Tags: Bridget Jones, favorite Christmas movies, Love Actually, Sound of Music, The Holiday
When I was a child we were allowed to start listening to Christmas carols the Friday after Thanksgiving. Everything else, however — lights, decorations, candy canes — had to wait until December 1 to be strung up and twinkle. Even though now that I have children and I am again as giddy as they (or as they will be, once they kind of “get” the idea of the Christmas season) about the next four weeks — I love advent (with a small “a”); I love that even though it is dark by 4:15 the lines of car tail lights blink festively red as they stretch down the freeway in front of me — I don’t feel right starting my own traditions until the calendar flips from November to December.
So, now it’s December, and I can break out my small but growing collection of decorations, smell the paperwhites in my kitchen windows, and light the tree at 4:30 p.m. I can also watch Christmas movies. No, not It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street (though, call me a heretic, I do like the 1994 version with Elizabeth Perkins), or even Rudolph. I have my own Christmas movie aesthetic, decidedly untraditional and, yes, decidedly skewed towards the only kind of movie I really like anyway: chick-flicks. But they get me in the spirit — and I know several of my readers will not argue with my choices! In the spirit of the blogosphere and its ubiquitous lists and countdowns then, here are my top five annual Christmas classics:
5. Elf — just as my mother commenced the Bing Crosby rotation immediately after Thanksgiving, you can watch this Thanksgiving weekend. Likely you’ll watch it a few more times during the month of December. Also, very likely for several of these viewings, you will not be completely sober (making it, like most Will Farrell movies, even funnier). P.S. Smiling’s my favorite!
4. The Holiday — I dragged Tim to this one December right after I finished my law school exams for the semester. He indulged because of my fragile, exhausted state (oh yeah, I was pregnant, too). I’m quite sure he regrets it to this day. But what a lovely fantasy with lovely home decor.
3. Bridget Jones’ Diary — technically not a Christmas movie, but it begins on Christmas with Colin Firth in a reindeer sweater. And is one of my top five favorite movies ever. (I never said I was a film student; plus, I wrote 30-page paper in law school discussing Bridget Jones in the context of Aristotle and ethics and Jane Eyre. If you don’t believe me, I’ll email you a copy.)
2 Love Actually — Colin Firth again! And Hugh Grant (again!) My sister Erin and friend Meg and I have made this a Christmas tradition. Meg pointed out last night that Natalie, the Prime Minister’s secretary, has the winsomness of Kate Middleton. (I suppose you have to find meaning and relevance where you can during each annual viewing, no?)
1. Sound of Music — is this a Christmas classic simply because it is on television at Christmastime every year? I grew up wishing I were Marta, or at least that I could play Marta in some local musical production. This movie has it all: nuns, scenery, Nazis, teen romance, a glamorous countess, and, of course, true love. Little Buggy and I sing “Doe a Deer” a lot in the car (she can pitch match, by the way — I was a bit worried that the maternal genes might not be dominant here…), and I hope that this year I can at least show her the highlights: in addition to “Doe a Deer,” the Lonely Goatherd song and maybe So long, Farewell…
What is your Christmas favorite?
Tags: Chris Martin, Coldplay
I found this venn diagram today, here. How brilliant — because how true. (In fact, see my prior post on why drinking wine while listening to Coldplay is maybe not a good idea…) Oh, how this sums up a good two-year period of my life! My sisters will confirm that they almost staged a Coldplay intervention, almost flung all CDs out of my home and car. But Chris Martin, you felt my pain. I know you did. I can laugh now at the cliché I must have been, driving around in my old green stick-shift Accord for hours, with Coldplay in the CD player, or huddled in my cold living room with a bottle of wine, the song “Amsterdam” on repeat.
