Monday, February 1, 2016

China Glaze Tip Your Hat + some 2015 faves

Rabbit, rabbit! Hello and happy February, friends. I hope your holidays were very merry indeed, and that you stayed safe and warm if you had to deal with Winter Storm Jonas. If you survived the latest Mercury retrograde intact, then hey! So did I. :)

I've dropped the ball on posting these last few weeks and I only did my nails twice last month, but in the middle of the blizzard, I thought I could try again and see how it feels. So today I'll share my annual red NYE mani and wrap up of some of my 2015 favorites -- beauty products, TV, movies, concerts, moments, whatever.

All right, then. Red NYE nails! I know I mentioned the China Glaze Twinkle collection in my last post, but what I haven't told you is that I wore three more Twinkle polishes in December, including this one.

... I mean, I get it. A red creme for the holidays -- that's not exactly groundbreaking shit. But Tip Your Hat certainly was worth a try with a B2G1 at Sally's? Ulta? somewhere. I bought it, and was reminded of it in December when I was working my way through some of my Twinkle picks. Then I thought it would make a nice change of pace from the red NYE nails I've done in the past. I've picked brighter reds, but it's been a hot minute since I wore something deeper that wasn't a jelly.

I'm not thrilled with these photos, only they're the best ones I've got! :/ Please bear with me.

Three coats with SV. Two are PLENTY.

Despite the unoriginality of Tip Your Hat, I remember a lot of people liking it. And so do I, for the most part. A nice, deep cherry? crimson? red creme never will go out of style. However, I've been going back and forth on this polish after I noticed a little bit of brown in it (I happened to be wearing my 'Bama sweater and noticed it Tip Your Hat was very tonally in sync with the crimson. #rolltide). You might recall that brown-tinged reds aren't really my favorites. I mean, I already have OPI Chick Flick Cherry and (2) when it comes to deep reds, I'm partial to blue-based ones. I think they just look better on me. Just my preference.

The formula was amazeballs. So good! It's completely opaque in two coats ... you can get it done with one if you're really careful, but one coat looked patchy to me. I just wanted to see if the color would get any deeper with a third (not really). As far as application goes, I will have to echo what others have said about using OCC lip tars: Use less than than you think you need because the tiniest drop goes a LONG way! I found that I got major cuticle flooding even when I loaded up my brush halfway. That's how fantastic the formula on this is. I want to say I had this one on for over a week -- I got super sick right after the new year, so I just kept it on until I felt OK enough to mess with my nails.

Oh my god, New Year. I'm less optimistic about 2016 than I was about 2015, and that's mostly because this year is the Dirty 30 and WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE? Last year had no business being as great as it was, but to quote "Happy Endings" (RIP), I went to a dark place -- "applying to grad school" dark! I've built up years and years of anxiety about going back to school, but the fact remains that I won't get anywhere without a master's or some kind of vocational degree/certification. Part of the reason I haven't been posting here is because I could not distract myself from the thought of changing paths (again!) and doing something new and scary. It is just as stupid as it sounds, believe me, but I couldn't get my head out of my ass for a while. If I couldn't before, this time I really I couldn't write anything of substance. A cover letter, a personal statement, a Christmas card, even a blog post. That sucked.

So now the plan is to apply to grad programs that'll start in the fall of 2017 (I already missed the 2016 deadlines) (yes, I wish I'd come to this realization sooner!). Mind you, this is a full 10 years after I graduated from college. I am SCARED. AS. FUCK. I don't remember how to write a paper. You want an obituary or a two-minute video package, you got it! A research paper? Not so much. But big changes also bring good things, so maybe this will help get things to truly turn around. [/emo whine]

Whatever 2016 holds, 2015 ended on a great note! NYE was a ridiculously social day for me. I was powering on one hour of sleep for some reason, but I was able to make it to a last-minute lunch date with one of my college roommates who was in town for a wedding, and we got to take a hilariously derpy selfie in front of our old apartment (it's on my Instagram).

Then I took myself on a little movie date. If I don't make it back to this theater before it shuts down for good, then I'm glad I had a good final visit. I'll miss that theater a lot. :(

So. Lovely. (the movie I mean, but so is Tip Your Hat)

After the movie, I made a couple more stops before hitting up a party that one of B's coworkers was throwing at her new place. It was mostly people from their-slash-my old workplace, a good deal of whom I hadn't met yet, but it was fun (I got introduced as SMA's mom, ha!). I got to catch up with some former coworkers, which was nice! I was flying solo since B had to work, so I was a little worried that my presence would look a bit awkward around people who've seen us as a couple; if it was awkward, no one said anything to me about it.

I made my last stop of the night? year? at my best friend's, where I walked in to everybody trying to drink bottles of liquor that covered maybe 1/4th of the dinner table, LMAO. I arrived just a few minutes before midnight, with just enough time to pass out gifts and open mine. (Hilariously enough, my best friend and I got each other the same gift: "Hannibal" Wendigo stag Funkos. We know what we like, hahaha.) Since I'm the only night owl amidst a houseful of early risers, I stayed up with some rum to text and read a little in the warm glow of the Christmas tree. Then the next day, we drove to Williamsburg to use our $14 Busch Gardens Christmas Town day passes. Apologies to my IG friends who are seeing these photos again ...

