Read and Watched: February Edition

Just for Fun

We pretty much covered what I’ve been crafting this month with the last post, so let’s talk books again, shall we?

(image snagged from Goodreads)

(image snagged from Goodreads)

Sourcery (Discworld Book 5), Terry Pratchett

I had one more Discworld book already on the Kindle, and unfortunately it was a Rincewind-centric story. Once again he’s the hapless hero, resisting all the way, and that just gets old after a while. Still, we got to see more of the Disc in this book and meet some new characters, and The Luggage had quite a good part (though in this one it reminded me of reading Cujo’s confused-by-rabies thoughts than anything else). Still, the ending of this particular book leads me to believe that the new few might be Rincewind-free, so I’ll come back to the series once I catch up with my book back-log.

Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon

This is a quick read, but that’s what makes it great. If you’re ever in need of a creative boost or pick-me-up, you could spend an hour reading Kleon’s thoughts on why and how artist’s “steal” from one another (I admit to strongly disliking the word choice, due to the connotations of steal, but understand why he uses is). He’s not promoting plagiarism or copyright infringement, but inspiration and learning. Here are some bits I highlighted to share:

Google everything. I mean everything. Google your dreams, Google your problems. Don’t ask a question before you Google it. You’ll either find the answer or you’ll come up with a better question.

Oh, man, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me something they could have just Googled, I could probably average a night out a month. Seriously. I grew up when “look it up” was a common response to questions, and the resources were our World Book Encyclopedias, a dictionary as big as an end table, or a trip to the public library. It’s such a valuable lesson to learn how to ask questions and find your own answers.

Not that I mind sharing what I know (obviously).

It’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.

This. So much of this.

I Think it’s good to have a lot of projects going at once so you can bounce between them. When you get sick of one project, move over to another, and when you’re sick of that one, move back to the project you left. Practice productive procrastination.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably aware that this is pretty much my take on project management. I LOVE having multiple projects going for precisely this reason. And while I know that it works for me, and encourage others to try it, it’s always nice to have someone agree that this is a good thing.

Dining With the Doctor: The Unathorized Whovian Cookbook, Chris-Rachael Oseland

I’m sure there are plenty of folks who wouldn’t consider reading a cookbook for fun. I am not one of them, and I enjoy finding cookbooks that are more than just a mere collection of ingredient lists and itemized steps. Dining With the Doctor is a bit gimmicky, but several of the recipes selected (one for each episode of the recent Doctor Who reboot, plus an entire chapter of options inspired by Eleven’s post-regeneration meal of Fish Fingers and Custard) are clever pairings and well thought out. And then you get the other ones, where he’s suggesting you stick cotton swabs into food and relying on artificial food coloring over more natural ones. But reading about each episode reminded me of some of my favorites, and almost makes me want to watch the Eccleston episodes.


Yes Please, Amy Poehler

Finally, the book club selection for this month. I generally enjoy memoirs, so was looking forward to reading this, even if I’d mostly stopped watching SNL by the time Poehler started her tenure there, and never got into Parks and Recreation. Yes, she “complains” about how hard writing a book is throughout the book, but she stopped just short of being truly annoying. I think of it more as the self-deprecation we do as a way of apologizing for not being better, more polished, more erudite.

And for someone who’s comedy is often big and a bit in your face, I was surprised at how sweet and calm her writing was. When she talks about her sons you can feel the genuine love and affection, but it’s not syrupy and certainly without a trace of mommy martyr complex like some celebrity mom’s portray. And sandwiched in between anecdotes that make me want to lose a day on YouTube looking up the sketches she mentions, there are these wonderful gems that remind you of how hard actors work on their craft, even when it seems effortless.

…what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready.

This reminded me of the launch-then-plan, or leap first sort of mantras so common in business coaching. Sometimes we have to commit to something in a big way to get to that next stage in our lives.

Decide what your currency is early. Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier.

It’s not about limiting ourselves, it’s about recognizing those awesome qualities we have and building on those and being satisfied in our own skins.

Treat your career like a bad boyfriend.

Here’s the thing. Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. Your career will openly flirt with other people while you are around. It will forget your birthday and wreck your car. Your career will blow you off if you call it too much. It’s never going to leave its wife. Your career is fucking other people and everyone knows but you. Your career will never marry you.

Now, before I extend this metaphor, let me make a distinction between career and creativity. Creativity is connected to your passion, that light inside you that drives you. That joy that comes when you do something you love. That small voice that tells you, “I like this. Do this again. You are good at it. Keep going.” That is the juicy stuff that lubricates our lives and helps us feel less alone in the world. Your creativity is not a bad boyfriend. It is a really warm older Hispanic lady who has a beautiful laugh and loves to hug. If you are even a little bit nice to her she will make you feel great and maybe cook you delicious food.

