Movie Review: Our Idiot Brother

Posted on December 22, 2011. Filed under: Movies, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Ever since Clueless I have been a big fan of Paul Rudd. He is just my kind of fellow, don’t know how else to describe it! I usually do my best to catch all of his movies as they hit DVD, I’m not much of a theatre-goer otherwise I would definitely check them out there. Netflix finally delivered Our Idiot Brother to my home – and what a joy! The movie was a comedy but also a bit of a life lesson. We all have these people in our lives that we look for and we look to but can sometimes we such an incredible inconvenience but in the end we appreciate them and grow to love them as they are, that is My Idiot Brother.

Paul Rudd, playing Ned, starts the movie getting arrested for distributing drugs to a police officer. He lived on an organic farm with his dog and his hippie girlfriend. It is clear from the arrest forward that he doesn’t have quite as much going for him as one would expect. His family immediately comes to his rescue offering shelter, food, love and support. It is clear that the family is a bit off though and has a plethora of issues themselves. His three sisters are all striving for something completely different in life. One, Zoeey Deschanel, is a lesbian, but maybe more of a sexually charged bisexual, or maybe straight, but she really wants to be a lesbian. Another sister, Elizabeth Banks, is a journalist and is the highest reacher of all the siblings. She wants to make it big and really lives an upscale, city, business lifestyle. The oldest sister, Emily Mortimer, is a mom, she is the only married sibling and her husband has a few quirks that immediately make him unlikable to the audience.

Ned is a very happy guy. He has an extremely positive outlook on life and doesn’t get in too deep in anything. He takes everything on the surface and does his best to really roll with the punches. His brother-in-law gives him a job working as an assistant as he films a documentary. Ned does his best to go along with but never seems to do things good enough for his brother-in-law. He exposes their children to television and games they would prefer their kids don’t see and quickly lands himself getting shoved out of their house and onto the next sister’s home.

He spends time in each of his sister’s homes and one by one manages to mess up the one thing that they each seemed to have wanted the most: a valuable relationship, a career advancement and a happy family. Ned doesn’t see these as his fault but really focuses in on dishonesty, lack of morals and ethics and a lack of trust. Ned makes a really great point for each of these things. With time his sisters do internally reflect a bit on his actions and the reactions and make peace with what has changed in their lives. It really seems like they for once open their eyes to their behavior and internalize what could make their lives better, stronger and more fulfilling and how to see life a little more through the rose-colored lenses that Ned has on. In Ned’s time of need his sisters pull through – you cannot beat a strong family bond, especially when you see that your ‘idiot’ brother was really trying to do his best.

It was a really funny movie with some great lines. Through the humor and strange situations there are some great messages and if you view it at the right time there are definitely things I could reflect on that each of the sisters did that I may also be guilty of, giving me just a small dose of a life lesson. It was a fun, entertaining movie that certainly did not drag on at all. I really enjoyed it and if you see it – I hope you do too! Keep on rocking Paul Rudd!

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The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

Posted on October 20, 2011. Filed under: Books, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Every once in a while I find myself in a non-fiction kick. During those times I tend to go a bit overboard on biographies, memoirs and inspirational/self-help titles. An advice columnist that I really enjoy following, Carolyn Hax, recommends this book to many people for a variety of reasons. After hearing it time and time again I finally trekked to the library and put in the request to borrow it, and I am so glad that I did. I have recommended this to quite a few people since reading it, the impression it left on me is definitely a lasting one.

I personally feel that every young woman, going to college, in college, living on her own, moving to a new city or living in the same city she has lived in her entire life should read this book. This book teaches life lessons and life skills that many of us girls are lacking. This is not about self-defense and not meant to scare women about the dangers of the world but it is educational and excellent. There is no substitute for learning the information provided in this book – I wish I had read it years earlier.

Gavin De Becker is a pioneering advisor on navigating dangerous and risky situations involving assignation, stalking and basic survival fear. De Becker owns an agency that protects public figures including politicians and celebrities. Through reading his book you can tell that he is the leader in this type of knowledge. He is smart, he is confident and it shows throughout the book. Additionally, De Becker is confident that with this knowledge we can also be safer, which makes your confidence rise as well.

