Before we say bye to 2015…

A tram in Lisbon, Portugal

A tram in Lisbon, Portugal.

Happy 2016!

Before 2015 completely fades into the horizon, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate various amazing things I discovered over the year. (Quick note: Some of them were made much earlier, but they took a while to find me.)

1. Books

Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice

How to Get Lucky: 13 techniques for discovering and taking advantage of life’s good breaks, by Max Gunther – I’m an amateur self-help fan, and like how you can pick and choose each author’s advice depending on how it applies to your own life. This book appealed to me especially because Gunther (a one-time journalist) dissects how to make or break your luck in a very rational, straightforward style. So, it’s old but many of the principles hold true. I learned about this on the Farnam Street blog.

I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend (audiobook), by Martin Short – This book has a remarkable amount of depth and humility for a celebrity memoir. My advice: For sure listen to it. Short is a brilliant voice actor and vocally recounting scenes from his life makes the stories still more intimate. It’s cheesy, but by the end you really do feel like one of his best friends.

The Paradox Choice, by Barry Schwartz – Are you a Maximizer or a Satisficer? This book was written in 2004 yet, even today, still spills over with interesting ideas about how the number of options we encounter can overwhelm us. (And perhaps still offer some value.) Regardless of whether you agree with Schwartz’ conclusions, it’s a fascinating way to look at how we make decisions.

2. TV

Friday Night Lights – Honestly, apart from Portugal, this might be my favorite of this whole list. I was late to watch the series, but was in its grips from episode 3 or 4 up until the very end. (That said, feel free to skip Season 2.)

3. Film

Clouds of Sils Maria – When Olivier Assayas does well, he does wonderfully–this movie is a great example. Instead of playing some mysterious European, Juliette Binoche’s character is grappling with very real issues of aging and friendship. Kristen Stewart gives her role complete and utter authenticity.

A Most Violent Year – I’m terrible about watching violence; fortunately this movie doesn’t have much of it. It’s retro and dramatic and thrilling in all the most watchable ways.

Digging for Fire – Having seen a few of Joe Swanberg’s earlier movies, I thought this ran a risk of being too indie and precious. It turned out to be friendly and universal.

4. Travel

Pena Palace, Portugal

Pena Palace, Portugal

Portugal – Somehow everything there managed to be vibrant, historic, and kind. I can’t wait to go back.


5. Wellness & Beauty


Smith’s Rosebud Salve  – Really, truly moisturizes lips. Finally!

Nutribullet – Makes green smoothies so much easier.

Running an ice cube over your face – Love how it smoothes and tightens skin.


112 Weddings, by Doug Block

About a year ago my friend Stacey recommended this documentary to me (thanks Stace!), and now that HBO Now has launched I finally got a chance to check it out. With just the right balance of optimism and cynicism, it looks at marriages–and people–and explores how they grow over time.

I enjoyed the first viewing, but it was really days later, when some of their comments would come back to me, that I realized the film had truly made an impression. Block does a fantastic job of capturing people at their most thoughtful and authentic. (He also does this in 51 Birch Street, but that, being about his parents, goes way, way deeper). Highly recommended.

Pride and Prejudice for your Friday

September 24 will mark the 20th anniversary of BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries release… So who’s ready for some tailgating? 🙂

To start, here’s “Elizabeth observed”–one of my favorite musical interludes from the series, which clues us into the depths of Darcy’s affection for Elizabeth. Like much of the official soundtrack, it was composed by Carl Davis, who, according to Wikipedia, was born in the United States but has lived in the United Kingdom since 1961.

Give the whole playlist a listen!

Quotable Rupert Graves

Rupert Graves and Helena Bonham Carter at the Room with a View premiere

1985: If only we could see what colors these shirts were!

It’s a few years old now, but this Daily Mail profile of Rupert Graves is wonderful. He’s open about quite a few things, but my absolute favorite quote is right here (bolding from me):

One night I was walking the dog and I just fell in love with the idea of life. It was one of those soppy but elemental things when you look at a tree and the sky, and you think, “This is brilliant.” Oh, there was one other thing,’ he adds. ‘I was dancing under a tree at the time – a beautiful horse chestnut with wide branches. I’ve never had depression since.”