Friday, January 31

my january in entertainment

my january in entertainment

books i read

Bossypants by Tina Fey - I pretty much knew I'd love this book even before I read it, because Tina is one of my heroes, so when I saw that it was on sale on Amazon I snapped it up for my Kindle!  As most of us had probably already guessed, Tina Fey was a somewhat awkward teenager.  She became involved in community theater before majoring in drama at the University of Virginia, which based on her description and compared to my experience, has changed very little socially since she was there - as a non-blonde WASP she felt like she didn't fit in and spent much of her time chasing a boy who wasn't interested in her.  After college, she moved to Chicago where she ended up as the receptionist at a sketchy YMCA before joining The Second City theater troupe and falling in love with improv and her bestie Amy Poehler.  In between essays that tell her life story, she includes tidbits about her dad, her husband, her daughter, and what it's like to be a woman in the entertainment industry who doesn't quite meet the industry beauty standard.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans - A few of my friends gave me the side-eye when I told them the title of this book while I was reading it.  That's only because they weren't familiar with Rachel Held Evans (I've since fixed that).  The evangelical blogger undertook a year-long project in 2010 based on the mixed messages women in the church receive about their role in their marriages, church, and society.  She decided to take "biblical womanhood" into her own hands by studying what the Bible does say about women and attempting to follow it as literally as possible, focusing on a different virtue each month. This led to a year in which she learned how to cook, sat on the roof as penance for her football-season unruliness, slept in a tent on the lawn during her period, called her husband "Master" and took care of a robot baby - all leading to pretty hilarious anecdotes in her signature sarcastic style.  She also recounts her visits to a finishing school, an Amish community, a Bolivian village, a Benedictine abbey, and a Quaker meeting, and her interviews with a sister wife, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi's wife, and a Quiverfull daughter.  What I love, love, love about Rachel Held Evans is that she does her theological homework - she shares the stories of the Bible's truly diverse standout women and brings in details about the translation of terms used in passages about women, as well as the cultural and historical background.  Here's one of my favorite passages:
"If God is the God of all pots and pans, then He is also the God of all shovels and computers and paints and assembly lines and executive offices and classrooms.  Peace and joy belong not to the woman who finds the right vocation, but to the woman who finds God in any vocation, who looks for the divine around every corner."

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling - This is probably a controversial statement to make, but I think I liked Mindy's book even more than Tina Fey's.  Tina, to me, is someone who I might get to see give a speech at my alma mater if I'm free that weekend.  Mindy is someone who if I ever found out was in a 120-mile radius I would try to make my new BFF.  With titles like "Chubby for Life," "I Am Not an Athlete," "Karaoke Etiquette," and "Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who are Not Real," this book had me laughing out loud more than anything else I've read in a long time.  Mindy describes bonding with friends who also loved comedy in high school and college (and not understanding when other people didn't have the same sense of humor), being the worst Late Night intern ever, writing failed scripts and going to horrible auditions before finally putting together the stage show Matt and Ben and being hired as a staff writer for the American version of The Office.  It's a fun, breezy read and at the end I felt like I'd been on the receiving end of e-mails from a really quirky friend.

Legend by Marie Lu - Our school librarian knows I'm a fan of YA dystopias like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Under the Never Sky, so she's been trying to get me to read Legend forever.  Legend takes place in a post-United States Los Angeles, now part of the Republic.  Day and June are the book's alternating narrators.  They both live in Los Angeles but have very different lives - June has been born into privilege, raised by her military officer brother after their parents died, and is expected to have an illustrious military career herself after being the only person who has ever gotten a perfect score on the Republic's physical, mental, and academic career placement test, known as the Trial.  Day became the Republic's most wanted criminal after failing the Trial and becoming a Robin Hood figure to the people in the poor parts of the city.  When Day's family is quarantined during one of the frequent outbreaks of plagues, his and June's paths cross and she makes it her mission to capture him. In disguise, she convinces him that she is homeless, scrounging for food on the streets, but when she sees his true colors - and how much they have in common - she is less convinced of her mission's virtue.  After reading the book, I saw in the notes that Marie Lu was inspired to write the story after watching Les Miserables and wondering what a modern version of the detective-criminal story could look like.  I'm looking forward to continuing the series and finding out what happens next for Day and June.

television favorites

The Mindy Project - Let's talk about the hot mess that has been Season 2.  I miss Anna Camp as Gwen (having a best friend gave Mindy a sounding board and made her more realistic), I miss Betsy and Jeremy's characters getting screen time, and as much as I like Adam Pally as an actor I don't think his character, Peter, adds anything to the show.  I think writers should develop the characters they have before throwing new ones into the mix.  This show isn't perfect, but I've enjoyed the development this season of Mindy's frendship with her prickly, opinionated coworker Danny Castellano.  She's been loosening him up as a person, and he's been helping her become stronger and more self-assured, and I ship it, y'all  Some of my favorite Danny/Mindy moments of the season have been Christina's art show, Danny thinking Mindy was about to tell him she had a crush on him, Mindy pretending to be Danny's fiancee Chloe Silverado, and Mindy standing up to the midwives when they accused Danny of racism.  But the real highlight, for me, was the episode "Danny Castellano Is My Personal Trainer," which was about body issues and included the amazing quote above.

Sherlock - the world's greatest detective is back on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery.  I've only watched the first episode of Season 3, "The Empty Hearse," and I'm already head-over-heels back in love with this show.  I loved the idea that there was a club devoted to theories about how Sherlock survived falling to his apparent death and that some of the theories were worked into the episode's plot. I enjoyed Sherlock asking Molly Hooper to help him solve crimes as a thank-you for assisting in his escape after Moriarty's suicide.  I loved Amanda Abbington as Mary Morstan and how she just jumped into action with Sherlock when John was in danger.  I also really like the way the show's writers continue to update the character to suit a modern setting while still using deduction and psychology to solve most of the cases rather than the technology that is written into every storyline being a deus ex machina.  I wanted to slap Sherlock by the end of the episode, but I think that's par for the course with Benedict Cumberbatch's version of the character.  He is an ass, but he is a genius, a loyal friend.

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