Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stimey at the Movies...and, You Know, on My Couch Too

Because it is Golden Globe night, I almost called this "Stimey's Golden Globules," because every time I hear about the Golden Globes, my brain changes it to Golden Globules, but then I decided that would sound weird and upsetting, so I decided to call it this other thing instead.


You know how every time I post here, I'm all, "Yeah, I'm not doing anything at all. My life is totally boring"? Well, that is not entirely true because I have been consuming enormous amounts of pop culture.

I decided that I have thoughts about all of this pop culture and that you should hear them. (Feel free to click away now.) But if you're looking for something with which to kill some time this week, I have some ideas for you.

You should know, however, that I am a very non-critical sort of consumer. If I were a movie reviewer, most of my reviews would probably start out with, "Yeah, it was pretty good." So if you go to see these movies or buy these books or whatever and you hate them, don't blame me.

Movies I've Seen in Theaters This Fall:

Gravity: Yeah, it was pretty good. Actually, let's say really good. I really enjoyed this movie and thought it was beautiful, both visually and metaphorically.

Twelve Years a Slave: I worked so hard to see this movie. I was going to go on the one day in December that my kids were in school and I didn't have plans. The only problem is that it turns out when I showed up at 11 am to buy a ticket that I had misread Fandango and the showing was actually at 11:05 pm. I finally went out the day after Christmas by myself to watch it. It was showing in a small theater, but it was entirely packed. I don't think I heard a single sound from the audience throughout the entire movie. It was an attention-demanding movie and perfectly acted and directed. There was a moment when Chiwetel Ejiofor's face filled the screen and his eyes looked directly into the camera that felt like a direct demand of accountability of everyone in the audience. It was an intensely powerful movie that I think everyone should see. I am rooting for it for best picture at every awards show this year.

American Hustle: I tell you about this movie with the caveat that because of my friend and my late arrival to the theater and the theater's entirely full capacity, I saw this from the first row, so I may have been looking at the right side of the screen and missed something crucial on the left side. I don't know if you've ever watched a movie from the first row, but I wouldn't recommend it. My friend actually got motion sick. Regardless, this movie was a ton of fun and almost made me want to live in the 70s what with their discos and science ovens and all. Plus, I love every single thing Christian Bale has ever done as an actor, so there is that too.

Anchorman 2: I wanted to like this movie so much. I really, really did. I liked the first Anchorman and every review that I read said that this one was great too. There were moments that were good but I think this movie relied on one of two tactics for most of its laughs: (1) It slightly altered something hilarious from the first movie so that the joke in this movie would remind you of when you loved the scene the first time and you would laugh, and (2) the writers seem to believe that if something is shockingly offensive it is automatically funny. Too often in this movie, it just wasn't.

TV Shows I've Binge Watched This Fall:

The Walking Dead: Zombies are one of my things. I've been into them for a long time. Like, I had to admit that I read "zombie literature" back when it wasn't cool to do so and I will continue to consume all the zombie pop culture I can find long after everyone else considers them to be Over. Needless to say, I've been watching The Walking Dead since it premiered, but somehow Alex got interested in it a few weeks ago and we watched the whole series together and are now gleefully awaiting the second half of season four. The best part of watching this with Alex was looking over at him during scenes with lots of the undead and seeing him with his eyes closed AND his hands over his face. "I don't like the zombie parts," he would explain. I would respond with a blank face. Because...dude? It's a show about zombies. (But really, as zombie stories always are, it isn't always really about the zombies.) Also, Alex had lots of questions and opinions about the zombie apocalypse, and it was really fun to finally find a subject matter where I am more knowledgeable than he is.

Vikings: Alex discovered this History Channel series when he was out of town at some point last fall and kept talking about it and after he agreed to watch The Walking Dead with me, I had to agree to watch this with him, but I was sure that it was going to be boring as hell, because, c'mon, who's heard of the History Channel breaking ground with scripted dramatic series lately? Turns out that it's pretty exciting and fun and even though Alex originally wanted Sam to watch with us, he fortunately declined before the second episode when one of the vikings and his wife invite a priest to join them in a three-way.

Sons of Anarchy: I'm getting a little tired of this show. When I started watching it from season one about a year ago, I wasn't sure I liked it. Then I really started to like it. Now I end up rolling my eyes at it more often than not, but at this point, I kind of feel like I have to see it through to the end, which is...I don't know. I think they just keeeeeep making more episodes.

Orphan Black: Entertainment Weekly kept telling me that this was an awesome show, so I finally buckled and watched the first season of it this fall while I ran on my treadmill. EW was right. I'm totally hooked. It turns out that it is great fun to watch adorable clones and their friends.

Dexter: I was watching the last season of this on DVD without realizing that it was the last season (I thought there were nine seasons. Nope.). I am one episode away from the end and am sorry to see it go. Now I have to find another series to keep me busy while I run.