It was worth $14 to get out of town and do something different for New Year's Day with a great group of people, but I don't think I was banking on how cold it was! I'd wager that it was the double whammy of schlepping around Richmond on NYE and walking at Busch Gardens that did me in, because I started feeling a little funny the next day when I got to B's house. I don't even remember what he and I (and Mr. Archer) did after exchanging presents because I just remember feeling lifeless the way I do when I start to get sick ... well, we did watch all of "Master of None," and because B is the romantic sap in this outfit, his reactions to things were almost as entertaining as the show.

Let me share what the fine fellows at Chez SMA gave me for Christmas, because it's too much and maybe you will enjoy it, too:

They gave me this and "Agent Carter: Season One" on DVD. A very Marvel Christmas. :) HOW FREAKING CUTE are Scott and Anthony???? Ugh, my Funko obsession is getting dangerous. I have a wishlist of Funkos that's getting longer all the time ... and this is only the fourth one I have. *sweaty frowny face emoji*

Lastly, here is SMA being an adorably literal shadow cat in his treat cabinet. I love him so much.

I hope your New Year started out as great as mine did (and hopefully less disgustingly germy). I know it's been a long time since my last post, but don't worry, I'll be around in some capacity -- call it a resolution, if you will. I've missed blogging and I've missed hearing from those of you who've checked in here from time to time. You can always say hi here, via email, or on my Instagram (if you do follow me on IG and I'm not following you, leave me a comment there to that extent and I'll rectify it! Sometimes I don't recognize everyone's handles right away).

Things are gonna be a little crazy on my end this week, so unless I miraculously have time before Friday, I don't think I'll be able to post again until next week. Take care until then, and as always, thank you so much for reading this blog! I just can't quit you. ;)

NOTE: I'm posting my 2015 favorites lists/blocks of text under the cut, starting with general polish & beauty stuff so you can peace out now if you don't wanna hear about other things I liked last year. What were YOUR favorite things? Feel free to drop me a comment if we had anything in common, or if you loved something you think I also might enjoy.

2015 Favorites Lists

I didn't blog enough nail polish to do my traditional "favorites" round up post, but that doesn't mean I didn't have my favorites! Here too are a few polish-related observations.

Favorite mainstream nail polish brand of 2015: China Glaze, hands down. They had the BEST collections out of all the other mainstream brands last year! I got an embarrassing amount of spring and summer colors, plus I'm still tracking down some of fall and holiday. After ChG, I think Essie did a solid job of cranking out collections with interesting color palettes (their fall collection!! holy fuck, that was so good). I used to be an OPI girl (now I'm just an equal opportunity nail polish skank), but they really phoned it in last year. Meh. Orly gave us great spring and summer collections, and then they lost their momentum with fall and holiday. While I loved Zoya's color palettes, they were sort of "ho hum" compared to what they've done in previous years (don't get me wrong, I got a few 2015 Zoyas off clearance); only their holiday velvet mattes stood out to me.

Favorite indie brand: Girl, it's a tie! Now that Cult Nails and RBL have liquidated and are off the market, my beauty budget and I are 100% here for some Cirque Colors and Pretty Serious polishes. Both brands have a large enough variety of colors and finishes that there's always something to add to the old wish list, which I appreciate. Holos and most glitters still really aren't my thing.

Miscellaneous polish notes:
  • This is nothing new to long-time readers, but my favorite drugstore brand is still SH, particularly the CSM line. I'm excited to see what they'll crank out for 2016.
  • Not sure what my favorite high end brand of 2015 was, but I think it's worth nothing that Chanel released more interesting colors last year than they have in ages! I've heard they're switching their polishes to a gel formula, so I wonder if that would make them wear better on me than they usually do. Of course, I'm thinking I'd like their polishes a heck of a lot more if the bottlenecks weren't so derpy, but hey.
  • More often than not, I found myself reaching for green nail polish last year, so I guess that was my favorite polish color of 2015. Very Sally Bowles.
  • Any thoughts on this Pantone 2016 business? I'm not really feeling either of those colors, but I also haven't stopped loving emerald or radiant orchid. Weirdly enough, marsala grew on me over the course of 2015. Who knew?
  • I have no idea what the next big trend in polish is -- I just hope it's something I dislike enough not to buy (or buy into), haha. I'd rather fill the holes in my collection.

Now let's get into my Favorite beauty discoveries of 2015:

I'm a beauty n00b so these products probably aren't a revelation to you, but other n00bs might find this helpful!

