books and reading · pop culture

Internet Things I’m Reading and Thinking About this Week

These are the internet stories that got me thinking this week. Without further ado:

Keeping ‘Insecure’ Lit: Cinematographer Ava Berkovsky on Properly Lighting Black Faces (Mic)

Before you scan past this based on the title, it’s worth noting that it’s a very interesting look at what it means to light faces that are darker than white people in movies and TV. It’s especially interesting to read about how little it’s even taught in film school:

“When I was in film school, no one ever talked about lighting nonwhite people,” Berkofsky said in a phone interview with Mic. “There are all these general rules about lighting people of color, like throw green light or amber light at them. It’s weird.” These rules are a start, but they’re far from a complete picture.

Why We Fell for Clean Eating (The Guardian)

This is right in my wheelhouse: an expose about the clean eating movement (which is total crap) and how Instagram has fueled it even as scientists have debunked it. The article also looks at why we were so quick and desperate to believe in the magical properties of clean eating:

Clean eating – whether it is called that or not – is perhaps best seen as a dysfunctional response to a still more dysfunctional food supply: a dream of purity in a toxic world. To walk into a modern western supermarket is to be assailed by aisle upon aisle of salty, oily snacks and sugary cereals, of “bread” that has been neither proved nor fermented, of cheap, sweetened drinks and meat from animals kept in inhumane conditions.

Skip It: Why It’s O.K. to Start a TV Show in the Middle (NYT)

A sweet, light take on why it’s okay to skip ahead to when a TV show gets “good”. The argument is made that it only works for some shows, but in an era when there’s too much good TV for any one person, it’s almost necessary. I admit that I clicked on this article because it had a picture of Buffy, so your mileage may vary:

It’s also misleading to treat most series, even the greats, like fully formed wholes set down according to careful design. TV is an improvisatory art, in which shows shoot a pilot and then beta-test themselves out in public. (A classic example, Mr. Sepinwall notes, is “Seinfeld,” which became great around Season 3.)

books and reading

Waiting on Wednesday: Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

Expected Release Date: May 6, 2014

Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is summarily shut down, the colorful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine’s deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the “Delicious Guarantee”-a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries-until further notice. What she doesn’t know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.

Delicious! carries the reader to the colorful world of downtown New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors, and from the lively food shop in Little Italy where Billie works on weekends to a hidden room in the magazine’s library where she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, who wrote to the legendary chef James Beard during World War II. Lulu’s letters lead Billie to a deeper understanding of history (and the history of food), but most important, Lulu’s courage in the face of loss inspires Billie to come to terms with her own issues-the panic attacks that occur every time she even thinks about cooking, the truth about the big sister she adored, and her ability to open her heart to love.

(summary via Goodreads)

As someone who loves food but doesn’t read a great deal about it, this might seem like an odd choice.  However, Reichl is a famed food critic, and has several memoirs under her belt.  Her foray into fiction is getting all kinds of great buzz, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this one (see what I did there?).  I’m looking forward to something different and fun.  Something adult after tons of YA.  I don’t know.  I’m stoked about this one.

What are you waiting on this week?

pop culture

Five Things I’m Into Right Now

A long time ago, I used to do this thing where I’d post a list of things I was into at the moment.  I’m trying to do that again, right now.  I have no idea how often I might post a list like this, but I can promise you it won’t be more than every other week, mostly because I don’t like very many things.  Seriously, this list would be easier for me to post if it was “Five Things I Actively Hate,” but I’m all about the positivity, guys.

1. The Good Wifegoodwife

I wrote about this a little bit in my January recap, but I am legitimately obsessed with The Good Wife.  I don’t remember the last time I was this excited about anything I was watching, really.  Normally not a huge procedural fan, but this show is so smart and is so well-cast that I can’t help but find it completely compelling.  I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m all caught up and have to wait for episodes to air.

If you haven’t given this one a chance, I suggest you do.

2. Ice Cream with Sprinkles and Marshmallows

This is my dessert of choice lately, and I’m completely aware that it’s diabetes in a bowl.  I don’t care.  There’s something about how the marshmallows freeze and the sprinkles crunch that makes me so happy.  Whatever, guys.  I eat pretty healthy the majority of the time, but I’m fundamentally a dessert person, and this is my jam right now.  I’m sure I’ll get sick of it soon, but in the meantime, this is my favorite treat.

tongue3. Zoey, the Love of My Life

It’s no secret that J. and I are pretty in love with our brilliant, frustrating dog, Zoey.  She’s one of the sweetest, friendliest dogs you’ll ever meet.  Full of raw enthusiasm and unbridled curiosity, she amazes us every day.  I guess this is how some people feel about their kids?  I wouldn’t know.