Books I've Read Recently:

The Interestings: I was kind of annoyed at this book from the beginning, but it was well written enough that it totally kept me entertained. I was way more interested in the peripheral characters than the main characters though and I was also highly fucking irritated at the book's portrayal of the father-son relationship when the son in question was autistic. Honestly, that very minor part of the book annoyed me so much that I don't think I would recommend it to anyone.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?: God, I loved this book. It was funny and delightful and heartrending and truthful and now I want to go to Antarctica even more than I did before. Highly recommended.

The Divergent series: This is a young adult dystopian blah, blah, blah. I liked it though. It was fun. I loved The Hunger Games too, but I feel a little bit like Katniss was not an active participant in propelling the action. In this one, the main (female) character seemed much more proactive.

The Day by Day Armageddon series: Again, zombies. I find this trilogy interesting, because the first book was self-published at first and then became successful in the genre and the dude got a publishing deal. By the third book, the author is a much better writer (and features better copy editing), but the story got a little too broad for him to handle, I think. It's not my favorite zombie fiction (that would be World War Z—the book), but it's a decent way to kill some time. I'd read the first two a long time ago and had to reread them before I could read the third. It took me a long time because I couldn't read them in waiting rooms and stuff because I was too embarrassed to be seen reading them in public.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: I'm reading this right now. This is, sort of obviously, a running memoir. I try to read a lot about running to help keep me motivated. If you're new to running literature, though, you should totally start with Born to Run. I think that one is good for runners and non-runners alike.

Also, even though I haven't read it for several months, I always say that if you haven't read Life of Pi, you should. It's one of my all-time favorites and a repeat read for me.

So, there you have it. That's what I've been up to. I'm not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed.

Now, I want to hear from you:

What TV shows can I binge watch after I finish Dexter?

What books should I absolutely not miss?

What was your favorite movie this year?


  1. I need to go see more movies. I saw none of the nominees tonight. Oy! The Interestings is on my to-read list. I wonder. I am digging the Divergent Trilogy. I liked Insurgent more than Divergent. Waiting for Allegiant to become available.

    Binge watching...I love Game of Thrones. maybe that one?

  2. You and my husband would get along famously. For an adult with a full time job and a college education, he spends a disproportionate amount of time thinking about zombies.

  3. Downton Abbey! PBS production and not a move, but it's a not miss! I loved "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?". It was my favorite book of 2013. I've got to meander back upstairs, to look at my reading stack, to give a recommendation. Await my 2nd missive!

  4. I binge-watched the current season of Parenthood over the holidays (so I could catch up) and cried every.single.hour. I am still in love with this series. I love The Good Wife and Scandal but not sure you'd enjoy those.

    I loved! Where'd You Go Bernadette!! And Wonder by RJ Palacio, if you haven't read that yet. I cried and cried in that one but also laughed so much. I haven't read The Interestings yet--Meg Wolitzer is hit-and-miss for me. None of her characters have really taken up residence in my head, but I always finish her books. But I just read The Position which I think I like most among her books. I loooooved Dr. Sleep by Stephen King--it's nowhere near as scary as The Shining but it was really exciting. And I wouldn't say that Christian Nation by Frederic Rich is among my favorite books from last year, but it's really stayed with me--it's scared me about the possibility of this country going hard-Christian-right.

    I saw August:Ossage County and really enjoyed it--funny how a movie about awful family disfunction can be so entertaining. Haven't seen much else except Frozen (gaaaah!) and Catching Fire!

  5. Ok, here's the book: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Out previous to 2013, but not to be missed!

  6. I loved this post, I've been looking for something good to read! None of the movies I saw this year were very memorable, except I did really enjoy The Way, Way Back (Sam Rockwell was brilliant). I also binged on Parks & Recreation because I'd never watched it before.

  7. I just saw The Book Thief, and would highly recommend it. It actually made me want to read the book, which I rarely ever get around to doing if I've already seen the movie.
    I have had so many internet recommendations for Orphan Black, but haven't got around it yet. I will bump it up a bit higher on my list now.
    My favourite book that I read in 2013 was Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Loved it.

  8. I sent our regular family scouting team to check out Gravity for me and they reported that it was very claustrophobic, so I gave it a miss even though they both loved it.

    We've just got Sky and as a result I discovered two excellent TV series'... Murdoch Mysteries based in Toronto in the early 1900's and the Australian Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Fabulous flapper dresses. Now I've got the whole family addicted. Our meals are timed to coincide with Murdoch!

    Sherlock is amazing too, and DW of course.