(please pardon the shitacular photo -- just another reason I can never be a beauty blogger)

  1. MAC Prep + Prime lip: Readers Beliza and Jess recommended Prep + Prime over the summer when I asked if it was worth getting. I bought it a few weeks later and no regrets, y'all! I think it works a lot better than the NYX primer I was using. I noticed I had a lot less bleeding and feathering with red lipsticks than I normally would, and unlike the NYX, my lips didn't feel dried out. It's kind of like medicated chapstick, in that it takes a moment to really take effect, though that's fine with me. Other than the price, my only beef with Prep + Prime is that I'm not super fond of the twist up tube both of those primers have because the tube will pop out if you're not careful or if something happens. But until someone comes up with something better, I'll be repurchasing this!
  2. Urban Decay Ozone Multipurpose Primer pencil: The precioussss! I'm on my second UD Ozone chunky pencil since buying my first one in May. I think I've mentioned before that I don't use it as a primer, but more as a barrier around my outer lip line. Yes, I acknowledge that $16 is a bit ridiculous for that purpose, but I'm not about to buy a bunch of colored liners when this will work for just about everything! It's really changed how long lipstick stays where it's supposed to for me. I line my outer lip line with this right after using Prep + Prime. I do have to sharpen it from time to time,  but my NYX sharpener does the job just fine.
  3. Japonesque retractable lip brush: I am not a whiz at applying color right from the tube. Plus if I'm gonna look a fool with some bold lip colors, they might as well be applied properly! I went through two Real Techniques lip brushes and my sister went through a Sephora brush before we both settled on this Japonesque one in August (it's on the pricey side, $14-ish, so we did a Japonesque B1G1 50% off at Ulta). For their price, the Real Techniques brushes weren't bad, but you are fucked as soon as the cap breaks or gets damaged. So instead of repurchasing, I decided to get a nicer retractable brush -- it's easy to keep in my purse if I need to touch up when I'm running around. I think the brush is a little nicer than the Real Techniques brush, tbh. Cleaning this is a breeze, too. Worth the splurge.
  4. Yes to Cucumbers facial towelettes: I don't wear any makeup other than lipstick unless I'm feeling particularly frisky, which is when I'll attempt winged eyeliner. In any case, I only buy makeup remover wipes as I need them because I can make a 10-sheet pack last a while without it drying out (I rip sheets in half, saving the half I didn't use to take off my lipstick). I have sensitive skin so I generally avoid using scented products unless I have to, but last year, I had to toss the last of some Neutrogena wipes because my face was just not having it. Philosophy Purity doesn't really do anything for me as a remover, so that was out. I didn't feel like ponying up for my favorite Lancome Bi-Facil, and when I saw the 10-pack in line before checking out at Ulta, I grabbed it. The cucumber scent is so soothing and mild, and I can get a lot of liner off without it irritating the skin around my eye area. Win.

    2015: the year I loved pink and purple lips, apparently
  5. L'Oréal Colour Riche Freida's Red: Blogged about this over the summer as well, and I still think L'Oréal knocked it out of the park with their Pure Red collection. I've since worn Blake's and Liya's reds (fun tidbit, Blake's was my New Year's Day lip), but I have to say that Freida's is my absolute favorite of the bunch. Again, it's more fuchsia/magenta than a true red; as a drugstore product, it is seriously excellent! 
  6. MAC Heroine: I have a Twitter/IG friend who hoarded this stuff when it was LE, it was that good. 2015 was the year I got into purple lipstick, and Heroine is pretty much THE purple everyone wants -- or wants to dupe! I got a little ticked off when I bought Maybelline Brazen Berry and it was more of a buildable sheer. I wanted lots of color without having to do more than two swipes, so I got Heroine after my birthday. IT IS GREAT. I thought it would be my signature color until I discovered another purple lipstick ...
  7. MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus (1 and 2!): Damn it, Destiny Hope. Okay, so I wrote briefly about Viva Glam Miley 1 back in July. Still love it. But then a second Viva Glam Miley lipstick came out -- on my birthday, no less -- and when I tried it on at Macy's, I was smitten with it, too! I bought Heroine instead of Miley 2, which I sort of regret, because now I'll have to order it directly from the MAC site like a dummy since it's LE and no longer in stores.
  8. NYX Liquid Suede Amethyst: OH. MY. GOD. Ever since I bought it (end of September? early October?), this has been my go-to lip color. I actually wore this on NYE, and you know you're making purple your color when your friends look at you and say, "Huh, that works!" I like it way, way more than my sole NYX soft matte lip cream (Stockholm -- meh, complete nude lip mismatch). For one thing, this doesn't have a scent, so I'm not bombarded with whipped vanilla hell. For another, I like the slightly longer wand length, and the doe foot applicator is the perfect size. I think it dries fairly quickly on the lips compared to my OCC lip tar and Rimmel Provocalips, and I've never had a problem touching up, nor do I find it especially drying. Amethyst is a blue-leaning, grape purple matte, slightly redder than OCC Technopagan, and probably a bit more wearable unless you have a traditional office job or something like that. But until someone decides to hire me, I will wear this everywhere. If the other Liquid Suedes I want are this good, I'll have to acquire them, for sure. HIGHLY recommend. 
  9. OCC Technopagan lip tar: Another product I wrote about last summer. The color is TO DIE FOR, as we all know. It's my first OCC lip tar and a gift from Madeline, which is why I'm trying so hard to make it behave. My only problem is that I kept having problems with it bleeding and feathering all over my damn lips. Prep + Prime didn't really change that a whole lot, so I'm hoping my NYX Black Berry lip pencil will help a little. I want to wear this more often and for longer periods of time. That's the only way I would like this even MORE.
  10. Rimmel London Provocalips Little Minx: This is my only Provocalips lipstick because I was jonesing for fuchsia, whereas my friends tend to go/have gone for Kiss Me, You Fool (the red). I think this is warmer than L'Oréal Freida's Red, but don't quote me on it. Anyway, it's true: This shit don't budge! I noticed that I tend to wear this when I know I'm about to go out to crush some damn good eats, and it holds up better than regular tube lipstick for me. As to whether it truly is kiss-proof, I have no idea. I doubt it, though. Maybe I'll find out next weekend. Ha.

