Month: June 2014

Offended by bad?

Michael-Bay-Movies-List-900Yesterday I had an interesting experience.  I was following the reviews for Transformers 4 (It’s like a car crash that you can’t help but look at).  Sometimes the bad reviews are the most entertaining and so as I was doing a rather boring project I put on podcasts and reviews and it all sounded pretty terrible.  It was funny as the day started the score on Rottentomatoes.com steadily declined from 53, 35, 26, 18, 13…

When my roommate got home I was telling her about it and how frustrating it is such junk gets made and that people go to see it!  The only reason 4 exists is because the 3rd one made over a billion dollars.  That makes it #7 in all time box office gross.

“Well, all movies are trying to make money”  my roommate responded, which is completely true.  However, I like to think people who create things for us to consume have at least an ounce of artistic integrity.  That they are at least trying to do something that is beautiful or funny or splashy to them.

Stephen Spielberg, James Cameron, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, and even M Night Shyamalan are making money yes, and some junk, but what they think is beautiful or interesting or challenging.  Even George Lucas in those awful prequels can’t be faulted for trying to make something that he liked. It was terrible but not a complete cash grab.

The Simpsons is perhaps the greatest marketing machine there is.  Simpsons cups, toys, clothes, and everything else but the show is made with a certain degree of integrity.  Some could argue that the last 10 seasons have been unnecessary but I feel like they are at least trying to do something good.

Then we get to Michael Bay…

Michael Bay has made the same jaw droopingly bad movie over and over again.  They keep making money (why America?) but come on?  Wouldn’t a movie that is actually good also make a lot of money?  2 of Michael Bay’s movies made it on my Movies I Hate list Pearl Harbor and Armageddon.

I could easily put Transformers 2 and 3 on that list.  They all are explosions, objectified stupid Maxim cover girl women, and mind numbing special effects with horrible music.   To make matters worse Bay also always includes humor that is based on some type of ethnic stereotyping.

Some language in this clip but it shows throughout his movies the same cringe worthy treatment of Latinos, women, African Americans and any other non-alpha male group.

After talking a little with my roommate she said something interesting.

She said ‘well, I don’t like it.  I’m not really offended by it though’.

I said ‘well, I’m not offended by it either’

She said ‘Are you sure?’

It made me think.  Am I offended by it or is it just simply something I don’t like that others like?

offended- resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult.

Given the definition I guess I am a bit resentful that all the money spent on making and watching such trash and  it isn’t used to create something at least a little bit fun. Pacific Rim proved you can do ‘giant transformer movie takes over city’ without being so insulting to your audience.

I’ve long said that my most hated movies of all time are Drop Dead Gorgeous, Superstar, Brother”s Grimm, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, but I recognize DDG and Brothers Grimm were trying to do something different and it didn’t work.  So what is worse the lazy mediocrity or the ambitious flop?

Pearl Harbor gets a special place in offensively bad movies because it is takes a dump on the memories of our brave servicemen.  It’s one thing to see autobots and dicepticons  dodge explosions while humans engage in cringe worthy dialogue, but an entirely new level of nightmare when it is real people who sacrificed everything in those explosions.  They deserve better than an hour of Ben Affleck pining over a woman and another hour of mindless explosions.  It’s offensive to me…

Some language in this but the NC says it pretty well…

And what about other mediums?  For instance, last year’s Mixology definitely offended me.  I really hated the book Julie and Julia.  There was a little book called Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl that came out a few years ago, and I was really offended by that book.  (The author actually contacted me on goodreads after my review and we discussed my feelings.  Love her.  Hate the book).

But I also hated Austenland, but I’m not offended by that.  So where’s the balance?  Where does something tip the scale between not caring for something and finding it’s existence offensive?

I’m not sure. The Michael Bay movies make me nuts because I know he has every available resource and this is what we get?

http://www.torontosun.com/2014/06/26/transformers-age-of-extinction-review-has-michael-bay-lost-his-mind

I think where it crosses the line to offensive and not just bad is when it is mean spirited, cold, insulting, chauvinistic, degrading of any ethnic group/women.  That I just don’t get. That’s why Mixology made me so angry.  I like to think that over the years we have learned something about how to treat human beings and then something like that exists and it blows me away.

I actually hope that Michael Bay is just being lazy and stupid.  If he really see’s this as art then shame on him.  I do not get why people see it.  Why?

