Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club

I read this morning that this year marks the thirtieth anniversary of one of the most important movies of my life: The Breakfast Club. It turns out the film was actually released last month (plus thirty years) on February 15, 1985. In honor of the anniversary there will be a special Blu-Ray edition, and the movie will even be screened in a handful of much cooler places than the one where I currently live.

Why is this movie so important to me? For one, the me who lived in February of 1985 had just turned thirteen. Seventh grade...and boy does life suck. This girl hasn’t discovered contact lenses yet and her glasses are pretty grim. We’re talking oversized, round, with the lenses tinted brown. So that happened.

Though, come to think of it, 7th-grade me had to wait for this movie to come out on HBO…so we’re probably talking about 8th-grade me, who’s sadly not any cooler, and now staring down her first year of high school.  She’s got no idea how she’s going to play it. Could she reinvent herself in high school?

One fun game to play with this movie is to identify which character you are. It’s a pretty easy quiz:

Popular girl? =Claire
Popular jock boy?=Andrew
Nerd (either gender)?=Brian
Rule breaker/bad ass?=Bender
Weird outcast?=Allison
#@$%ing elephant was destroyed.
As much as I leaned nerd later in life, I have to say it was outcast-Allison that I always identified with. Probably because her story turned into a high school fairytale at the end when she hooked up with the cute jock.

Because that actually happens in real life.

But unrealistic endings aside, this movie’s awesome because it pulls five people out of their usual clique and forces them to interact. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was halfway tempted to blow up their shop project on the off chance they’d get assigned to Saturday detention with a cool bunch of folks. We’d dance and run through the halls and bond and make the one nerdy kid write our essay at the end of the day.

It’s a romantic view of high school, in a film made by adults who understood that you leave high school but it never completely leaves you. That’s why it’s so ironic when Allison announces “When you grow up, your heart dies.” At fourteen, I believed her—I thought I’d be all grown up someday, with a shiny Teflon skin that nothing could break through. That’s an even bigger lie than the idea that different social types  can genuinely get along (a notion later disproven by another important film of my life, Heathers).

But in the end it doesn’t matter if it’s true. I’ve never been to Saturday detention or given my earrings to a cute bad boy, but no one can ever take away my memories of the hours spent with my friends quoting this movie. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

That's When I Go to Goop

Sometimes I just feel a little bit too confident, a bit too content with all of my admittedly white-bread, middle American life choices. That’s when I go to Goop. is Gwenyth Paltrow’s answer to the question nobody was asking, “How can I be more of a stick goddess whose every decision is pure and healthy and filled with cosmic wonder?

I last visited the site when writing a (quasi) review of Gwyn’s cookbook, which I’ll call I’m Better At Eating Than You. (Disclosure: I didn’t read the book, but it’s true: she is definitely much, much better at eating than me).

A brief trip to the site offers many wonders. The main page offers a review of “clean” lip balms, which puzzles me, as I would not have thought a woman of Paltrow’s stature would have trouble finding a lip balm that hasn’t already been sampled. I have this trouble myself when trying to shop the discount bin at Ulta.
But I didn’t stop to investigate further, as my eye was drawn by the promise of learning how to make “Moon Juice.” The article begins with these enticing words: 

“Moon Juice is magic. Like, real magic.” 

Real magic? Like in Harry Potter? Count me IN! But as I continue reading I’m disappointed to learn that the “magic” apparently comes only from consuming exotic ingredients that no one’s ever heard of, like schisandra berry and mucuna (which could not have a less appetizing name).

The writer of this post then goes on to praise the magic juice maker (whose last name, ironically, is Bacon) saying that not only can she invent drinks with weird berries, “she is also other-worldly: She literally glows from within, making any encounter with her, an ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ moment.”

I now begin to understand the “real magic” mix-up from before, since the author does not know what the word literally means. I have been misled by bad grammar. Apparently even consuming only the juice of rare and incredibly expensive fruits does not ensure peak brain function. It seems even Moon Juice has its limits.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Unplanned Donuts and a Hot Space Elf

I live by myself, so I talk to my dog a fair amount. I also often see things on the TV that compel me to vent my disbelief, confusion, and occasional outrage.

