March 28, 2017

Gilmore Girls Reunion on Netflix

Many mothers and daughters watched the iconic TV show, Gilmore Girls from 2000 to 2007. Netflix has wisely hired co-creators Daniel Palladino and Amy Sherman-Palladino to give fans a reunion mini-series that catches us up with the lives of Lorelei Gilmore (Lauren Graham) her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). No less than Time Magazine and Rolling Stone have written about this cultural phenomenon.

The old series, set in the fictitious Connecticut town of Stars Hollow, featured characters played by actors who continue to star in TV and films. Melissa McCarthy was Sookie, the chef at Lorelei’s charming little inn. Rory’s boyfriends included Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife), Jared Padalecki (Supernatural) and the marvelous Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us, Heroes) all of whom make appearances in this new four-episode series.

In truth, Kelly Bishop who portrays Lorelei’s mother is also a Gilmore Girl and is shown redesigning her life after the passing of her husband (Edward Herrmann who died in real life.) The current series is graced with cameos and small roles for celebrities such as Sally Struthers, Carole King, Todd Lowe plus Broadway veterans Sutton Foster and Christian Borle.

The emphasis may be on the “girls,” but men have important roles, too, such as Lorelei’s inn manager, Yanic Truesdale, town oddball Sean Gunn and the hunky Scott Patterson who plays Lorelei’s live-in boyfriend. The final Netflix episode left some with questions about how the show ends, but just let me say that history is again repeating itself with those Gilmore Girls. They may be tempted by the rich bad boys, but they end up with the salt-of-the-earth good guys. A happy ending indeed.

Tilly Vintage Boutique in Andersonville

Some of you may know of my passion for fashion and of my continual quest for affordable clothing and accessories.

I recently bought a consignment dress at another establishment that came without buttons or cuff links for the French cuff sleeves. What to do?

Walking my dog this past week, I popped my head inside the door of Tilly Vintage Boutique in Andersonville and asked the salesclerk if they had cuff links. “But, of course,” she said. I returned with the dress and without my big furry dog.

The salesclerk brought out trays of cuff links in both feminine and masculine styles. There they were: the perfect match for my evening dress for just $19.

There are shelves of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, hat and purses plus dresses, jackets and clothing from different eras that hang from the ceiling and walls. Weather permitting, mannequins and a clothing rack in front of the store beckon shoppers within.

Tilly’s used to be on Lincoln Avenue where I found an authentic evening gown in excellent condition from the 1920’s. The store is smaller in its Andersonville location, but continues to stock amazing fashion finds. Who knew recycling could be such fun? Or rather upcycling, according to owner Susan Lynch!

https://www.facebook.com/Tilly-189245661159776/

Simone Biles goes gold in the 2016 Olympic Games

Simone Biles has won 5 gold medals in the 2016 Rio Olympic in all-around, vault and artistic floor gymnastics as well as being part of the team called the “final five” which also earned gold.

Biles, 19 years old, was born to a mother who had addictions to drugs and alcohol and could not care for her children. Simone was raised by her grandparents in Spring, Texas and switched to home-schooling for her secondary education so she could train more. She has verbally committed to attending UCLA after the Olympics. Bravo, Simone!

Please enjoy one of her 2016 Olympic artistic gymnastic routines:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPeGftH2ftk&list=PLrEnWoR732-BHrPp_Pm8_VleD68f9s14-&index=1

Girlie World: Bras Galore

This post is decidedly not aimed at the male readership unless they want to buy their significant females a really thoughtful gift certificate.

I’d rather walk on glass than go bra-shopping, but a new dress necessitated finding an undergarment that didn’t show in the shoulder area.  I had driven by a new storefront on Lincoln Avenue that proclaimed Bras Galore. I tittered at the title, pun intended.  With high hopes for a positive experience, I entered the door and was met with hundreds of bras on racks. Where would I possibly start?

Not to worry, the clerks have you fill out a questionnaire so they can better suit your needs in terms of style, price, color and size. There are bras with or without underwires; bras with foam cups or lacy fabrics; strapless bras or ones that accommodate a low-backed dress, black, white or flesh colored bras and ones that have other colors or patterns. Unless, you know exactly what brand you wear, you really do need the services of a store employee because the selection can be overwhelming. The clerks also check for fit while respecting the customers modesty in the dressing rooms.

The prices at Bras Galore, although not cheap, are on par with department store lingerie, but the selection is wider and the clerks more helpful and knowledgeable. They also carry other intimate apparel such as panties, swim suits, night wear and exercise clothing.