It is even worse when it is geared towards children. The Smurfs was such cynical film making.  It exists only for the money.  The second Smurfs was  literally a giant Sony product placement.  This makes me sad because it discourages people from participating in modern storytelling.  You have a bad experience with a Smurfs or Transformers and you assume it’s all a waste of time.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

I agree with Chris Stuckmann.  Certainly our kids deserve better

So, yes these kinds of things offend me.  Not often but it does happen. I know many are cynical about pop culture, literature, movies, television and it’s no wonder when you have this kind of cash grab.  It’s discouraging, but I refused to let such junk sink me down.  I believe in storytelling in all it’s mediums.

And perhaps that is why such garbage does offend me.  I know the power it has and it is being used to give us less than nothing.  Roger Ebert once said about a film ‘this was the first time I’ve been to a movie where staring at a blank wall would have been preferable’.

That’s a pretty low standard to be setting and yet I’d agree with him.  At least then you could come up with your own stories.

It’s summer.  Please do something outside or rent The Lego movie.  Don’t reward this behavior.

If you don’t believe me here’s a lot of smart people who do.  Don’t’ see Transformers 4. Please!!!!

I guarantee you these reviews have more wit and thought than the mess for nearly 3 hours on screen. (some of these have strong language)

there I said it!  🙂

Summer Reading

summer reading

The last few days I’ve had a number of people ask me for reading suggestions while they travel. so I thought I’d put together a list of great summer reads.

What do I consider a good summer read? (just my definition so you may pick totally differently than me but it’s my blog!)

A great summer book is light, witty, easy to relate too and little to no fantasy worlds to digest. No dystopias or vampires or warewolfs.  Those can be enjoyed (or not enjoyed) more in the winter where you can cozy up to a fire and an adventure.

Summer books should make you feel good and be something you could read in spurts and not feel bad.  There are so many distractions in the summer which makes this last aspect key.

So here’s my list: (in no particular order)

1. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

2.  Undomestic Goddess by Sophi Kinsella  (mild language warning)

3. Red China Blues  by Jan Wong

4.  All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott

5. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

6. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

7. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

8.  Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

9. The Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan

10. Gift from the Sea by Anne Marrow Lindbergh

11. From Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes

12. My Life in France by Julia Child

13. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

14. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

15. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

16. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

17. The Egg and I by Betty McDonald

18. Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

19. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith (actually any AMS book would be great)

20. Jane Austen books- I know classics to some aren’t light but I literally read them every summer so they have to go on the list!

There are many more I could pick and if you have particular interests or are going some place unique let me know and I will give some recommendations.  Enjoy your travel and your reading!

What do you like to read in the summer? I’d love to hear your lists

summer reading2

 

An Original Expression of Faith

Back when the movement of feminists within the Mormon church started (ala pants protest) I had a bad feeling about it. I chose to show my support for people, not protests in my own way. My opinion on today’s events is basically what it was when I wrote this post.
I have not commented on the recent hoopla because I felt like I couldn’t add anything new to the discussion. I’ve written a number of posts on the blog about being a Mormon woman and I’d love for any of you to read them. However, I felt reposting this said everything I wanted to say.
There is nothing more important to me than my faith. It is the anchor of my life and I know it is where I am supposed to spend my life engaged in it’s service.   Every time I read it, I feel anew that the  Book of Mormon is true. I am a daughter of God with a unique mission and gifts. It is not my place to judge anyone else for their choices and I wish all peace and comfort.  God bless you all.

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

“The number of people who subscribe to these beliefs and values is dwindling, but you and I remain true. We have covenanted with the Savior to represent Him...

We must be bold in our declarations and testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ. We want others to know that we believe He is the central figure in all human history. His life and teachings are the heart of the Bible and the other books we consider to be holy scriptures. The Old Testament sets the stage for Christ’s mortal ministry. The New Testament describes His mortal ministry.

The Book of Mormon gives us a second witness of His mortal ministry. He came to earth to declare His gospel as a foundation for all mankind so that all of God’s children could learn about Him and His teachings. He then gave His life in order to be our Savior and…

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Austenland: A Review

austenlandI know I am about a year and half late on this review but I put off seeing Austenland because I hated the book so the movie didn’t hold much promise for me.  However, enough of my friends and family encouraged me to see it and claimed it was better than the book I finally decided to watch it on my Netflix.

And the verdict is….

Basically the same as the book but I didn’t have to live in the movie for days so I suppose the movie is more tolerable.

