Friday, February 27, 2015

Netflix Documentary Hits and Misses Vol. 7 (February 2015 Edition)

February in a word: Unpredictable. Another word: Overwhelming.  Despite being housebound Grey Gardens style by the universe (destined to live out the winter in loungewear and slippers), I haven't been racking in as many Netflix documentaries as I could have. Therefore, as with the days on the February page of the calendar...this month is gonna be pretty skimpy. I promise, you'll survive.

And The Oscar Goes To... A
My intention for this month was to watch all the Oscar nominated documentary features, and that didn't this is your consolation prize.  [Tangent: I had only watched Finding Vivian Maier, which I loved but intend to watch CitizenFour and Virunga really soon. I just gotta prepare to be in the mood, because I have a feeling neither is as fun as a movie about Irish Dancing children.] I assume all people will love this movie, which discusses the history on a category to category basis of the Oscars,  but then again I also assume all people love awards shows. They don't...and I try to be at peace with that. However, if you are at all interested in film, then I think you will like this one..also it's under an hour and a half, which is good for those with a short attention span.

When Strangers Click- A+
Speaking of short awesome docs...I give to you one of the great movies about insane online love stories. I haven't watched this one in over a year, but I feel like I always want to discuss it with Jamie who has never seen it and never can. A few weeks ago, I decided to finally nip that in the bud. As expected he had the WTF face on for a grand majority of this movie that is basically a montage of Catfish episodes gone right. [Tangent: My brother has been in town from California all week and this morning I learned he had never seen Catfish: The Series before. Long story short, that is basically how I have spent my day...remedying that deficiency in his life, but pulling all the "greatest hits" off Amazon Prime.] My favorite vignette from this film is the man who met his future soulmate in second life. [Tangent: If you are currently scratching your head after hearing that yourself a favor and watch Life 2.0. It's on Netflix and will fill in the blanks.] He is a basically a rock star in second life, but a 50 year old swedish goofball in real life. I dare you not to have his "hit song" in your head for at least 24 hours after watching this movie.

The Institute- A
For the same reason I have a lot of books on my shelf, I initially picked this one because the cover was pretty. I'm a simple kinda gal. But it was icing on the cake that this movie was about something interesting and bizarre. The Institute follows and deconstructs the  Jejune institute, which was a social experiment (and some think a culty one) that grew out of San Francisco (where many a wack job/brilliant idea is born.) The pillar of Jejune is that people randomly get called to go to an innocuous office building then sent on a wild goose chase scavenger hunt to illustrate that life is all about the journey. I love the idea of deliberate nonchalance and actually think there is a lot of merit to the principles. In discussing it with my coworkers the day after I watched it, I realized I sounded like a crazy prepare for that, but watch it anyway. It's good.

Women Aren't Funny- B-
I had really really high hopes for this doc where comedianne Bonnie McFarlane approaches male and female funny people and poses the question "Are women funny?" The concept and bits of it were awesome. On one hand, I was impressed with the cross-section of comedians they talked to from Wanda Sykes to Artie Lange and I think it was an important question to ask [Tangent: I really hate that being a woman and having a sense of humor is still considered a novel concept by so many.], however it just wasn't as funny as I had hoped. Yes, I realize, it's a documentary and meant to inform and enlighten rather than entertain, but I wondered if it was funnier if it would have proved Bonnie's point a little better. 

Bill Cunningham New York A+
Not sure if it is because I am not from NYC or if it's because I'm not the biggest fashionista [Tangent: I love clothes, but designer names mean nada to me. My current outfit is The Limited via Goodwill, so there's that.] , but I had never heard of Bill Cunningham. I'm sure that's a disgrace to a certain demographic. Does it make it any better that immediately after watching the film,  I wanted him adopt me as his granddaughter and allow me to ride around in his pocket while he bikes around the big apple snapping photos of strangers? He is seriously the cutest thing on the planet. Everything about him. His "confirmed bachelor lifestyle." His zany pack of friends [Tangent: Dear god, that Dandy fella is haunting!] His love of fashion, yet his proclivity to wear only disposable suits. I promise, male and female alike, I think everyone will fall in love with this movie and this man.

