March Media Round-up: The Plague, Mix Tapes, John Snow and more

Happy April!

The Clean Eating Challenge is officially over (though, as of 10:02 today, I’ve kept my vow to keep going, and am on Day 9). As I blabbed about yesterday, I’m so glad to have done it and so glad to have met some new blog friends through it.

My intestines may have something to say about the amount of beans I’ve been consuming lately. (Apparently this is normal.)

But other than that, it’s been truly swell.

That said, you might be sick to death of reading about my endless hours of chopping kale and heroic refusals of chocolate cake. When my mom posted this  on her Facebook wall, it crossed my mind that she was referring to me.

But while the Clean Eating Challenge carried on, so did plenty of other things. Nothing terribly important, mind you. But my my “drafts” folder has been piling up with snippets named things like

  • “Johnny Bag of Mix Tapes”
  • “Creepy Songs (Or, Phil Spector and Me)”
  • “Target’s Website Sucks” and
  • “It’s Fun to (Let Other People Watch Your Kids While You) Stay at the YMCA”

I’m hoping to get back to them at some point, but the big idea (and the time to explore it) might just fade away. Maybe I should let you vote, like “Choose Your Own Adventure.” Any favorites?

In the meantime, I’m going to catch you up on some of my non-eating/cooking/pinning activities.


For starters, I have been reading! That is news in itself. Last week, I flew through The Silent Wife in three days. It is very similar to Gone Girl (a couple in a bad relationship, chapters alternating between his and her perspective, a murder). And like Gone Girl, it is not the most masterful work of fiction, but really hard to put down. Plus, it’s set in Chicago, and it’s always fun to read a book set in a familiar place.

the silent wife

This week, I’ve been working on Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague. That neighborhood book club that I went to once read another book written by the author, Geraldine Books. A woman in the book club mentioned that Brooks had also written a book set during the Plague, and I was like, “Did you say Black Death? Sign me up!”

No, really, I love this stuff. (The Ghost Map was my “beach read” on our trip to Jamaica several years ago.)

year of wonders

Anyway, Year of Wonders has taken a bit longer to get into. First, the dialogue is pretty Old English.  Second, the protagonist has two little boys, and it’s pretty clear from the beginning that they’re going to die, and I’m dreading that. Nothing like having kids to screw up your tolerance for fictional death.


I found a shopping bag of mix tapes, the ones I may or may not write more about in “Johnny Bag of Mix Tapes,” which I’ve been listening to for days. It’s incredible how I can pop an unmarked tape into my car’s cassette player, sing along to most of the words, and have no idea who I am listening to. I had to go home and type lyrics in to Google to find out. (It was the band Versus, with “Jealous Again,” which is still a good song.)


I’ve listened to one song in particular at least ten times. It was on an excellent mix made for me by a guy I met (I swear this is true) at a Hanson concert at the House of Blues.  I was a media buyer at Starcom at the time, and he was one of the reps in town for the event. It was my first year living in Chicago. Not long after I was given that tape, I lost my job (the one for which I had quit the Starcom job) and my sister lost her drivers license and she moved into my a/c-free studio apartment with me and my cat Nigel.

Anyway, the first song on the tape is called “Hum” and it’s by the band The Sheila Divine. It will forever remind me of Saturday mornings cleaning the apartment with my sister. (Not much of a task in a few hundred square feet studio.) We would open all the windows and blast this song, me using the broom as a mic stand, my sister playing air guitar. She really has the best air guitar of anyone I know. We did a lot of fighting in those months (one finger-slammed-in-the-bathroom door memory sticks out), but we had a lot of fun, too.


Pat and I blazed through the new season of “House of Cards” and the two seasons of “Game of Thrones” available at the library. Shows that I normally watch, like “The Mindy Project,” have been on hiatus (but back today, I think!). Other shows that I’ve been waiting to return, like “Louie” and “Mad Men,” are just around the corner. So we were kind of at a loss. We felt like we had exhausted our options through Netflix, Hulu Plus and the library.

But then, two big developments.

First, I discovered “Broad City.”  I am totally in love with this show. It is so smart and funny; the kind of female buddy comedy I was pining for when I wrote this. Granted, I’m a little out of the target demographic. (There’s a great scene where one of the girls, Abbi, calls an old college friend to see if she’s still selling pot. They show the college friend with her kids in a classic yuppie setting. She’s horrified that Abbi still smokes weed. And then she totally scolds her kid and knocks back a Xanax with a glass of Chardonnay. I thought it was hilarious, even though that’s more or less me they’re lampooning.) It is really crass, so don’t watch it if you don’t like raunchy stuff. (Mom, please don’t watch this show.) But if you can accept that, it’s awesome.

broad city

Second, I added the DVD option back to my Netflix account. Somehow, it had gotten into my head that nothing other than streaming is available anymore. Then my sister inadvertently reminded me that the DVD option still exists, and I was like “Wait a minute! THAT’S the missing link in my no-cable plan!”

I signed up for the one-month free trial (which I’m sure to extend, though maybe on a cheaper plan) and immediately filled up my queue with all the shows I’ve been dreaming of: “The Wire,” “Homeland” and all the movies I missed in the theater in the past five years. I can’t tell you the thrill I felt when I received an email saying “For Monday: Game of Thrones Season 3.” Dudes, the library doesn’t even HAVE that yet, and I’m 45th in line to check it out when it does.

John Snow, get thee in my face posthaste!

john snow

What about you? Are you watching “Broad City”? Reliving the joys of rewinding a tape to just the right spot? Reading something you can’t put down? Do tell!