Try This Thing Podcast

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I was never content to run just one blog, so it should come as no surprise that having discovered the world of podcasting, I wanted to try one of my own (in addition to the fun show I do with Lindsay: She’s Married She’s Single).

Today I launched Try This Thing, a recommendation podcast in which I review some of my favorite books, movies, tv shows, and video games.  I will usually be choosing things that are outside of mainstream appeal, because we don’t really need one more podcast talking about Avengers.

…Although if I someday create an episode about Avengers, well.  I sold out, I don’t care!

Today I released TWO episodes about the things most likely to be on my mind at any given moment:  The Lymond Chronicles and Black Sails.  Next week I will release the first of a mini-series in which I will try to summarize the plot of Final Fantasy 7.  A diversity of interests!

You can subscribe to Try This Thing on Apple podcasts or else listen online at PodBean.

 

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She’s Married She’s Single Podcast

My friend Lindsay and I have launched She’s Married She’s Single, a podcast about lifelong friends with drastically different lives and perspectives!

I’m very excited to start this new creative project, both because it will give Lindsay and me a fun reason to regularly keep in touch (the last time I moved to a different country, we wrote letters to each other’s blogs in a project called Letters Between Friends) and because I hope it will create opportunities for married and single people to talk to each other about what they love about their life stage and what they wish they had.

Our first episode, Getting to Know Us, is available on Apple Podcasts.  Check it out today!

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Unless there is a huge announcement, I will not be plugging each new podcast episode on this blog.  However, there are several ways you can keep in touch with us!

Follow us on Twitter:  @SMSSPod
Follow us on Instagram:  @ShesMarriedShesSingle

This is a passion project for us, and we rely upon the generosity of our Patreon donors to fund a better sound for our listeners with professional audio equipment and programs.  A gift of any size is hugely appreciated, and rewards are available at each level of donation!

Finally, we hope to have regular Q&A episodes in which we answer questions about us personally or about marriage/singleness generally.  Email us at shesmarriedshessingle@gmail.com to send in your question!

MoviePass, the Movie Theater Subscription You Need to Try

Several months ago, a friend recommended that I check out MoviePass, a Netflix-esque card and app that gives you access to one movie in theaters per day for the low price of $10 per month.  I was about to spend three months in a foreign country, but as my return date approached and award season movies were filling my podcast queue, I decided to give it a try.

READER.  This is such a good deal!!  If you see at least two movies in theater per month, MoviePass more than pays for itself.  I cannot imagine how it is financially lucrative, and I can only assume that prices will someday be raised.  So now is the time to take advantage of this amazing deal!

In my first month using MoviePass, I’ve seen 1. Call Me By Your Name (the sexiest and most accurate First Love movie I’ve ever seen), 2. Lady Bird (a perfect depiction of what it’s like to be a teenage girl), 3. Coco (a beautifully animated story about Mexican culture and the importance of family), and the premiere of 4. Black Panther (it lives up to all of its hype omgggg)!

PROS

  • MoviePass promises “Any movie, Any theater, Any day,” and so far I’ve found that to be completely true.  My small Midwestern city allows MoviePass at all of its theaters, though some require the physical card and others need only the app.
  • This is especially great for watching favorite movies multiple times in theaters, catching up on award season films, or checking out movies in which you wouldn’t normally invest money.

CONS

  • After signing up online at moviepass.com, you have to wait up to two weeks for your physical MoviePass card to show up in the mail.
  • If you want to cancel your subscription, you cannot rejoin for another nine months.

TOTAL SAVED

Call Me By Your Name ($8.75)
Lady Bird ($7.00)
Coco ($7.00)
Black Panther ($6.75)

MoviePass (-$10.00)

= $19.50 SAVED

What I Read | JANUARY 2018

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The Queen’s Thief Series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, Thick as Thieves) by Megan Whalen Turner

This is my go-to comfort series, and I reread them when two of my friends in Greece decided to read them as well.  We literally had parties where we talked about the books for hours and fell all over ourselves squealing about Eugenides’ perfection.  They are children’s adventure stories with a political backstory that becomes increasingly important throughout the series, and seriously.  Eugenides is the embodiment of my Ideal Fictional Hero and I cannot even hold it together any time he does anything.