So some things to mention before the review- I am a huge Austen fan.  I read her 4 most popular books in the winter break of 1998 and was hooked.  Since then I have read all 4 and even all 6 every year usually in the summer.  They are witty and the heroines are bold and yet weak.  Of course, I love the romance but it is the characters journey as told through romance that works.  The romance itself is fairly predictable.

That’s where the book and movie are misguided.  Austen is not great because they are romantic.  They are great because they involve choices, judgements, forgiveness, foolishness and of course love.  In the story of Austenland we lose all but the love and it makes for a very unsatisfying story.

The story of Austenland starts out with an interesting lead character.  Jane, played by Kerri Russell, is a die hard Austen fan.  This could be the female version of the many ‘manchild’ movies we’ve seen with men who can’t grow up (usually with Will Farrell or Seth Rogan).  I would be interested to see more movies with these type of women.

Austenland was also directed, written, produced almost entirely by women, which I think is great.  In the words of Cate Blanchett ‘the world has curves’ and movies should reflect this.  The fact that so many movies fail something as basic as the Bechdel test is very sad indeed. We should do better.

That said, I am not going to give it a pass merely because of it’s female pedigree. That would be unfair.  I have to judge it like any other movie.

So, back to the story… Jane gets an inheritance and decides to fulfill her life dream and go to a living play experience called Austenland.  It is similar to a murder mystery parties that were popular about 10 years ago but it’s over weeks.  All of the staff are actors playing parts down to the servants.

Jennifer Coolidge gets some of the funniest bits as a ditzy American guest (she has played this role many times before with funnier dialogue. See the Christopher Guest movies).  But even her lines feel so strained and molded into this ridiculous premise.  Whether in the book or movie I couldn’t buy this place existing and appealing to anyone, even the most die hard of Austen fans.

However, if you accept the premise so many of the jokes fall flat. There is an extended scene with a play that I didn’t think was funny.  There are pratfalls and falls on horses that weren’t funny.  And a horse giving birth scene which would have you believe a foal comes out in the time it takes a woman to grab a handful of hay or at least that Jane believes such a thing. Really, Jane?

Then things became awkward when a member of the ‘cast’ assaults Jane  and yet she continues on with her stay.  Did she just think that was part of the play?  A little regency era attempted rape to complete your stay….Like I said it went from unfunny to uncomfortable and even a little creepy.

You also see the behind the scenes of the actors which makes the scenes in costume feel even weirder.   And yet with all that they tag on the most unbelievable ending.  Like I said earlier, Austen’s romances worked because of choices the characters made, tough choices.  They were often brave and loyal to a fault.  The characters that are impetuous, romantic and silly, are all either taught to be more sensible or are unhappy in their choice (Lydia, Marianne, Mary Musgrove, Catherine and even Emma).

Aside from coming to the park and then leaving Jane in the movie doesn’t really make any tough choices.  Everything happens to her not by her, making the story less gripping. There is not the sense of a character growing and the viewer isn’t left wondering ‘will Jane’s foibles spoil her chance at real love?’.

Austen’s heroines do not need rescue and they would not have had dramatic romcom scenes at airports.  Maybe a letter perhaps (or lengthy email) but I can’t think of any bold romantic gestures in an Austen book.  Perhaps Darcy fixing Lydia’s problem but even that expected no fanfare and he didn’t even want Lizzy to know of his involvement.  Such soft and subtle characters builds tension and makes the ending so satisfying.  They are not simply the wild passionate love but the careful consideration of two hearts meant to be together, that almost weren’t.

The couple in Austenland don’t really spend that much time together and they have even less actual conversations (and a lot of that is staged for a long time or we don’t know how much is staged by either one).  The ending would have been a lot more satisfying if she had sued the place and changed her life (learned something).

In the end, it just didn’t make me laugh.  A big problem in a comedy.  I think I’ll go watch Mr Collins propose.  Now that is funny…

Overall Grade D

Content Grade B+ (It’s pretty innocent.  Even the assault is tame, birth tame, some heaving bosoms, no bad language)

I’m always open for others opinions.  Don’t worry I have thick skin, so please comment.

If you want a more satisfying, if still imperfect, modern version of women confronting Jane Austen try The Jane Austen Book Club.

Getting the Job

I’ve sat down to write this blog several times but each time abandoned the attempt because the words I created felt unsatisfactory.

