Tuesday open thread

What would you like to discuss?

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  When ideology trumps science (WCE)
Thursday  —  Weight management and exercise (S&M)
Friday  —  Weird news: witches work as life coaches (Rhode)
Sunday —  Politics open thread


62 thoughts on “Tuesday open thread

  1. Does anyone have any recommendations for light and fun shows to watch? I’ve had my fill of dark and brooding.

  2. Update on the trip. We are going to go in June/July. We’re going to skip Fiji because it’s too expensive and just do NZ and Australia. Still working on flights – the cheapest way is to fly RT to Sydney and then a separate RT from Sydney to Auckland. As of now the cheapest flight is American, but I’d really prefer to fly a foreign airline. I hate the big US airlines..

  3. I had a lovely time watching Season 3 of the Great British Baking Show over Thanksgiving break.

    DS and I just started watching the Good Place – he is thoroughly enjoying it. I like it too but not quite as much. I also like Grace and Frankie (the one with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda) – I like it better than the Good Place.

    Similar question to Rhett’s but for books – anyone have some light-hearted books you’d recommend?

  4. I have rejoined a book group that I participated in for about 10 years before having kids and now that I have no kid-related conflicts on the meeting day, I’m working my way back into. During my first stint there was some healthy friction in the book selection process between those who preferred fiction vs. non-fiction/biography and those who had/made lots of time for reading (1000 pg book a month and/or very dense material was no big deal) vs those who needed shorter/lighter reading. With about 20 active members, the book list was fairly balanced.

    Fast forward and the group has shrunk (some members have splintered off into other groups), but it is clear that two members are making 90% of the suggestions. I’d like to help expand the suggestion list, but am barely getting my book of the month read.

    Totebaggers – Can you please help me out with some more fiction suggestions?

  5. Totebaggers – Can you please help me out with some more fiction suggestions?

    Me too.

    Also,. My book club membership has dwindled. Some members like the small, close group that is left. We have all known each long enough and through enough challenges that we are very comfortable discussing all manners of life topics (and contrary to the husband comments, we actually do discuss the book a little), but some, myself included would like to expand the group a bit because I’m afraid that if we lose a member or two, the group really won’t be viable.

    Anybody else deal with that dynamic?

  6. What about The Billion Dollar Whale ? I heard it’s a good book.

    We have our own book club at home, in that I am ploughing through the required reading books of my kids. We have discussions about the books, which I like.

  7. I recently enjoyed reading Atomic City Girls (Janet Beard). Historical fiction and an easy read.

  8. Cassandra – Yes. I think my group is in this place. It has shrunk by half during my hiatus and I think age, driving distance for some of them to the meeting place (was a more central location), and the book topics have all been issues.

    The other one I noticed this last time was that the “format” of the meeting has gotten less focused. When the best discussions happened the “format” was (1) give a little information about the author, (2) pull book reviews (published ones, not the Amazon type) and give a couple of interesting excerpts, (3) identify 1-3 questions or topics for the group to discuss – something that surprised you, you learned, you have a different point of view on, a plot twist, etc., and then (4) open it up for other discussion. A lot of times 3-4 blend together, but the group leader needed a few things to either get the discussion going or redirect it if it dies.

    One woman, who has since passed, was one of my role-models. Often she would say “This book caused me to look at ____ a different way.” I always appreciated her willingness then in her late 80s/early 90s to modify how she viewed things.

  9. “How did you all find your book clubs? All word of mouth?”

    My group’s origin story: One bunco night,some of the people noticed the bookshelves and conversation went to how it might be nice to have a book club. A few emails later, we had a book club. A few years on, we are still dealing with the challenges of convincing people to come even if they haven’t finished the book.

    In our group, the host picks the book. I find that part of hosting the most stressful because I am worried that people won’t like the book, won’t finish it, and then feel guilty/ashamed to come to book club. I am clearly in this for the social aspect and if someone comes up with an interesting book, that is a bonus.

  10. I don’t find the idea of a book club appealing because I want to pick my own books to read. ;) I have participated in online book club/discussions when they happened to coincide with a book I was reading at the moment. Lately I’ve tried more fiction, with some excellent but some mediocre. What I’ve found is that some “historical fiction” reads more like romance novels with a little history thrown in.