51IpIExqbQL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Pegasus by Robin McKinley

This is an unfortunately cut-off first book in a series that I assume is leading to a human/pegasus romance that I…was super into??  McKinley’s ability to create lush fantastical and creative worlds is very evident here, and I’m really disappointed that there seems to be little possibility of a sequel, just as the political aspect of things were heating up!  I wanna know if humans and pegasi can coexist when led by representatives of their species that can speak telepathically!

6a016760e4a142970b01676103f988970bThe Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart

This was one of my favorite childhood movies, so I was curious how the novel that inspired the Disney movie held up.  While mostly similar in plot, Stewart’s novel feels more grownup, to the point that I believed a devastating plot twist that fortunately turned even twistier.  A perfect book for those of you who like murder mysteries set on Greek isles!

516RKT4NIAL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr

The final conclusion that Rohr reaches “Everything is holy” feels incredibly satisfying and encouraging after a deep dive into the relationship of the Trinity (both amongst themselves and with humans) and how that informs all of life.

2337457The Art of Crossing Cultures by Craig Storti

I read this as I was flying back from Greece, and it was incredibly validating to see my cultural experiences laid out on the page before me.  It helped me to see what I did well and what I did poorly while trying to adapt to a foreign culture, and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone considering living in a country not their own.

a328d7c9caf2857e082fe981af6df5b8Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

I read this because *ahem* it was a significant plot point in the amazing television show Black Sails, and I’m glad I did.  It’s a bit like the book of Proverbs, and there were quite a few bits of wisdom that I really took to heart, including this one:  “But to get back up when you fail, to celebrate behaving like a human – however imperfectly – and fully embrace the pursuit that you’ve embarked on.”

31207017Love Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Half teenage romance, half social commentary, I didn’t like this book as much as I should have.  Everything felt a little too perfect, and I couldn’t help wanting a bit more grittiness in a novel about hate acts and terrorist attacks.  But it’s a fun quick read, and well worth a day’s read.

 

What I Read | DECEMBER 2017

22-secret-history.nocrop.w710.h2147483647The Secret History by Donna Tartt

If you like stories about pretentious young adults screwing up their lives, you will love this book.  Luckily, I do and I did.  A small group of classicist students try to recreate a bacchanal, which leads to a string of murders and lies that grows beyond their control.  It’s engrossing and horrible and wonderful, and I’m now going to have to read everything else Tartt has written.

817iFfLhJ+LThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

After a lukewarm reaction to this movie ages ago, I was happy to discover that I like the book quite a bit more.  It’s relational sci-fi, which isn’t too common of a genre, but should be.  In a Benjamin Button-esque way, I liked seeing Clare and Henry meet up at various ages and times, first as child and adult, meeting in the middle, then growing apart in the opposite direction.  Although it plays with a few sci-fi ideas, my favorite was the idea was compulsive time traveling as a genetic disorder attempting to be cured.  This book was fun, sad, and romantic – a great holiday read!

61VBnB-U+JL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To by Lillian Daniel

This woman is a spitfire, and I loved it.  This book is all about what’s on the tin – she’s a liberal pastor who embraces people of all kinds of lives, and she’s tired of apologizing for all the evils the church has committed over the centuries, and that some continue to commit today.  She makes a compelling case that we live in a new age where young people have grown up outside of the church and need to hear WHY it’s worth considering (because of community, and a connection with the sacred, and a calling to higher, deeper life) instead of hearing all the things other people have done poorly.

51-RupZrb3LStrong Women, Soft Hearts by Paula Rinehart

I bought this years ago, and I wish I’d read it then.  It’s an excellent book, but a lot of its themes of forgiveness, vulnerability, and powerlessness felt like retreads of the 12 Step work I’ve been doing for the past two years.  Still, I very much recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to interact assertively with the people and events that life throws at you while also remaining open despite some of those things being painful.

