a few fun things

Yesterday afternoon, while topping strawberries, mixing shortcake, and prepping veggies for a giant tossed salad, I listened to several Fresh Air interviews with Terry Gross, one of which was her interview with Hasan Minhaj. The guy was funny, his story sharp, authentic, and raw, so last night after the kids were in bed, I pulled up his newly released show on Netflix. Within minutes, my husband was on the sofa beside me, each of us with one earbud in. I thought we’d maybe watch half of the show, but we ended up sailing right through to the end. Recommended! (Warning: language.) (Bonus: refreshingly not crass.)

Saturday night (or was it Friday?) I forced my husband to sit down on the sofa in our room and watch Manchester by the Sea. Months before, I’d heard Terry Gross’s interview with Casey Affleck and had been itching to see the movie ever since. But I’d read bad reviews, too. People said they hated the ending, cried the whole way through, didn’t think it funny at all, and wished they never watched it. So I was braced. My reaction? I didn’t cry (but there were sad parts), I laughed out loud multiple times, and I loved the ending. Afterwards I just sat there, luxuriating in the fact that I’d just watched two-plus hours of absolute perfection. Enthusiastically—nay, fiercely—recommended!

In other news, I’m finishing up Hillbilly Elegy. I liked it, mostly, but now that I’m nearing the end, I find myself skimming. I didn’t feel it shed that much light on the current political situation. Then again, I spent half of my childhood in West Virginia…

I started Season Two of Master of None, but so far I’m not that impressed. It seems trite. But maybe it gets better?

Oh yeah, and a couple weeks back we watched Hidden Figures for our family movie night and everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, thoroughly enjoyed it. (Another week we watched La La Land. I was not impressed.)

I’m toying with the idea of signing up for Hulu for a month so I can watch This Is Us. Good idea? Bad idea? Have you seen it?

What are you watching and reading these days? Anything so good you feel like screaming it from the rooftops? Or at least the comment section? Do tell!

Photos from a couple weeks back when we hosted an end-of-the-year donut party for concert choir.

This same time, years previous: in which we didn’t need the gun, the quotidian (5.25.15), rosa de jamaica tea, deviating from my norm, strawberry shortcake with milk on top.


  • Unknown

    Just finished watching Manchester by the Sea, based on your recommendation. I realize it was about trauma, tragedy, grief and guilt, but it also captured some of the sensibilities of the North Shore culture (where it was filmed and took place) so poignantly (this is where I live). It felt real and raw (despite a few shudder-worthy attempts at a MA accent, "shAHHk" ha!). I also read the NY Times review that placed the story in racial terms and thought that was a fascinating take (but many readers thought otherwise — not sure why so much about this movie was so divisive!).

    • Jennifer Jo

      Thank you for sharing that article. It makes me frustrated and disappointed (though not surprised). The real story would have been so much better….

  • Karen

    Thanks for the heads up about La La Land. Hacksaw Ridge is excellent and is based on a true story. Loved Hidden Figures. Was disappointed in Fences (c'mon Denzel). Haven't seen Manchester by the Sea due to reviews complaining about profanity… Yes/No?

    • Jennifer Jo

      Profanity doesn't faze me, so I didn't even really notice it. There is a lot, though…and the movie certainly isn't for children.

      Funnily enough, I haven't watched Hacksaw Ridge because I've heard there's a lot of violence and that's one thing I have trouble handling! (But maybe it's worth it in spite of the violence???)

    • Karen

      Me too. But it's a movie about war, and sacrifice and deep conviction. Perfect theme for today or any day, given our current state of affairs.

  • Tracie @ Somewhat Awry

    I had the same reaction to Manchester by the Sea. I thought it was so heartrendingly REAL. I had serious doubts because of all the mixed reviews I read about it, but I'm so glad that we watched it.

  • Unknown

    Loved This is us and Hidden Figures. Not planning to watch Manchester By the Sea because I have serious reservations about Casey Afleck as a person.