Oh, man, I could have used the bad boyfriend metaphor a few months ago when a coworker was going through some serious issues. It’s so much better than the “it’s business, it’s not personal” mantra I had at hand. But the creativity bit? That’s totally in my wheelhouse and exactly how I feel about the power we each hold in ourselves to be creative and let that inform our day to day lives.

I read other passages out loud to Todd before he fell asleep each night. Notably the snippets about her years at SNL because those require the least amount of explanation. It’s not a perfect book, but Yes Please was a nice peek into Poehler’s life and I appreciated getting that inside scoop.

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As for binge-watching, the only one on my February list was Parenthood. A series that I totally ignored until this month after hearing friends absolutely gush over it. These friends are also the ones who turned me onto How I Met Your Mother (and I will not blame them for their timing being just before that odd and only semi-satisfactory final season), which answered the often-posed question of what would Friends have been like if it were on today. And even though these same friends failed to get me into Friday Night Lights, I figured I’d give Parenthood a shot.

Why did I wait so long?!

Oh, right, I thought it was a case of Hollywood having run out of ideas and they were serializing the story from the Steve Martin movie of the same name. And while funny and a “modern classic” I suppose, my memories of that movie did not include a desire to see more of it. Which is why I missed out on the real-time airing of a show that really brought back, for me, the heyday of good television shows, where the characters are endearing and the humor doesn’t require a laugh track to tell you what belittling remark is supposed to be funny.

I really did enjoy this series, even though it made me tear up on more than one occasion (breaking my rule of not watching things that are trying to make me cry). Generally, though, it was the happy moments that had me tearing up (which is good, because the ending was definitely NOT a case of happy tears). My favorite couple was Joel and Julia, and I’m so happy they got their shit together in the end. I wanted to pinch the heads off all the teenagers around season 2, though that probably points to a more accurate portrayal than not. Crosby really had the best arc of all the middle generation, really growing into himself and his roles as father and, eventually, businessman. And it took me a couple of episodes to realize that the actress playing Jasmine played the best friend in Honey (I have a soft spot for dance movies and love that one more than is necessarily healthy); it was nice to see her on screen again.

Lauren Graham must have had a severe case of deja vu going on with the dating the daughter’s English teacher storyline. I won’t say that I liked Mark Cyr over Max Medina, but I definitely liked them both over Hank! I do not have a soft spot for grumpy old men, no matter how much the writers try to shoehorn that in. Though, for once, couldn’t they have let her be happy with the do-gooding doctor? Give that girl a break, why doncha!

As for Adam and Kristina. Well. I will allow that my opinion of them could be somewhat affected by watching 3 episodes at a time and, owing to how much time I spent at home sick this month, sometimes up to 8 in a day. That’s a lot of Bravermans. Regardless of the exposure rate, though, I’d say 80% of the episodes left me with the ongoing impression that Adam and Kristina were smug, self-righteous, sanctimonious twat-waffles. And I cannot TELL you how often I called them out for their bullshit and was so very glad that Dylan’s parents did just that in the last season. Yes, the writers threw more than one couple’s fair share of crazy at A&K, even for this show, but it just made me tired, not sympathetic.

(And, no, I’m not exactly sure what a twat-waffle is and I’ll be honest that I’m a bit scared to Google it as I’m not sure what would come up, safe search on or not. But it sounds ridiculous, which is what I thought of them, so in my mind it works.)

I finished the show on Monday night, watching the last three heartbreaking episodes, knowing full well what was coming as I do not bother to avoid spoilers, and was a already a bit emotionally compromised from earlier that day (which was maybe NOT the way to watch said episodes). I appreciated the way they handled the big goodbye, that it was in accordance with the character’s wishes and that it was a happy, high note in reality. The little glimpses we got of the future were enough to give us the satisfaction of a story continuing and with a few blanks to fill in on our own.

Oh, I also appreciated that they returned to Forever Young for the theme song in the last season–I remember thinking the soundtrack was easily one of the best things about the show in season 1, and loved the way they closed it out so well.

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And speaking of endings, I’m a CSI fan from way back. At the end of this current season (which was cut short 4 episodes ostensibly to make room in the schedule for CSI: Cyber with Patricia Arquette; I’m still not sure how I feel about that, yet) the last original cast member left the show (the character got a promotion that is not currently leading to a spin-off; I’m so glad they didn’t kill him off!). I loved the way they handled his send-off, both in music choice as well as the montage:

(Direct link for the feed readers: Nick Stokes Leaves CSI )

Though you’d think with 10 years of footage to go through they could have included a bit more of the old cast, but I’m glad Gil and Warrick got their few seconds in there. Endings well done take the sting out of it being an ending, you know?

I have no clue what I’m going to binge-watch next. I’m open to suggestions.