Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Year-End Round Up for 2019!

top 9 insta photos of 2019
My top 9 of 2019 are kinda creepy.

Happy New Year's! According to the Gregorian calendar, it's that time of year wherein we take stock of the past 12 months (or ten years? Let's not go back that far) and look ahead to the next 12. Welcome to the Year-End Round Up!

To be honest, I'm approaching 2020 with mixed emotions. As you may recall, at the end of 2019 I started a new job at a university that was very boring. I'd committed to giving it a year, however, and now that I'm at the 13 month mark I have more to do, but I'm still not super engaged with it.

Don't get me wrong, it's an okay job. I don't dread going into work and I like the people I work with, but it's definitely not something I want to be doing for an extended period of time.

To that end I applied for another job within the university that feels like a huge jump up. It's a supervisory position in another department. Is that something that I'm 100% confident I will be able to pull off? I'll be honest, no. But I was 100% confident I could do my current job, and now I'm bored, so perhaps a challenge is what I really need. Also, I've suffered from imposter syndrome for a long time, not realizing until recently that that was what was going on, and honestly I'm done with it.

Either way, I'm stressing out about the interview and the prospect of getting the job and the prospect of not getting the job all simultaneously, so I've basically been like this all break:

freaking out gif

My seasonal depression has also been really bad this year, which is probably another reason why I'm finding it difficult to put myself in the holiday frame of mind. It doesn't seem like I do a lot of what I used to enjoy anymore, like taking photographs, traveling, writing, visiting blogs, finding new cocktails to try, going through Insta, or reading.

Year in Reading

And speaking of, let's get off the personal track and move on to my year in books in 2019! This year I read just 31 books, compared to last year's number of 51. Not great! Here are some stand-outs:

the melting clock
Favorite Mystery: The Melting Clock by Stuart M Kaminsky

Wartime PI Toby Peters is hired by Salvador Dalí to find three missing paintings by the artist. This book is so much fun! I loved the surreal elements and Dalí was hilarious. If you're into Old Hollywood, the Toby Peters series is totally up your alley.

the earl i ruined
Favorite Romance: The Earl I Ruined by Scarlett Peckham

Technically my favorite romance of the year was a reread of The Chocolate Touch, but for new-to-me books, this was a highly enjoyable historical romp with a smart, vivacious heroine and a tortured hero. You know I loves me some tortured heroes. His Dark Secret was completely crazy pants, but for some reason that didn't bother me too much.

fluent forever
Favorite Non-Fiction Read: Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner

If you've ever wanted to, or tried to, learn a language, this book is for you! There is a ton of interesting information about learning and memory, and Wyner has an excellent set of tools to help people learn and remember language. I used his method this past semester for my Italian class, and I think it really helped. I started having dreams in Italian the second week! Plus I love what a word nerd Wyner is.

Year in Movies

I watched 43 movies this year (not counting Hallmark movies... haha), and I have some Definite Opinions about them.

once upon a time in hollywood
Favorite Movie: Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood

This should come as no surprise! I was walking on air for days after seeing this movie; I loved it. I want to live in it. I've listened to the soundtrack so many times I have the commercials memorized.

knives out
Favorite Movie, Runner Up: Knives Out

This twisty mystery is so much fun and you can just tell everyone on the film is having a blast. Will definitely be rewatching this one!

bisbee 17
Favorite Documentary: Bisbee '17

A surreal and super-relevant film about the Bisbee Deportation of 1917, this film proves that the more things change the more they still the same. I still want to go to Bisbee because of this movie.

always be my maybe
Favorite Cameo, possibly of all time: Always Be My Maybe

This romcom was already awesome, and then Keanu Reeves showed up and made it one of greatest things I've ever laid eyes on.

2019 by the Numbers

  • 31 books total
  • 74% of those books were by women
  • 41% were romance
  • 50% were audiobooks
  • Only 4 were authors of color :(

So clearly for 2020 I need to read more books, read more AOC, be more confident, and travel more so I can take more photos to share with y'all on Insta!

What were some of your favorite reads of the past year? Any New Year resolutions you want to share?

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Favorite Not-Holiday Movies 2019

bad times at the el royale fire scene

Hello everyone, and welcome to the third post of the year! Wow, it has been legit radio silent around here. Luckily I'm currently on winter break, so I have time to revive a Christmas tradition here at TBFB: Favorite not-holiday movies! In case you need a reminder, favorite not-holiday movies are movies I think of as "Christmas movies," even though they have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. You can find all of the previous not-holiday movies here. And if you can actually get Disqus to work, feel free to share your favorite holiday movies in the comments!

Without further ado, here are the movies that are giving me the holiday feels this year:

she loves me
She Loves Me, starring Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi

This is actually a musical rather than a movie, but the 2016 Broadway revival was recorded and aired on Great Performances. I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH. If you've ever seen You've Got Mail, it's basically the same plot (and based on the same play, Perfumerie) but set in a 1930s Budapest department store. It's so much fun and romantic, but also real with some heartbreaking moments, and the performances and spot-on. The look on Zachary Levi's face when he realizes his pen pal is his work nemesis is priceless. Plus, if I'm not mistaken it takes place during the holidays.

a very murray christmas
A Very Murray Christmas, starring Bill Murray

Okay, so sometimes a Christmas movie sneaks into my not-holiday movie list. This Christmas special goes a long way toward justifying Netflix's existence. It's delightful and heartwarming and Bill Murray is a national treasure. Also the scene with Chris Rock is HILARIOUS.

knives out
Knives Out, starring Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's just not Christmas without Daniel Craig. This movie is sure to be one of my favorites of the year. If you love Clue, you MUST see it. It's a little too long for its own good, but it's so much fun to watch and it's the type of movie that's so chock full of detail, visual puns, and in-jokes, you could watch it 20 times and still notice something new. So it's perfect for annual re-watching!

bad times at the el royale
Bad Times at the El Royale, starring Cynthia Erivo and Jeff Bridges

Groovy and atmospheric, this movie turned me into a die hard Cynthia Erivo fan. Her voice is AMAZING. I love how twisty turny this movie is and how no one is what they seem. Plus, there's a nice cozy fire at the end to put you in the holiday spirit!

Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!

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?

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

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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