Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has no fat; it is lean and trim of anything superfluous. Every detail hearkens back to something else. Each little thing drives along the plot in devious ways. It is one of the craziest books I have ever read. I don’t usually read thrillers, it’s just not my thing, but I had to see what all the hype was about.


The book follows the lives of Nick Dunne and Amy Elliott Dunne, a couple of five years with what appears to be a stagnated, vaguely turbulent marriage. First of all, this book is not what you think it is. As soon as you think you have your thumb on what it is about… TWIST! You are wrong! There is something even crazier than what came before. The book opens on Nick and Amy’s five-year anniversary. Amy goes missing. There appears to be signs of a struggle. Let the intrigue begin.

Because of the nature of the novel, I can’t get too much into the details. Suffice it to say, this book is an examination of marriage and relationships and who we are versus who we pretend to be. It is also one of the most terrifying books I have ever read. I was nauseated after I finished, legitimately sick to my stomach. I’ve never quite experienced anything like it. The story flip flops between Nick and Amy’s points of view in a way that is innovative and exciting. I enjoyed the structure.

I had a good time reading the book, in so far as my disbelief at the events that were transpiring was amusing. It is a decent read. It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but it does keep you on the edge of your seat. I have no idea how they turned this thing into a movie.

I am now going to discuss some SPOILERS. Do not read on unless you have also read the book because SPOILERS are about to follow.

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Review: Inside Out + Vacation Fun Times

I was pretty wary of the new Pixar flick Inside Out, mostly because the trailer made it look like it had the potential to be ridiculous. It’s a tricky premise, personifying the emotions. There was a lot that could have gone wrong. But I am happy to admit that despite their marketing team’s best efforts to dissuade me, Inside Out was an excellent animated feature.

This movie has SO MUCH going for it. It is adorable, hilarious, and emotionally touching. SO MANY FEELINGS GUYS. I love it when animation makes me weep openly in public. The movie deals with some serious subject matter like growing up and embracing difficult feelings. The story follows the inner life of eleven-year-old Riley, specifically the actions and responsibilities of the emotions that live in her head: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. Together they navigate Riley’s feelings and behavior within what they call Headquarters (get it? get it?). With such narrow personality definitions, you would expect the characters to be static, but they aren’t. There is a lively arc and a fair amount of character development in regards to both the emotions and Riley. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Its pacing is great. It’s very bright, vivid, and beautifully animated. Neil and I went to a 10 am showing on a Sunday, i.e., it was kid city. Yet, they were all very well behaved, captured by the story being told. I think that speaks best to the merits of the film. It has so much to offer both children and adults alike. My favorite thing about the movie is the lesson it ultimately teaches. It deals with some pretty heavy stuff but manages to keep it engaging, without feeling forced. They did a top notch job. Way to go Pixar. You’ve still got it!

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My Day with Lyft

Getting around the city is often a challenge. Boston is busy; crowded streets, crowded sidewalks; lots of crowds. And the MBTA has time and again proven itself to be pretty unreliable. So when you’ve got to get from point A to point B with relative ease, what’s a girl to do?

These last two weekends, they’ve been doing track work on the orange line, shutting the T down from Forest Hills to Ruggles. I’m usually pretty satisfied with the orange line: It’s not fancy, but it is efficient. I’m not a huge fan of shuttle buses (the rocking, the nausea) though, so I decided to use the three free Lyft rides I had somehow aquired that were on the verge of expiration. In one day, I utilized all three and had three radically different experiences.

I’ve used Uber before but never Lyft, so I was interested to see how it functioned in comparison. My first hurtle was going downtown to meet my friend Charles for the Pride Parade (which was wonderful, by the way). My first driver, let’s call him “Steve,” arrived promptly. He was very nice but not very talkative; we spent most of the ride in companionable silence, which was fine by me. He asked me if the air conditioning was okay and if I wanted to change the music (I declined). He was a careful driver and got me downtown in one piece. Ride 1 was a success, both comfortable and efficient.

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Seeing Conor Oberst

Ten years ago or so, when Bright Eyes was touring for I’m Wide Awake/Digital Ash, I was about thirteen and totally oblivious. I find this very unfair, looking back. The odds of me (as the person I was then) being in a place where I would have been receptive to the wonder of Bright Eyes were slim, had I discovered their existence. I didn’t know who I was or what I liked. Taste was a thing of the future, something I was still developing. I wish I could say I was a savvy teen, but I was most certainly not and my taste in music was inadequate to say the least. I didn’t have a cool older sibling or a friend that smoked cigarettes and listened to obscure rock music to take me under their wing. The timing did not work out for me. I didn’t get into Conor’s music until much, much later. And so it was that I found myself on Friday night, clutching the bar in the very front of the House of Blues, inches from the stage, hardly containing my excitement to see the man himself on his solo tour.

