Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sunday Snapshot for Summer

deer in my yard

Currently reading:

The New Girl by Daniel Silva: Another excellent novel from Silva with the word girl in the title.

How to Quit Like a Millionaire by Kristy Shen and Bruce Leung: The whole investing/portfolio thing is a little over my head, tbh. But some good tips nonetheless.

Posted elsewhere:

5 Books to Start You on FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)

Movies watched:

I've watched too many movies and if I have to download the posters, this post will never get done. Sorry!

John Wick 3, starring all the people from other John Wick movies

I loved the kung fu/western vibe in this one, although I remain confused as to why John Wick is so determined to get back into the super secret organization that everyone seems to know about when he was determined to get out of it only one movie ago. But it was an improvement over John Wick 2! Can't wait to see where that cliffhanger ending takes us.

Always Be My Maybe, starring Ali Wong and Randall Park

OMG, I love *everything* about this movie. This '90s kid retro vibe, the tension between old and new and working class and wealthy. But really this movie is worth watching purely for the absolutely hilarious Keanu Reeves cameo that is CINEMATIC PERFECTION.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, starring Godzilla and Mothra

Enjoyable, but about 50 minutes too long. So many great lines, though! "I'm no scientist, but I'm guessing it has something to do with its head growing back." "We're not jump-starting a car here." And of course the ineffable, "SHUT UP, RICK!"

Wine Country, starring Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch

The sort of movie where you can see a bit of yourself and people you know in at least some of the characters. I was worried this film was going to be a downer or just ugly, but it was actually a sensitive-but-honest look at female friendship and getting older. Worth streaming.

Yesterday, starring Lily James and Himesh Patel

I love the concept of this movie, and there were a lot of cute, funny, and sweet moments. The scene where Jack and Ed Sheeran get into a song write-off (which I think about whenever I hear The Long and Winding Road now) is still making laugh. That said, I have some issues with the ending and I feel like this movie is crying out for a deeper look at the music itself and why the Beatles' songs are so great, not just "Hey it's by the Beatles, so of course it's genius!" I mean, for all we know, the Beatles didn't write their own songs either, they were just the last four people on earth who remembered someone else's music. lol

Bisbee '17, directed by Robert Greene

A really fascinating look at the town of Bisbee, Arizona, set around the anniversary of the Bisbee Deportation of 1917. Prompted by a labor strike, about half the town was rounded up in a baseball field and eventually corralled onto trains, dropped off in the middle of the New Mexican desert, and told never to return. The Deportation literally tore households apart and set brother against brother. And, 100 years later, for some reason Bisbee decided to recreate the event. A super relevant documentary for today and highly recommended.

Crawl, starring Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper

What can one say about a movie whose plot centers around giant man-eating gators? You're either going to see it or you won't. If you do, you won't be disappointed.

Love Shot, starring Amy Tsang and Dakota Loesch

Reminded me of Baby Driver in that it's ostensibly a thriller about organized crime, but is really a movie all about the music and wrapped up in a love story. I enjoyed it!

The Jane Austen Book Club, starring Kathy Baker and Hugh Dancy

The sort of movie you forget you've watched. lol But overall charming.

Chasing Liberty, starring Mandy Moore and Matthew Goode

And you thought 41-year-old Matthew Goode was handsome.

The Space Between Us, starring Gary Oldman and some young people

Aside from the unnecessary, 40-minute prologue and the absolutely terrible ending, it was great.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Leonardo di Caprio and Brad Pitt

Self-indulgently long, but I totally want to live in this movie, so. Awesome soundtrack, set design, script (best line of the movie: "Don't cry in front of the Mexicans."), performances, everything was on point. Would watch again, immediately.

These weeks in heidenkindom:

san diego

Only a few weeks off this time. I'm improving! Work this summer at the college has been crazy, but things are settling back down to normal. I'm planning to take a class this fall (Italian 101) because free classes is one of the perks of the job and one of the reasons I decided to accept the position. Hopefully the ol' noggin is still capable of learning and retaining information.


In June I went to a conference in San Diego. I didn't get to see a lot of SDCA, but it looked like a beautiful place. I did get to see a Tesla, though!


We also got a visit from a trio of deer last week. They came into the yard to eat the sour apples off our tree. They were super close!

deer jumping

As for how the rest of my summer is going, it's been pretty quiet. I haven't had time to read a lot of books or go on any other trips. The best book I've read all summer is probably The New Girl, which I haven't even finished yet (but almost!).

How about you? How has your summer been going?

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Snapshot + First post of 2019!

the blue lagoon
The Blue Lagoon

Currently reading:

The Mortal World (The Invisible Library #5) by Genevieve Cogman: w00t, another Invisible Library book.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang: I'm enjoying this one a lot more than The Kiss Quotient. Khai is pretty funny.

