Turn the Page Tuesday, Read This: “Where’d You Go Bernadette”

I know I’m behind the times on this one, but oh my goodness! When I saw that Where’d You Go Bernadette was finally available at my local library I had to check it out, and bring it with me to my parents for some time off at the beach over the 4th of July weekend. What a perfect beach read, but also what a perfect ANYWHERE read! I laughed, I teared up, I throughly enjoyed the witty, dry humor of Maria Semple. The writing style reminded me of a Wes Anderson film, and I was in love with the alternating perspectives revealed in e-mails, memos, and various other forms of correspondence.

I’m awful at describing something I love without getting carried away, and trying to hide the surprises, but essentially the story involves teenage Bee, her architect mom, her dad who works for Microsoft, a slew of crazy private school mothers and an extremely entertaining collection of other characters living in Seattle. Instead of giving away exciting plot points, I’d rather just convey my affection for this book by explaining that I wasn’t even halfway through when I declared it must be added to my favorites list. It’s that good. I hadn’t felt like I’d stumbled upon a creative piece of work so refreshing in quite some time. Some authors have a strange condescending sort of air to their writing, while Semple never seemed to discredit her audience.

If you’ve noticed this book on display in a variety of places, or heard the buzz, or your friends have recommended it – there’s a reason for it. It’s one of the best titles I’ve read this year. If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor and get on that as soon as possible!

Listen to This: “Cecilia and the Satellite”

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, then you’ve probably noticed that one of my favorite artists is Andrew McMahon. I’ve been a fan since I was about thirteen, so at this point it feels like I’ve grown up with him (which I guess I did.)  Now that he’s decided to tour as Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, there are new songs popping up on YouTube and such, but this week he himself released a new song “Cecilia and the Satellite.” Cecilia of course, being the name of his baby girl. (AHH. So sweet, it makes me melt.) I didn’t hear this song for the first time until Tuesday, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to it since. It’s just so beautiful and sincere, and sweet. Also, he said to keep an eye out for new tour dates announced…I’m excited! Hopefully that means he’ll have some headlining shows coming up. Right now, he’s touring with Matt Nathanson and Gavin DeGraw. If you’ve never seen him, and you’re even slightly considering it – GO! You won’t regret it. Andrew McMahon is one of the most incredible performers I’ve ever watched, he just lays it all out there on the stage and it’s an experience for sure.

I know, it’s been awhile since I’ve made an appearance on this blog but this one is beyond worth sharing. If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out now!

Listen to This: “In Your Atmosphere”

I have to say, I think “In Your Atmosphere” might be one of John Mayer’s most under-rated songs. I have this live version on my phone from the Live at the Nokia Theatre album. I was listening this morning in the gym, and instead of singing along (because I try not to do that in the gym – I think it’s weird and distracting,) and it kind of stopped me in my tracks.

I mean, honestly…

“I don’t think I’m gonna go to LA anymore
I don’t know what its like to land and not race t0 your door
I don’t think I’m gonna go to LA anymore” 

Have truer words been sung? You know, those times in life where “home” becomes less about a place, and more about a person, and when you return to somewhere it’s not about walking to your own doorstep, or your head hitting your pillow, but walking into the arms of someone who’s face replaced whatever you’d considered home up until then? And I guess sometimes those things last, and sometimes they don’t. And I think the energy he sings this song with, that urgency and the emotion? It captures those times. And sure maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I always get out of it. And I love the simplicity in the truth.

There at the end he goes into:

“Wherever I go, Whatever I do
I wonder where I am in my relationship to you
Wherever you go, Wherever you are
I watch that pretty life play out in pictures from afar”

And maybe he means when you’re dating a celebrity you can see their lives play out in magazines. Then again though, think about our generation…we might not have talked to someone in person in the past eight years, and we could still see pictures of their lives on Facebook. Their weddings, children, breakups, promotions, birthdays – so much of it is displayed for all to see. We can watch it unfold right in front of us.

Not everyone’s a Mayer fan, but if you haven’t listened to this song, or you’re in need of a reminder of what a great one it is, go give it a listen.