51W3KFEXGTL._SX281_BO1,204,203,200_Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody

Leant to me by a friend, this true story of an American woman trapped in Iran when a vacation with her Iranian husband turns into an imprisonment.  I didn’t like it at first, since her initial reaction to Iranian culture was entirely disgust, but over time it becomes apparent that this is (somewhat) influenced by her fear and anger.  She does wind up finding people she enjoys or empathizes with, which makes the story take an interesting turn because she fears she will grow complacent and abandon her plan to escape back to America.  Really interesting book, but it did unfortunately throw fuel on the fire of my “you can never know if the person you marry will drastically change!!” fear.

 

Star Trek: Discovery Chapter 1

I’ve heard some Internet backlash about the newest Star Trek show, mostly centering around it being too dark.  However, since this is my first Star Trek experience (besides the J.J. Abrams movies), I found it really interesting and exciting.

It is, definitely, dark.  The first chapter of this show centers upon the Federation’s war with the Klingons, with the ongoing question of what sacrifices are worth making in pursuit of victory.  This includes animal cruelty, genetic modifications, and personal health sacrifices.  There is also the darkness inherent in acts of war.  Some of these, like a plot about sexual assault against a male victim, felt fresh and worth telling.  Others, like a throwaway line about what happened to central character’s corpse, went too far for me.

But this show isn’t all darkness.  Its characters are explorers and scientists who have been thrust into a war – they are still broadly optimistic and in awe of the world’s wonders.  While it does take a couple episodes for the U.S.S. Discovery’s crew to trust each other, they eventually become a really lovely team of diverse friendships and relationships.

Speaking of diversity!!  Star Trek: Discovery continues the franchise’s desire to show a better future world in AMAZING ways.  We begin with two female leaders of color, one Asian and one black, and it is a delight to watch them be smart and support each other.  Although one is soon replaced by a white man, it is worth noting that he is…the only straight white man in the cast?  At one point, I was shocked to see two straight white men sharing a scene together because that was such a rarity in this show, and then I later realized that one of them is actually of Pakistani descent.  It is so incredibly amazing to see such gender and racial (and alien) diversity played entirely normally.  That our show is led by a black woman is an incredible gift.

This first chapter is only nine episodes long, and each one is better than the one before.  If you are at all interested in the new series, I strongly suggest committing to this chapter in its entirety.  If you still don’t like it by the end of episode 9, it is not for you.  But for those that are turned off by the darkness of the first episodes…keep going.  I think you may come to love it as I did.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

It has been over a week since The Last Jedi was released, so if you haven’t seen it by now I honestly don’t understand your priorities.  But for those of you who have not, STOP READING.  This post is pretty much entirely made of spoilers.

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I LOVE LEIA

Whereas the two men from the original trilogy deal with their problems by running away, Princess General Leia stays in the action, leading the Resistance and clinging fiercely to hope despite all evidence to the contrary.  It’s no wonder the world has fallen in love with Leia, and perhaps even more so, with Carrie Fisher.

So much of this movie plays as a love letter to her, which is astonishing since it was completed before Fisher’s death.  Clearly, the woman is beloved and this film wants to honor her properly.  Was I the only one who thought-screamed, “That’s my Bipolar Space Mom!!!” when Leia rescued herself by using the Force to draw herself back into the ship after an explosion?  And let’s not gloss over that:  LEIA USED THE FORCE.  I don’t care about anyone who thinks it was hokey – the Force was bananas in this movie, and I loved it, so please complain elsewhere.  Leia finally got to use some of that Skywalker bloodline in something other than feeling people’s deaths long-distance.

Another scene that felt weirdly prescient was Luke and Leia’s reunion.  By the end of the movie we realize that it was an opportunity for Luke to say his goodbyes, but in the moment it just felt like a goodbye to Carrie Fisher.  I can’t even remember the lines very well, because I was crying hard throughout.  All I could picture was Mark Hamill watching the scene after his friend’s death and my heart was shattered.