    Book-wise, I enjoy anything by Alexander McCall-Smith, esp. The Number One Ladies Detective Agency series, based in Botswana and the Isabel Dalhousie series, based here in Edinburgh. Made more special because he lives in the next street to us and would always stop to talk to our old dog (he even gave her a walk-on part in one of his books)

  9. I can't wait for season 2 of Orange is the New Black.

  10. Stimey - I love this post! I'm also in a movie/tv/book binge. It correlates strongly with my winter hibernation.

    Movies: I loved Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The movie makes you want to get on a plane and cross something off your bucket list. I also really enjoyed Saving Mr. Banks and want to read the book Mary Poppins because it sounds like it's a bit different from the movie. I loved Catching Fire and want to read Divergent so I'm ready for the movie this spring.

    I loved Dexter. It was an outstanding series. I'm enjoying the Blacklist on NBC right now. I like Downton Abbey which just started up. Not sure if you've watched Homeland but it is also excellent.

    I read Where'd you go Bernadette and just loved it. I'm currently reading the Storyteller by Jodi Picoult for book club and enjoying it. This past year, a few notable books: The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith (love that series), The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarity, The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye, Dark Places and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (both will be movies in 2014), and Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson.

    Keep binging and enjoying! My countdown app on my phone states it's 129 days until the Memorial Day which is when I emerge from my cocoon.

  11. For books, I would highly recommend, "One Thousand White Women" and for series if you have not already watched it, the ultimate series, " Breaking Bad".

  12. Somewhat embarrassing: I'm not up to date on a lot of popular culture. In fact, I plan to buy People magazine 2013 recap issue, to see what I'm missing. :)

    Movies: I want to see Twelve Years a Slave, though it will be upsetting. Your review has further convinced me that I should see it.

    So, I watch a lot of TV - mostly WETA & WETA UK. By genre, and with apologies for another LONG comment because clearly I watch too much TV:
    Cooking: While PBS Create is no longer available here, I have the WETA cooking shows on, in the background, ALL DAY Saturday. Love Pati's Mexican Table, Sara's Weeknight Meals, Lidia's shows, Cooks' Country & America's Test Kitchen, Jacques Pepin's shows, Julia Child reruns, and yes, Martha Stewart. [She explains things in a very clear and not condescending manner, though I will never create the perfect creme caramel using artisanal sugar.] I miss Le Bernardin and Jose Andres' Made in Spain.
    Detective / mystery: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries [agree with comment above! It's fun to see the 20's culture, which seems accurate though I WASN'T THERE], Midsomer Murders, MI-5 [not my favorite], and the old Hetty Wainthrop.
    Melodrama: Downton Abbey, definitely. The new season just started. I hate to see the good characters suffer, though, which happens a lot.
    Comedy drama: As Time Goes By, Doc Martin, and Outnumbered. [Outnumbered features adorable kids, and you think it's just funny until you realize there is actually a point to it. Then it's still funny.]
    Sports: The ACC and NCAA basketball tournaments! Of course.
    Zombies: No thankyou. :(

    The last novel I read was Peaches for Father Francis. I kinda liked it though can't explain why. If you liked Chocolat, you might like this book.

  13. Oh, almost forgot - radio! To stay current, Diane Rehm and Kojo Nnamdi both have a real gift for exploring a topic or issue, and keeping the conversation civil even when the guests have very different points of view.
    I also watch the Daily Show and Colbert Report, which make me laugh. So I guess I'm somewhat up to date, though I do worry....

  14. I'm currently binge watching Breaking Bad. Love it!!!! Also just finished Orange is the New Black, season 1.

  15. Thank goodness I wasn't the only one who found "The Interestings" kind of insufferable. That relationship plus the use of a young girl's assault as a device for a different character's development left a really bad taste in my mouth.

  16. I have not seen or read a single one of these things. I am concerned that I am woefully out of touch with pop culture. I always am though.

  17. Zombies: Have you read Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy? (There are also several same-universe short stories floating around.)

    TV: I think Fringe was a brilliant series, though I think you need to watch through the end of Season 1 to really get hooked. The world-building really pays off, and (unlike every other JJ Abrams series) all strange events are explained over the series.

    Movies: I got nothing. 12 Years was a beautiful gut punch, and I really wish I enjoyed Frozen more (I think it was the anime eyes -- I couldn't get past those), though of course I love that the sisters saved themselves.

  18. I don't want to admit what I've binge-watched lately, because it's all horribly bad. Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries, Nashville, and now I'm doing Season 4 of White Collar.

    If you haven't seen it, an old movie I loved on Netflix was 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' about the underground street art movement. I also loved Moneyball. (The only movie I saw in theaters this year was Ender's Game, but definitely read the book first if you haven't already.)

  19. I really loved Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Loved it so much I then read one of her earlier ones and have just picked up another!

  20. For movies, White Frog, The Way Way Back, and Summerhood. (The last not from this year, but released on video this year.)

  21. Ugh! The first row! I had to watch Titanic from the first row, talk about motion sickness, I had to leave to throw up!