To Russia with Love- B
Remember a few months ago, I vowed to throw some sports documentaries into the mix. Initially I thought that meant some of those ESPN 30 for 30 docs (because despite being about athletics, I have heard they are really interesting) but then I got distracted by something that seemed more my this movie helmed by sparkly ice wizard Johnny Weir. The movie is all about the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia [Tangent: If you know me, you know that I am far from a sports fantatic, but Olympic events are my one exception.] and how it impacted several athletes who happen to be gay. Although I knew that Russia was not exactly the San Fran of Eastern Europe, I didn't know how stringent their anti gay legislation was. My favorite parts were the early scene transitions where Johnny Weir, winter angel esquire, was dramatically skating. I guess now that I have watched this and The Price of Gold, I have to officially branch into non-skating sports docs.

Jig- B(ish)- C+
If you have ever read any of these Netflix roundups, you know that I love pageantry and competitive children with unorthodox hobbies, so this movie about the inside world of the world Irish Dancing Youth championships seemed like a no brainer [Tangent: Joining the ranks of Magic Camp...] It sat in my queue for a long time because Netflix was classifying it more with twee kiddie movies than it was documentaries, and although I am not above that sort of thing (in any capacity), it gave me pause. Finally, I gave in one night. Although I was mesmerized by all the legs flailing akimbo, I was secretly hoping for more dramatics and terrible stage parents, but on the whole the children all seemed pretty well rounded and dedicated. Darn.

Craigslist Joe- A
If there is one core truth about me, it is that I love a challenge, so I am generally drawn to docs in the vein of SuperSize Me where the filmmaker gives himself a span of time to jump out of his/her comfort zone and adhere to a lifestyle change with very strict parameters. In this movie, the Joe in question gives up his home, money and belongings (except for a cell phone and laptop) for one month to live his life only by things he found on Craigslist on the free/barter section. [Tangent:  I questioned why he took on this challenge in December when it's colder than a penguin foot outside, but I guess he wanted to make it as challenging as possible.] Over the course of the movie he participated in ride shares, volunteer opportunities and day jobs that took him from one end of the country to the other. As someone that has bought and sold on Craigslist many a time, I am glad that this movie reinforced that it is not all closet rapists and murderers- Craigslist can foster a sense of community.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I've Been Keeping Secrets- HELLO GIGGLES!!

So you guys...I have been harboring a pretty big secret for the last few weeks...and unlike Harry Potter, I am not great with chambers of secrets. [Tangent: My boyfriend would be so proud of me making a Harry Potter reference...even tough I am positive it was WAY OFF!] After years of sucking up and submitting articles to Hello Giggles, I have gotten published on their site. Here is my first groundbreaking article about what the Men of Parks and Recreation would look like with the Tiger Beat Treatment! [Tangent: Groundbreaking journalism...I know, but I had a zany idea and ran with I hope it works.]

I'm really excited...probably moreso because the next time I publish with them I will be a regular contributor, and you won't have to flip to page 3 to see my byline! This is such a huge deal for me and I am so so so excited. Thanks to those of you I have told that have been excited and/or pretended to care.  This blog is my first love and you guys have been nothing but supportive as I stretch out to contribute to Nerds and Nomsense and now Hello Giggles. Will I run out of topics?!??!? AGHH!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

This One Goes Out to the Ones I Love - A Giveaway and Valentine Roundup

Valentine's Day and the period prior to it has in the past inspired some of my favorite posts [Tangent: Like that time I wrote about my favorite pop culture valentines or  the oversized stuffed animal epidemic, the thing where people buy themselves valentine's gifts from their dogs or that creepy singing, dancing Valentine's Ke$ha monster. Seriously so much to write about!] Sincerely, this only brings attention to the fact that this February I am slacking hardcore, and for that I am sorry. Because of this I want to share some of my favorite spins on classic and frankly trite flowers/candy/card that really scream "mister lova lova!" from the rooftops. I also have a surprise Valentine for one of my followers! [Tangent: OK...I know it's a little late in the game, but people procrastinate right? And these things work for all occasions!]

Here are some things I am loving this time of year:
 Pop Culture on Paper from Meet Me in Shermer is probably my favorite card seller on Etsy [Tangent: And this coming from a girl who buys a lot of cards on etsy. Seriously I get absolutely no kickback from this, but I will probably at some point buy every card in her collection]. I found her store while searching for a birthday card for my honey and ended up buying in bulk. They come for all occasions so if you don't want a love card, but instead want a Weekend at Bernie's themed birthday card...they have that too...because who doesn't want that? 