 

Turn It Up Tuesday, Listen to This: “Overwhelmed”

Whenever my friend Kaylynn and I get together, a lot of our time is spent hanging out laughing, drinking, getting ready, and singing a long to a random assortment of music in her living room. When I was visiting her over the summer in Athens she introduced me to Tim McMorris’s “Overwhelmed.” The moment the song started, I was hooked. Not only is the video undeniably real, but the song is just so…honest, pure, and full of love. It’s like I can feel my heart swelling in my chest as I listen to the words. It kind of sort of maybe makes me want to cry, but the good kind. It reminds me just how sappy I can be at times. Whatever part of me the hopeless romantic dwells in, just soaks up every single bit of this song. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to share it, (probably because I normally listen to it in Athens, and don’t associate it with Tallahassee when I’m typing my blog,) but I was on YouTube and I was like hello! This needs to be my Turn It Up Tuesday song for sure. So, get ready for some sweetness and listen to this:

Read This: “Now I’ll Tell You Everything”

The first book I read this year was kind of a bizarre experience. In January, I finally got my hands on a copy of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Now I’ll Tell You Everythingwhich is the final novel in the Alice McKinley series. Just like the author promised, years ago, readers find out…everything.

Be prepared, NITYE is a long one, but considering it’s the last and it has to take you through Alice’s college adventures and give glimpses throughout the rest of her life, it ought to be! I’ll admit, I haven’t read the last few titles in the Alice series, but a younger version of me still hanging out in my heart, just had to know what happened. Did Alice become a psychologist or a counselor, did she marry Patrick, what about Liz and Pamela and Gwen? How about Lester, was he a bachelor forever or what? And Alice’s dad and Sylvia what about them? Where did everyone move off to – what were they like in college? Who became parents, who kept in touch? And it was easy to get sucked right back into the story. Some of the plot points I was expecting, and then others were sweet surprises. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book if you haven’t read any of the other Alice books, but if you were a fan at any point in life, I think you owe it to yourself to see how Naylor wrapped everything up.  It was kind of bittersweet reading that last chapter. I’ll admit a few tears leaked out. I kind of felt like some part of my childhood was wrapping up, even if I’m not a child anymore.

When I was in middle school, my mom was awesome enough to drive me to a meet and greet Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was having at a Barnes and Noble in Florida. She signed one of my books, and took a photo with me, and I thought it was one of the coolest days ever. I remember reading on her blog when I was younger, that she did try to write ahead, “just in case” something were ever to happen, so fans would know how she wanted the series to end. (I always thought that was such a nice gesture.) Back then I tried to imagine where I’d be in my own life when I’d finally find out how Alice McKinley ended up. In a way, it made me feel more like a “grown up” then a lot of things in life have, but it also let me connect with the awkward tween who first identified with Alice and all of her embarrassing moments growing up. They seem like such a staple. I remember being so excited when some girlfriends borrowed the books from me after a sleepover. I felt like the books would help them through some things (as all the best books do!)

If you haven’t yet, check out in the final edition of Alice’s journey! As for you, I’m curious: did you read the Alice books when you were younger? Did you relate? Let me know!

And as a little bonus, here’s a photo flashback to when I met her at that B&N:

Turn It Up Tuesday, Listen to This: “Adore You”

I know Miley Cyrus’s “Adore You” is starting to get radio play now, and I don’t even care. They can play it as much as they want. When her latest album Bangerz was released on Spotify, this immediately became my favorite track on the album. It’s a shame the video is basically an homage to her obsession with herself, so I won’t subject you to the raunchy montage of her writhing under sheets videoing herself, but other than that – I’m all about it. It’s just sweet without being too sappy, and it’s catchy but not annoying. “Adore You” is like the perfect balance of a ballad. It’s not even a guilty pleasure because I’m not ashamed to declare my own adoration for this one.

Forget about the twerking, and all the media nonsense, and just turn this one up and give it a listen. Enjoy!

(Okay, since I can’t find a lyric version of this song, or anything I’m gonna have to share the video but just get past that and listen to the song.)

