Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What Makes You Happy?

If you read my blog, you already know I worship Oprah. 

So of course I get her "Thought for Today Newsletter" in my email.

It's a newsletter with all kinds of feel good articles, and last Tuesday, I noticed this one:  "9 Rules Happy Women Make (and Follow) by Amy Shearn.  It's an interesting list of rules, because they aren't the kinds of things you would think would be on such a list.

Here is a summary of her 9 rules that happy women make ...
and my comments:

1.  When you have two options, find a third. 
She uses an example of your being offered a job in Mexico.  You want the job, but you don't want to move.  You talk to a friend and she says, "Why not telecommute?"

OK, I get that, sort of.  But in this case, how often can most of us telecommute our jobs? 

As a librarian in a public library, that would have been a bit difficult, though there sure were times when I wished I could just click someone off when they were asking me a ridiculously stupid question.  "Oh, sorry, something must have happened to our connection.  I can't hear you."

2.  Always tent the bacon.
Actually, I never knew this.  If you fry your bacon by lifting up the center a bit, the center doesn't burn and the raw ends get cooked properly.  Her point being, steal nifty tricks from good cooks and others to make your life easier. It's the little things, after all.

Here is my nifty trick:

Keep all of your measuring spoons in a little jar on your counter or stove so they are handy, and likewise, your salt, pepper, spices and baking additives that you use all of the time, such as baking powder, in a cute little container like this one. 

You are very welcome.

3. Never skip morning sun.

We don't have sun in Seattle.

4.  Honor the someday list.
She says we all make to-do lists, those for what needs to be done right now and those others for what we wish to do "someday," such as travel to Prague or climb a mountain.  She says if you don't do the "someday" within six weeks, you never will.

So within six weeks, I need to live in England, write a novel and kiss Chris Hemsworth?  And if not, does that mean the "bucket list" will still be lying around after I really have kicked the bucket?

5.  Bring your own...
Cell phone charger, wine, whatever it is that you need to be comfortable and you would miss if you didn't.

She is so right here. 

I have a gallon size zip-lock baggie with my chargers, ear buds, armband to hold my phone so I can listen to music during exercise, book holder for the exercise equipment (I like to read on the elliptical), lint remover, reading light, scotch tape and wine bottle opener.  I grab the baggie and I am ready to go. I do the same thing with my make-up.  I have everything I need in the proper size baggies for airline scrutiny (though with my Nexus card I am a "Trusted Traveler" and get to use the TSA Pre-Check, which is life-changing by the way).  Put together your own must-haves similarly and packing for a trip is a breeze.

6.  Scootch as needed
She uses the example of her son building a Thomas the Train track one little track at a time, putting his train on the little track and then adding another track.  She wondered why he didn't complete the entire track before running the train on it.  Her point was:  everything doesn't need to be planned out before you get the "pleasure of scooching forward."


It makes me happier to plan things.  Sorry.

7.  Forget the breadstick.
Even if you started eating the bread, if the restaurant has bad lighting or anything else you don't like, it's OK to leave.

I would add, it's OK to ask to not be seated by the kitchen, the server station, the door or the restrooms. I have inherited my Dad's issues with restaurants.

8.  Sleep when you are depressed.
Rest will help your depression.

I thought depressed people couldn't get out of bed. 

9.  In 9-degree weather blow bubbles.
Somehow these little frozen bubbles are delightful and will help you forget it's 9-degrees below zero.

She lost me here.

But she is right that it's the little things that promote our happiness, and now that I am retired, that seems to be even more true.

However, despite the fact that some on this list seem frivolous and not necessary to my own happiness, it got me to thinking.

What makes me happy?

Here are my 10 rules for happiness
(I know it's supposed to be 9 but I like even numbers):

1.  People who know the rules of the road.
It makes me happy when people know how to drive.
For example, don't wave at me to go at a four-way stop when it's not my turn.
People, when we are both at a four-way stop, please don't wave for me to go. I know the rules of the road.  If we both get there at the same time, the person on the right gets to go.  Otherwise, first come, first served.  Don't wave for me to go if it's not my turn, because I won't go.  That doesn't make me happy.

And did you know that on a four-lane road, if you are on the far side of a school bus with its lights on and you are heading in the opposite direction, you do NOT need to stop?  Well, good, but no one here seems to know that.

