Friday, June 26, 2015

Weekly Buffet: Summertime Not Sadness

[From Top Left, Clockwise: favorite show of the moment - Halt and Catch Fire, bro's college grad cake, Father's Day ice cream in Coupeville,Wash., Baddass Musgraves, and a delightful read by Andy Cohen.]

The past couple weeks have found me tired and hot. If it gets anywhere above 75 degrees I'm cooked - not literally, thank god. With a true "heat wave" (I do realize that mid 70s is nothing to most parts of the country/world) though,  I definitely turn into a complainy old lady, who just wants a nice refreshing drink (bendy straw a must), a sun hat, and the ability to dangle my feet in one of those plastic kiddie pools that are covered with cartoon marine life. Oh, what's also giving me more cred of becoming a lady in her 80s who doesn't give a "f" anymore - I just woke up from a late afternoon nap. I don't nap people! It's all that spending too much time in the sun! Well, and working a lot. That's a whole other story...

But at the same time I soldier on, because we only allow heat exhaustion to set in due to the desire to get out in the world and enjoy a tremendous string of gorgeous weather. Even if hanging out in the heat can cause the type of emotions that leave little amount of pep or motivation to get other projects completely done.

"It's summer - get things done when you can", could be the best motto of all time.

But all this great weather is the perfect time to read outside in the sun and then catch up on movies and television once twilight (aka the magic hour) has surpassed. Not to mention the buckets of raspberry lemonade and Slurpee's just a-waitin' to be added on as accompaniment to fight that heat.

I might not have gotten much else done, but so far summer is oh so good for the following reasons.

The Andy Cohen Diaries

Throughout the year, I'll always read multiple books at once. When I get excited about things I just can't help myself and start diving in to everything!

For this summer the ultimate plan is to always be reading two books - one fiction, one non-fiction. Inspired by the gossipy, celebrity riddled diary that I just finished, the non-fiction list I'm building has veered away from anything considered traditionally educational and has instead turned into an enormity of books that are "educational". When I say that I mean a who's who of celebrity tell all's, like one's written by Angelica Huston, Shirley McLaine, Jane Fonda, Dolly, Martin Short, and Hillary. Plus, Melissa Explains It All thrown in for good measure (Oh, Melissa Joan Hart had no other choice for her book title). I mean, learning about people's lives is still learning, right?

After reading through a whole year of the adventures that news producer, turned Bravo executive, turned talk show host, Andy Coen lived through, I can't help but be in that celebrity state of mind. His list of friends and acquaintances far exceeds the Real Housewives Of Wherever, touting SJP and Anderson Cooper as his nearest and dearest. 

As it is literally in a diary format (hence the title of the book), detailing his daily activities from Fall 2013 through Summer 2014, some of it gets a tad repetitive and the book is quite long, though I still found plenty to love. It's just a fun read, especially for anyone who is interested in the behind the scenes workings of a TV series, the guests on his talk show (Watch What Happens Live), dogs of Instagram (his dog, Wakka, has more followers that most regular folks), or just dishy celebrity revelations - there is plenty to enjoy.

Most notably, since Cohen's inspiration for publishing a diary was the The Andy Warhol Diaries, I now have to go read that too. How does anyone ever read all the books? Or, really, do everything that they want to do? It's impossible - well, maybe if I didn't watch so many movies...

Halt and Catch Fire

Silicon Valley is taking a comical look at the inter-workings of the computer culture of today, but there is also something to be said about a show set during a time where our modern sense of the internet was just a twinkle in some techie persons head. That is where a show on AMC steps in.

Halt and Catch Fire was on shaky ground last year in its first season. It didn't spark much attention in the main stream culture sphere and, what I'm guessing, barely found its way to a second season. Even with a lacking number of talking heads discussing every plot detail, the show started to hit a real high in storytelling  about halfway through the season, and ended on a total high note, with so much excitement for where the characters could be headed.