Tags: Fall TV schedule
There are far more productive ways to spend one’s evening than in front of the TV. If you are an attorney, for example, you can bill some quality hours at home at night (and indeed I do, when I must). You can read – The New Yorker, for example, or a book for your book club (which you never attend because you never have time to read the book). You can go to bed early, so that you can get up early and do something productive in the morning (such as exercise). Despite my post yesterday extolling the benefits of breaking out of routine, however, generally I just like to watch TV. I’m a pop culture junkie, and I’m proud. Other than on Friday nights, when both my People and Us Weekly have arrived and I curl up in bed with my celebrity gossip trash at 8 p.m. (not sure they count as productive reading), I like to curl up on the couch with a glass of wine (not these days, sob!) and decompress in that most American way.
I didn’t watch a lot of TV until I went to law school. I read a lot. I wrote. I went to sleep early. In fact, for a few years, I didn’t even own a TV (perhaps Iwas living out an intellectual aesthete’s fancy? That was misguided.). In law school, however, after a day and usually part of an evening reading case law in very fine print, your brain is quite literally unable to process another word. TV becomes the ultimate — and only — escape. I watched so much TV in law school that I was even DVR’ing re-runs of Cold Case on the USA network. Happily, these days, the queue is much smaller (sort of):
60 Minutes — I DVR this, but rarely go back and watch if I haven’t caught it live, but it has become our Sunday night tradition to eat dinner in front of Morley and the gang and make fun of Andy Rooney. (By the way, Lesley Stahl’s biography, Reporting Live, is very good.)
Gossip Girl — although I’m about to give up on this. Somehow everyone has ended up at NYU together, and sex and alcohol are just not as racy in college as they are in prep school. That being said, I’m surprisingly enchanted by Hillary Duff’s guest appearance! And I love this weekly recap.
The Biggest Loser — essential to only watch this on the DVR, not live, as you can blow through the interminable challenges and weigh-ins and focus in on the good stuff, like all the crying, as Father Scott so accurately depicts every week, here.
The Good Wife — perhaps my favorite new show. I should have thought of the concept: newly divorced mom (her husband, the former Cook County DA was caught with a prostitute and is now in jail for perhaps using state money to pay her…) goes back to work as a first-year associate at a Chicago litigation firm. (Love that Josh Charles from Sports Night is in this too. Have always thought he was cute/dreamy in a nerdy way.)
Glee — OK, this is the best show on TV, despite the slight RT* factor of the musical numbers. Will devote a whole post to it at some point.
The Office — even though it gives me the RTs. I love Jim.
30 Rock — I literally guffaw at this show. I love Tracy Morgan, I’m sorry. And Alec Baldwin. And my father’s law firm was (is) in 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Supernanny — for some reason, even though it couldn’t be more formulaic week to week, we love this show. Schandenfreude?
Saturday Night Live — I just fast forward through this in case something funny happened (e.g., “Dick in a Box”), which 95% of the time it has not.
The Daily Show — on DVR, you can get through this in about 15 minutes.
Curb Your Enthusiasm — almost unwatchable due to the amount of RT’s produced, but this season is much fresher and funnier than it has been as of late. Even though as of late was like two years ago.
Shows I tried this season and rejected:
Parks & Recreation (I love Amy Pohler, but it hasn’t won me over yet)
Shows on hiatus but usually programmed on DVR
Entourage — have always liked it for the LA-industry references, but it’s getting old. I’m just about over it.
24 — total addiction, even though I don’t like suspenseful movies or shows. If Tim’s not around, I end up fast forwarding through the suspenseful scenes to see how they turn out, and then I rewind and watch them after I know the outcome.
American Idol — I refused to watch for years, but now I’m at the point where I text in my votes! This is a show that you can’t DVR, however, because you’ll inevitably hear about it before you have a chance to catch up. How brilliantly conceived is a show that forces you to watch it live — like in the old days!
Royal Pains — it stars Mark Feuerstein, for whom I have a soft spot since he went to my alma mater and I met him once at a post-college party in Brooklyn. I am so hip.
*If you don’t know what “RTs” stands for, email me and I’ll tell you privately — it’s not quite PC enough to explain here! Basically, though, it stands for the feeling you get when you’re just so embarrassed for the characters on the show that you cringe and can barely stand to watch and would fast-forward through those parts if your husband didn’t grab the remote away and call you a wimp.