As you all know 3 weeks ago I started my dream job.  After nearly 10 years of accounting I am now in marketing, which may seem like a nominal change but to me it is huge.  It’s creative, interactive and something I am actually pretty confident in (I was competent in accounting but was always a little out of my league).

A few weeks ago I asked my facebook group (which if you aren’t a member of please like my page.  It would really help me out https://www.facebook.com/smilingldsgirlreviews) what they would like me to blog about.  One of my favorite followers asked me if I had any advice on how she could get her dream job and what I did in my interview/resume process that helped.

This seems like it should be a pretty easy question to answer.  After all, it just happened so why not just say what happened.  Here’s the rub about that, was it just luck and timing and if so how can I give advice on that?

Well, here’s my attempt at requested advice:

1. Timing and Paying Dues-

dues

Perhaps this is a cop out to have as advice but in setting any worthy goal we must also be aware of God’s timing.  Think about relationships.  I can do everything right to meet someone and if it is not God’s time for me to have that experience it won’t happen.

The same holds true for your dream job.  You can have the perfect interview and resume and if it is not the right timing it won’t work out.  I know because I tried to get into marketing in 2008 and got nowhere.  I ended up back in accounting until the time was right.

I also believe that in life rarely is anything handed to you on a silver platter.  When we want something good typically God requires something of us in return.  I call that paying dues.

For example, on my mission I went through a period of about 3 months that were hell.  A companion who hated me and made my life miserable, new area, no contacts, extreme loneliness.  It was intensely awful.  One of the hardest experiences of my life.

However, I pushed through and after that time period I had the best companionships of my mission and helped 7 amazing people get baptized.  I don’t think God would have blessed me with those experiences if I had not paid the dues in the tough months.

It’s the same in the work world or in our families.  Some blessings come with a cost we must pay, with dues that must be met.  So, if things don’t go your way put your head down and keep trying and working as hard as you can where you are and when it’s right it will happen. Took me nearly 10 years!

2. Take Risks-

strip.print

I am not a high risk person.  Just ask my investment broker, I get very nervous with the unknown (hence my anxiety issues…) and want to keep my money as safe as possible.

That said- any good thing in life will require some risk.  If you decide to have kids, risk.  If you decide to buy a home, risk.  If you decide to change your job, risk.  There was and is a lot of risk with this new job for me.  There was risk in spending money on boxes and my channel.  There was risk in devoting time and effort into making them as good as they could be. There was risk in putting myself out there for the world to see, being vulnerable and authentic.

Here’s the key to taking those risks- they were all risks I could stomach even if I hadn’t gotten the job.  The fact I did makes the pay day extra sweet but any risk I’ve taken has been a great blessing in my life.  I’ve been so grateful for this blog for 6 years , long before I thought it might lead to a new career.  So, take risks, manageable risks, but take them!

It was also a risk to take the job.  I was making a little more in my old job and it meant juggling 2 jobs instead of 1 and giving up my health insurance.  It has all worked out but it was a risk- one I was glad to take. They could have told me it was an unpaid internship for the first 6 months and I would have taken it.  I was looking for that door in and I took it!

Some people might have found it difficult going from a job where I was pretty important to a part time, contractor position, starting from scratch in new company.  In truth, it can be kind of overwhelming but also exciting.  I feel young with a new enthusiasm I haven’t felt for years. I am happy to be at the bottom clawing my way up but for some that would be risky prospect.

3. Resumes and Content Creation

index

Even for someone as open as myself, the self-promotion aspect of a job interview can be daunting.  How do you make yourself unique and different but not too unique and different that it is off-putting.

I find if I can change it from self-promotion to simply ‘talking about my life’ it feels more natural and easy going.  Even though I stayed in accounting for nearly 10 years I worked for different companies during that time (6 if you include my Dad’s rentals). So, I found myself looking at my resume every 6 months or so, sometimes more.  Keeping it up to date and had correct reference phone numbers and that the information was still relevant.

I also started an online resume at http://about.me/smilingldsgirl which is free and looks very snazzy.  Make sure on your resume you have listed your skills for the job you currently have and the job you want to have.  And if you need those skills get them.  Take courses, learn on your own time and then add that knowledge to your resume.

This job opportunity came out of nowhere so it was very helpful I had my resume ready to go.  I had also given some thought into what content I was the most proud of.  Even with open book living I have never produced content I was ashamed of.  Every last post I stand behind and that includes twitter and youtube and everything else.