Unfortunately, Luke is gone and Leia remains.  I am heartbroken that we won’t get to see more of Leia in episode IX, which was supposed to be Her Story in the way The Force Awakens was Han’s and The Last Jedi was Luke’s.  I don’t know what they’ll do, and I mostly trust them, but nothing they dream up will compare with Carrie Fisher alive and performing once again.

I LOVE LUKE

Luke Skywalker was my first fictional crush, and even though at the time I loved him for his purity, I love him even more now that we see he’s turned into a cranky hermit.  Every scene he’s in is a delight, and I 100% bought that his youthful idealism, once broken, would result in what we see in this film.  I also adored the revelation that, if even for a moment, Luke considered murdering his nephew, and that this is what turned Ben Solo entirely to the Dark Side.  This is my kind of drama!

Of course, we don’t end the film with Luke the Cynic – fittingly, it’s being reunited with R-2 D-2 and seeing his sister’s hologram that reminds him that there is still hope.  WHEN HE SHOWS UP ON CRAIT!!!  His decision to take control of his narrative and use his legendary status as a distraction to save the Resistance is beautiful.  I noticed that his hair was different and that he wasn’t leaving red sand footprints, but I didn’t connect the dots to realize he wasn’t physically there.  My awe at his ability to withstand so much firepower turned into awe at his projection ability, and then…having believed in hope once more, Luke dies.  I love that he disappears like Obi Wan, and I very much hope he will be a Force Ghost in episode IX.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • The “hope against all odds” theme felt very much like Rogue One to me.  Watching character after character willingly choose to die in order to help their friends live for one more day was suuuuper depressing and suuuuper beautiful.
  • I love Admiral Holdo.  I love that she contrasts Poe’s impulsive heroism with the boring, quiet, consistent heroism that is also necessary in a fight against evil.
  • After the movie, one friend said, “I think true Star Wars fans will be annoyed at the humor in this one.”  My other friend replied, “Uh, I’m a true Star Wars fan, and I loved it.”  YES, friend #2.
  • I don’t WANT to understand the Rey/Kylo shippers, but ugh, I kinda do.  Their loneliness and connection was pretty fascinating, but wow is he a classic abusive boyfriend.  “You’re worthless to everyone!  Except me.”  As interesting as their relationship was, I’m so glad Rey left him.
  • Although I have since changed my mind, I was initially disappointed with the reveal that Rey’s parents were nobodies.  (My personal fan theory:  she was the daughter of Luke and Leia.  I was really leaning into the oops! incest plot of the original trilogy, and I figured that explained why she was Extra Powerful.)  I appreciate this story a lot more now, especially connected with the force-sensitive slave boy at the end.  I assume that’s the direction they will take the story – showing us that the Force can be in anyone.  Really, I just blame the two year wait and how the Internet makes everything seem So Big, which made a reveal like this feel more disappointing than it should have been.
  • I love Rose!  She is a perfect human being, and I hope she continues to be a big part of the series.  I definitely ship Rose/Finn, and Rey can…I dunno.  She’s a Jedi, so probably she will be single, huh?
  • All the animals were great, from fish nuns to porgs to crystal critters.  Love them all!
  • It did feel overlong, and I was genuinely surprised when the movie didn’t end with Snoke’s ship exploding.  But then I really liked the scenes on Crait, so even though I don’t think it’s Good Plotting, I wouldn’t change anything about it.
  • Ending with the slave kids retelling Luke’s story and then revealing that one of them can use the Force is 100% a shout out to Star Wars fans who find inspiration in the story to change their own worlds in big and small ways.  It’s kind of unfair to make me cry seconds before credits, movie!!
  • “It’s not about destroying what you hate.  It’s about saving what you love.”  PLEASE let this be the theme of the last movie!  It is the most perfect sentence in the whole series.