De Becker gives us some of his back-story on how he ended up in this field and goes through some difficult stories about his childhood. Hearing about his childhood helps us really understand how he was able to hone in and fully develop the heightened awareness he has for survival skills. We also get an excellent glimpse into the mind of someone whose sole profession is protecting others. Getting in on that thought-process is enlightening and helps us better understand how we can start to think that way and protect ourselves better.

The main topics in this book are female safety focused. While De Becker doesn’t want to stereotype, it is fact that many of the situations he describes in the book are female based problems. While men can be victims in the same scenarios, the truth is that women find themselves as the victims more often, focusing on what really is occurring is helpful to us to better prepare ourselves. Topics explored are stalking, trusting our instincts and learning to how to listen to the guidance our instincts are providing, public figure attacks, intimate violence, occupational violence, threats, and violence from children. There are many situations described in the book that we may never ever encounter, but having the knowledge in us ready in case we are in that situation is invaluable. We will never regret teaching ourselves what to do in the rare case we find ourselves there.

The best take-home message for me was learning how to trust our instincts. This book is not meant to make us more afraid or allow fear to take over our lives, it is rather about learning how not to be fearful because we have the ability and knowledge (after reading this) to safely navigate dangers that are presented to us. De Becker really focuses on what biology has given us and how we are ignoring it. Part of us ignoring these survival signals are culture – we are being taught to act in ways that go against this biology and are putting ourselves at risk. De Becker is helping women to break through that culture to put our personal safety first.

As I said before I think this is a book that every young woman should read, most likely more than once. It helped give me courage and strength and after reflecting on what I had read it also did make me feel less freightened and more in charge. I wouldn’t put myself in danger on purpose just to prove that I am in touch with my intuition but I did learn how to trust my intuition more and have thought of some ‘plans’ that I would carry out in a variety of situations, mentally preparing myself ahead of time should I find myself there. I also reflected back on previous encounters where I put many of these biological tools aside in an effort to just ‘be nice’ and I can recognize how I purposefully ignore bells and whistles and warnings and I’m ready to make different choices in those some situations in the future. Excellent read – don’t be scared, fear truly is a gift!

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Semi-Locally Famous Eateries in DC – A Quick Review

Posted on September 15, 2011. Filed under: Destination: Travel!, Everyday Me, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |



I’m kind of into food a lot lately, not in a binge eating type of way but just as more of a hobby. I’ve gotten very into top-chef and anything else on food network (or Bravo!) that involves cooking and I even started my own blog about crop-shares! (link below or – well if that’s not a shameless plug I don’t know what is..).  With this mild obsession with food as of late I decided that of all the more ‘famous’ eateries in my backyard I would give a quick once over on my opinions. Bon Appetite!

Ben’s Chili Bowl
Fame Level: Travel Channel, President Obama has eaten here…

I really love chili, let me get that out there first. There is just something wonderful about a good chili. In the Fall and Winter it is warming and in the summer on a hot-dog it can spice things up just right. Turkey chili, soy chili, heck even Hormel, just heat it up and I’m usually in there! Ben’s Chili Bowl is a DC establishment. It has been standing from before the race riots that tore through DC, Bill Cosby is a hug advocate of the place, and President Obama famously dined in this very, very small place in the early days of his presidency. Now that we know who has been let’s go over the nitty gritty details of this place:  

It is directly across the street from the 13th ave  exit at the U Street metro stop, so it is definitely convenient. The hours are 10 am – 2am, clearly there is no excuse not to go! They do only allow a limited number of people into the building, so you may have to wait on a line outside, then move to a line inside and then get a seat. I was very nervous about not getting a seat after I ordered. The place was really jam-packed but everyone typically orders then scouts out seating so it worked out just fine that way, sticking with that system in there is the way to go! They also had some great music playing, seemed like a nice mix between 60s and 80s soul and pop tunes, the noise level was pretty moderate but it was all part of the experience. The staff was absolutely amazing! They were personable, friendly, helpful and quick, since you order and then they deliver there isn’t too much interaction but they made the most of the little interaction we had!

Again, I am a chili person so I may be biased here but it was delicious! I had a chili-dog with cheese and onions and boy was it good! I got fries on the side for a bit extra and that was a smart idea. The chili is extremely spicy (even for my husband who typically eats habanero and jalapeno peppers in his food). Both my husband and father in law were quick to jump on my fries when I offered them up to beat some of the spice. Overall, it was relatively inexpensive, locally owned, delicious and offered free fountain soda refills, it’s worth a quick bite if you find yourself on that side of town for sure!