Once again, Michelle Obama inspires me. This time, it is her arms. If a working mother of two young children — who is undoubtedly far, far busier than I — can have sculpted arms, I have no excuse.
My love for Michelle (can I call her Michelle?) cannot be simply be that of the flighty “girl-crush” used for actresses and the like. Instead, I would compare it more to that of my grandmother for Jackie Kennedy — we catch a glimpse of our best selves (not to get all Oprah!) in the First Lady. My grandmother saw a stylish, educated, barrier-breaking Catholic woman; I see an educated, lawyer-mom not afraid to stand up for herself — and Michelle’s barrier-breaking quality is not so much race as it is a woman who is living the life so many of us do — juggling work and kids and doing so openly and, hopefully, honestly.
In any event, just as Michelle inspired me to stop dithering about heading off to work as a corporate lawyer (remember this piece?), she has motivated me to stop dithering about exercise. My running clothes are sitting at my feet, under my desk, and if I don’t walk out this door at 5 p.m. to sneak in a run before heading home, I’ll have all of you to answer to!
Tags: Cambridge, celebrity writers, Obama campaign
Last night I attended my first Obama fundraiser. It was a serendipitous occurrence: I woke up Sunday morning to Colin Powell’s endorsement and thought, “I need to contribute to the campaign this week.” The next day, Lindsey invited me to attend a house party in Cambridge called, “Writers for Obama.” It was the kind of event I could only dream up: held in an old Victorian house in Cambridgeport, fires burning in every fireplace, chili cooking on the stove, lots of wine. It was hosted by a number of well known writers — a who’s who of the New Yorker, basically (and indeed, the magazine’s fiction editor was there…) — and Lindsey and I, English majors and wanna-be novelists ourselves, walked around staring at name tags (“Did you see who that was?”) Here’s whom I spied: Susan Faludi, Lois Lowry, Claire Messud (the hostess and Lindsey’s friend — our ticket in), Gish Jen, Elizabeth McCracken, Helen Lee, Tom Perotta, Susannah Kaysen, and Robert Pinsky (yes, Robert Pinsky). We got up the nerve to gush our fandom to Tom Perotta, shorter and slightly more awkward than one would think, albeit perfectly dressed in a black leather coat and thick black glasses.
Just as important was the event itself. A woman from the Obama campaign swung through on her way from New Hampshire to Logan to fly to Ohio. Her speech was rousing, and because she went both to Columbia and Harvard Law with “Barack,” she spoke forcefully about him as a candidate and friend. I realized when I returned home that not one negative word was uttered all evening about the Republicans. Instead, it was a celebration of the momentum that this campaign has created and needs to continue for the next two weeks. The woman from the campaign said, “I’ve quit my real job at this point. Because if for some reason we should lose on November 4, it won’t because I didn’t do everything I could to get Barack Obama elected.” And she encouraged all of us to do the same. For my part, I’ll be manning a voter “hotline,” on election day, where supposedly I will dispense legal advice to those who feel their voting rights were impinged. I doubt the state of Massachusetts will produce many of those calls but, nonetheless, it will be exciting to feel like I’m truly involved in the day itself.
Tags: GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow, inadequate mother, yoga
So Gwyneth Paltow now has her own website — a guide to being as fabulous as she. It’s called GOOP (a clever acronym? A congealed mess?), and you can sign up to receive Daily Candy-like emails on recipes, hotels, and I’m not sure what else yet (hopefully some decorating advice!), as this is all description she gives so far:
My life is good because I’m not passive about it. I want to nourish what is real, and I want to do it without wasting time. I love to travel, to cook, to eat, to take care of my body and mind, to work hard. I love being a mother who has had to overcome my bad qualities to be a good mother. I love being in spaces that are clean and feel nice.
Over the years I have tried lots of different things. I have made lots of mistakes. But I have figured some things out in the process and I would like to share them with you. Whether you want a good place to eat in London, some advice on where to stay in Austin, the recipe I made up this week, or some thoughts from one of my sages, GOOP is a little bit of everything that makes up my life.