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Conor Oberst has a mysterious appeal for me. His moody, poignant music is the kind of stuff that gets my blood pumping: exciting, devastating poetry, just the right amounts of angry and sad, upbeat when it’s appropriate, slow and steady when necessary, all with that signature, unmistakable voice. I get it’s not for everyone, but it is definitely for me. I am perpetually sad that sixteen-year-old Jordan never found this stuff. She would have LOVED it. She would have been obsessed. The thing I like most about Conor’s work is that it makes me feel like a teenager again. His music makes me feel a frantic enthusiasm that’s difficult to rekindle these days. I like that feeling.

So when I was waiting in this rowdy crowd for a musician I found more legend than man, I was losing my mind with anticipation. It was great. It was a really great show. He played some new stuff. He played some old stuff. He played some solo stuff and some Bright Eyes stuff. I sang. I danced. I stared adoringly. It was so surreal to actually see him in person. I know I probably sound like a loon, but I’ve built him up into such a larger than life character in my head. His story from Omaha to now is a fascinating one; he was this boy genius, this amazing lyricist and musician at such a young age. When I think of all he’s achieved, it makes me want to weep. He started Bright Eyes when he was like fifteen and it’s been all uphill, musically, from there (with some personal dark patches). It was something else to actually see him performing, singing and playing that music I’ve learned to love so well. I think my favorite song that night was Lover I Don’t Have to Love. That was an unexpected surprise of awesomeness.

Would I see him again? Absolutely. I’m going to see Desaparecidos in August. I would still kill to see Bright Eyes. My friends assure me seeing Bright Eyes is a lot like seeing Conor playing solo except they might play more songs from Lifted, less solo stuff, and Mike Mogis would be there. All in all, that sounds pretty good to me.

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I managed to snag the setlist, which I’m pretty psyched about. It was an excellent night. Can’t wait to do it all again and soon.

Until next time!

Burlington, Vermont: It’s a Pretty Rad Place

I spent the weekend visiting my friend Ross in Burlington, Vermont. We just got back (after a hastily put together dinner). After four hours on a bus, my brain is foggy, I’m exhausted, and I’m not quite certain of who I am anymore. It was a very nice weekend. Neil and I stayed with Ross in his charming flay conveniently located close to the waterfront and downtown strip.

Burlington (and Vermont in general) is a beautiful place. The mountains, as the name suggests, are very green. Also hilly and enchanting. I could stare at their majesty for hours. It was hot and sunny our first couple hours there, but then it stormed and just kept up a wet and uncomfortable drizzle the whole weekend through. We didn’t let it get us down.

The downtown area is really great: lots of nice shops and independent stores on and near Church Street. Earth Prime Comics was excellent if you’re looking for a good, local comic shop. I really liked the way they had their store laid out. Also, Crow Bookshop was a lovely indie bookseller. If you’re in the market for records, Burlington Records has an extensive collection and lets you browse vinyl to your heart’s content. We were able to find my friend Mike a copy of the original Star Wars soundtrack.

I ate very well during my time in Burlington. Eating out when your fodmap and gluten free is always a challenge, but I found a lot of places could accommodate me. Our first night we had dinner at the Upper Deck Pub. I had an adequate piece of steak and a baked potato. I could have gone for some veggies, but it was a nice meal and you couldn’t beat the price. Plus the waitstaff was very knowledgeable and kind!

I had the best breakfast of my life at Skinny Pancake. They had GLUTEN FREE CREPES made with buckwheat. Drizzled in Vermont maple syrup, I nearly died in the restaurant. It is no secret breakfast is my fave meal. We also went to A Single Pebble for dinner the second evening, which was nice. My chicken fried rice was a little bland (since I requested they take all the tasty stuff out of my dish), but it wasn’t so bad. I’d probably go with a different choice next time.


We also stopped by the Healthy Living Market and Cafe where I was able to pick up some gluten free treats and baked goods. I would have gone to West Meadow Farm and Bakery, a fully gluten free dedicated facility, but they were closed the days I was there. Next time!

Since it was rainy, we ended up going to this amazing bar called Tilt. It’s an arcade/pub and had some excellent gaming choices. I mostly stuck to pinball and PacMan, even though I am quite bad at both. I still had a great time spending tokens. Such a cool place!

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We did a lot of walking around and taking in the sights despite the weather. The waterfront area of Lake Champlain has gorgeous views. We also drove to Stowe and went to the Trapp Family Lodge (yes, as in “the hills are alive…”) and strolled the grounds in the damp. The lodge is nicely nestled in the mountains and offers spectacular views of the surrounding ranges. The grounds themselves are huge and offer a lot of rambling potential. We didn’t go far, but my time in the trees was pleasant, though my toes were wet.

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Most of the time I spent hanging out as you do when you haven’t seen old friends in a while. I had a marvelous time, but I’m glad to be back! Looking forward to a good night’s sleep and a busy week.

Until next time!