2015 reading favorites

What else? Oh, yeah. The reading challenges! I only completed 57% of my Goodreads Challenge and my Pop Sugar Challenge, with a total of 30 books. :/ While I didn't reach my goal of 50 books, I'm quite happy with 30 books -- I haven't read this much, with this much variety, in years!

Here's what 57% got me:

For the most part, it was a good (reading) year! There were a few stinkers in the bunch, of course, but I only HATED one book, Freedom -- in fact, Ashley read it before I did, and she hated it as well. It was a god-awful waste of tree. Most certainly would not recommend.

Here are my favorites:

  1. Craig Ferguson's memoir, American on Purpose -- you know I love him! Excited for his new series on the History channel. (Still haven't warmed up to James Corden.)
  2. Olive Kitteridge - Some people found it too depressing, but it was weirdly life-affirming to me. I'm so looking forward to reading Elizabeth Strout's new novel and renting the "Olive Kitteridge" HBO miniseries that aired last year? end of 2014?
  3. Americanah - As good as I was told it would be. LOVE.
  4. Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway - This one is so not going to be everyone's jam, but I enjoyed it because I am always here for a twist on detective books. Bohemian Highway actually is the second Claire D book, though you don't necessarily need to read the first one as it gets kind of bogged down in introducing you to Claire as well as the Silettians.
  5. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - If, like me, you haven't read it when a shit ton of people told you to, you need to get on it! I remember the movie, but ... meh. My best friend went on a vacation in Savannah and came back with all kinds of stories about how fun it was and how much I needed to read it -- really glad I did.
  6. Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies - YOOOOOOOOO. I was so bummed when Hilary Mantel didn't end up completing and publishing the final novel in this Cromwell trilogy last year!!!! Yes, there was a PBS miniseries last year, but if you've been around the nail polish scene for a while, then you remember Ji Baek named some RBL polishes after the Tudor wives after she (Ji) read these books. I LOVED these!, and while I think the miniseries came pretty close to visually capturing the essence of its source material, I prefer the books.
  7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Madeline made me read it, and I am eternally grateful that she did. It's a short read, but goddamn, it will punch you in the heart and make you cry, it's so good. I borrowed it via library e-book, but I'm going to have to get my own copy. It's nice to know that the book is appearing on more and more "required/summer reading" lists for middle & high schoolers. I wish I'd had to read it when I was younger. Adding more Sherman Alexie to the docket for 2017 ...
  8. David Copperfield - If you can slough through Dickens, then this is a great one. I knew the story inside out because I had a children's abridged version + I watched a bunch of movies & miniseries, but it was still nice to check this off the list. This was part of my Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, under the category of "your mother's favorite book" -- technically not her favorite, though she looooooves Dickens.
  9. A Map of Home - If I hadn't read it last year, this totally would be on the list for 2016! I knew nothing about it, except that my sister also wanted to read it, so we read it together. It was pretty exciting to see this included in a note in a recent ONTD book post ("50 Books by Lesbian Writers of Colour"; the main character was bi, hence the inclusion by note)
  10. The Disaster Artist - OH HIIIIIIIIIIIII, MARK. You guys, I have a confession: I'm a HUUUUUUUUUGE fan of "The Room." (So, a Roomie.) I want to theme my 30th birthday around it, I love it so much. I've been wanting to read the book since I heard Greg Sestero was working on one, but I actually didn't get my hands on it until B gave it to me for my birthday last year. I devoured it in 2? 3? days. It, like almost anything surrounding "The Room"/Tommy Wiseau, is fucking hilarious and full of wonderment. I loaned it to my cousin after Thanksgiving, and I can't wait to hear what he has to say when he gets the time to read it. I'm not sure how I feel about Franco/Franco/Rogen making a movie about the memoir about the movie, but we'll see. You know what happens when you plan too much ... it might not come out right. Now let's go eat, HUH?