Throwback Thursday, Listen to This: “Night Moves”

I went back through my archives, and it seems somehow I have neglected to share with you all one of my absolute most favorite songs OF ALL TIME. Bob Segar’s “Night Moves” holds a very special place in my heart. I don’t even know if I could really explain my obsession with this one, but it’s ever present, never fading, and if you’re in a room/car/bar with me when it comes on you better believe we’re going to turn it up and sing along. So, it might be a little bit provocative but who cares? That didn’t stop Julie Cooper from a little calm down sing-a-long post earthquake on The O.C. This song just never gets old to me. It calls out to that reckless youthful side, and it reminds me of the hazy dreamy summer gallivanting and rendezvous we can all get wrapped up in. Or it can make a slow, cold, January winter day feel like the rush of summer. I might just…okay fine, I most definitely own this on vinyl so I can jam out on my record player. It’s Thursday, make it a happy one, and give yourself a little pick-me-up by tuning into this fantastic classic throwback.

Right around 3:08…oh, man.

Turn It Up Tuesday, Listen to This: “Sweater Weather”

The Neighbourhood’s catchy little song “Sweater Weather” isn’t a very obscure one as the radio tends to play it quite frequently here, but in case this lovely tune hasn’t made its way to your ears yet I wanted to share! I know it’s a little bit…”intense” might be the word for it? But there’s is just something completely alluring about this song to me. I can’t seem to get enough, and I’ve yet to find it possible to be over-played.  The song is featured on their album “I Love You” which I also highly recommend checking out.

Maybe it’s because it’s winter, maybe it’s because the chorus is endearing and makes me think of youthfulness, but this is a great song.

‘Cause it’s too cold
For you here and now
So let me hold
Both your hands in the holes of my sweater

Read This: The Book Thief

I’m big on reading books before seeing a film version, (if I plan on seeing the movie.) When I found The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was being made into a film, I knew it was time to give it another try. You see, I’ve had a paperback copy of the book on my shelves for years. Senior year of college, I tried to read and I was so confused by the narration in the beginning (I couldn’t figure out who was narrating, and I was fifty pages in and I just felt like the story was being lost on me.) So instead, when my housemates asked me for book suggestions and they’d borrowed a few others, eventually I passed on The Book Thief. I didn’t preface it with my difficulty (pretty sure this was/is a “me” thing.) I’d read so many great reviews online that I figured they’d probably love it, and what do you know? Of course, they did. This was 2010, and now here we are a few years later and stills from the movie pop up on Tumblr, and then came the trailer (which I tried to avoid as not to give away crucial plot points,) and I knew it was time.

A few weeks ago, I had my first consecutive days off that weren’t part of a busy schedule in quite awhile (it was Thanksgiving, my parents live at the beach and it’s pretty low key and chill – we ate, drank, watched football, and I read.) So it opened the perfect amount of time to finally return to The Book Thief. Even though I slightly recalled where I’d left off because my brain is weird like that I, started from the beginning. I hadn’t remembered it being 550 pages, though- I had my work cut out for me!

This is one of those beautiful, heart-wrenching stories, that just digs out a spot in your soul and then settles down to stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. The characters feel like a part of you. At least for me. It’s one of those stories that I’d hate to let my rambling self go into detail and ruin any small piece of it because it’s…such a delicate story. It deserves for the pages to surprise you. But I’ll tell you this – I was all “oh! I haven’t cried yet” telling my friend about it last Sunday afternoon in a relay of text messages, but then about twenty minutes later I found myself sobbing silently. Kind of like the time I read Jo Knowles See You at Harry’s but kind of worse. I had to lay in my bed and wait for the haze to clear from my eyes so I could keep reading.

So, there’s that -at least you’re warned of the possibility it might shatter your heart a bit.

This story is more than a German girl, Liesel, learning to read during World War II. It’s more than what the crimes of hate that were committed looked like through a child’s eyes. It’s more than childhood crushes. The Book Thief is a story that so preciously intertwines love and loss, friendship, death, life and and all of the things that make it magical and painful. The many, many facets that make up a personality, and each person’s unique story. The way we can form bonds with people that we never see coming. The power of language and words, and how we can build people up and make things better, or we can just as easily violently destroy.