Posts elsewhere you may have missed:


cold pursuit poster
Cold Pursuit, starring Liam Neeson

If I hadn't already seen the movie this was based on, Kraftidioten, I probably would have enjoyed it more. It didn't have the same sense of humor as its predecessor and Neeson doesn't bring a lot to the table in terms of acting. The final scene was pretty hilarious, though.

arctic poster
Arctic, starring Mads Mikkelsen

You'll feel like YOU just spent a week in the arctic after watching this movie. A survivalist film where only about three words are spoken, if that. It's pretty intense and well-made but I don't think I want to go on that journey again.

bohemian rhapsody poster
Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Rami Malek

I enjoyed the first half of the movie, but the second half felt clichéd and repetitive. Plus, I feel like this movie was crying out for further exploration of the relationship between Freddy and whatever-her-name-was.

stoker poster
Stoker, starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, and Nicole Kidman

This film is living proof Matthew Goode does not always make good decisions. I watched it on the plane and it is SO BAD. Like sooooooo bad. I almost quit watching it four times but there was literally nothing else available on the in-flight entertainment. Cloying, predictable, misogynistic, and obvious, with absolutely zero effort put into character development or logic. DO NOT WATCH. Don't make the same mistake me and Matthew Goode did.

a star is born poster
A Star is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

The best of the "A Star is Born" movies made so far, not that that's saying a lot coming from me. It was actually pretty good, but the ending came out of nowhere and felt pointless and manipulative.

Also, everyone talks about how great Lady Gaga is in this movie–and she is good, I'm a fan–but she was basically playing herself. Bradley Cooper was playing a character and he did a fantastic job of it. More props to Cooper.

about time poster
About Time, starring Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams

This movie starts out as a romantic comedy about a guy who keeps going back in time to get the girl, but ends up as a movie about life and the connection between fathers and sons. Unexpectedly touching and definitely worth streaming.

on the basis of sex
On the Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones

There was a lot less lawyering going on this movie than I would have liked/anticipated. The first half of the film focuses on Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her life as one of a handful of women studying law at Harvard, all while:

  • Being first in her class
  • Raising a kid
  • Caring for her hubby, who has cancer
  • Taking her hubby's classes and typing his papers so he doesn't fall behind getting *his* law degree
  • Getting an additional degree at Columbia at some point (??? this was never really explained)

HOW DID SHE DO IT, FOLKS. Darn if I know. Then it skips ahead to her struggle to find a job at a law firm, giving up, getting a job teaching at Rutgers; then skips ahead again to the '70s and her and her teenage daughter fighting constantly. Eventually we do get to see some lawyering and Dramatic Courtroom Scenes, and the story picks up steam, but the first half definitely feels slow and edited down to within an inch of its life. That said, I enjoyed watching it and learning more about RBG. Recommended.

These (almost) six months in heidenkindom:

Whelp, it's definitely been radio silent around here for the past few months. With my new job, trying to keep my hand in freelance writing, and working at the store on Saturdays, I don't have a lot of free time to devote to blogging (I know what you're thinking: Ruth Bader Ginsburg would have managed it. But we can't all be RBG).

However! This weekend I have two whole days off in a row and I just don't know what to do with myself, other than do what I've been wanting to for the past few weeks: share some photos with you all of my last couple of trips.

In April we went on a crazy fast trip through Iceland, Normandy, London, and Ireland. Forgive the photos if they're a little out of order. Blogger. What can you do.

Lobster soup at the famous Sægreifinn restaurant in Reykjavik

A church on the southern coast of Iceland

Gullfoss "Golden Falls" (and yes, it's as cold as it looks)

An Icelandic lifeguard

Omaha Beach, Normandy

Omaha Beach Memorial

US WWII cemetery

A horse wandering out for a photo shoot on Inismoore

Cliffs on Inismoore Island in Ireland

I believe you can see the Cliffs of Moher in the distance

Lighthouse on Valentia Island, Ireland

Ireland, Ring of Kerry

Have you ever felt like you're on the edge of the world?

Crypt beneath Bayeux Cathedral

Back in Ireland...

The Rock of Cashel, Ireland

An ancient standing stone on Valentia Island

Ah, France

Then in May I went to Los Angeles with my mom.

The top of the La Brea Tar Pits Museum

Someone at the La Brea Tar Pits is really into origami

Entrance to the LACMA's parking garage

Tar still bubbles up at the La Brea Tar Pits

At the Griffith Observatory

Eating at Musso and Frank's, a classic Hollywood haunt that's been open since 1919 and served the first fettuccine alfredo outside of Italy! They also make a mean martini.

View of downtown LA from the Griffith Observatory

Hollyhock House, a Frank Lloyd Wright historic home in Hollywood

Hollywood sign in the distance

Tapestry at the Getty Center's special exhibit, "Book of Beasts"

View from the Getty Center

More art from Book of Beasts

Getty Center

A photo I took with my phone accidentally that I think is pretty artistic

Getty Center

Gorgeous medieval tapestry at the Getty

So what's been going on with you? Let me know in the comments!

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Last Sunday Snapshot of 2018 + Year-End Round Up!