But I do know that I look forward to going home to this crazy puppy every day, and I love getting to spend time with her, whether we’re going for a walk and finding things to smell or hanging out on the couch, cuddling.

How could you not love this dog?  Seriously, how?

4. Ask Polly

My best friend and I regularly read and dissect the Ask Polly advice column, and it’s always a good time.  I think Heather Havrilevsky, who writes the column, gives amazing, thoughtful, and truthful advice.  I often identify with the letter writers as well as “Polly’s” response.  Full of good advice and often very funny insights, this is required reading, every week.

We even have a saying: “WWPS,” which of course means, “What would Polly say?”

5. “Magazine” by Caroline Smith

I had the chance to see Caroline Smith at First Ave recently, and she didn’t disappoint.  She’s one of my favorite artists right now, and this song is so catchy and thought-provoking and fun.  I dare you to listen to it and not get it stuck in your head.  I love it–and this video.

pop culture

Lists and Procrastination: 5 Things I’m into for the Moment

Gentle Readers, welcome!  It’s time for another installment of Things I’m Currently Obsessed With.  Previous installments can be found hereherehere,hereherehere,  here,  herehere,  hereherehereherehere,  hereherehere,hereherehere, and here.

1. Pink – “Try” Video

I’m actually not super into the song–I think it’s kind of boring (sorry, Pink), but the choreography in the video is super awesome.  I love that she did all of it herself.  Plus, her hair looks dope (even if she is sort of copying my girl Robyn).  I actually watch the video with the sound off (that’s how much I don’t care about the music).

2. Tiny Tower for iPhone

Yeah, I’ve become that person.  I finally caved and got a smartphone, and the result is that I am now obsessed with a totally silly game called Tiny Tower.  (It’s getting to the point where J. feels like he’s competing for attention with this game).  The game is simple: build a tower, move people in, and keep providing new stores and restaurants for them.  It’s totally addictive and totally stupid.  LOVE IT.

3. “Best of” booklists at Chicken Spaghetti

This is a great place to track all the best of booklists being published as we approach the end of the year (it’s coming up fast!).  Bookmark it now; peruse at your leisure.

4. Nicki Minaj featuring Cassie – “The Boys” (NSFW)

The video is as tonally off as the chorus to the song.  I’ve listened to this thing a bunch of times, and I still can’t figure out what they were going for exactly. I just know that I like it, and I love watching Minaj and Cassie interact.  Quick question: which lady got the better boob job?

5. Cookie recipes

Call me obsessed.  I’m super into figuring out what cookies I’m going to make for Christmas-cookie exchanges this year.  Pinterest, you will be the death of me.

What are you into at the moment?

pop culture

Lists & Procrastination: 5 Things I’m Currently Obsessed With

Gentle Readers, welcome!  It’s time for another installment of Things I’m Currently Obsessed With.  Previous installments can be found here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

1. Jenny Owen Youngs – “Hot in Herre”

I first heard Jenny Owen Youngs’s cover of Nelly’s iconic (is it though?) “Hot in Herre” as part of Shmitten Kitten’s Mix of the Month Club.  It’s a song that strikes you as funny the first time you hear it and then slowly grows on you.  The subtle subversion of what Youngs is doing takes some time to sink in, but once it does, you won’t be able to get enough of it.  I play this song on the way to work almost every day, and it never fails to put a smile on my face.

2. Stay With Me by Paul Griffin

Although the two are very different, 15-year-olds Cece and Mack end up falling in love.  As the two grow closer, they plan for a future together.  Then tragedy strikes, and the two are forced apart.  Both must deal with the fallout of their actions and reconcile themselves to the fact that they will have to live without one another.

This book was released at the beginning of September.  It made the rounds on the YALSA book discussion email lists and earned a star review in Kirkus (which is kind of like my Bible).  To say that this book is notable doesn’t do it service: this is a powerful, emotionally resonant novel.  The characters and story have stayed with me long since I turned the final page.  Recommended for fans of contemporary YA, but also recommended for fans of gritty, emotionally resonant stories in general.

3. Gardein’s Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n

(This is not a product placement, you guys.  I’m not being paid in any way for talking about this product on my blog.)

Even though I’m kind of a fake vegetarian at this point (I’ll eat a burger if it’s good enough, and I’ve been known to sneak a piece of chicken off of someone else’s plate), I still don’t cook meat at my apartment.  I’ve never cooked meat in my life and the idea of handling the raw stuff freaks me out.  However, this particular brand of Chick’n is one of the best I’ve found–and I love making it with veggies and noodles.

4. Suburgatory on ABC

Suburgatory is a half-hour sitcom that premiered on ABC this fall.  It’s about a father (Jeremy Sisto) who decides to move his teenage daughter (Jane Levy) from the city (Manhattan) to suburbia after he finds a package of (unopened) condoms in her room.  The two are not prepared for what they find in suburbia: a bunch of blonde, tan people who drink sugar-free Redbull like their lives depend on it.  As the two struggle to fit in and find happiness, shenanigans ensue.