2.  In a restaurant, being seated away from the kitchen, server station, the door or the restrooms makes me happy.  Likewise, when traveling, a hotel room away from the elevator, ice machine, vending machine or maid's storage room is a must (See Rule #4 below).
Someone has to have those crappy tables and rooms, but it ain't gonna be me.

3. My Nexus card.
When we first moved to Seattle, we planned to travel to Canada often, especially Victoria and Vancouver. 

We have actually been there often, but not as often as we would like.  While sitting in long lines at the border, we noticed a lane that said "Nexus" and there was never anyone in it.  After some research, I discovered that the Nexus card is given to "trusted travelers," who have been vetted by the State Department.  We applied and received one, and it's a life changer.  We zip across the border when the wait time for others could be up to three hours. 

An added bonus is that it works for TSA Pre-check, which means you can leave your shoes on and don't need to pull out your liquids or computer when going through security at the airport.  Makes flying a lot more pleasant.  That makes me happy.

4.  Sleeping-in.
(Which partly explains Rule #2 above).
Now that I am retired, I wonder how I ever got to work by 8 or 8:30am.  Sometimes I had to be somewhere at 7!  How was that possible?  It makes me happy each evening to know that I can get up whenever I want the next morning.  

However, my happy sleeping-in requires that the heat not be turned on, the dogs are kept away from the bedroom door (they scratch on it) and that Hubby not make too much noise (stay tuned for my blog in May celebrating 30 years of marriage, where I talk about what it takes to stay married that long).

5.  One "do anything day" a week.
I call that my catch up day...I catch up with my bad TV choices, look like crap and do whatever I want.  It's especially happy when the wine guzzling poodle chooses to spend that time with me.  He likes to watch "The View" too ( he won't watch "The Talk," though. He thinks it's derivative).

6.  Exploring.
Whether it's flying to Europe to explore or exploring in my own backyard via stair walks or trying a new restaurant, happiness is getting out there in the world and experiencing it up close and personal.  I talked about my love of stair walking in my blog "The Joys of Stair Walks" and one of my favorite vacations in "My Favorite Summer Vacation: My Narrow Boat Cruising Adventure in England."  I hope I am an explorer to the very end, because that makes me happy.



7.  Phone calls and Skyping with my adult children.
When your children grow up and move away, it is difficult to remain close.  Closeness requires creating a continuing history together, and we all know that long distance relationships don't work very well, not even with your children.  So effort needs to be made and being able to see each other or talk regularly helps. Getting to also see the grandchildren is an extra bonus.

8.  Grandchildren
Having grandchildren is not a do-over by any means, but having grandchildren allows you to enjoy those early childhood years that perhaps you were not able to fully enjoy because of what life threw at you when your own children were growing up.  I know that when I am around my little grandsons, I feel great happiness.

9.  Writing this blog
When the Internet first came onto the scene, I can remember thinking, "I am going to set up a webpage and flood the world with my philosophy of life." 

But I never did. 

I didn't learn HTML and was never particularly savvy about how to put together web pages.  And who had the time?  But then I started to write a blog for my library and enjoyed that, though other work obligations kept me from writing as often as I probably should have.

But now that I am retired, I find this to be something that brings me happiness. 

Retirement is a time to find out who you really are and to finally get to do things that you have always wanted to do. I always enjoyed writing, and I like to communicate. Writing a blog is an opportunity to express myself and hopefully, if I say something there that makes someone laugh or helps someone in some way, then that makes me happy. 

Whether it's a blog or inventing a new product or traveling the world, it's important for all of us to find our purpose in life.

I think that's what retirement is all about. 

You may retire from a daily job with its own rules and obligations, but you don't  "retire" from life. You don't retire from yourself. Retirement is an opportunity to spend that time alone with yourself to experiment, to discover who and what you really are, to find that meaning of life thing we all search for.

I will keep working on that.

But as Oprah often says, "One thing I know for sure..."

So my #10 rule for happiness?

Love and be loved.

I wish you all great happiness!
What Makes You Happy?
See you Friday for
"Must-See Biopics and The Week in Review"

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Some of My Favorite Concert and Rock and Roll Movies and The Week in Reviews

[I review DVDS "Frances Ha," "Stolen" and "Anchorman 2:  The Legend Continues" and a book that will change how you think about your decision-making.]

But first

As you probably can tell from past blog posts, I enjoy attending rock and roll concerts.  After all, I am a Baby Boomer!

Here I am at Safeco field last year waiting for Sir Paul to take the stage at the first ever musical concert held there. And yes, I am on the field, that close to the stage. And yes, he played for almost three hours, never left the stage and is over 70!  Just unbelievable. That guy loves to perform!