Thankfully, even through somewhat of a reboot, that excitement was not a let down when the second season debuted a couple weeks ago. All the drama with building that computer (The Giant) from last season is gone, time has advanced a few years, and we are thrown right into the middle of the two main female characters (played by Mackenzie Davis and Kerry  Bishé) running their computer gaming company. You heard me right, two female characters - one who was formally  a side character -  are leading the way on a show - totally absurd!

Their story line is definitely the one to tune in for, but the top dogs who were the main focus last season (Lee Pace and Scoot McNairy) are still given plenty to work with as they struggle to again find themselves as successes in the technological sphere and come up with their next big idea. There is cocaine involved.

Every week this show gets better and better. Not to mention it's giving me my Mad Men fix. The comparisons between the two equally high quality shows are endless - both have sharp writing, are perfectly nailing a detailed depiction of a past decade (1960s & 1980s), are amazingly filmed, have extraordinarily creative opening credits (see above), and feature compelling characters. Not to mention, the two gals have a way of giving off that Peggy and Joan dynamic.

People, tune in. You don't know what you are missing.

The Secret Life Of Marilyn Monroe

Totally unexpectedly, I was entirely pulled in and bewitched by the first two hour portion of Lifetime's latest miniseries, this time as the network took on the story of what many people would regard as the most infamous icon of film and beauty - Norma Jean aka Marilyn Monroe.

Based on this, and the surprising delight from last weekend, Lifetime is upping their game. The Secret Life Of Marilyn Monroe was all around a well made movie that was wonderfully cast (Susan Sarandon, always) and had an interesting story to tell, even if some of the more intimate details could be regarded as hearsay.

Most notably though, the movie took time to take on a very thoughtful depiction of people with mental illness, as Monroe struggled to keep the relationship with her mother together. "You know, some people can't help who they turn out to be," Monroe says at one point about her mother. This should be the mantra of the world. More on that later...

I can't speak about the second half of the miniseries, since that's the bad part about things airing on more than one night, you have to remember to tune in. Hopefully I will find it playing some other time.

The biggest takeaway was a real shocker - the depiction of Monroe was actually perfection. In the past, no one ever seemed to get that part right, but Kelli Garner was unstoppable. From the look, to the voice, to her general presence, it was the best incarnation of Monroe I've ever seen. There wasn't that same forced mimicry that comes with a lot of actors trying to recreate legends.  She felt totally natural. When the awards season comes around I wouldn't be surprised to see Garner's name up for some trophies.

Weekly Jam

Sometimes the world seems like a crazy place where innocent people are shot and you find out Walmart and Sears sold Confederate Flag merchandise all these years. On such a day, what is there to soothe your soul? There is nothing better than a little ditty, telling you an important, somewhat cheesy (in a good way) assertion - "Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy".

Kacey Musgraves, preach!

Is there anyone else writing songs about minding your own business? Don't think so. There is no one better at writing wonderful, toe tappin', topical pop anthems that have a big message. What Musgraves decides to put out in the world is entirely refreshing. 

She's tackled this general idea once before on "Follow Your Arrow" and couldn't help but do it again with her single "Biscuits", because why not? It's such a simple idea that people need to remember more often.

On a final note - such a thought is made even more pertinent today after the historic decision made by the Supreme Court. People are people, love is love, happy is happy. Some won't agree entirely, but ultimately decisions like this make the world a better place for everyone's rights. No one is trying to threaten other views and most people who oppose this ruling won't even be directly affected by the change. For many though, this is life altering. It will help them have a place in the world that is equal. A world that doesn't put them down, look at them as lesser people, or refer to them as "different".

I'm all for things that are pushing our culture in a more positive direction, so I'll never understand all of the negativity. Seems pointless to me. Who wants to live in a world that makes people feel bad just for the way they live their life? Unless "living life" means murdering people - let's be clear, I don't support that.

But for everything else I chime in with Kacey Musgraves - let's mind those biscuits, because life is definitely better covered in gravy.

[Kacey Musgraves new album, Pageant Material, was just released this week. I can't wait to go get myself a copy.]

Until next time.

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