Well-written, exceedingly well-cast, and very smart, Suburgatory surprised me.  It wasn’t one of the shows that was even on my radar until I read several really positive reviews of it.  Sisto (one of the most underrated actors working today, in my opinion) and Levy have a lovely, affectionate chemistry that sells the father-daughter storyline.  Cheryl Hines kills it as one of their perfect, freaky neighbors.  It’s a quiet kind of funny, and I love it.

5. Halloween (and the requisite ridiculousness)

It’s no secret that October is my favorite month of the year (I love the weather and pumpkins and candy and scary movies).  Halloween is arguably my favorite holiday (I do really love Passover, too, but Halloween is more accessible), and the month of October seems to hum with the promise of a crazy holiday full of costumes and candy.  I feel like every year, potential Halloween costumes get crazier and more ridiculous.  Today I found a costume for a sexy watermelon.  This is a costume that actually exists.

Whatever you decide to go as, you have to admit that it’s fun to think about and fun to see what other people come up with.  I don’t know what I’m going as yet–there’s been much discussion amongst my friends–but I do know that it will be awesome.

pop culture

Lists & Procrastination: 5 Things I’m Currently Obsessed With

Gentle Readers, welcome!  It’s time for another installment of Things I’m Currently Obsessed With.  Previous installments can be found here, here, here, and here.

1. Wavves, King of the Beach (album)

The best way to describe Wavves’s music is to categorize them as a noise-pop/surf punk band.  Based out of San Diego, California, Wavves is a band that represents everything that I kind of can’t stand about this generation of 20-year-old boys (and not just because I recently dated one), and yet I can’t stop listening to this album.  King of the Beach is full of songs that are danceable and singable, and while they’re certainly an acquired taste–my mother hates them–once you’re hooked, you’re hooked.  The album’s eponymous song is the one that my best friend and I most frequently dance around his apartment to, but I also really love “Post-Acid” and “Linus Spacehead.”

2. The Nine Lives of Chloe King on ABC Family

This show is pure camp, and I am absolutely in love with it.  Based on a series of YA novels by Liz Braswell, the show is about 16-year-old Chloe King, a girl who discovers that she has special cat-like powers, including 9 lives, super-speed, agility and night vision.  She’s a descendent of an ancient race (called the Mai), and it’s up to her to protect other Mai from a secret society that wants to destroy them.  The cast is pretty diverse, the writing is sometimes clunky and sometimes really funny, and the racially diverse cast is better than most on the major networks.  Perfect summer TV, you guys.

3. Kreayshawn

Here’s the thing about Kreayshawn, a female MC who hails from the West Coast: I can’t quite figure out if she’s for real or if she’s being ironic.  In her debut single “Gucci Gucci,” she takes aim at females who wear designer labels, gets in a few well-placed digs at Nicki Minaj, and talks about how she’s got the “swag and it’s pumping out [her] ovaries.”  The video features Kreayshawn and a bunch of dudes hanging out on a street, riding along in a car, and dancing at a party.  She sports pink sequined Mickey Mouse ears and eye liner that I’m pretty jealous of.  The video is basic and yet oddly compelling.  Her hooks are addictive; her lyrics mostly smart.  I still can’t shake the feeling that she’s in on a joke that I haven’t quite gotten yet, though.  What do you think?

4. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

I was nervous when I heard about this book a few months ago.  When Brashares ended her Traveling Pants series with the fourth book a few years ago, I felt that it was the perfect goodbye.  The idea of adding a fifth book to the series and having it take place about 10 years later, when the girls are in their late twenties made me really, really nervous.  When I got a copy in the mail a few weeks ago for review, I dove right in, and I finished it quickly.  I’m not going to lie, you guys: the book is sad, and I cried through a lot of it.  Parts of it were problematic, but overall I really loved it.  It says something that I’m still thinking about the characters weeks later.  I’ll review the book fully sometime soon, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the fact that Lena, Tibby, Carmen and Bridget are sitting with me still.

5. Amy’s Organic Mac and Cheese

This one is more than a little embarrassing, but it is what it is.  Recently, I discovered the wonder that is Amy’s Mac and Cheese.  It’s a frozen single-serving of mac-and-cheese (the kind with real, thick cheese), and it is delicious.  I don’t own a microwave, so when I want to eat it (which is usually about once a week), I have to really want it, you guys.  I usually make it for lunch, and when I pull it out of the oven (I like it a little burnt at the edges), I grind a little pepper over it and go to town.  I am never disappointed.  It is delicious.  This is turning into an ad for Amy’s products, so I’d best stop.

Now I want some mac and cheese.