2018 best nine on instagram
My top 9 Instagram pics of 2018

Currently reading:

Hercule Poirot's Christmas and that's about it. I finished Christmas on the Island yesterday morning after sitting up reading until 6:30 am and haven't settled on a new book yet.


the mule
The Mule, starring Clint Eastwood

Not what I was expecting. I thought this would be yet another depressing Eastwood movie à la Gran Torino or Million Dollar Baby. Instead it shoots for more of a classic cat-and-mouse crime movie vibe. It's not about drug running per se, but about an old man who's looking for human connection, especially with his estranged family. Eastwood does a fantastic job, of course, and there are humorous moments to lighten it up. Overall quite entertaining, if predictable.

the man who invented christmas
The Man Who Invented Christmas, starring Dan Stevens

I have my doubts this is an accurate portrayal of the life and times of Charles Dickens, but whatever. It's a little muddled and a bit too long, especially since it's basically an unnecessary rehashing of A Christmas Carol, but I'm not going to complain about watching a movie with Dan Stevens in it.

mary poppins returns
Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda

I mean. It was okay. There were moments of magic and joy–I enjoyed the balloon scene at the end–but other parts felt formulaic and beyond recycled. Which is sad considering there's only one other Mary Poppins movie. Blunt had some good lines ("We're embarking on an adventure, children, let's not ruin it with so many questions!"), but Miranda was in there WAY too much for no reason other than, I guess, he's Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Also, I was completely distracted trying to figure out what time period this is set in, AND the woman next to me kept treating the theater as her own personal living room, checking her phone and constantly explaining the plot of the first Mary Poppins to the person next to her. 1. IT'S NOT THAT COMPLICATED A PLOT, and 2., maybe you should have broken it down before seeing this movie.

Anyway. I'm not sad I saw it, but I have no desire to watch it again.

This year in heidenkindom:

What a year! If you'd have told me 12 months ago I'd close out the year with a full-time (and so far deadly boring) job that started at 8 in the morning I would have said you were cray cray. But it happened.

Some major events from this year:

I went to Paris! (In case you couldn't tell by all the photos of the Eiffel Tower, above.) This was truly an epic trip where I fell in love with Montmartre, kicked a few things off the bucket list, and drank champagne every day. Nice work if you can get it. I didn't meet the love of my life or anything (sorry, romantics), but it did make me do some revaluation of where I was, emotionally speaking, and what I really wanted.

I also got really into budgeting this year, thanks to YNAB. It's kind of like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up but for money. In just six months it's helped me get and stay clear of credit card debt! I was able to pay for all my Christmas gifts with cash I'd saved up, and I saved up for a new windshield for my car. I also started an investment fund for a new computer a few years down the line. I can't recommend this system or the book enough!

In sad news, my last living grandparent died in September, and I can't help but think that now the various branches of the family will go their separate ways, especially since we live in a different state. It's crazy how one person can hold a family together.

Year in Books

As for my year in books, last year I complained that I only read 80 books. Well, this year was even worse: I read a whole 51 books. Pa.the.tic.

On the plus side, I had the same number of 5-star reads this year as I did last year, and one less 4-star read (10 and 13, respectively), so percentage-wise that's a huge jump in quality! Here are some of my favorite books from the past year:

rick steves paris
Best Paris Guidebook: Rick Steves Paris

With unique walking tours, humor, and spot-on advice, this is definitely the one guidebook to Paris you should buy if you can only buy one.

speak easy speak love
Favorite historical/YA novel: Speak Easy, Speak Love

This adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing set in 1920s Long Island is absolutely perfect. PERFECT. I adore the setting, the romance between Beatrice and Benedict is hilarious, the romance between Prince and Hero is swoon-worthy, and there are gangsters and speakeasies and government agents and jazz singers and everything you could want from a book set in the 1920s. Highly recommended!

kissing tolstoy
Best book to read while traveling: Kissing Tolstoy

Penny Reid can be hit-and-miss for me, but I read this book while traveling to and from my grandmother's funeral and it was absolutely delightful. Short, smart, irreverent, funny–basically Reid at her best.

how not to die
Life-changing non-fiction read: How Not to Die

I've seen docs on Netflix about how eating meat is terrible for you, but for some reason this book scared the bejesus out of me way when the documentaries didn't. It's stuffed full of a ton of information, all cited out the wazoo with peer-reviewed scientific studies.

And yes, I know the title is click-baity and sensationalistic. Admittedly the more accurate How Not to Die of Completely Preventable Diseases by Changing Your Diet just doesn't have the same ring to it.

the cafe by the sea
Favorite new series: Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan

Colgan, take me away! I took a chance on The Cafe by the Sea after reading Angie's review this year and I'm so glad I did. Colgan is brilliant at telling a story and building characters who are flawed but you come to love. The setting is a remote island in northern Scotland and I have never wanted to visit someplace so cold and dark before. Perfect escapist reading! (Although the whole thing with Saif and Lorna is beyond irritating at this point.)

the wedding date
Favorite romance: The Wedding Date

Perfect balance between swoon-worthy romance and a completely plausible story that feels grounded in reality. Not an easy combo to pull off. A definite must-read.

the other woman
Favorite non-romance novel: The Other Woman

Another winner from Silva, and an indictment of Putin and the Russians' grab for power across the globe. On par with The English Girl imo.

That's my year in short! What books did you read or movies you watched this year that you loved? Have any New Year's Resolutions?

A happy New Year and wonderful 2019 to all my readers! See you on the flip side.

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