Georgetown Cupcake
Fame Level: TLC TV Show – DC Cupcakes

I really love these cupcakes! I have been a fan of Georgetown Cupcake since before they were famous nation-wide and were just a fun little store in Georgetown. Even then the lines were up the block! Overall, after trying more than a fair share of DC area cupcakeries I still prefer this one, I’m hooked! If you are in town for just a little while, don’t feel bad missing this spot, but if you have time to kill and want to check out Georgetown, hop in line and spend a while, the cupcakes in the end are pricey, but worth it!

With the TV show in full swing the lines at this place have progressively gotten worse. I thought it would ease up a bit when they made the move from their extremely tiny shop on a side street a few streets over to their larger, corner location. It really didn’t help. The store is much more visible and prominent now and the lines are just as long and move just as slow. They do have a lot more workers in there so it is much more efficient when you get in to get your cupcakes and drinks and mosey along. The show has really amped up their business though. Word to the wise, if you are going to go – get there early! Also, become their Facebook friend/fan so that you can find out what cupcake flavor they are giving away for free that day.

When its early in the day and the lines are short I jump on to get my free cupcake – always a delicious treat! They offer standard cupcakes everyday of the week – these are pretty basic: Chocolate and vanilla varieties, red velvet (definitely one of my favorites) and chocolate ganache – for any chocolate lovers out there this cupcake would be for you! They have daily varieties that are also quite delicious. My favorite of the daily changing ones is Lava Fudge. You bite into the middle of this cupcake and get some ‘lava’, it is such a great treat, especially warm! I also enjoy their Strawberry – nice and refreshing! Some of my favorite seasonal flavors that are offered include German Chocolate Fudge (similar to the lava fudge) and Caramel Apple (hands down my absolute all-time favorite)!


Filomena Ristorante of Georgetown
Fame Level: Politicians, Diplomats and Men in Tuxedos…

Like any ‘good’ Italian – I love Italian food more than any other variety. Good pasta can never let you down, it  is comfort and it’s my go-to food of choice. At Filomena you can watch the ladies making the fresh pasta in the front of the store. It is tucked in a side-street but is very delicious.

Get ready to part with your wallet – this place is extremely pricey! I will be honest, I will not go to this restaurant unless it is restaurant week where I can score a price-fixed meal at something more reasonable. It is expensive, the food is good, but I just don’t have that kind of cash to spend on a dinner. It is decorated in an over the top Italian way. Fake flowers and plants, big statues, it looks like what would happen is someone let my Grandma design a restaurant. That’s part of what makes it cozy, special and real though. It backs up to the canal so if you sit near the windows you have a lovely view of the canal… 

If this place were in my budget I would definitely visit more often. The food was excellent! The pasta was fresh and tasted great! The meat was cooked perfectly. Everything was just right, and they even throw in the free after-dinner drink like any good Italian place would as you are paying. It was worth the extra money for something special. Looking to impress someone and have a fancy night on the town – come here. The food is wonderful and you will enjoy it and be treated well! 

 Any I’ve left off that you think I should include? If so – let me know!

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This is a Book by Demetri Martin

Posted on August 26, 2011. Filed under: Books, Personal Reviews, TV Shows | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

This is a fabulous book. This is a hilarious book. This is a semi-thought-provoking book. This is clearly the work of a genius.

Demetri Martin is a comedian, actor and now I guess an author as well. I have always enjoyed his comedy, it is witty but thought-provoking and really smart (and witty!). When his show on comedy central was cancelled I was pretty disappointed but upon seeing his book gracing the New Releases table at Barnes & Noble I perked right up! I finished this book in 2 days flat. My husband, typically a slower reader, finished in 3. For a nice, light summer read, or a quick book around the busy holidays, this is one to keep in mind!