I've pared my 2016 reading challenge to 30 books, since that seems like a manageable number. Instead of a category themed challenge, I'm only going to read books written by OR about women. I'm in the middle of two biographies right now, which thankfully are quite interesting, and there are more I'd like to check out; this is the year I read more Atwood, Butler, Christie, and Robinson (Marilynne, that is). Anyway, the challenge might end with a total of 32 books, because I finished two books I started in 2015. If you want to up your reading game this year, find new recs from other readers, I suggest you get on the Goodreads wagon! Here's my account. Let's be friends. :)

2015 faves in film (by U.S. wide release dates here):

Listed in alphabetical order.
  1. Antman: My expectations for this were literally ZERO. Yes, it's basically "Iron Man" but I didn't care. Although Edgar Wright left the project, his scent was all over the thing and I enjoyed it. I was inexplicably delighted to see T.I. as one of Scott's heist buds -- he and Michael Pena made the movie for me! This movie was a decent Marvel save after the atrocity that was "Age of Ultron," which was fucking awful, bye Joss-licia!
  2. Brooklyn: I took myself on a me-date between some NYE socializing to see this, and I am so glad I did! It's beautifully shot. I've heard the pacing was a little slow for some people, but if you're willing to stick with it, the emotional payoff is worth it. The reviewer for was not kidding about crying 40 minutes in and never really stopping, because I definitely had something in my eyes, too.
  3. Crimson Peak: Well, color this one a total marketing fail. At first I was really disappointed with it not being a straight-up horror movie (albeit beautifully styled); when I got used to the idea of it as GDT's take on gothic romance, I warmed up to it a little more. A LOT more, I should say. I loved Jessica Chastain in this and I 100% need a Lucille Funko. (Charlie Hunnam Accent Review: Not the worst he's ever done.)
  4. Ex Machina: Robot/AI movies are my jam, but a really good one is so hard to come by. I would have watched the shit out of this even if it had been crap because I love Oscar Isaac so much, and that dance scene is my favorite dance scene that wasn't "Magic Mike"-related. (Also, I completely cracked up when I remembered Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander were Levin and Kitty in the Keira Knightley "Anna Karenina.") Anyway, if this movie and "Fury Road" don't help you arrive at the conclusion that men are the worst and they ain't shit, I don't know what will. (Potential answer: "The Crimson Petal and the White.")
  5. Jupiter Ascending: My irrational love for this movie knows no bounds. I really actually enjoy the Wachowskis' visuals and world-building, but their dialogue is fucking terrible. It's okay, though. Rollerblading space werewolf Channing Tatum is eeeeeeeeverrrryyyyyyythiiiiiing.
  6. Kingsman: The Secret Service: Good, dumb British fun. I appreciated the casting of relatively unknown younger actors, and the lead kid didn't irk me at all, which was good. And if I'm going to continue ranking my enjoyment of movies by quotability, then "Kingsman" is definitely up there because Samuel L. Jackson's character had some hysterical lines that I repeat way too often. And now I'm jonesing for some McDonald's ...
  7. Love & Mercy: You know my feels about this movie. They were only compounded after the Brian Wilson concert I attended in October, and I actually ended up watching this on Christmas Eve with my mom and sister because I got tired of having to tell them how beautiful it was. If you are a fan of BWils, the Beach Boys, musician biopics, Paul Dano, and Elizabeth Banks, this is the movie for you.
  8. Magic Mike XXL: Did you really think I wouldn't put this feel-good movie of the year and future Fourth of July classic on my list????
  9. Mad Max: Fury Road: We lived, we died, we lived again. So fucking awesome. True story, I had to stop letting myself watch it after 11 o'clock at night because I would get too amped. Like, "Die Hard 2" levels of amped, which is WAY too amped when you already have trouble sleeping.
  10. What We Do in the Shadows: I will watch almost anything for anyone involved with Flight of the Conchords. Jemaine and Murray did not disappoint. This is one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life, and you know you loved a movie when you quote it all the damn time. I am stoked for the werewolf sequel and for whatever Taika Waititi does with "Thor 3."

Sadly, I completely and utterly failed to experience "Creed," "Tangerine," or "Straight Outta Compton," or I bet they would have made the list. I AM THE WORST. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

And despite watching it twice, I'm still sorting out my feelings re: "The Force Awakens." That is, feelings that aren't "OSCAR ISAAC, hnnnnnnnnngggggggggg." You know how it is.

Honorable mentions (in no particular order):
  • "Whiplash": Technically a 2014 wide release. I caught this just before it left theaters. Not sure if this was made additionally memorable because B & I went up to NoVA to watch this with Steff's husband, Ben, when he was in there for work. Ben is a very funny guy.
  • "Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf": By far the best of Syfy's shark-centric offerings since the first two "Sharknado" TV movies -- everyone went full ham in this one.
  • "Only Lovers Left Alive": Only recommended if you love Tilda and Hiddles enough to put up with the languid pacing. I didn't mind it.
  • "Pride": I finally caved after Madeline kept raving about it. Now that I've had some time to think about it, it was a little too "feel-good," so it might not be your jam but damn it, I couldn't help getting caught up in it and rooting for everyone. Since it's a British movie about a very British series of events, I was blown away when I found out the lead actor was actually American.
  • "Frank": Do you like Domhnall Gleeson? Eccentric Maggie Gyllenhaal characters? Movies with theremins? Then this is the movie for you. Wonderfully weird.
  • "Smoke Signals": A great thing to watch after Madeline turned me on to reading Sherman Alexie. Plus, young babely Adam Beach in an awful wig.
  • "John Wick": Action Keanu is always good. The beginning, however, is roof stoof. Can't wait for the sequel.
  • "The Eagle": The greatest surprise of my movie nights with Madeline. Holy shit. I don't even know where to start ... I cannot recommend it unless you love Charming Potato, Jamie Bell, or are willing to suffer through movies about Roman centurions. But we sure as hell enjoyed it, enough for me to include it on this list.

