New Girl New Year – AKA How I Stopped Trying to Beat Them and Instead Joined Them

Good day to you my bloggy bloggy friends!

The new year is almost upon us, and soon we’ll start scratching out the 4 in 2014 before adding the 5. Of course, for the new year, I’ve decided to embrace the commuter life fully. Not like a resolution or anything. More like. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Netflix Stream TeamThis morning, while rolling into the city on my morning commute, I turned on Netflix to continue my New Girl marathon. I’m determined to finish season 3 in January so I can start on Gilmore Girls, and since Brian only SOMETIMES watches New Girl with me, I had to get creative with my watching schedule. Of course, being New Girl, I was laughing so hard that I felt bad for the other people on the train, much like that one time I was reading Jenny Lawson’s book on an airplane…and I realized…

I was becoming one of those people on the train. The people I sometimes can’t seem to stand.

The guy with the blasting headphones.

The chatty Cathy on the phone.

The lady with the sound turned on while playing Candy Crush.

The girl laughing hysterically while staring intently at Netflix on her phone.

Yes, that’s right. Me.

Luckily, I was NOT on the quiet car this morning. And it looks like if I plan to watch my favorite sitcom, I’ll have to steer clear of the second and second-to-last cars so that my laughter doesn’t warrant the most evil of dirty looks. Because even though I’m joining the noisemakers with my laughter, I’m not a jerk.

What shows make you laugh out loud? What’s your commute to work like? Are you streaming Netflix too? What should I add to my queue for next year?

While no one pays me to talk about Netflix, I am a Netflix ambassador. I received a one-year subscription and a device to stream movies and TV wherever I go to thank me for my participation on the Netflix Stream Team. Prior to this partnership, I was a paying member and personal advocate for this streaming service of joy.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

10 Things I Learned From Robin Williams Characters

My heart hurts today. I know that Robin Williams was not my personal friend, but he is one of the few actors who I spent the last 30ish years admiring and enjoying. I’m about to send myself on a serious Robin Williams movie marathon, starting with Dead Poet’s Society and working my way through as many nostalgic flicks that I can.

Photo from Eva Rinaldi

Photo from Eva Rinaldi

Interestingly enough, I was thinking about Mr. Williams on Sunday, when I posted an image with the phrase “carpe diem.” I meant it as a joke, but the message is still the same. Seize the day.

Robin Williams Carpe Diem Seize the Day

I thought it would be an apt tribute to discuss just some of the the very important life lessons that I learned from this Chicago native through his brilliant and beautiful character portrayals. Each role that he chose carefully crafted an epic view of the world as we know it, and it truly is magical when you combine them with each other.

  1. Words and ideas can change the world.
  2. Always keep windows open. Never ever ever close them.
  3. The bad days will remind you of the greatest pieces of your life.
  4. Be cautious and be daring and be wise.
  5. Find your happy thought and keep it in your heart for the days you need to fly.
  6. Seize the day.
  7. Families that have love are the ties that bind.
  8. Believe in magic and fairies and the power of love.
  9. Fight for your family.
  10. Humans are passionate. That is part of what makes us special.

And from the man himself, I was reminded of this:

Depression is real. The funniest, wisest person you know may be suffering deeply on the inside with little internal hope of escape. It may even be you. I encourage you to ask for help should you consider self-harm in any of its forms. As the very funny and very wise and often depressed Jenny Lawson reminds us, depression lies. Please don’t ever forget that. You are not alone.

The lack of negativity that I’ve seen in response to this tragedy is awe-inspiring. The world lost a bright light to the darkness, and the entire internet is hugging right now. Let this be a step toward the realization that there are many people who suffer from mental illness and they need support.

Go out there and seize the day, my friends. You only have this one life.

Were you as surprised and devastated as I was by the news of this wonderful comedian’s passing? What Robin Williams films, characters, or quotes resonate with you?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Review AKA That One Time I Saw a Movie Brian Wanted to See Before Him

Guardians of the Galaxy

One of the perks of being a blogger is getting to see movies a few days early so I can tell you all about them. In this case, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy on Tuesday. Without my deliciously geeky, comic-loving, Marvel-adoring boyfriend. Who was jealous like no other. To be fair, I told him I would decline and wait to see it with him if he asked me to. He didn’t.

Instead, I had to promise to keep all the excitement to myself. Until now. (Of course, after the slew of questions, pokes and prods from Brian, I revealed quite a few little tidbits of information. Whatever.)

Guardians of the Galaxy2

Look at those outlaws. Don’t they look like a bunch of A-holes? Because they totally are. Of course, I like to think that A stands for awesome, but that’s just me.