And lest you think I am just saying it's a Paul McCartney concert, here is the ticket to prove it, preserved forever in my box of treasures along with the reminder of what I was willing to pay to be down on the field only 17 rows from the stage.  See my blog "Why the Beatles Matter" to understand why.

I also like reading books about musicians and watching rock concert films and movies that depict the rock and roll life, so I thought I would share some of my favorite concert and rock films.

I think you will be surprised at some of my picks. 

(Note that "The Last Waltz" is not on this list.  That one tops many of the "Best of..." lists.  I saw it recently and feel it is totally over-rated.  I think it must be the fact that Martin Scorsese is the director.  But I just didn't feel it. 

Also since I already listed "Woodstock," "Gimme Shelter" and "Monterey Pop" as my favorite documentaries in my blog "15 Must See Documentaries," I have not included them here, though, of course, they are favorites).

I wanted to include some films you might not have seen.

So here are some my Favorite Concert and Rock and Roll Movies:


1. Neil Young Journeys (2011)

This film is part documentary and part concert film.

Neil returns to his hometown of Omemee, Ontario, Canada and drives around an old car with his brother, revisiting old haunts and reminiscing.  He also performs at Massey Hall in Toronto, playing some new songs and old ones, most notably "Ohio." 

Neil Young is a strange guy.  You get the full picture from his recent autobiography "Waging Heavy Peace" and Graham Nash's memoir (which I reviewed in my blog "Why Oprah Still Matters") also sheds some light (both really good books, by the way).  He's into model trains, old cars and he hates  the MP3, the CD, poorly made vinyl and poor audio quality in general. He wants people to hear the music the way it was recorded and he has invented the Pono Player which reproduces that original sound.

Why you should see it:  The ending is classic as Neil finishes a performance, places his guitar on the stand facing the speaker creating massive guitar feedback from the speaker, takes his bow and then abruptly unplugs and walks off to his tour bus.  Classic Neil Young.  Like I said, he's a strange guy.


Spinal Tap is a rock band. 

Not a real one, but you would never know it from this "mockumentary," that takes itself very seriously indeed (to huge comic effect), and which sends up every heavy metal, hair band cliché that ever was.

I will never forget when this first came out, Hubby and I got into a huge "fight" with some friends who hated this film BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT IT WAS REAL.  And they weren't alone.  Turns out this film caused all kinds of confusion, because so many people thought the same thing.

Why you should see it:  Because you don't want to be the only person on the planet who hasn't.  You need to see them perform their epic song "Stonehenge," you need to know the lyrics to "Big Bottom," and what someone is talking about when they say "it goes to 11."

3.  It Might Get Loud (2008)

Guitarists extraordinaire Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, the Edge (U2), and Jack White of The White Stripes talk about their origins and which musicians most influenced their sound.

Why you should see it: The three get together at the end sharing stories and playing each other's songs.  Just getting these three together is enormous, but they also finish with an impromptu acoustic version of The Band's "The Weight." Breathtaking, even if you are not a huge guitar enthusiast.

4.  Quadrophenia (1979)

This is a film adaptation of the Who's rock opera album of the same name.

It chronicles the legendary 1960's war between the Mods and the Rockers, a cultural rivalry in the UK akin to Hoods and Preppies in the U.S. The Mods are clean cut and wear suits and drive Vespas; the Rockers wear leather and pompadours and ride motorcycles and they are all disaffected youth.  What starts out as a fun Bank Holiday weekend in Brighton ends with a full-out "war" and disillusionment.

Why you should see it:  Unlike the film version of that other rock opera, Tommy, this one has a real story that makes sense and it captures a moment in time that Baby Boomers can relate to.

It's the 70's and a kid from Brooklyn thinks the only way he will ever make it is as King of Disco.

Why you should see it:

(It made me smile to just see this bit again).

And this

And the Bee Gees, too, of course.  This film breathed life back into their careers.

6.  Velvet Goldmine (1998)

Early 70's Glam Rock - think David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust.

Why you should see it:  Stellar cast of Ewan McGregor, Toni Collette, Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Any The Tudors fans out there?), Eddie Izzard and Christian Bale before he got big.

"Velvet Goldmine" is a fictional story but based on real character: Jonathan Rhys Meyers' character is a sort of "Ziggy Stardust" (David Bowie), and Ewan McGregor's character is part Lou Reed and part Ziggy Pop.appropriately named Curt Wild represented a mash of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.