2015 favorites in (appointment) TV: Okay, so this list was ridiculously easier to put together than my film list! Presented in no particular order:
  1. Fresh Off the Boat: I hope it continues its stride because this show is KILLING IT right now. I can't wait to actually buy this on DVD someday. It's a completely different animal from the book (network television, duh), but that's not a bad thing. I don't know if it's the cast or the '90s nostalgia, but it's one of my favorite half hours of TV. I know the show is about Eddie, but the other cast members who play his family really steal the spotlight from him!
  2. Agent Carter: Season 1: I haven't seen any of the Season 2 episodes, so I can't speak to that right now, but I rewatched Season 1 when I got sick earlier last month, and it holds up (you'd be surprised what doesn't hold up after a year or two). It's so crazy to think that Hayley Atwell/Peggy has become the fan favorite that she has in the five years since the first "Captain America" movie's release! I hope the second season will stay true to what makes Peggy one of the most kickass dames.
  3. Grace & Frankie: I wrote a little bit about this one over the summer. My opinion of and affection for the show (and Lily Tomlin) hasn't changed. I usually find one "sweet" show in whatever cesspool of shows I'm watching, and I think this one is it. Crossing my fingers for a fantastic second season.
  4. Jessica Jones: THIS SHOW. THIS FUCKING SHOW. Isn't Krysten Ritter great? Anyway, I loved this show's underlying element of noir. I loved how the villain was written, and the terror he sparked in everyone; I suppose I also enjoyed how Tennant played him (as it's not 2006, my ladyboner for him is long gone!). I loved Jessica and how she interacted with so many characters, even the two I hated. My only gripes? I wish they'd spent less time on one character (you know who). I also felt that a couple of episodes were filler -- things could have moved along faster and tighter. It was interesting to see how little the show actually relied on Jessica's powers and more on the dramatic effects of her use of them, though I'm not sure how soon that would get old. All in all, it's still super good stuff. I think this show was even more of a surprise for me than "Daredevil" was, given what little I knew about Jessica going into it. I'm glad it got renewed!
  5. Daredevil: I actually considered combining "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones" into one Netflix + Marvel sandwich, but I bumped a show off my docket and that freed up a space. I don't really care about Daredevil, and still I enjoyed this WAY more than I thought I would! Charlie Cox was so cute. Now that I got that out of the way: I did not love Fisk as much as I wanted to, I am not here for Karen/Matt and I sure as hell was not there for a certain character's death. I think the episodes were strung together a little better than on JJ (blasphemy, I know), but what this show did that made it worth its own spot on the list was give us some great action sequences. HOT DAMN. More in S2, please! And more Rosario Dawson, while you're at it!
  6. Master of None: Netflix does it again! Cheating a little here since technically I didn't watch it until right after New Year, but I'd read so much about it and seen enough clips that I felt like I had. Of course I loved seeing a show helmed by and starring a racially and ethnically diverse group of people -- it's always nice to see people who look a little more like you on TV and who reflect the real world more accurately. I think it could fine-tune a few things, particularly how the tone? dialogue? can be a little on-the-nose about an issue; other than that, I really enjoyed it and I can't wait for a second season. I also want to eat some pasta right the fuck NOW.
  7. Broad City: Sometimes second seasons scare me (say that 10 times fast). That's usually when shows find their groove, and boy, did Abbi and Ilana deliver this season! This might sound weird, but part of the reason I love "Broad City" so much is because the humor is so over-the-top but it doesn't get 100% raunchy despite the shenanigans. It makes sense and you know it's not there for the sake of grossing you out. That's just me, though. Oh well, BRING ON SEASON 3!!!!
  8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Why this show does not get the kind of love other shows get is beyond me. It's fucking hilarious, and Andre Braugher deserves all the awards. I had no idea the man was capable of being so funny. That's not easy! I hope the Nine-Nine sticks around because it's a comedy treasure. (I don't even really like Andy Samberg, but he doesn't annoy me on this show too much. Definite plus!)
  9. The Last Man on Earth: I am all caught up now and I am so glad I did not give up on it after the first few episodes. I also mentioned this show on the blog over the summer, and everything I said about it still stands (thank goodness)! Kristen Schaal is a goshdarn delight here, I'm glad Chubowski from "Enlisted" is on another Fox program, and I love how weird Mary Steenburgen's character has gotten.
  10. You're the Worst: I didn't start watching it until last year -- I binged the first season probably two episodes into Season 2, which just ended. I don't know how to describe this show because it's fucking 4 a.m. now, but also if I tried describing it, it would sound so unappealing! Yes, it's another show about horrible people, but it's a little more grounded in reality and srs bidnuss than, say, "It's Always Sunny" ... anyway, the Season 2 Halloween episode made me laugh so hard I almost cried. Just watch this show. It's not the worst, it's the best. I promise.
What, no "Mindy"? No "Hannibal"? (Correction: "Hannibae"!) No "Bob's Burgers"? God, "Mindy." That show has become that friend you love who makes terrible choices, but you'll always root for her because you want her to do better. "Hannibal"? I don't know if the show would have returned to its first two seasons' formats if it had been renewed, but Season Three was just ... off. Beautiful, but off. RIP, you talented devil. And "Bob's Burgers" is great, but it's kind of inconsistent for me. Like, the first half of the season will start off so great, but they lose me for a while, throw in a handful of good episodes, and then it's "meh" again. That's how Season 5 went, and 6 is looking to be that way. Culling this list was tough, but when you have other comedies consistently firing on all cylinders during the same period of time, you gots to make some tough choices! I also found "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" pretty hilarious because it somehow works in spite of its wacky-ass premise (plus who doesn't love Titus Andromedon, Le Loup, and "Daddy's Boy!"?) but some stuff (the Native American storyline, the dumb prosecutors during the trial) bothered me enough to bump it down and break up my Netflix Marvel sandwich. I never did get around to "Better Call Saul" -- every time I tried to start it, the first episode was never available on VOD! Lame. Oh, and I would have included "Mr. Robot" if I had actually finished it. I liked what I saw, but my attention span whenever I put it on was god-awful and it always took me three hours to watch an episode. No thanks.

