This Is Us is my addiction

This Is Us is my addiction

I don’t usually consider myself a big TV watcher. Maybe it’s because, when I first moved to Sweden, I had to wait so long to see all of the new shows that my friends in the US had been watching for ages.

Nowadays, I don’t have to wait so long–either the shows I want to see I can stream via HBO Nordic or Netflix, or the licensing for Sweden has made it easier for them to begin airing most shows pretty much the same week as in the US.

Lately, I find myself addicted to one particular show: This Is Us. I stumbled upon a trailer for it and loved the premise of viewing a family’s life through different time periods. My husband can never keep up. He doesn’t always follow that we’re looking at Kate, Kevin and Randall when they’re kids, then as teenagers and then fast-forwarding to adulthood.

Now, if you’ve never seen This Is Us, it starts with Jack and Rebecca, who are expecting triplets. During the delivery, one of their babies dies. Rebecca is devastated. Jack finds out about an abandoned baby boy who was brought in by the fire department. Jack convinces Rebecca that they should adopt the baby and raise him with their surviving babies, Kevin and Kate. We follow the couple and the lives of their children, sometimes skipping forward in time, sometimes jumping backwards.

From left to right: Sterling K. Brown, Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley.

For me, watching This Is Us gives me the same sort of emotional rollercoaster feeling of reading the best kind of novel–the kind that makes you feel like you aren’t simply a spectator, you’re present in the story, experiencing those emotional moments with the same intensity as the characters on the screen. I am also hooked to how they’re handling the race issues that are touched upon due to Randall, their adopted son, being black. His story arc is especially interesting because of his longing to find his birth parents, a desire that follows him into adulthood.

I know a lot of people hate This Is Us. They say it’s too over-the-top, that they’re taking too long to tell us what happened to Jack or how Rebecca ended up together with Miguel or will Kevin ever get his shit together. But I love the storytelling on this show. I don’t want nice, tidy endings to every episode. I want them to tease me with more so I keep coming back.

I love the cast: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson, Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson, Sterling K. Brown as Randall, Chrissy Metz as Kate and Justin Hartley as Kevin.

What about you? Are you as addicted to This Is Us?

 

 

My Tiny Obsession

My Tiny Obsession

 

Guys, I’m addicted to the tiny house shows on HGTV and the DIY network. I love everything about the tiny house movement.

What is this movement? Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet. Whether on wheels or a permanent foundation, there are tons of options. Tiny houses come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, but they enable simpler living in a smaller, more efficient space. While 100 sq ft is too small for me, 400-ish would be fine.

People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons include environmental and financial concerns, and the desire for more time and freedom. I don’t have an attachment to a lot of things. Minimalism is my cup of tea. But speaking of cups, I will need room for my coffee cup collection. Priorities, people. 🙂

Tiny House Hunters takes the person/couple/family to see three options. (Note: I would not suggest living in one of these small space with a family. Growing up in a 1200 sq ft row home with eight people was pretty tight.) It’s interesting to see which house they’ll pick and their reasoning for doing so. I vote along at home. It’s fun.

Tiny Luxury follows the story of a single home being built. It’s fascinating, and shows that creativity and imagination go a long way in utilizing every inch of space to its best use.

One of the biggest problems seems to be finding land for a house you’ve had custom built. Where you can live in a tiny house is determined by local city, county and state zoning regulations and building codes. For example, in Philly, I could put one in a friend’s yard as the property secondary dwelling, but not on its own plot of land. So, clearly, I need to find friends with bigger yards. 🙂

After watching these shows for a long time, I think I have what it takes to go tiny. As they say, try it before you buy it. And I’m going to do just that. I’ll be renting one for a few days, and will share the pics and my experience in a future post. After spending some time in the house, I’ll know for sure.

But I think it’s for me. Do you? Could you? Would you?

Are you ready?

Are you ready?

It’s summer movie time!

Popcorn, nachos, sodas and a great summer blockbuster movie. Yeah, that’s the stuff.

And here’s a couple of the movies coming up that I’m really stoked for:

 

May 26th

June 2nd

June 16th

July 7th

What upcoming movies are you excited about?

Leave me a comment down below.

I’m Just A Nerdy Girl, Living In A Nerdy World

I’m Just A Nerdy Girl, Living In A Nerdy World

You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m a total geek about all things Sci-Fi. Star Trek, Star Wars, doesn’t really matter (except for an enduring adoration for Chris Pine and Karl Urban in the new incarnation of Star Trek). If the action takes place in space, the final frontier, I’m watching it. And Guardians Of The Galaxy? Oh yeah. I’m on it. One of my all time favorites is FireFly.

There is something so intriguing about this series. I love the characters, the interaction, the fact that it seems to take place right here on Earth, yet we know if doesn’t. I didn’t know about the series until after I’d watched the spin-off movie, Serenity. I fell in love with the entire premise, and was hooked. If an episode of FireFly is on, I’m sitting down with popcorn to watch it.
True story – recently, we converted out Customer Management Software where I work. I didn’t have log-on credentials, so my supervisor told me to use his. He recited it, and it included the word serenity. He explained it was his favorite word and his mantra. I told him I figured it was a play on FireFly. His jaw dropped and when he recovered from the shock, he told me his regard for me just skyrocketed. We bonded over a sci-fi reference.