Make your life good. Invest in what’s real. Cook a meal for someone you love. Pause before reacting. Clean out your space. Read something beautiful. Treat yourself to something. Go to a city you’ve never been to. Learn something new. Don’t be lazy. Workout and stick to it. GOOP. Make it great.
I’d like to do all of those things, every day. But will subscribing to this endeavor really make anyone feel anything other than inadequate? (Such as one feels when practicing yoga next to Gwyneth for a few days?) Still, these sentiments do resonate: “I love being a mother who has had to overcome her bad qualities to be a good mother.” and “I love being in spaces that are clean and feel nice.”
Tags: exam procrastination, Gwyneth Paltrow, Habitually Chic, Madeline Weinrib, stylist
From the subject matter (celebs! and Gwyneth at that! and interior design! Gwyneth’s interior design!), to the fabulous links, to its celebration of unabashed procrastination, the below email from law-school Lindsey (not to be confused with college Lindsey, although admittedly I often send them emails intended for the other) is perfect in so many ways…
Are you looking at her legs or the Madeline Weinrib chair? Tough call…
“So I really should be studying, but instead I’m googling everything Gwyneth Paltrow because I’ve become completely obsessed with her look recently. I mean, those legs…. I need them. Yesterday. I really want to be able to wear the dresses she’s wearing (if you’ve been too busy to follow her Iron Man press tour, you can get a fashion recap here: http://www.people.com/people/stylewatch/gallery/0,,20195908_1,00.html)
“But anyway, I was googling ‘Gwyneth Paltrow Stylist’ b/c I wanted to see if I could figure out who styles her, and I came across this design blog that had a few entries in October 2007 about her home layout in House and Garden in November. Anyway, I thought you would enjoy the blog, based on some of the entries I’ve read in your blog… habituallychic.blogspot.com
“Happy writing….we’re almost done!”
Of course, this sent me off on 30 minutes of procrastination of my own (not including writing this post), but does she know me or what? Maybe I need to have a Marbury v. Madison Ave. guest blog…
(Photo thanks to Habitually Chic)
Tags: Central Square, New Kids on the Block
Who said this blog can’t be newsworthy? My sister’s boyfriend told my other sister that the New Kids on the Block are rehearsing from 12-4 in Central Square in a studio next to my sister’s (not the one with the boyfriend, the other one) husband’s friend’s wife’s Pilates Studio. Yes, the news couldn’t be more direct.
The comeback is happening!
I have two friends who are my go-to celebrity gossip aficionados, and when the three of us get together — an MBA, doctor, and lawyer (don’t worry, I’m not going to out you…) — our conversation inevitably touches on what we’ve recently read on Perez, Go Fug Yourself, People, US Weekly, In Style, etc. We are concerned about Renee’s recently tragic hair (and consistently annoying pursed-lip “smile”), Gwyneth’s need for a trim (she just got one! Yay!), and Christina’s prematurely scheduled c-section (three weeks early, for convenience’s sake — what doctor in his right mind would OK that?). We are the demographic who keeps all these places in rolling in advertising revenue, seriously. We should know better.
Anyway, one of us (the doctor) recently checked out Jamie Lynn Spears’, J. Lo’s, and Halle Berry’s baby registries on Babies R Us. First of all (1) she DID spend time doing this, but (2) she nevertheless is fully aware that they probably are all fake. I mean, do you think J. Lo is really going to register at Babies R Us? According to US Weekly, if you are a star, you register at a place called Milkshop.com for $500 cashmere onesies and $2500 antique prams… And she has an astute query: who is creating these fake baby registries? Is it the manufacturers, who want people to think, “Well, if Halle Berry uses Pampers, maybe I should too?” Or is it random Jane Doe who thinks that J. Lo fans will fall for it, buy some crib sheets for J. Lo (because who wouldn’t want to send her favorite celeb a baby gift?) that will instead actually be sent to the scheming Jane Doe?
P.S. Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner are filming a movie in front of my building today. I told Janet to make sure to promenade the Little Bug by a few times to get her discovered.