... I really need friends I can talk TV with. I show up at places and this whole thing is kind of my shtick, only no one cares about that after two minutes and then I end up typing weird lists on the Internet. :'(

Part of what made 2015 so great was being able to travel around the country and spend time with friends and family. I'm not going to rehash it all here, partly because you don't need more lists and partly because I posted the everliving fuck out of my quick trips on Instagram! But no post about 2015 would be complete without acknowledging this. I'm so glad I got to go to Anna's wedding in Michigan, and hang out with Stephanie (and that we all barely survived that retrograde). I'm so glad I went to my childhood family friend's bachelorette in August and come back for her wedding in September! I'm so glad I decided to spend a couple of days in New Jersey with my cousin and her family on the way back from that bachelorette because I haven't had one-on-one time with her in forever and her kids are growing so quickly! I'm so glad I saved a little for a weekend in L.A. with my friend Jennifer, a place we both love and would love to visit again. I'm so glad I "crashed" my friend Kristin's bachelorette weekend Louisville, and that I got to spend time with my friends doing some of the same things we did on our last trip, and some new things, too. You could say I'm more than glad, that I'm grateful for everything that has allowed me those opportunities when I shouldn't have had them. In any case, I don't know that I'm going to get to flit around so much this year, especially if I've got to get grad school in my sights, so those trips mean even more to me. It's crazy what a change of scene can do!

Speaking of scenes ... I didn't hit up a ton of concerts last year, since the cashish flow was tight, so I made sure I only went to things that were BLAF (translation: "bucket list as fuck"). I got so lucky, and went to four shows that were beyond BLAF! Even better, I only had to go to 2 shows by myself -- which everyone should do, don't get me wrong, but it gets old after a while!

Here's who I saw in 2015:

Kacey Musgraves
2/28/15 | Richmond, VA
This was my Christmas present to my sister and it was SO worth it, even with all the rowdy fans.
Kacey and her band put on a great show, and covered "Toxic" and "No Scrubs"! YASSSSSSSS. Oh, and her new album is great!

Fleetwood Mac
3/15/15 | Charlottesville, VA
It was amazing. I thought I would cry during "Landslide," but no ... definitely cried during "Gypsy."

Ryan Adams (feat. Jenny Lewis)
5/3/15 | Charlottesville, VA
I have been dying to see Ryan Adams live since I was 14 (thanks, alternative rock radio station that no longer exists!). I mean, "Gold" is only one of my favorite albums of all time. I think the only other person who was more excited about this show was Katie -- it was her first time seeing him, too, so it was special for both of us. We also had a lot of fun hanging out on a Sunday (gasp!). ;) I'd seen Jenny Lewis in Nov. 2014, so it was fun to catch her again. I wish I had the funds for her "Rabbit Fur Coat" tenth anniversary shows.

Hall & Oates (feat. Mayer Hawthorne)
8/30/15 | Irvine, CA
Bucket list as fuckkkkkk. Dream concert right here! It was the perfect way to cap off Jennifer's and my weekend in CA. The weather was perfect, the music was great ... what more could you want? (Except maybe an actual dinner?) Super fun. Both H&O and MH are performing again at Madison Square Garden in a little over 2 weeks, with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, how goddamn dope would it be to hear all of those acts under one roof IN ONE NIGHT????