I can’t recommend this beautiful novel enough. I can promise you it’s worth the read. I even saw it categorized in a book store the other day under, “Books that Will Change Your Life.” I have to say, they’re probably right. If you’re looking for a new read this year, and you haven’t checked this one out yet – give it a try!

Watch This? Her

The first time I saw the trailer for Spike Jonze’s new film Her, the music, and the beauty of the soft light and smooth transitions captivated me, but the actual storyline (once I realized what it was) turned me off. I figured, “maybe I’ll watch that one day when it’s on Netflix.” Though of course, now it’s awards season and curiosity has gotten the best of me. I wanted to see it for myself, if only to be in awe of the beautiful cinematography.

Yesterday, after a fun mid-morning brunch, I headed to the theatre for an early show. The theatre was mildly crowded, the audience a sprinkle of a variety of ages. The occasional giggle (usually in particular awkward scenes, probably to shift the tension of the uncomfortable moments,) rustling of candy boxes and popcorn bags, and a girl chewing ice in the seat in front of me, but other than that none of the usual chatter that sometimes buzzes throughout the darkness. I wonder if everyone else in the theatre was trying to process the film playing out in front of him, as well?

Joaquin Phoenix plays a man, Theodore Twombly, who is in the process of getting a divorce from his wife Catherine (played by Rooney Mara.) He’s in a lonely mostly socially isolated state, spending most of his evenings alone playing video games (that are completely interactive.) Then Theodore gets a new operating system for his computer, set-up as a female, Samantha (the voice of Scarlett Johansson) based off of a simple questionnaire. He quickly “bonds” with the O.S. and soon they’re in a self-described, “relationship.”

It’s bizarre but also doesn’t seem completely out of the question, you know?  Throughout the film, I kept having nagging thoughts about our society’s complete dependence on technology.  I had one of those urges to come home and deactivate all of my accounts – but in honesty, I like keeping in touch with people through them, and the key is obviously just to incorporate some moderation.

Theodore works for a company called beautifulhandwrittenletters.com.  The writers dictate letters into a microphone and they’re typed out in the “sender’s” handwriting.  The letters range from husbands missing their wives on work trips, to parents congratulating their children on graduation.  At first I thought, “wow! What an awesome job!”  But then, as someone who spent the past two mornings writing real cards and letters to friends – I found the idea completely disturbing. Some of the writers had been creating letters for families for decades.  People should be able to write these heart-felt sentiments themselves (in the movie, and in real life.)

At the same time, I found the whole premise kind of funny.  The film shows, bustling L.A. with thousands of people wandering around the lively city, and tons of them have these little earpieces in, talking not with the people around them, but to their computers with a little handheld device that looks like a foldable iPod.

During brunch, we discussed what it would have been like to go to college before cell phones.  Remember the days when there were just landlines for home phones, and caller ID didn’t exist? It seems strange now to think that it would be a surprise who was calling on the other end of the line, or that you’d have to make plans and set times and actually stick to them in order to meet up with someone in public to hangout.

I think overall, the need for true person-to-person interaction is clear.  The experiences we can’t live to the fullest through technology are plainly obvious.  There’s that invisible line between fascination at the capabilities of imagination and innovation, and the creepy part of taking it all too far – where we as a world become way too out of touch and distant from reality. It’s a reminder we all need to put our phones away and enjoy the moments we’re in and the company we’re sharing them with.

Her was beautifully made, and gives the audience a lot to think about, but ultimately I found the film kind of unsettling.  I was reminded of the 2002 film S1M0NE while I was watching, and combined with the act of checking my phone to see what time it was halfway through the film, (which I never do in theatres) are probably both signs that even if I wanted to like this one, maybe it’s just not for me. I can still appreciate that the visual aspects of the film were gorgeous, and the acting is great (think how difficult it must be to perform most of the scenes by yourself!) Also, maybe just a personal bit, but I’ll confess that I could go a long, long while before listening to Scarlett Johansson’s voice again. As I was exiting the theatre I overheard an elderly man seated in front of me exclaim “Is there a movie Amy Adams isn’t in?!” which I had to smile at because the same thought had occurred to me, as well. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out during the awards. I haven’t talked to anyone else who’s seen it yet, so I’m curious to hear what others thought about it. Please feel free to share in the comments!