, and Perfect Match -- loving each one of them. I enjoyed Vanishing Acts well enough as well, but then I couldn't get into anything else by her. 

I was starting to think Picoult had lost her touch because every new book she published just didn't seem interesting to me and seemed to get less favorable reviews than her earlier works.
But I decided to give Leaving Time a chance because a) it had a lot of great reviews and b) it centered around a woman who works with elephants. I love elephants, so I thought it might be a cool story. 

It was a great story and it proceeded to rip my heart out and stomp on it. Repeatedly.

In typical Picoult style, Leaving Time takes place from the perspective of several characters. First, we have Jenna. Jenna is a 13-year-old girl whose mother disappeared 10 years ago after an incident at the elephant sanctuary where her parents worked. She's determined to find out where her mother is -- if she's still alive, if she ran away on purpose, or if there was some threat that kept her away.

Our second voice is Alice. Alice is Jenna's mother, a woman who studied grief in elephants. She worked in Africa until a one night stand left her pregnant. Alice then moved back to the US to live with Jenna's dad, who owned an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire, and his crew. Alice's stories take place in the past, so we as readers do not know if she is alive or dead in the present.

Virgil is a police officer turned private investigator who originally worked on the investigation at the elephant sanctuary. He is unhappy with the work he did on the case and with the fact that Alice never turned up.

Serenity is a psychic -- yes, we have to at least accept the idea of the paranormal in this book -- who is hired by Jenna to help find her mother. Serenity is a legitimate psychic who had a television show and helped with police investigations, but has since lost her gift and become a washed up has been.
Each of these characters contributes to the story as Jenna searches far and wide for traces of her mother. As more of the story is revealed, it becomes clearer that Alice could potentially be dead or she could be a murderer.

I obviously won't ruin it, but there's a twist in this book that just blew my mind. I honestly thought I might have it figured out for a second, but then I immediately thought I was crazy and over thinking it. Nope. The twist is crazy and I probably literally did that jaw drop thing that cartoon characters do.
Anyway, I cried a lot. Like, I was sobbing hysterically when I finished this book. It was pathetic. Damn you, Jodi Picoult!

4. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Rating: 2/5

I read this book for two reasons. 1) Because the movie got decent reviews and I like Mae Whitman, who plays the main character. 2) I figured it would be a quick, easy read. It was definitely a quick, easy read. I powered through the book in four days (this is fast for me). But I didn't really enjoy the book.

First, I didn't love the voice of the main character. I think the point was that she was supposed to be a sassy but intelligent high school student. She just came off as kind of bitchy and whiny.

Second, the book wasn't really about anything. Which is sometimes fine. I'm all about character studies, but this wasn't really a character study either. Basically, Bianca Piper (our heroine) finds out that she's the "DUFF" (designated ugly fat friend) in her group of friends. I.e. -- she's less attractive and a little chubbier than her glamorous blonde friends.

The author reminds us of this fact multiple times. Bianca constantly talks about how pretty her friends are and how much bigger their boobs are and, honestly, it was a little eye-roll worthy. The book also shows you how you can hook up with a guy who puts you down and then hate yourself for it, but maybe he'll end up actually liking you and then you'll be super happy even though he literally was insulting you a month ago.

The writing also wasn't great. This is one of those books where the main character works through things in her head, but she works through them so quickly that it's unbelievable. Spoiler alert! Part of the book is about Bianca coming to terms with her parents' divorce. She is upset about it on one page, but literally a page later she works through her problems by basically saying, "It's really for the best and I realize that now. Mom is just doing what is best for her and now I have to do what's best for me." And then we go back to boy drama.

Maybe if I were 16 I would have enjoyed this book more. Maybe I'm just too old to relate to this particular form of young adult literature. Idk, my bff Jill.

5. Storms: My Life with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac by Carol Ann Harris

Rating: 4/5

My first comment about this book is this: So. Much. Cocaine.

Now that I got that out of the way... This book is on one hand a love story and on the other hand a compelling tell-all about one of the most famous bands in history.