Brian Wilson (feat. Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin)
10/22/15 | Richmond, VA
I happened to be checking my email on the train to NYC two days before my not-cousin's wedding when I got an email alert from The National announcing that there would be a Brian Wilson presale the next day. I was still under the thrall of "Love & Mercy," so I resolved to find a way to go. But then I texted my best friend, asking if she and her husband would like to get in on this, as BW is one of her husband's favorites. She said yes, so I swooped on some tickets the next morning. I am so glad I did, because we got great seats and it was lovely to share that experience with others who felt similarly (God, I love concerts), especially my best friends. :) The music was beautiful and we straight up got chills during "God Only Knows." This photo is from "Don't Worry, Baby" -- Al Jardine's son sounds so remarkably like a young Brian, it's uncanny. If you can catch this legend in concert, do whatever you have to do to get there because you will be so glad you did.

Stevie Wonder
11/17/15 | Charlottesville, VA
I would have been happy to end my concert year with Brian Wilson, but then there was a Groupon deal for this show that was too good for me to pass up! I got a helluva deal for a helluva performer. This show was part of the "Songs in the Key of Life" tour, which if you know that album ... you're in for a long, fun night! I kind of agree with people who say that album is amazing though somewhat uneven, which made for an interesting setlist. I found that I was too caught up in enjoying myself to care too much, save for an incessant heckler who had a LOT to do with the show ending shortly before 12:30. That's three hours of grooves. It was nuts. My point is, Stevie Wonder is bucket list AS FUCK -- I'd be hard pressed to think of anyone who doesn't know at least one of his songs -- and I was beyond thrilled to end the concert year by seeing him live. What a night. What a talent.

P.S. My favorite album of 2015 is still up for debate. So many good ones dropped last year!


  1. Just wanted to say a quick hi, haven't even read it yet, but just saw the email notification...yay :) running late, as usual... will read when I get home, but just wanted say hey stranger!

    1. I'd say you missed us...because I kept reading, and reading, and reading, and I didn't think I'd ever reach the end. Truth be told, I was reading before bed, and had to put it down to read part 2 in the morning. I'm glad though, because, wow, man, have I missed you. I've been reading old stuff though, so it's been cool. This monster of a post makes me feel less bad about some of the lengthy emails I've sent you ;) I was a little surprised not to see the #wordvomit tag, ha! I'm not really a concert going person, but wow, you caught some great shows last year. I'm especially jelly of H&O since you were practically in my backyard! I am tempted to join you on the book reading, but I'm not sure I could keep up with your selections, we'll see. Sorry, it's late, and I am all over the place with this comment. Let me sum up: 1) yay, you're back 2) grad school, awesome, good for you, I'm sure it's like riding a bike, I helped my younger sister to edit some papers this last year, and it came back to me, sorta 3) for NYE I wore Orly Mirrorball, which looked awesome & wore like a champ (previously I'd only worn it on my toes)

    2. Hi Leissa!

      1) It's really nice to hear from you -- this is more of a post that I typed out for myself, so it's super awesome to hear that someone else (a) read all the way to the end of it, LOL, and (b) found it fun. I don't know how often I'll be posting again, but there definitely will be action here this month. :)

      (2) IDK, it's been 10 years and I'm completely terrified. I don't have a background in academic writing (mine is a weird mix of journalism and medical/clinical stuff), so I have no idea how this is going to work.

      (3) I had to Google Orly Mirrorball because I vaguely remembered it. Very blingy! Glad to hear you got some good wear out of it. I can't imagine wearing it on my toes -- removing regular cremes from my toes is a nightmare of its own, so I have no clue how people remove shimmers and glitters every few weeks. Oy!

      P.S. Don't be too jealous about the H&O show -- they just announced a 2016 national tour today! Haven't looked at the dates or venues but there's gotta be a stop near you. ;)

  2. Ugh, I feel you SOOOOO HARRRRRRRD about grad school and the dirty 30 coming up. I'm TERRIFIED of both. I'm in the process of applying and I question whether I even want to go back, if I'll fail, the horrifying debt that will undoubtedly pile up behind me...
    And if you need to talk tv, I am here. I watch waaaaay too much of it, and I've already bludgeoned my friends and boyfriend with my opinions!

    1. First I guess we have to get through the hurdle of getting accepted, which is its own struggle in itself. I'm mostly worried that I don't have as much passion as other candidates; I'm coming at this from a practical perspective now that I'm older and have seen the effects of my own stupidity. Luckily I'm not too worried about debt (growing up, my family put away a lot of money for school -- so as long as it's a public in-state university, I/we can afford it), but failure is my #1 fear. I don't want to go into *another* degree program and then realize it might not be for me after all. I am So. Fucking. SCARED. And I'm wishing you good luck on all fronts!

      Thanks for the TV offer. I'll be sure to take you up on it!


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