When given the chance I knew what posts were my best and emailed them to my future boss.  I had one post I loved for it’s writing, another for the comments and discussion it encouraged, another for the hard worker it described.  Have such content ready to go.  Create a spreadsheet where you keep track of such things because after nearly 900 blog posts the good one’s can be tough to remember.

It is so easy nowdays to do so much on your own and I’d say why not?  If you always wanted to get into movies than start a movie blog.  It doesn’t have to be intense just every week or so write a post about movies you like.  Keep it fun and control the tone of your comments section and content and do not do it to make money.  Do it to become the person you want to be and the world may or may not pay you for that conversion but does that really matter? If you are who you want to be and having fun that is reward enough.

President Uchtdorf, an apostle for my church, gave a fabulous talk about the miracle of creation and how when we create things it is good for the soul.  I believe that.  I have felt that with every post I have done, even the silly one’s.  I have created something out of nothing and that is empowering. So create!

4. Network

7.-Networking

There may have been an era where people opened the classifieds and contacted companies now hiring and got a job but that is few and far between.  Even with the advent of internet job search engines like Monster, very few people get jobs based on ‘published ads’.

I found this NPR piece on networking to be helpful http://www.npr.org/2011/02/08/133474431/a-successful-job-search-its-all-about-networking

“At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published,” he says. “And yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.”

I think that is really true.  Almost everyone I know has their job through networking not web searches or now hiring signs.  And most of the people I know who get published jobs are not in the greatest jobs.  It is perhaps easier to get a job at McDonalds without networking than say Goldman Sachs.

So how do you network?  After all , you don’t want your friends to feel like you are using them for their connections.  It needn’t be so obvious.  Just talk with people about what you would like to do.  My Dad was well aware of both my skills and work desires and a lot of people were because I talked about it on my blog, social media and in everyday conversation.

Once you are actively searching for a job just ask friends to keep their ears open for opportunities  that might be a good fit.  My Dad wasn’t planning on finding me an interview but was speaking with the head of the marketing department about needs and mentioned I could meet those needs.  That’s the kind of networking that can even create a job out of a need, a job that may not even exist but you could fulfill.

It doesn’t even have to be a good friend.  Let people at your church, civic group, book club, or kids playgroup know.  They may know people, who know people, who need you.

5. The Interviewjobinterview

Let me start out this section by being very clear- I am not great at job interviews.  My strabismus in my eyes can be a big part of the problem.  If you have trouble with eye contact like I do that can make job interviews tough.  I have also found some occasions where I felt my weight was a factor in not getting a job.  They would never say it was but you can just tell when someone is judging you for appearance not abilities.  This sucks but it is a reality.

I suppose if there is a way to improve that appearance than why not? You are presenting yourself in comparison to other people who probably have the same skill level as you do so an employer may be reduced to superficial gut feelings that may boil down to appearance.  So, I’d say cover your tattoos, wear a nice suit, smile, treat the interview like a real person and talk as naturally as your nerves will allow.

In the case of this job I had a phone interview which was a great blessing as it took the personal elements out of the picture.  I had sent him my resume and content links and he had spent considerable time reviewing them before the interview.  I was ready to answer any questions he might have about what I had sent him.

I had also taken the job description and looked up any jargon words unique to the new job.  I then prepared a ‘cheat sheet’ with those definitions and made sure I had something to say about said topics when asked.  This proved to be the key reason I got the job.  I had good concrete suggestions for our amazon and walmart listings- suggestions that I believe surprised the interviewer.  You could also include on your cheat sheet information about the company, it’s history, leadership etc.

I also made it clear what the upsides were to picking me.  That I work hard 24/7, have minimal obligations to distract me, could take little pay, didn’t need insurance, my working relationship with my Dad,  and I’m a quick study when it comes to computer programs etc.

You may also have a chance to minimize the risks of selecting you.  I told him my telecommuting would be an advantage not a downside because I was used to working all the time and creating content from home.  I also made it clear I had much to learn but was confident I could do it.

Mostly I would say try to be a natural but professional version of yourself, and if it’s the right timing it will work out.

6. Be Patient

patience

This is totally pot calling kettle black because I am completely impatient.  I hate waiting but in this case I had to be patient.  When my Dad initially told me about the position he said to wait for the job description before sending my resume (incidentally gave me some time to make it great).