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Guardians of the Galaxy brings us back into the Marvel universe head first with an unlikely hero, the self-dubbed legendary outlaw Star Lord (Chris Pratt *swoon*) who attempts to steal a very precious relic from a space cave somewhere in the ‘verse (Oops. Wrong nerd reference. Gearing up for Gen Con hard core over here.) Of course, he’s not the only one vying for a piece of the action, and finds himself in space prison with a few other infamous characters.

Rocket and GrootRocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) take teamwork to a whole new level with their verbal/nonverbal communication and friendship. I figured Rocket, the talking raccoon would be the be-all-end-all of comic relief, but I was surprised and impressed that the entire ensemble held their own with humor. Groot, the tree/muscle/amazing-being-with-ridiculous-resilience being, captured my heart from beginning to end.

Starlord and GamoraGamora (Zoe Saldana), a genetically engineered being created as a weapon kicks major butt in this flick, taking on the most serious role in the movie with the least comic relief. Drax (Dave Bautista), the most serious character, takes everything literally, leaving room for plenty of jokes about sarcasm and sass.

From outlaws to heroes, the guardians work together to save a planet, and probably the entire universe from the dangerous infinity stone. Star Lord leads this ragtag band of heroes on the search for wealth, revenge and escape.

YonduThe rest of the cast is equally fantastic with Michael Rooker (anyone remember when The Walking Dead was cool?) as the morally gray Yondu, Karen Gillan (Whovian girl crush!) as the wickedly vicious Nebula, John C. Reilly as Corpsman Dey, Glenn Close as Nova Prime, Benicio Del Toro as The Collector, and Lee Pace as Ronan.

NebulaI laughed, I cried (I know, right?), and I sat on the edge of my seat (I’m lying-I comfortably sprawled across two seats) for the entire movie. The pop culture references were stellar. The soundtrack was amazing (Can someone PLEASE make me an Awesome Mix?). I saw it in 3D, but I suspect it will be just as delightful when I see in in regular 2D.

I really loved it. I thought it was light and fun with just enough action to make my boyfriend want to see it again. (Even though he hasn’t seen it once yet. Whatever.)

Verdict? Go see Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you hate nerds. And nerd movies. And nerd references. At which point I will call you Ogre. Because I know you’ll come around eventually.

Guardians of the Galaxy

  • Release Date: August 1, 2014
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

Are you planning on checking out Guardians of the Galaxy? What’s your favorite Marvel movie so far? If you’re not down with the Marvel universe, what movies are you looking forward to this month?

Disclaimer: No one paid me to say nice things. I’m also planning on seeing this flick again tonight on my own (OK, fine on my boyfriend’s) dime. All images were used with permission from Disney and Marvel Studios.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Maleficent Has Always Been My Favorite Villainess

While no one paid me to say nice things about this movie, I did have the opportunity to check it out earlier this week at no cost to me. All promotional pictures are used with permission from Disney to write about this film.

maleficent533ef68db974e (1)I’ve told you about my Maleficent obsession right? How I was this close to “meeting” the Disney World character version of her at the Halloween party, but we got in line too late? Or how I hunted down Maleficent pins when we were at Disney like nobody’s business?

Shop Maleficent Costumes, 2014's Favorite Villainess - Girls & Womens Costumes via Trendyhalloween.com

Well since the day they announced the Maleficent movie, I’ve been obsessing. Especially because it was scheduled to come out TODAY. My birthday. It’s like someone at Disney knew this movie was made for me. And because today is quite a busy day, I was lucky enough to go see it on Wednesday night for a pre-screening where they handed out Maleficent horns and offered photo ops. Because Disney is awesome and somehow I managed to make it on their list of movie-goers.

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Brian and I both really enjoyed Maleficent for what it was, a lighthearted, yet dark, re-telling of a classic tale. I read some of the critic’s reviews last night, which I thought were kind of laughable. No, this is not a “grown-up movie,” but grown-ups who like fantasy and adventure stories will love it.

maleficent536acd2305e68

I haven’t been an Angelina fan for the majority of her career (I’ll admit, I totally dug Tomb Raider), but she rocked this character like no one else could. She was frightening, vulnerable, and lovable all at the same time. Even as a less-evil Maleficent, the character is still my favorite villain.