Are you nerdy like me? Do you park it on the couch to watch a favorite futuristic show? Please, don’t let me be the only nerdy girl living in a nerdy world.

Have you tried the Santa Clarita Diet yet?

Have you tried the Santa Clarita Diet yet?

I’ve been binge watching something lately, and feel like I shouldn’t confess this weird addiction. I can’t even really pinpoint the reasons I’ve been watching NetFlix’s Santa Clarita Diet. Other than it’s a little funny. Oh, and Timothy Olyphant. But for clarities sake, let’s just call this show The Walking Dead Light.

The premise is straightforward. Sheila Hammond (Drew Barrymore) and her husband, Joel (Timothy O (oh, what a tall drink of water)), play Realtors©. Sheila suddenly becomes a member of the undead set. Now, she’s on the most restrictive low carb, high protein diet ever. The couple must learn to deal with her new diet and to hide it from the nosy neighbors. Oh, the plans they hatch to provide her with sustenance. To satisfy all her cravings, they opt to only kill people who are truly awful. It only gets tougher when they find many of the drug dealers/murderers/and arms dealers they target turn out to be not as despicable as they’ve been lead to believe.

I first started watching on the recommendation of a friend. And I’m glad it did. In most episodes, their teenage daughter, Abby, is more mature than they are. This character is played brilliantly by Liv Hewson. Add in the bumbling cop, the affair-indulging neighbor, and a smarty-pants potential love interest for Abby, and I consider this a true winner. Oh, and did I mention the show stars Timothy Olyphant? Here’s a little treat, I mean clip of him talking about the show (and yeah, Drew is in there as well).

I hope you’ll give it a try. It’s very entertaining.

 

 

Expedition Unknown

Expedition Unknown

One of my favorite shows is the Travel Channel’s Expedition Unknown. Starring host Josh Gates (aka really funny, clever, archaeologist), as he embarks on adventures to discover the world’s greatest mysteries. We’ve joined him on uncovering the legend of King Arthur, the hunt for the Yeti, the mystery of DB Cooper, the Temple of Doom, what happened to Amelia Earheart, and searching out evidence of lost civilizations.

I’m a bit of a history buff, so I love the stories behind the legends, and I also love the glimpses into the peoples and cultures that Josh encounters on each expedition. He always soaks up the local culture and jumps into whatever is going on around him.

I first became a fan of his when I saw his old show, Destination Truth. A funny guy who throw pop culture references into his commentary and investigates the strange, elusive creatures that every culture seems to share a version of — yes, please. He’s passionate about what he does and that translates through every frame.

But, you guys, one of the best parts is seeing places around the word that I’ll likely never visit, and that call to my inner-explorer. Like, traveling through permafrost in Siberia searching for the woolly mammoth, jungles, rain forests, Tibetan temples, under sea wreckage, cities of gold, just to name a few.

 

It’s also pretty cool to see the technology available now to researchers and archaeologists: advanced scanners, radar, and more, allowing detailed study and giving us so much information.

If you’re a fan of exploring myth and legend, Josh is your guy and Expedition Unknown is not to be missed.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming,

 

Could Tom Hardy Get Any Better?

Could Tom Hardy Get Any Better?

Perhaps nothing is a more inspiring story than someone able to turn their life around, rise from the ashes, take a bad situation and make something good happen. It’s a great narrative not just because it’s inspirational and provides you with a sense of hope, although those are wonderful effects, but also because these stories are humbling. They remind us, nothing is permanent and many things are not as they seem – whether life is going perfectly well or heartbreakingly terrible at the present moment, there is more that’s still unwritten. Any circumstance can turn around and take a different direction and there are a lot of things at any given moment we may not fully comprehend. Having said that, we do have an awful lot of power at our hands as well. Respecting that which we don’t know (yet) or understand, while finding the inner strength to take on life’s challenges is a very exciting path to find oneself traversing.

 

Which brings me to the subject matter I really want to discuss – attractive, fascinating men. Actually, one man in particular, Tom Hardy. In case you don’t know who he is, allow me to significantly improve your day with a brief introduction . Tom Hardy is a British actor who has appeared in movies and on television since 2001, and is arguably best known for his starring role in Mad Max Fury Road, but you may also know him from his roles in Bane or Inception. Here is an informative article (with photos) if you’d like to dive in further. Currently, he stars in a TV show called Taboo, which is a BBC series that is being aired in the US on the FX network. Taboo is a dark, gritty drama period, which he also co-created, where Tom Hardy plays the main character, James Delaney, whose father dies, leading him to come home to England after an extended period of time in Africa. It’s a morally ambivalent role in which the threat of brutality and malevolence seem imminent. These themes couldn’t lie further in opposition from his real-life personality. He is known as kind, warm and even gentle, extending a lot of empathy and compassion to creatures great and small.