Here are just a few of the recent ones:

1. Weight Watchers…is now offering coaches. A woman rocking Michelle Obama’s arms promises help if you go into the office and “there are donuts…and you weren’t expecting them.”

I have a lot to say about this. First, why does it matter if the donuts were expected? Are sneak-attack donuts somehow more difficult to resist? Does the gun-show lady mean to suggest that the occasion of pre-announced donuts would have involved some sort of donut-evasion plan? When did life become this difficult?

Second, it’s possible that I will go to work someday, and there will be donuts (either of the pre-ordained or stealth variety) and it’s also possible that I will not eat one of them.
It is utterly ridiculous, however, to think I’m going to take time out of my day to call some woman I saw on TV to talk me out of it.

2. Jupiter Ascending…is coming to theaters next week. The trailer features Channing Tatum done up as some kind of outer-space elf. I keep expecting him to say something about the five armies of Middle Earth.

I mean, I still want to see it, but it may just be a hot mess.

Still brooding over the desolation of Smaug?
3. Disney and Universal…run a lot of ads in January. In them, nobody is wearing coat. I mean, not even a light jacket.
I live here, so I can tell you—this is a lie. It was forty-two degrees on my way to work this morning.

4. TGIT…ads on ABC feature a bunch of stars from Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and that hospital show that’s been on for nineteen years. They all pretend they’ve been having withdrawal symptoms from not seeing their own TV shows.

Come on: you’ve been on vacay somewhere tropical, and we all know it. I am psyched to watch two of these shows and all, but I don’t fancy being patronized about it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My So-Called Flashback

Between the new VH1 scripted series Hindsight and re-watching the first season of Friends on Netflix (along with most everyone I know), I’ve been overdosing on 90s nostalgia.

I’m really enjoying Hindsight, in spite of its simple and definitely-been-done-before premise. Protagonist Becca is nearing forty and about to walk down the aisle at her second wedding when a mysterious stranger sends her back in time twenty years to the eve of her first wedding. It’s 1995, and she remembers everything that came before. And now she has the chance to do all over—only better this time.

 Assuming I accept the time travel in your own body premise, which, of course, I do, Becca’s story is still a bit of a reach. If just a few among us do get a chance at a do-over, why would a pretty blonde with a perfect body, who looks exactly the same at forty as she did at twenty be the one who gets the nod? I guess her job’s not great or whatever, but this is a girl woman who is about to marry her second very cute, very nice man. If her life requires a do-over, where the heck is my Time Angel?

The show gets a lot of mileage out of Becca’s culture shock. She misses her iPhone. The funniest moment so far has her explaining to her 1995 best friend that in the future she’ll be able to watch movies on her phone. The girl picks up a cordless handset, mystified, and asks, “Where?

I’m getting my own culture shock from revisiting Friends, which I last watched when it first aired in 1994. I’d almost forgotten how comfortable long, flowered dresses were, especially when paired with denim jackets—and, of course, chunky, flat shoes (perhaps it should be noted that I still wear chunky, flat shoes, I just don’t look cool anymore while doing it).

The New York of Friends is quite the fantasyland, and not just because it’s a place where a waitress and a cook can afford a gigantic West Village apartment (and still have extra money for flowered dresses and chunky shoes). Occasionally one of the gang runs into a wacky homeless person, but in general they float through the city needing neither money nor street smarts. And there’s only snow if the plot calls for it (and it melts away instantly after that). So it probably doesn’t pay to get too nostalgic for a world that never really existed.

(Also, don’t we all kind of want to forget the fact that each Friend got paid a million dollars an episode for the last season? If you figure out the per-minute salary, it's actually sort of gross). 

For me, of course I kind of want to return to a simpler time, when tweens didn’t know how to apply a smoky eye or walk in four-inch heels. When you could wear the same outfit to go wilderness hiking or out to a dinner date. But time marches on, and you don’t get to travel in time, unless you count Netflix, that is.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

TRACERS Release Day!

I’m so excited to reveal the cover of my new novel, TRACERS, which is releasing today, 1/8/15 from Putnam.

The book cover was first revealed a few minutes ago on Just Jared JR.

Tracers is full of action—but even more romance:

In the vein of great box-office blockbusters, the high-stakes romance here sizzles within this page-turning thriller that will leave readers feeling like they are flying through the streets of New York.