Carol Ann Harris dated Fleetwood Mac singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham for 8 years, starting at the beginning of the band's super stardom (they met right before the famous Rumours album was released). Harris was just a young woman working at a recording studio when she was swept off her feet by the charming musician. Little did she know that she was about to be propelled into a non-stop roller coaster ride of band drama, constant partying, and fame. 

A lot of reviews I read criticized the writing in this book. Harris certainly isn't the best writer in the world, but I thought she did an overall good job with the pacing and the story layout. It did read a little bit cheesy in some places.

With the book being written years after the actual events, she of course had to fictionalize a lot of the conversations. Much of the dialogue is cheesy. Almost every time she talks to Lindsey in the book, she uses his name. "Oh Lindsey this song is great." "Lindsey, you know how much I love you." Etc. Every single conversation that she writes is fraught with eye roll worthy melodrama. That was a little annoying, but the story itself made me get over it.

Harris did also paint herself as the perpetual martyr. Clearly there are two sides to every story and this is her side of the story. Carol Ann never seems to take the blame for anything that happened and she acts as if her undying love for Buckingham is never appreciated. She is constantly going above and beyond for him and the band and getting nothing in return. Maybe it's true, but this book did really seem slanted.

There is one really hilarious story about Buckingham getting high on Quaaludes at the AMA awards... I read that part in my cubicle at work and actually laughed out loud.

Regardless, it's a good and interesting read for anyone who likes Fleetwood Mac or biographical books about famous people. I like both of those things, so I was happy with it.

6. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Rating: 4/5

Of all 8 books I read this quarter, this one definitely took me the longest and became the largest undertaking.

At first, I didn't think I'd enjoy this book. The story takes place over a span of decades and revolves around a group of friends who meet at a camp for young artists when they were in their teens. The book chronicles the characters' struggles and successes as well as shows how the relationships between them change as years go on.

My biggest complaint about this book early on eventually became one of its strengths. The characters are all based around New York City and most of them -- with the exception of Jules Jacobson, who is arguably the main protagonist -- are all very privileged and a little snooty. I didn't think I could find a way to relate to them or to empathize with them, but I will admit that I enjoyed watching the story progress and watching how sometimes the privilege led to some pitfalls.

I enjoyed this book because each of the main characters is fully fleshed out and feel like real human beings, even if they are not the type of people I know in my personal life. The author very realistically paints the picture of true friendship, including the not so happy parts of it.

7. Girl Walks Into A Bar... by Rachel Dratch

Rating: 3/5

I decided to read Rachel Dratch's book because I love reading memoirs by comedians. I'd already read Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's respective books, so I figured I'd complete the female SNL alum trifecta with this one.

While I enjoyed the book overall and think Dratch is a wonderfully funny writer and seems like a great person, I will admit that I was a bit underwhelmed with this one. I read a review which pretty much sums up what I thought. The reviewer was basically asking why Dratch would write a book because there wasn't a lot that actually happened in it.

This is kind of true. I liked that she didn't do a bunch of name dropping (there is some, of course, but she worked on Saturday Night Live so of course there are some celebrity names that come up) or a bunch of bragging about herself. However, her actual story wasn't really a page turner.

This was still a nice, easy read and I liked it more than didn't like it, but I just don't feel like she had a lot to say.

8. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: 3/5

My decision to read this book came from my adoration for Rainbow Rowell's other books -- Eleanor and Park and Fangirl.

Attachments was Rowell's first book and, in my opinion, is her weakest. This book is about adults, where the other two books were essentially young adult novels which featured teenagers as the main characters.

In this novel, we meet Lincoln. Lincoln is in his late twenties, lives with his mom, is unlucky in love, and takes an internet security job at a newspaper. "Internet security" mostly means that he patrols employee email to make sure people aren't emailing things they shouldn't. Also, this takes place in 1999. Anyway, Lincoln ends up falling for this girl who works at the paper based off of reading emails she and her friend send each other.

Lincoln feels creepy about this and thinks he will never have a chance given his job and the fact that he's been invading her privacy. Things happen.

This book did have a lot of heart and I ended up falling in love with the characters, but I simply felt like the build up wasn't worth the pay off of the ending. It also felt a bit cliched, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Even though the actual layout of the book was unique, it was at the end of the day the same story I've read a thousand times.