7.  The Rose (1979)

 Tragic life of a self-destructive rock star, loosely based on Janis Joplin.

I know there are probably haters on this movie but, to me, this was the perfect amalgam of Bette Midler's acting ability, performance and song range, which, I don't feel she has achieved since.  Now she has perfected the mincing harridan comic character, which is fine, but she probably wishes she was a "drah-matic" actress again.

Why you should see it:  Bette Midler's Academy Award nominated performance and her rendition of "When a Man Loves a Woman."  And it made me cry, which is good enough for me for most movies.

8. CBGB (2013)

Docudrama about CBGB, the famous New York City nightclub that helped start the punk rock phenomenon.
CBGB stood for Country, Bluegrass and Blues.  That is what owner Hilly Kristal (played by Alan Rickman, of whom I am a big fan and not just for "Harry Potter"), a heretofore failed business owner, meant to showcase in this seedy club with the legendary filthy bathroom in the Bowery when he opened it in 1973.  Instead, it became the launching pad for over 50,000 bands.  Yes, you heard me.  Blondie, Talking Heads, The Ramones, Patti Smith and The Police all got their start in Hilly Kristal's club. 
Why you should see it: without this club and Kristal's support, these now legendary bands might never have been.

9.  Sid and Nancy (1986)

The Sex Pistols were an early British punk band that took the world by storm and then faded violently away two and a half years later.

The Sex Pistols were nihilistic and against just about everything.  Their song "God Save the Queen" was a scandal in Britain.  Sid Vicious, born John Simon Richey, was the bass player for the punk band and Nancy was his groupie girlfriend Nancy Spungen. They had a violent relationship fueled by drugs which led to Nancy's murder in 1978. Sid died of an overdose a year later. In 2006, the Sex Pistols were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum "a piss stain". 

Why you should see it:  Gary Oldman's (Sid) first major film role.  The movie is raw and dark and captures what early punk was really all about.

10.  Once (2006)

An Irish busker and a Czech immigrant flower seller "meet cute" and form a musical duo.

The main characters are unnamed, just The Guy and The Girl, but in real life he is Glenn Hansard and she is Marketa Irglova and together they formed such a charming pair that this low-low budget indie film took off and is now a successful Broadway musical that is currently on tour.

Why you should see it:  It was on many critics' lists of best pictures of the year and "Falling Slowly," a gorgeous song, won the 2007 Academy Award for "Best Song."

11.  The Commitments (1991)

Based on the 1987 first novel of the same name by Irish writer Roddy Doyle, "The Commitments" tells the story of a working class band who wants to bring soul to Dublin.

The usual "let's start a rock band and my Mom will make the costumes" sort of thing, except it's in Ireland! They form, they storm, they love...the usual stuff...

Why you should see it:  The music is outstanding: songs by Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Mary Wells and more. 

12.  The Runaways (2010)

This is why we have Joan Jett and Lita Ford.

The story of one of the 1970's all-girl rock bands based on the book Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by Cherie Currie, the lead vocalist for the group, whose drug addiction proved her downfall.

Kristin Stewart doesn't smile in this one either.

Why you should see it:  Because believe it or not, there actually were women forming rock bands too.

The first ever benefit concert of this magnitude.

Baby Boomers definitely remember those pictures of those starving babies with the swollen bellies.  George tried to do something about it.  He was that kind of guy and probably the only guy (he was a Beatle, after all) able to get these heavy weights together.  Forty thousand people packed Madison Square Garden August 1, 1971 to hear Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Badfinger, Ringo and more to raise money for UNICEF.  They raised almost $250,000 which was a lot of money in 1971.

Why you should see it:  It's Eric, baby, playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."  I wept.

14.  A Hard Day's Night (1964)

Why you should see it:  See my blog "Why the Beatles Matter." 
Enough said.

A behind-the-scenes look at Elton's "Made in England" tour directed by his now husband, David Furnish.

Why you should see it:  Elton lets it all hang out...and it's Elton "friggin'" John!

***In Theatres Now***
Sorry, folks.  Nothing in the theatres here that I really wanted to see this week. 
I was going to go to see "Transcendence," but the reviews are bloody awful.  Usually I don't necessarily let that deter me (I like to see for myself), but Johnny Depp isn't even supposed to be in it very much, and despite the fact that I am huge Rebecca Hall fan, what's the point of seeing a Johnny Depp movie if he isn't really in it?  And I didn't want to pay $20 for an IMAX experience for a bad movie.  
But some good ones opening today so catch my reviews next Friday. 