I waited and waited for weeks and then the job description got posted.  I was nervous because in some ways I was a great, perfect fit, and in others I was not.  Again, I was prepared to overcome these issues and promote the benefits of me but I had to wait.  Then finally I heard we were going to do the interview but it was delayed and delayed again.  This whole time I couldn’t really talk about it with my online community because it was a digital media job so I wanted to lay low plus I didn’t want to ostracize myself from my job at Poler.

The interview came.  I was prepared, notes in hand, we spoke for 1.5 hours and I thought things had gone well but you never know who else is interviewing.  Than he asked me to do some ‘homework’ and I was patient and took the time I needed to make it good work.  I felt particularly strong about my input concerning youtube…

But I didn’t hear anything and week 1 passed, than week 2 I was busy with my writing conference.  No news was making me crazy and I couldn’t really talk about it much and there was nothing I could do but wait.  I assumed at that point I didn’t get the job but I figured he would tell me if that was the case.  So I waited and finally at the end of week 4 I got the job.  He asked me if I needed to wait the weekend and think it through.  “Nope” I said “I’m in!”  I had already done all the thinking I needed! 🙂

And I wasn’t shy about expressing my eagerness and excitement.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with such enthusiasm.  If I was doing the hiring I’d want someone that was passionate about working for me.

7. You are More than Your Job

balanced life

My last piece of advice is the greatest thing I learned from nearly 10 years of contently working in accounting.  I felt like a sell-out.  I felt like I had compromised my dreams to the cruel reality of what people would pay for me to do….

But that was a good thing in a way.  It taught me that I am not my job.  As a single woman I have always felt my career mattered more than my married counterparts (men and women).  Aside from hobbies it seems the main contribution of a single American is their work.  In fact, I was envious of my teacher and nurse friends because their contributions seemed more valuable than my career of spreadsheets and data entry and perhaps they are.

However, even  my teacher friends would not want to be solely defined by their job. Our work is our work but it is not who we are.  All of us have relationships, friendships, hobbies, family, church, clubs etc that define us just as much if not more so than our jobs.

My job in accounting may not have been my dream job but I was always grateful for it.  I learned so much from doing something a little outside my comfort zone.  It forced me to master skills I would never have learned otherwise.  It gave me great relationships and life altering moments that I will never forget.  So, if all you can get is a job at McDonalds then learn all you can from that job.  And always have an attitude of ‘why does God need me here now?’

Be as interesting and dynamic a person as you can be.  Try new things, have fun and maybe an opportunity will come out of the blue like it did for me.  If it does I hope my little post will be of some help to you.  My blogging may be small potatoes in the blog world but it is my greatest job and it has meant so much to me.  I am a better person because of all of you and the words we’ve shared.

Good luck! And if you would like further advice comment below or email me at smilingldsgirl@yahoo.com.

One last little joke
One last little joke. It’s all about the balance in life.

 

Boy Meets World

boy meets world

I’ve told you about a lot of entertainment over the years.  Well, let me tell you about another show that I know isn’t exactly great entertainment but I have a nostalgia and affection for.  I kind of grew up with ABC’s family friendly TGIF lineup and the great Disney Afternoon.  In particular there was  a little show called Boy Meets World.

I’m not going to try and defend this show as original or groundbreaking.  In fact, I will say out front it is predictable, sentimental and syrupy but it also has real heart and actors with charisma and chemistry together.

The characters on the show were the same age as me.  They started high school when I did, they graduated from high school when I did, went to college when I did etc.  I guess you could say I grew up with these characters as friends of mine along with Lisa and Bart from the  Simpsons.

So, the show centers around Cory Mathews a kid in Philadelphia, his brother Eric, best friend Shawn and crush Topanga.  Cory is played by the brother to Wonder Years star Fred Savage, Ben Savage.  Shawn, Cory, Topanga are all taught by their hard nosed but dedicated teacher Mr Feeny played by William Daniels (who’s participation takes the show up a huge level in acting and storytelling)

Mr Feeny manages to follow the boys from middle, high and even to college in a series of convoluted reasons but it doesn’t really matter.  You can poke plot holes a  mile wide in this show but it isn’t really about that.  It is a show about growing up, learning and loving.  I’ll say it again.  It had real heart.

It also had the courage to tackle a lot of tough topics such as drug use, biracial dating, alcoholism, divorce and rejection.  I love when entertainment takes children seriously and doesn’t assume they are stupid.  This has all the trappings of a silly show like Saved by the Bell but it had a lot more guts and the performers had great chemistry.