Have you read any interesting books lately?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

5 Weeks, 5 Movies

I've gone to the movie theater for the last five weeks in a row. I have spent way too much money to go in a dark room and stare at a giant screen for 1.5-2.5 hours. It's been great.

It's been a great summer for movies so far. It's the first summer I've been excited about in a really long time, to be honest. I've enjoyed all five movies that I've seen over the last five weeks and am actually pretty ok with the fact that I could have bought a fairly nice new purse for what I've thrown into the entertainment fund lately.

Here's what I've seen and what I thought...

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

I'd heard nothing but great things about this film. Having never seen a Mad Max movie and have not ever been particularly interested in doing so, I had reservations about this. After the first five minutes of the movie, I thought, "This isn't for me."

But then the movie picked up. And once it picks up, it's a non-stop ride... literally. This film is basically one long chase scene. It's exhilarating, breathtaking, and immensely satisfying.

Charlize Theron's character Furiosa is a badass and this film really does empower women. The women in this movie don't sit around crying and waiting for the man to save them. There are no damsels in distress here. 

Three words to describe this movie: intense, unrelenting, badass.

Cherie's rating: 8/10

2. Pitch Perfect 2

I never expect much from sequels, but this one did pretty well on Rotten Tomatoes, so I gave it a chance. And I'm glad I gave it a chance because it was hilarious.

Although not quite as good as its predecessor, Pitch Perfect 2 hits all the right notes. We see character growth from the main characters, the music is as catchy as ever, and we get a lot of riotous laughs along the way.

Anna Kendrick is adorable and charismatic; Rebel Wilson shows surprising depth in her return as "Fat Amy." There are plenty of fun cameos. Plus, Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins return to their wonderful roles as the semi-offensive a cappella commentators Gail and John.

Cherie's rating: 7/10

3. Spy

Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy make an amazing team. First, there was Bridesmaids. Then there was The Heat. You'd think they'd run out of steam eventually, but the duo's third venture, Spy, is filled with as much gut-busting fun as the earlier films.

Melissa McCarthy proves that she can be hilarious without being constantly gruff and crude (although she proved that for years on "Gilmore Girls"). Rose Byrne was similarly perfect in her villainous role. 

This made me that much more excited for Ghostbusters.

Cherie's rating: 8/10

4. Jurassic World

Jurassic World wildly exceeded my expectations. I honestly didn't expect that much, even though I'm a fan of the original film. I figured, "Oh, it'll be a mindless summer blockbuster and I can admire Chris Pratt's physique."

I was so surprised by just how intense and edge-of-your-seat this movie was. Similar to Mad Max, it's basically a constant thrill ride with breathtaking special effects.

My friend and I were more upset when the dinosaurs got hurt than when humans got hurt. I'm not sure if this makes me psychopath?

Cherie's rating: 8/10

5. Inside Out

Being a huge fan of the voice cast, I've been looking forward to Inside Out basically all year. The press alone has fueled my inner comedy geek for probably the next couple of months. An interview with Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, and Mindy Kaling? It's what dreams are made of.

Speaking of dreams, Inside Out is just such a superb film. It tackles the inner workings of a child's mind as she experiences her first real life-changing event: moving. Most of the movie takes place in 11-year-old Riley's brain. Her emotions -- Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust -- all have their distinct roles in making Riley who she is. Most of Riley's memories are happy -- until her move starts to change that.

Sadness starts taking a larger role in Riley's memories and Joy wants nothing more than to stop that from happening. What ensues is a very creative journey that Joy and Sadness must go on to help save Riley's memories -- leaving Fear, Anger, and Disgust at the reins. Along the way, we meet Riley's childhood imaginary friend, Bing Bong, who ended up being my favorite character. 

I don't want to give anything away, but Bing Bong is a treasure.

This is easily the best Pixar film I've seen since WALL-E. I still haven't seen Up, though, and I know that's a sin.

Cherie's rating: 9/10

So that's basically what I've been doing with my life. There are several more movies I want to see before the summer is up. The short list includes The Overnight, Trainwreck, Ant-Man, and Masterminds. What are you excited for this summer?



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