  • farm buddy

    Some of my favorite books are
    1. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
    2. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
    3. Remembering by Wendell Berry
    4. Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes
    5. Cold Flat Junction by Martha Grimes

    I watched This is Us, and it was pretty good.
    The above five books I mentioned are tremendous.

  • Anonymous

    This is us was great. Highly recommended it. I downloaded the NBC app and watched it for free. I believe the entire first season is still available to stream.

  • Athanasia

    We have not seen HIDDEN FIGURES but I did read the book. It was very detailed and in depth, but interesting.

    My husband did not grow up with TV or movies and what we watched growing up was very limited. If we watch something it is usually an older movie or older TV show. We also do not watch "mature audience" type entertainment or war type movies as a matter of principle.

    We did watch NAPOLEON DYNAMITE as you suggested. It was quite droll. We have to laugh every time we have tater tots now.

    I recommend a recent read by Joanna Cannon THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP. Also a youth book by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE. If you like mysteries the Bug Man series by Tim Downs is good. A youth fantasy series is The Dark is Rising with 5 books…make sure you start with OVER SEA UNDER STONE as #1. Book 4 is a Newberry Award winner.

    I have 3 checked out from the library now that I heard mentioned on public radio…HARD TIMES: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION by Studs Terkel, THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE by Diane Ackerman, and TENDER MERCIES by Rosellen Brown. I will see how they go.

    • Athanasia

      A movie we watched recently and liked was THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. Very sweet. SAVING MR BANKS was very very good.

  • Lana

    Manchester by the Sea, two totally wasted hours. Why didn't we turn it off?
    La La Land, we did turn it off.
    Hidden Figures, loved it. A very well written and acted film.

    We are watching and totally enjoying all the old I Love Lucy episodes on Amazon Prime.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    Oh, also, I thought Manchester By the Sea was amazing. That actor who played the teen should have won an Oscar. But it was still really depressing.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    La La Land felt like a slog to me. Well done, but I didn't care. Nope.

    And, seriously, if you have not yet shown your children Casablanca, I am coming down there myself with my DVD and making you watch it. Or wait, it might be a VHS tape. No matter, I'm sure you can stream it somewhere. Also? The Dick Van Dyke show is fun family viewing. I think the first episode or two might have been a little lame, but after that it is funny and, well, refreshing (i.e., it makes you forget about current events for a while).

  • Mavis

    I had to turn La La Land off after 7 minutes.

    Have you seen Anne with an E? It's on Netflix. Must see!!!!

    I loved Manchester By the Sea. Although I wish the ending was different, Casey Affleck's character was a 10 out of 10. How could anybody fault his character for responding any differently then he did. He can never change what happened and will be tortured until the day he dies.

  • Sarah

    I've been very engaged in listening to the podcast S-Town. My husband and I are about half-way through. We can only listen during those brief times when the 8 year old is upstairs and we haven't fallen asleep yet (it's definitely not child-appropriate subject material), otherwise I think I would have binge-listened to it all by now.

    I also just finished Rebel Mother by Peter Andreas. It's a memoir of his childhood during the 70's and 80's with his raised-Mennonite-turned-hippie-communist mother who semi-kidnaps him and takes him to South America to support Marxism. I found it very engaging and well written.

  • Becky

    We watched This is Us – good show, but absolute tear jerker. I read Hillbilly Elegy over spring break – I have a few thoughts on that. My father's father was from West Virginia, so there was a passing familiarity with some of it, but I thought he let his dad off the hook a little too easily for walking away the way he did. And I know some have had issue with how he talked about his grandparents.
    I am currently in dire need of a good book. If it stops raining, I might walk the two blocks from my office to the library tomorrow to address the situation. As for watching, our family viewing of Shitt's Creek is on hold due to school finals and as it turns out, left to my own devices, I will just watch whatever is on PBS in the evenings.

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