Please do not go into reading this book expecting a story or any type of running theme. The theme of this book is Martin’s comedy style, that’s really the only common thread. It is more a collection of funny quips that he has written versus a novel. As a daily commuter this was perfect for me to read to and from work as I could easily move from one ‘chapter’ or story to the next. If you do read this on a train or any other public commuting space please be prepared to be stared at by your fellow commuters. You will most likely laugh – out loud and frequently. This is typically abnormal behavior during the morning and evening rush hours so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Since his comedy is a little unusual, before you devote your time to this book, you may want to check out Martin’s twitter or website to get a feel for his comedy. He is known for not only his funny stories but also great drawings. Lucky for us, he included quite a few of his drawings within the book. There are two sections full of drawings, including graphs and pie charts for those analytical out there. The subject matter is light, it may take a small amount of thought, but it is really just fun.

Since there isn’t a unified plot with this book, this has become an increasingly difficult review to write. I have recommended this book to numerous colleagues and friends, and so all of you out there on the World Wide Web – check it out too! I really cannot say enough about this book. It is fun, it is clever, it was wonderful. Definitely a book I plan to re-read once it has finished making its rounds through my circle of friends.

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One Day – Book & Movie Review! (Two for one special!)

Posted on August 20, 2011. Filed under: Books, Movies, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

In anticipation of this movie coming out I quickly ordered the book of the same name. Lucky for me it arrived the day I finished a book so I was ready, and eager, to jump in upon opening that smiling Amazon box. After tearing through the book I only had to wait a few short weeks for the movie to come out, and last night my date with the husband was a trip to see this movie. Now that I’ve seen and read both the book and movie I am eager to report how much I love this overall story.

One Day by David Nicholls is a brilliant concept! In short, it is the story of Emma and Dex  that spans 20 years. What makes it so different and consuming is that we only get to check into Emma and Dex’s lives once a year – July 15th. Each July 15th we check in with our characters to see what has changed, what is new, and what may be in the imminent future. As a novel it truly keeps the reader on their toes because you have to use your context clues to really put the pieces together and figure out what has happened since the last year you heard from them.

This kept the reading at a fast clip for me because I wanted to know. The characters talked in the story with tomorrow being only a day away so there were many times when I was dying to see what took place on July 16th, but alas I had to wait until the next year, or years, to put the pieces together. I could see how this would be frustrating to some readers but it truly kept my interest.

The story is lovely. Both characters have good and bad things about them, and I would say their worst qualities both fall on the confidence spectrum. Dex is overconfident, overcool and very image driven. Emma is lacking confidence and that makes her stay in a safety net that you are dying to cut on her behalf. Throughout the book I could picture Anne Hathaway playing Emma, it was a very easy character to imagine based on some of Anne Hathaway’s previous roles. Dex was easy to imagine as well simply because of his priorities – we knew which labels of clothing he wore, how he looked, which women he was with and so on. What makes the story so beautiful is the way that we are able to actually watch these characters grow through triumphs and struggles and as different as they become it is clear that their focus is still with the other person. They never fully lose sight of their relationship with the other person, even if it hurts at times. It truly is a beautiful story.

As for a movie adaptation, again what a wonderful concept! The movie succeeded in making it very clear what year it was and the progression of time. The characters aged beautifully and realistically, we could see them gaining a year or two since our last sighting, which was nice since many movies seem to miss the mark on realistic age progression. The acting was exceptional as well. Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway really showed a large range of emotion and did it in a believable fashion. They also had wonderful on screen chemistry. They truly made the story feel real, and drew you in, they become friends to the viewers by the closing credits. It is a worthwhile movie to see overall, if I hadn’t read the book and had just watched the movie I think I would have really really enjoyed it, reading the book was not critical when watching this movie at all.

Overall, I feel that this story worked better as a book than as a movie. Since we are only checking in once a year the story is in the details. What was mentioned in passing, what has changed, what you anticipated changing, what is different? In an hour and a half movie those details would really bog you down. I know the author was involved with the screenplay which definitely helped keep the credibility of the story but I do feel that many sacrifices were made for this adaptation to work and I did miss the details. There were some very serious character flaws that I was hoping to see played out, especially since I felt they were pivotal to the beauty in the story, but they didn’t make the cut and were missed to an ‘insider’ who knows the full story. I would highly recommend the book, it is a must read!! As for the movie, I still really enjoyed it and may even see it a second time, but as a comparison to the book, it didn’t land as high on my adaptation movie list as I had hoped, but still a great movie!

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