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
Frances Ha (2012)

A twenty-something rather clueless young modern dancer (and not a very good one) tries to make it in New York City. 
Greta Gerwig (along with Brit Marling) is one of my favorite Indie darlings, though the two of them write and star in very different kinds of vehicles.  Gerwig not only can act, but writes her vehicles as well, just as Marling does.
This black and white film is a bit Woody Allen (he has already singled her out-  she starred in his "To Rome with Love") and a bit the TV show "Girls," though sweeter.  It explores the nature of women's friendships without judgment and casts a jaundiced view on pompous young New Yorkers. 
Frances is vacuous and socially awkward, a dreamer.  If 60 is the new 40, then 27 is the new 17.  This girl makes some bad decisions, but who didn't when they were in their 20's, and she has an endearing quality that makes you root for her that she will find her niche.  Gerwig plays vulnerable like no one else.
Co-writer and director Noah Baumbach also wrote and directed "The Squid and the Whale" and "Margot at the Wedding."
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a character piece that will not appeal to everyone, but Greta Gerwig is a name you should know.  If you like "Girls," you might like this.  Would be fun for a twenty-something Girls' Night.
Stolen (2012)
Our hero Nick is just out of jail for a big heist eight years earlier where his partners managed to escape capture.  Now his ex-partners want their share of the money they think he still has.  So they have "stolen" his daughter until he pays up.
With his "gritted teeth" acting style and quirky looks, Nicolas Cage is always fun to watch.  Add to that a script where the bad guys are really bad, the FBI agents are really inept (never seen an FBI agent wearing a pork pie hat, either), the dialogue is over the top, the plot is far-fetched, Fat Tuesday in New Orleans is the backdrop, our hero suddenly starts speaking Swedish out of the blue, and you have a fun romp complete with big car chase at the beginning, one in the middle and a gruesome ending. 
This is a "poor man's" "Taken" but not to be "taken" as seriously.  "Taken as seriously."  Get it?
Malin Akerman had second billing, but little to do which was too bad.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are into father-daughter kidnap action stories like "Taken," you might like this.  There are worse ways to spend 95 minutes...like trimming your nose hairs or eating a jar of jalapenos.  But I would say see "Taken" instead.
It's now the 80's and anchorman Ron Bergundy (Will Ferrell) returns from his stint in San Diego and the first installment of the series to take on the new 24-hour news channel in New York City.
I have good news and bad news:
The good news is the satire about round the clock news and how news has turned into show biz, car chases, pandering patriotism and cute kitties is spot on.
The bad news is this movie was dumb and mostly not funny. 
The players from the first movie return:  Christina Applegate as Ron's wife and co-anchor, Veronica Corningstone, and Paul Rudd (Brian Fantana), Steve Carrell (Brick Tamland) and David Koechner (Champ Kind), who team back up with him at the new news station.
However, I have to say the fight at the end among the various world news teams is pretty funny (but still dumb) -  Canada (see if you can spot Marion Cotillard), the History Channel, the Entertainment Channel, MTV (who knew Kanye West had a sense of humor?) and the BBC is peopled with Jim Carrey, Amy Poeller, Tina Fey and more (it's fun to see if you can spot who's who.  Extra points if you recognize Kirsten Dunst).
Rosy the Reviewer says...I am a huge Will Ferrell fan, but this thing just was not funny...well, mostly not...but I couldn't stop watching.
***Book of the Week***

Gladwell puts forth the idea that in this age of information overload, decisions made in "the blink of an eye" based on someone's ability to wade through all of that information and focus on what matters, are often as good or better as those we research endlessly.  Intuition works.

He introduces us to a psychologist who can predict whether a marriage will last based on only a few minutes of observing a couple, how one expert in only a few minutes deemed a painting a fake when many others had deemed the painting real after hours and hours of inspection and research, and that speed dating is not such a silly concept.

"Blink" reveals that great decision makers aren't necessarily those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who can cut through all of the many variables and factors to get at the truth.  He calls it "thin-slicing."  However, there is a dark side to all of this.  Some examples: race profiling and electing someone because he looks presidential (Warren Harding).
Rosy the Reviewer says...Intriguing idea that would have worked just as well as a long article.
That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"What Makes You Happy?

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.

Check your local library for DVDs and book mentioned.

Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database).
If I reviewed a movie, you can now find my reviews there too.
Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."