If you want to feel “uplifted” in your next bra shopping experience, I recommend Bras Galore, although the name of the store still makes me giggle, just a bit.

http://www.brasgalore.com

Pinterest, yet another social media/image-oriented site

My new web addiction is Pinterest, a photo web-sharing site that lets you browse for recipes, fashion, travel, quotes, tattoos, or basically anything that can be shown as a list through photos and brief descriptions. Each little “pin” can be linked to a site with more information. If you get ambitious, you can start your own topic board and add other people’s pins to your lists.

As an example, I have been looking for vegan recipes and have compiled a series of recipes I want to try after browsing other Pinterest “pins.” I searched the site using the words “coconut,” “pudding” and “vegan” and was shown a variety of delicious sounding recipes.  I likewise typed in “foreign crime drama” and was rewarded with several suggestions. Some of my favorite shows were absent, so I may get ambitious and create my own “pins” but I’m not quite ready for that level of involvement….yet.

You can have great fun just typing in topics like “Sherlock Holmes quotes” and come up with pins that say “I need to go to my mind palace” or “There are always some lunatics about.”  If you are a fan of the “Outlander” TV series or books, type in “Scottish Highlands” and you will be rewarded with stunning photos and travel ideas for your trip to dear auld Scotland.

The founders of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra  and Evan Sharp are all men, but the majority of users (70%) are women. In the 2012 presidential election, Ann Romney and Michelle Obama both had Pinterest accounts to court the female vote.

Upon typing “2015 NFL Draft Picks,” a dizzying array of pins appeared so I know some men are also using this popular electronic scrapbook.

When I started typing “Great Pyrenees dogs,”  “collapsible bicycles” and “Teddy Roosevelt,” I realized that this pin-searching was getting out of hand. After all, I have to get cracking on that Vegan Basil Cucumber Gazpacho recipe I just found on Pinterest.

Girlie-World TV: Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce


After riding the wave of reality TV with such offerings as “Top Chef,” “Vanderpump Rules” and “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” Bravo TV is dipping their toe into the scripted series pool with “Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce” starring Lisa Edelstein playing self-help author Abby McCarthy who finds her marriage crumbling. Created by Marti Noxon who wrote for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel” and the third season of “Glee,” this dramedy explores older men dating younger women, older women dating younger guys, gay marriage, internet affairs and polyamorous relationships. Marriage, divorce, parenting, frenemies, and work vs. family life all figure into the plot lines.

Abby’s friends include Janeane Garofalo playing ball-breaking lawyer Lyla, Necar Zadegan as divorce lawyer Delia and Beau Barrett as ex-model Phoebe along with Patrick Heusinger as Abby’s gay brother Max who has kids with his African-American husband played by J. August Richards. Got it? Paul Adelstein (Scandal, Private Practice, Prison Break) is Jake, her all-too human soon-to-be-ex-hubby.

The guest stars/cameos are also notable with Bernadette Peters playing Abby McCarthy’s mother, C. Thomas Howell as Nate, Abby’s email crush and Carrie Fisher as her one-episode book editor.

There is nudity, bad language and sex scenes so this is not family-friendly viewing, but if you need something light with a bit of punch, there are worse ways to spend your time, like watching “The Real Housewives of……”

The show is currently being shown on Bravo TV. For previous episodes, go to iTunes, Amazon or the Bravo internet site via your cable TV provider.

Adults and kids alike warm up to Disney’s “Frozen” film


According to a grade school teacher of my acquaintance, little girls are crazy about the Disney movie “Frozen.” I can second that opinion since “Let It Go” is the number one over-requested song of girls 5 to 15 at my Friday night music job at Barba Yianni. The first hour there (7 to 8 PM) tends to be heavy on families with children of all ages. “You Are My Sunshine” is the most requested song by boys. Go figure!?

I decided to bite the ice cube and see what all of the “Frozen” fuss is about. The blockbuster film has your typical Disney two track entertainment with a straight-forward story line for the kids and little visual and verbal jokes for the adults.

Set in Norway and loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen,” the visuals feature gorgeous costumes, fjords, picturesque architecture and rosemaling, a Norwegian folk art. The amusing-looking horses with color blocked Mohawk manes are pretty close to how Norwegian fjord horses appear, aside from being taller than real-life in the movie.

Some jokes are decidedly juvenile (booger-eating, for example), but then the creators bring the adults back into the joke during the credits with this statement: “The views and opinions expressed by Kristoff in the film that all men eat their own boogers are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Walt Disney Company or the filmmakers. Neither The Walt Disney Company nor the filmmakers make any representation of the accuracy any such views and opinions.”

The creators have miraculously melded computer-generated images with hand-drawn animation giving a 3D effect to not only the characters, but to clothing and scenery. They went so far as to bring a live reindeer into the animation studio so they could study its visual characteristics.