maleficent531f6917afb22Brad and Angelina’s tiny human, Vivienne Jolie Pitt, was absolutely adorable in her first role. I read a really lovely article in People the other day about how they didn’t want to get the kids into acting, but it was really hard to find a toddler who wasn’t terrified of Maleficent (note: if you have tiny humans, and cartoon Maleficent scares them…this may not be the movie for them. I’d go for date night, if I were you) so they brought in Vivi, who did a lovely job.

maleficent531f691a69a55Elle Fanning’s Aurora complemented Jolie well with her bright smile and curious nature. I especially enjoyed her interaction with the creatures of the Moor.

maleficent53487af5e016fI was less a fan of the three fairies and their purpose in this version than anything else. Their visibility in the movie was brief and seemed more comical and nonsensical than purposeful. The head fairy was played by Imelda Staunton (Delores Umbridge to Harry Potter fans), which was seemingly fitting…if they hadn’t completely overhauled the fairies’ involvement in the tale. They even changed the names, which baffled me.

maleficent536acd1fc2c53The plot also changes from the original telling, and definitely changes from the Disney animation, but the idea truly resonates with the direction that Disney seems to be heading and I enjoyed that a lot. Brian noted that it was a definite female-centric movie and he couldn’t find a male character to identify with, but that he still really liked it.

Disney's "Maleficent"..Ph: Film Still..?Disney 2014The scenery and sets were stunning. I wanted to be there, and thanks to the 3D glasses, it felt like I almost was. The critics will tell you that the 3D isn’t great, but I thought it was pretty decent. I hate the swoop-de-doo that most 3D movies start with, and this movie kept it on a level ground. I liked that a lot.

So if you’re into Disney, villains, action, adventure, princesses and fairies? Go see this movie. There really is something for everyone (over the age of 8-ish). With dragons, epic battles led by a FIERCE Maleficent, magic and adventure, you’re going to love it.

Of course I wore the horns on the 20 minute walk back to the train...and the 40 minute train ride.

Of course I wore the horns on the 20 minute walk back to the train…and the 40 minute train ride.

Are you planning to go see Maleficent? What other movies are coming out this summer that make your heart go pitter-patter?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

If You Have a Soul, You’ll Love Million Dollar Arm

Maybe that title is a little much…but I REALLY enjoyed this movie. My girlfriend, CC and I went to see it earlier this week courtesy of Disney and the movie people who sometimes let me see movies before they hit the theaters.

Jon Hamm in Million Dollar Arm

I saw a commercial for this movie last night and it said “audiences everywhere are cheering!” And I believed it. Because I was cheering too. This is one of those movies that hits you with all the feels. The happy, the sad, the angry, the hopeful, the funny, and the dreamy.

Jon Hamm in Million Dollar Arm

Million Dollar Arm gives baseball one of its most heartwarming films since…um… if I said Rookie of the Year, would you hate me?

Jon Hamm in Million Dollar Arm

This movie is the true story of sports agent, JB Bernstein, and his plot to turn 2 Indian cricket players into baseball pitchers. Not to spoil the ending for you, but he eventually succeeded, and in the process, became a better human being for it. I LOVE true stories with happy endings and a real-life love story (oh yeah, there’s that too).

Million Dollar Arm

Of course, CC and I were laughing more than anyone else in the theater…but we didn’t care. There were some great fish out of water moments that had us in stitches.

So go see this. If you have a soul, you’ll adore Million Dollar Arm.

I did.

No one paid me to say nice things. The images used in this post are borrowed with permission from Disney. I have a soul. It feels happy when I share movies I adore.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I’ve Got Friends in Low Places…

Friends come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

I’m blessed to have found all of the above. Yes, even the seasonal friends. Sure, they didn’t have some BIG part of me becoming me, but I sure enjoyed the ride.

For Day 13 of the 25 Songs in 25 Days, we’re asked to share a song that reminds us of a former friend.

With my chosen song, I think of many former friends all at once. Back when my parents owned a bar and I was an Irish princess. Everyone’s your friend when you own the bar. It’s when you stop owning the bar that you discover your true friends. The lifetime friends. And even the reason friends. The rest were just there for a season. And that’s okay.

When I was a little girl, dancing around the bar after my daddy’s softball games, playing with the other kids, we’d listen to the old-school jukebox and rock out to the 80’s music we loved. Of course, we weren’t the only ones plugging money into the machine (money we got from nice bar patrons who would hand us dollars to play whatever we wanted). And more often that I would have liked at the ripe old age of 8, Garth Brooks would croon about his friends in low places. And you know what?

He was right.