The Bouqs So I am usually pretty anti-ordering flowers for delivery because well...most bouquets never really look like what you ordered and they jack of the prices to the high heavens...oh and I am cheap. However, after seeing The Bouqs on my Friday night institution Shark Tank, I have become a fan. In the last few months, I have ordered twice for people and every time I was impressed. They have a flat rate of $40 a bouquet and you don't have to go through any flower shop- They ship straight from the volcanoes they grow on in 3-4 days [Tangent: yes, you heard that right...volcanoes. I wish I understood horticulture and could explain that, but just the concept seems badass, so I am onboard.]. If you need them sooner, you choose from their California farm and it's a slightly higher price. [Tangent: Full disclosure, these are a sponsor and if you click on the banner to order them (or my links) I will get a kickback, but it's a company I stand by and did cheer on in the Shark I believe in them.]

So now, since you have a card and flowers, if you are going for full on cliche- you need why not get boozy homemade marshmallows from Wondermade!!??!  Dear god, these are so yummy and they even make these fancy dancy champagne flavored ones capped in actual gold dust. [Tangent: This is a much better way than Goldshlager to get the flavor of alcohol and gold simultaneously...though my 21-year-old former self might disagree!] If you don't want to go for that elite limited edition flavor, try one of the classics.  I have had several, and they are all delightful.

Oh and to REALLY make it up to you that I have been a horrible blogger...I have a giveaway: A Valentine from me made exclusively for V-Day by Nashville arbiter of the fun, cute and creepy:  Olivia Frankenstein [Tangent: Crystal, the lady behind the brand is BFF with my friend Rae.] . See, I'm buying your love!  Olivia Frankenstein is a business that sells things that have a loving nod to all things horror and vintage, and when she came out with this limited batch of valentine pouches, I couldn't decide on just ONE of you will get the cute mini pouch (it could be used as a wallet or for jewelry) with a terrifying clown on it- ONE THAT LOVES PUNS!

I will also throw in some other fun surprises to make you feel loved if your significant other is crappy at gift giving...or so that you won't have to buy yourself a gift and pretend it's from your pet! It'll be a Belated happy Valentine's Day! THIS WILL BE A SHORT GIVEAWAY AND ENDS SATURDAY, FEB 14! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Kids are Alright

Recently a friend texted me and asked if I would like to speak to her son's school about disability. I couldn't say yes fast enough, because frankly...
  1.  I love talking and rarely do people in my actual life want me to do so. [Tangent: If anything, all I hear is, "Ughh...rewind it. Kimmie was talking and I missed that part of the movie!"]
  2.  I think it's important to put disability in front of kiddos and make it accessible and not scary or strange. 
  3. I did it for my friend Amber's school a few years ago and thought it was super fun...mostly because 6th graders have really great questions like "How do you grocery shop?"
[Tangent: Let's face it- no one wants to be the boring adult lecturing them. I was fully am prepared that these kids would not be not listening and just passing notes the whole time....oh preteens even do that anymore? I bet they text or kik message or tweet or something. Maybe I will be snapchatted with the caption "Adults R Lame. LOL!"  Who knows! When I was in school, at some point I remember listening to one of the members of Lynard Skynard talk to our school about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Brilliant and riveting, right? Well...I was a youth and likely not paying attention, so I cannot even tell you who it was because at that point if it wasn't currently on TRL...I was not interested. I had no sense of history at that moment in time.]

My sister teaches middle school, and from her is an understatement that I was a little worried that these kids would be rolling their eyes or filing their nails or Kik! messaging or doing something similarly disrespectful while I tried to enlighten them to the wondrous world of disability awareness. [Tangent: My friends on Facebook all urged me to perform a rap...because nothing would make me seem cooler than attempting to get all street in that Catholic school gymnasium!] 

a rendering of what that would look like
Thankfully, this crop of kids was super proper and throughtful and sweet. They also made it easier on me because I had an hour to fill...and only 12 minutes of material to go over. THANK ALL THAT IS SACRED THAT THEY WERE INQUISITIVE!!! 3/4 of the session was spent fielding questions, where only about one third of them had to do with disability. Although, I was asked some really thoughtful questions that seemed way deep for a girl who is not even a teenager yet [Tangent: i.e. "Why do you have a positive attitude and get outta bed everyday?" ....That one floored me a bit.] Here are some of my favorite random questions I was asked.

  1. Do you like Dr. Who? 
  2. Do you keep a garden? 
  3. Are you allowed to keep small pets? 
  4. What do you like to order at Sonic? 
  5. Have you seen American Sniper
I guess preteens are pretty awesome, despite the fact that I got some stink eyes when I admitted to them that I loved Taylor Swift. Oh well.
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