A big reason to rejoice over the movie, is Jennifer Lee, the talented director who was also the sole screenwriter. Unbelievably, Ms. Lee is the first female to direct a full length animated Disney film and the first woman solo writer of a Disney screenplay since Linda Woolverton wrote “Beauty and the Beast” in 1991. Mickey Mouse has been a little chauvinist, wouldn’t ya’ say?

My only regret is not having seen this in a theater with surround sound and big screen images. My old tube TV just didn’t do the audio-visuals justice. The film was entertaining nonetheless despite my low tech presentation. Now I can be tired of the song “Let It Go,” at least in context. If you want to have an instant topic of conversation with any kid from five to fifteen, catch this current Disney animated classic.

Pop Music: Dental phobia playlist

At a recent dental exam, I heard the dreaded word “cavity” which started my mind down a phobic path of fear and loathing.  It’s not the possibility of pain that sends me into a panic, but the high-pitched sound of the drill. It conjures up memories of Laurence Olivier playing an evil dentist in the movie “Marathon Man.”
I decided to make a fluffy pop music playlist for my ipad so I could attempt to drown out the much-feared noise with ear buds.
Thanks to the alacrity and efficiency of my dentist, Dr. Hilliard Blank, I mercifully got to listen to only two songs. The rest of the music was a reward for enduring the procedure without screaming.

The ten songs are all by female singers including everything from Audra McDonald singing a John Mayer tune, to Linda Eder warbling a country tune, to the pop stylings of the Ditty Bops all the way to K. D. Lang singing the theme song from “Valley of the Dolls.” May you enjoy at least one of the songs in this crazy-quilt assemblage. I have included youtube links so you can check the songs out to see if you want to buy better recordings on itunes or amazon.

“My Stupid Mouth” by John Mayer, sung by Audra McDonald
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys_jkun6EUI

“Childhood Dreams” by Nelly Furtado
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0GdM7usJ1Q

“Stay Now” sung by Jem
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lEpask13MM

“The Dress” by Scott Alan, sung by Randy Graff
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INvYNgtCuqA

“Always” by Scott Alan, sung by Sutton Foster
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r45s_bEiN08

“Ding Dong” by Nellie McKay
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8NSZhTPAwk

“Let It Go” by Fauxliage
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_9Ua5mpllk

“Lifted” sung Linda Eder
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROJL6oSXekM

“Wake Up” sung by The Ditty Bops
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys_jkun6EUI

“Theme from the Valley of the Dolls” by Bacharach and David, sung  by K. D. Lang
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPmok_ZcgF4

Sara Gruen, Animal Writist

In 2001, Sara Gruen was laid off from her technical writing job and began trying her hand at fiction. Good thing because this dual-citizenship (Canadian and American), animal lover has given us four books that fit nicely on our popular fiction shelf.
“Riding Lessons” and its sequel, “Flying Changes” deal with a woman who was a competitive rider as a teenager but at age 18 had a serious accident that ended her career. The books revisit her 20 years later with her own troubled teen in tow. If you have young female readers who love horses, this may be just the ticket.

Her more adult third novel, “Like Water For Elephants” hit the stratosphere of success being published in 41 languages and was made into a star-studded movie adaptation with Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz and Robert Pattinson. (Her publisher at the time passed on it.) “Ape House,” her most recent work and an Oprah selection, is a fictional account of bonobos monkeys that know American Sign Language.
With light but graceful writing, Gruen takes us into worlds where animals and humans both bond and clash. Perfect for summer reading.

Riding Lessons (Avon Books)
Flying Changes (Avon Books)
Water For Elephants (Two Roads Books)
Ape House (Two Roads Books)

Orange Is the New Black on Netflix

Netflix is steaming ahead with its original programming, adding “Orange Is the New Black” to their catalogue. Created by “Weeds” creator ” Jenji Kohan, “Orange” is based on the real-life memoir of Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties who is sentenced to a 15 month prison term when she is caught transporting money for her drug-dealing girlfriend. Taylor Schilling is quite good as the white-bread, educated girl who winds up in jail, but it is the ensemble that really makes this series sing.

Pablo Schreiber (half-brother to Liev) plays a most despicable prison guard, Kate Mulgrew is cast as a Russian convict who runs the prison kitchen, Laura Prepon plays the aforementioned girlfriend and Jason Biggs of “American Pie” fame plays Piper’s bewildered fiancee. The inmates are a kaleidoscope of characters; “Crazy Eyes,” played by Uzo Aduba, a woman who decides Piper is going to be her new prison wife, Taryn Manning portraying a Bible-banging red-neck named “Pennsatucky,” and Michelle Hurst cast as Miss Claudette, Piper’s roommate, among others. The show explores issues of race, gender, religion and morality, but in a most entertainly subversive way. May there be a Season 2, and soon.