 

 

Tom Hardy has spoken very openly about his struggles with addiction. He was a very heavy drug user in his 20’s, and found himself spiraling out of control just as his acting career was starting to take off. He’s been clean for almost 15 years but he believes having been in dark spots in his life has shaped his work. Now in 2017, he is a successful actor and long-time animal lover who is known to be incredibly close and loving with his dogs. After reading all this, you may understand why I am so obsessed, uh, I mean, IMPRESSED, with Tom Hardy. He represents the vulnerability and fragility in all of us, but has overcome great obstacles to achieve incredible things – all while relying on love and openness to stay on track.

 

 

Which brings us back to my earlier thoughts. The idea that we can turn around even the most difficult and hopeless-seeming situation and make that the basis for a better life. Like Tom, we first must admit to ourselves that it may not be a simple task. In my opinion, difficult and impossible are in direct opposition to each other. Acknowledging that something won’t be easy is also recognizing that real steps can be taken to achieve that goal. Tom isn’t just an example of someone taking on challenges and coming out victorious, he’s a reflection of the human condition that exists in each one of us. Each of us is a walking contradiction – beautiful but also tormented, grateful but also full of yearning, blessed but also troubled. And just like him, we are full of promise, full of potential. We make choices every day that changes the course of our lives, while also living in the magic of each moment, knowing that there are forces that we can’t control, that write our stories alongside of us and make each life unique and amazing.

 

Grammy-bound!

Grammy-bound!

by Xio Axelrod

Next month, the music industry will descend upon the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate what they consider to be the best releases from the last year. There’s always some controversy, but opinions are subjective. And like belly buttons, everyone has one.

One of my favourite bands, twenty one pilots, performing one of my favourite songs from 2016, “Heathens” – a Grammy nominee. [Read more…]

Tis the season for movies.

Tis the season for movies.

One of the best parts of this holiday season are the new release movies. Now I’ve only seen one of these, but the rest are on my short list for the next few weeks.

Moana

Disney and the Rock? This is a no brainer. Sure to be fun. A 95% from Rotten Tomatoes.

La La Land

This one looks so good. And 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sing

From the makers of Despicable Me? Oh yeah, front row please. 77% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Rogue One

rogue-one

This is the one I’ve seen, and can highly recommend to any fan of the original Star Wars series. So good! 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Pop me some popcorn!

Steve

 

 

I Need Some Feel-Good Movies to Get Over This Feel-Bad Autumn

I Need Some Feel-Good Movies to Get Over This Feel-Bad Autumn

I am still trying to digest that Wednesday morning’s news. I almost don’t want to digest it, because just the thought of…He Who Shall Not Be Named sitting in the Oval Office makes me retch. So I feel that I need some dollops of happiness to dispel the grumpy clouds hanging over me.

In fact, I think I need to lose myself in some movies that make me happy.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-20-14-18I think one of the first ones I’ll watch is The Untouchables, a French buddy comedy starring Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy. Don’t be put off by the subtitles–this film is definitely worth the extra effort. It’s all about the unexpected friendship between an affluent Parisian man who is left quadriplegic following a paragliding accident and his caretaker, a vibrant young man from the suburbs who has just been released from prison. At first, Philippe and Driss are both suspicious and dismissive of one another. Driss doesn’t really want the job, but the money is good. Philippe, initially not very impressed with Driss, offers him the job because he is the only person who’s applied for it that does not either pretend he isn’t paralysed or talk to him like his mental faculties are kaput. And it’s Driss’s irreverence that helps Philippe learn to love life again. And for Driss, Philippe helps him see his own talent and that there is more to life than what society tells him he is limited to. Well, I won’t tell you more–look for it on Amazon Prime or Netflix. I think you’ll like it too.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-20-52-51Another movie that always puts me in a good mood is also French and also a comedy. It’s The Fabulous Life of AmĂ©lie Poulain–also known simply as AmĂ©lie. You’ve probably already seen this whimsical romantic comedy. I know I’ve watched it…probably way too many times…but it always makes me happy. Quirky AmĂ©lie, who has always thought there was something wrong with her heart and who’s never been in love, suddenly finds herself falling in love. And along the way she causes a little mischief and plays Cupid. Just thinking about it makes me long to watch AmĂ©lie again! 🙂

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-21-05-44

And the last film that could make me smile? Well, actually the list could go on, but I decided to limit it to three. 🙂 The Sound of Music never fails to raise my spirits when I am in a funk. It’s schmaltzy, but I love it and I watch it every year at Christmas or whenever I need a little frothiness. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a crush on Christopher Plummer (because of this movie) since I was six years old. Maybe it’s because the songs are so much fun to sing. Maybe it’s because I love going to Austria–and my love of going to Austria is partly because of The Sound of Music.

Wow! Just writing about these movies has put a smile on my face–well, except for the fact that He Who Shall Not Be Named is all over Swedish TV….wait…wait… think about Christopher Plummer singing “Edelweiss” again….ahhh! So much better.

So tell me: which films top your feel-good list?