Cam has come to accept the rhythm of his life as a bike messenger: racing up and down the streets of New York City from one run to the next. With no family to rely on and a mountain of debts, at least it’s an honest way to help pay off his dangerous debtors. Cam’s whole world comes crashing down on him one day when he runs into a beautiful stranger. After falling out of the sky and wiping out Cam and his bike, she disappears before he can find out anything about her. When he starts to see her around town, he quickly realizes that she is part of an underground group of teens who have turned NYC into their own parkour playground—running, jumping, seemingly flying through the city like it’s an obstacle course. Cam becomes fascinated with the sport—and the beautiful stranger, Nikki. He falls in with the group, and they offer him the chance to make some extra money. But when the stakes become life or death, Cam is torn between following his heart and sacrificing everything to pay off his debts.

I don’t have a book trailer to share with you…but check out the official movie trailer for TRACERS on Youtube!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cars Cannot Snowboard

A recent, super fun commercial shows Nissan cars flying around a giant bowl of ice, disobeying gravity in a manner normally reserved for CGI superheroes.

My favorite part of the commercial comes a few seconds in. It’s the disclaimer at the bottom of the screen:

             “Fantasy simulated image. Do not attempt. Cars cannot snowboard.”

This is really great. I appreciate the thoroughness of Nissan’s legal department. I mean, it may seem as though one could assume that all human beings who are familiar with either cars and/or snowboards would understand that cars are not the same as snowboards. But, just in case, this is a pretty helpful reminder.

Now, along with warnings like hot coffee is hot, we are collectively being addressed as though we had the intellect and decision making skills of a toddler—and not a particularly smart toddler at that.

And yet…the other day I got sucked into some ridiculous click bait: tattoo fails.
These are people so smart they didn’t find out how to spell simple words before getting them inked into their skins. Lots of “Your my heart” type of sayings, and a number of people who pledged “No Regerts” (I’m guessing they subsequently learned the taste as well as the correct spelling of regret.) Many of these same folks later used their smartphones to post proud photos of their ink, so it cannot be argued that they didn’t have the necessary tools to find out how to spell or punctuate a phrase so near and dear to their heart (or, hart, in several cases). is fast and free. Unlike tattoo removal.

Come to think of it, maybe it couldn't hurt to remind one or two of us that cars are not, in fact, snowboards. Disclaimers are doubtless here to stay. As long as there are those out there who continue to be-live in miracles, it’s probably safer to remind everyone that cars can’t fly.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Basic Guide to Suburbia

I was taken home from the hospital and brought directly to The Suburbs, and there I have remained for pretty much my entire life, yet there are numerous mysteries about this way of life that I just can’t wrap my head around.

I’ll be the first to confess: I can be basic. I love Starbucks’s overpriced lattes, and when there’s the first sign of chill in the air, I go running for a Pumpkin Spice flavored one. But I also suspect I don’t truly belong since I don’t really understand the point of having a lawn, for example. It’s an awful lot of trouble and money and time to grow something you can’t even eat.

So along with an unhealthy Home Depot obsession, here are the things I just don’t get:

Tree spotlights.

Walk down any suburban sidewalk after dusk and you’ll see this phenomenon for yourself: suburban folks love to put little spotlights right at the base of what I assume are their favorite trees.

Is the intended message: “Look, I grew a tree!” ?
This tree must feel like a superstar. 
Cutesy “signs.”

Spotted on a walk the other day: “Forget the Dog: Beware of the Kids.”

Ha-ha, I gut it. Your kids are badly behaved and you think it’s really funny.
How nice for you.

Three-car garage, but park all the cars in the street.

Also adorable.

Christmas decorations on November 1.

Seriously, people?

Lawn ornament medley.

You’ve seen this: lawns “decorated” with a whole slew of statuary, usually a bizarre assortment: baby squirrels, cartoon rabbits, whimsical gnomes, serene Buddhas. They are often arranged in a little circle as though having a perpetual cocktail party. The best is when the figures were once brightly painted but have chipped and faded in the elements and are now just plain scary.

Add a cheerful sign: “Welcome to our Home!” and the picture is complete.  
Thanks for the warning.