Some of my favorite episodes are:

I love this episode where young Cory switch places with Mr Feeny and does all can to convince the kids that Anne Frank is worth reading:

Sorry, it just makes me tear up every time…

Cory is taken with the free spirited Topanga and in season 2 he starts to notice her as more than a friend:

Like it or not Topanga’s definition of relationships is basically true these days.  Things seem to always be about the great love and not the building friendship we get with Cory and Topanga.

In season 3 Cory is forced to admit he is in love with Topanga.  Tell me this isn’t as good of writing as any rom com:

or this

Shawn is also a key figure in the show, which was a true ensemble piece.  Unlike Cory who comes from loving and kind traditional family Shawn is forgotten by his father and abandoned by his mother.

Shawn and Cory come into conflict some times because of their differing backgrounds

Eventually a teacher introduced in season 2 named Mr Turner becomes Shawn’s guardian.

Shawn meets his brother Jack in season 4 and has a reconciling with his father that is all too brief

Topanga eventually asks Shawn to give the graduation address and it is oddly perfect:

I’m afraid I’m making it sound too serious because the majority of the show is funny.  Eric, Cory’s brother, provides a lot of the goofball moments.

This still makes me laugh

Shawn also starts dating a black girl named Angela in season 4 and what I love is the race wasn’t really played up as an issue that much.  They were kind of treated just like Cory and Topanga which may not be realistic but a good lesson for kids that a biracial couple can be just like any other with the same problems as anyone else.

Spoiler I guess but Cory and Topanga get married in season 6

It also had one of the best finales ever

Now that my friends is how you end a show.

I know that’s a lot of clips but I hope it gives you a feel for the heart in this little show.  I really love it and all it’s wholesomeness and cheese.

Next week a spin off is coming out called Girl Meets World about Cory and Topanga’s little girl.  I’m cautiously optimistic.  The pilot looked pretty good and they have certainly spent a lot of time in development which usually means it’s not a total nostalgia cash grab.  I will let you know what I think.

What about you guys?  Do you like Boy Meets World?  If not, what show do you have nostalgia for?  Maybe you know it isn’t the greatest writing or acting or stories but you grew up with it and have an affection for it?  I know some people feel this way about the Brady Bunch of the Waltons.  What about you?

European Style Grocery Shopping

veggies

I’ve spoken a number of times on this blog about food, cooking and the challenges of shopping for one.  Lately I’ve been trying a new strategy that has been working out very well.

This article explains the shopping philosophy and how it saves money, gives the best food http://www.wisebread.com/buy-your-groceries-european-style

Basically the idea is instead of buying in bulk or cooking large quantities, you go to the grocery store every day and buy what you need for that day or perhaps for 2-3 days.

This is smart for the following reasons

1. You get the freshest ingredients

2.  It avoids waste saving money and time

3. Fresh, seasonal ingredients typically are the least expensive

4. For a single woman who eats out a lot it makes it easy to eat out without spoiling food or meal plans waiting to be made.  You can just plan on eating out instead of shopping.

5. With a grocery store in walking distance of my house it isn’t really any  more work to shop everyday.

6. Less groceries and less mess.  Today I dirtied a few pieces of silverware and 1 plate instead of tons of pots and pans.  Of course, I can plan an everyday meal that uses a lot of pots and pans but at least I know that’s what I am doing and can plan accordingly instead of just having ingredients and trying to make something good out of it.

7.  It allows you to order what you are in the mood for on a particular day.  Not stuck eating leftovers or ingredients that sounded good a month ago.

Today for example I went to the grocery store purchased a rotiserie chicken, a kale salad and twiced baked potato they make at Harmons and stuff to make easy crepes for dessert

The other day it was a tub of chili, another it is chicken and sauce.  A lot of items are hard for me to purchase because I just can’t eat them fast enough.  A loaf of bread for instance is hard for 1 person to polish off before it is either stale in the fridge or moldy outside.

With European grocery store I can  buy just what I need for that meal and be done with it.

It may seem like this type of shopping would be more expensive and while I haven’t done the math I don’t think I’ve spent much more if any.

I know that such shopping might be impossible if you have a family but if you don’t, give it a try.  I bet you will love it!

Plus, you get to sound all suave and debonaire with your European shopping trip… 🙂

How do you shop for evening meals?  What strategies work for you?