I may have hated that song when I was 8, but by the time I was an adult, consuming my own legal beverages at the bar, I was singing along to the tune with the best of them. I had friends in low places, where the whiskey drowned and the beer chased my blues away…From Peoria to Lombard I had friends at bars across the state. And that was my world for a spell. An intoxicated, swaying world. But it was fun. And I still have some of those friends. But not all. And such is life.

What songs remind you of old friends?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Real Jungle Harmony…Just the Bare Necessities Around Here…

Day 9 of the 25 Days of 25 songs really sung to me (puntended).

A song that gives you hope.

I knew it had to be a Disney song, because nothing makes me happier than Disney music.

And while I was getting my lunch ready with my pal, CC, we were talking about my incessant need to dig my back/shoulder into the corner of the wall to get the knots out…and she told me I was just like Baloo…

And Brian and Baloo ARE buddies…

Brian and Baloo

Then she started singing The Bare Necessities…

Done.

“Forget about your worries and your strife!”

“You’re workin’ too hard!”

Blog Friends, what songs give you hope?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Do You Want to be a Polyester Bride?

I’m only kind of bad at this 25 songs in 25 days. But I couldn’t miss out on a song that reminds you of a best friend. Sure, I just talked about her on Sunday…but she’s just that awesome.

Because I finally have my computer back, this is way easier to copy from Twindaddy’s Blog (Go read about him, and check out other participants in the 25/25 music challenge.)

I don’t know if you remember, but I’m a wretched bouquet toss vixen. I catch a bouquet like nobody’s business. Katie and I fought for bouquets for years (and I pretty much always won. Because I’m vicious.)

Brooke bouquet Toss

So when Katie’s wedding came (it really only took FOREVER for her hubs to do the proposal thing…I mean… I heart you Katie’s husband!) and I was preparing to catch her bouquet (vying for it right next to my ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend), I was excited that her bouquet song was Polyester Bride by Liz Phair. Because that song is awesome. And it was one of our many hairbrush songs freshman year.

The week of Katie’s wedding, she e-mailed me the following note along with the passage that I would be reading at her wedding:

“I heart you so much. And that bouquet is yours, BTW. I haven’t decided yet whether I’m actually going to toss it, or just turn around and hand it to you.”

Of course, Katie wisely opted to throw the bouquet in my direction, so as not to cause bodily injury to her other wedding guests. Because…

It’s not what catching the bouquet means…it’s about taking out the competition.

catching the bouquet

On another positive note, I received permission to write about my Breaking Bad experience a few weeks ago. You’re welcome in advance.

What songs remind you of your bestie? Are you a bouquet (or garter) fiend?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

We Could Live Beside the Ocean…

Today’s 25/25 music is a song that calms me down.

When I was in college, I was a hot mess. Some things never change, I guess…but my best friend on the planet knew just what to do when I was freaking out. Katie and I would have girly dance parties, singing into hair brushes and dancing on desk chairs.

When Lisa Loeb and Liz Phair didn’t cut it, though…Katie brought out the big guns. She brought out the Everclear.

Somehow, there was nothing in this world back in those college days that could make me relax more than watching Katie (and eventually joining in) with her choreographed dance to 
Santa Monica.

It was one of those dances where you act out the actions of the lyrics, so OBVIOUSLY it was awesome. Maybe one day I’ll convince her to YouTube it… Until then, you can watch the normal video and imagine the moves.

Blog friends, is there a tune that calms your crazy?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I Don’t Really Hope it Gives you Hell…

For Day 2 of the 25 songs in 25 days, I’m supposed to choose a song that reminds me of my most recent ex boyfriend. Except that it’s been more than 3 years since my last days as a singleton…and even longer than that since my last boyfriend before Brian.

So it seems odd to bring that up…plus I’ve already introduced you to him…and I was kind of bitchy about it…you remember my ex boyfriend and his manwife, right?

But a challenge is a challenge…and I’m not one to back down on Day 2 now, am I?

(Insert 37 minute pause to think about this. Also, during this time, include a Google search for best breakup songs of 2009…because there aren’t really any songs that make me think of this guy.)

End result:

Gives You Hell by The All-American Rejects

When The Bartender broke up with me, I wasn’t heartbroken; I was angry. It fueled a crazy need to be on my own for a while. It pushed me to become president of the Jaycees. It gave me a list of things I didn’t want in a boyf. And in the end, it was the kick I needed to remind me that I deserved real love. And really…I won. Because I have Brian. But for a long time, I hated him for choosing some college girl over me. So yeah. That song.

Do you have an ex that you don’t really ever think about? Or one that you do? Do you feel competitive with them? Did you win?

Go visit Twindaddy’s Stuphblog for more participants in the 25/25 challenge!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!