    I'm waiting for Ender's Game on DVD, I could not get to the cinema kid-free when it was in, love the book.
    Frozen was great except for the transformation scene, where they made the character extra shapey with a sexy walk - like Jessica Rabbit from " Who framed Roger Rabbit?"

    TV show recommendation: The Newsroom, the latest Aaron Sorkin offering. Still peeved that they cancelled "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"

  22. TV: House of Cards. Orange is the New Black. Getting On (which was on HBO, so maybe not?)

    Book: Angelmaker (delicious and weird). The Goldfinch (spellbinding).

    I haven't read the prior comments so I may be repeating things...

  23. Oooh. Game of Thrones. Yes. I haven't watched it yet, but it is on my list. That might be a good one to choose next!

  24. When the zombie apocalypse happens, you're going to be soooo glad that he spent all that time thinking about it.

  25. I don't know that I could do Downton Abbey. I'm not a real "period piece" kind of gal. I do, however, know that everyone on earth loves that show, so maybe I'll give it a shot sometime.

  26. I sort of hate-watch Scandal, but I never miss it. You reminded me too that I read Doctor Sleep and also saw Catching Fire. I watched the first couple of seasons of Parenthood but then stopped. Maybe I should binge watch to catch up too.

  27. I just looked that up. Looks interesting. I've never heard of it. I'll definitely put it on my list!

  28. Oooh, I haven't seen the Way, Way Back, but want to. And we watch Parks & Recreation every week. That show is really funny.

  29. So you're into Nazi Germany, eh? :) I should put the Book Thief on my list. I remember thinking I should see it.

  30. That's so cool that you have a big-name author near you. If I lived next to an author, I would probably be a total nerd about it.

  31. I wasn't interested in the Blacklist and now as I hear more about it, I am sad that I didn't start watching it from the beginning. Maybe I could catch up on it on On Demand.

    I like a lot of Jodi Picoult too. As for Alexander McCall Smith, look up two comments from yours and you will see a comment from a woman who lives near him! Cool, huh? I have Gone Girl on my iPad. I should read it before it comes out as a movie.

    I look forward to seeing you butterfly on Memorial Day. :)

  32. That book sounds interesting!

    And Breaking Bad? I have watched that entire show probably three times. I LOVE IT.

  33. Is Doc Martin good? I have that on my Netflix streaming list, but haven't gotten around to watching it yet. Maybe I'll push it up my list.

    I like watching cooking shows too, which is ironic, because I don't cook.

  34. Kojo is my favorite!

  35. I love both of those shows so much.

  36. YES! I couldn't get over the fact that maybe Ash really wasn't that good of a person, but we were supposed to just unconditionally love her. I agree with you completely.

  37. I think that is probably okay.

  38. Newsflesh trilogy: added to my Amazon cart!

    I liked Fringe. I wasn't SUPER into it, but I enjoyed it. Even though they named the cow after me. (Well, Gene, but close enough.)

  39. I think it is okay to binge watch embarrassing things. I watch a lot of embarrassing television.

    I liked Exit Through the Gift Shop. I meant to see Moneyball but haven't. I'll have to make sure it's on my list. And I really liked the book Ender's Game, but didn't see that movie either. I'll have to do that.

  40. Yes! I really, really want to read that. I'm going to go put it in my Amazon cart now.

  41. Awesome! I put them on my Netflix list. I hadn't heard of the first or third one. I can't wait to check them out!

  42. That is a really sad first row story. I am sorry to hear it.

    I want to see Ender's Game too. Sam really liked that book. Maybe I should rent it for both of us.

    I'll have to think about the Newsroom. That's kind of right up my alley.

  43. I loved Orange is the New Black. Wasn't sure if I'd like House of Cards, but maybe I should give it a go. I've never even heard of Getting On. I'll check it out.

    I just looked up Angelmaker on Amazon. Is the main character really named Joe Spork? Because that might be worth reading it just because of that.

  44. Doc Martin varies - some episodes are fun, and some are just odd. There are a couple that I really didn't like!
    I didn't say I actually cook! :)

  45. I highly recommend Donna Tartt's new book, The Goldfinch.
    I don't go to the movies often. Someone told me they're actually In color now, and they have sound. Amazing!

  46. Me too! Kojo, and Diane Rehm. So happy that we have streaming audio. :)

  47. I've been reading the Divergent books and am on Allegiant now. I'm almost halfway and I'll read The Hunger Games series next.

  48. Awesome! Those are both great series! I hope you like them!

  49. I'm even closer to halfway than I was. 16 pages and I'll be there. I consider Allegiant my summer read and I'll finish it next month at my current rate. I read the Uglies series a few years ago, as a college girl. This was the first dystopian series I read. By winter, I hope to have read a significant portion of the Hunger Games series read. I wonder if dystopia's popular amongst females with Asperger's, DSM-IV style.


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