  11. A woman’s group I belong to has “interest” groups – from book clubs to art “tour” to bridge to hiking to trying new restaurants to cooking meals together in someones home. When I first moved to my city, I was looking for a book club and a co-worker suggested this group. It had an evening book group and a day time “book review”, which was exactly that one person read the book and gave about a 30 minute review. Now there are 3 more book groups – one focuses on mysteries, another is similar to the one I go to, but located at the other end of town, and the last one doesn’t seem to have a theme or focus I can discern.

  12. I love British cooking shows. I am finishing up Great British Menu since it is leaving Netflix on Dec 1, and have also been watching Hairy Bikers Asian Adventure. I like the slower pace of these shows compared to American cooking shows. And I love cooking shows as an antidote to dark and brooding.

    About 4 years ago, we watched Avatar the Last Air Bender over a series of months. Recently, a family decision was made to watch the whole thing all over again – with our oldest gone, the younger two seem to have a wave of nostalgia. We have been doing this, and it is every bit as good as I remember. I heartily recommend it even if you are watching without kids.

  13. July – They mystery group often has a theme vs a book, like read a book written by a female author, or a book set in the 1920s, or any book by a specific author. I just noticed that this year about half of their meetings are somewhat close to me. I may go to those.

  14. I don’t read a ton of fiction but I read Crazy Rich Asians recently because I loved the movie. Unfortunately, the movie is better than the book.

    I also read a series that my daughter really likes called The Selection. I couldn’t believe how incredibly retro this series is. It is all about a society in which the prince has to choose his bride from girls from all over the realm – but rather than being a fairy tale kind of selection, it is done as a reality TV show. The girls all come and live in the palace and spend months competing with each other in terms of dress and makeup and running fancy receptions. And it is totally non-ironic to boot. My daughter, who is so anti-girly in so many ways, loves these books. I have to admit to secretly enjoying them too.

  15. DH has a book club – I think there are only 4 of them left. There used to be 6. They talk about the book for a while and drink beer and play board games. I would love to have one but not enough bandwidth.

    Is bunco regional? I’ve never played, nor know anyone who does.

  16. People used to play bunco around here, but it’s not as popular as it was five or ten years ago.

  17. I’m currently reading The Age of Innocence and enjoying it. I take the lazy route and look for award winners, since a panel of professional readers has already determined for me that the book is worthy.

    Rhett, if you’re looking for a book club, try your local library, they often host a club.

  18. Mooshi – agreed, the book was terrible! Kind of like the Devil Wears Prada, written by someone who can’t really write. But the Crazy Rich Asians movie was great.

  19. Rhett – if you haven’t tried A Very Secret Service yet on Netflix, it really seems like one you’d enjoy.

    Also on Netflix, The Joy of Techs is stupid-but-funny.

  20. I lied, I’m listening to The Age of Innocence. I almost never read books any longer, I listen to audiobooks. I borrow books from the local library service then download them to my ipod using Overdrive. I listen while driving, cleaning up after dinner, etc. I started the habit years ago when my kids were small and I had no time to actually sit and read. It was a great solution to that problem.

  21. Here are some books my book group has really enjoyed:

    “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks. I loved this book. It’s a fictional book about a real manuscript that was one of the first Jewish religious texts to have illustrations (it’s one of the oldest surviving Jewish manuscripts). The book is broken into 3 – 4 different segments that imagine how it came to be created and then how it traveled from Spain to Italy to Sarajevo.

    “The Road from Coorain” by Jill Ker Conway. Memoir about growing up in Australia. The author was born in 1934 and spent the first 10-12 years in the remote outback on a sheep ranch before moving to Sydney. It describes her parents’ efforts to start the ranch. I found it a really interesting look at a different time and place. The book ends as she’s about to leave for graduate school in the U.S. (she eventually becomes the first female president of Smith College in the 1970’s).

    “This is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel. Fictional story about a family who comes to realize one of their kids is transgender. Told with great warmth and humor.

    “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. Fictional story – but part of it is based on the true orphan trains that transported orphans to homes in the Midwest. It led to a fascinating book group discussion as a number of people shared family stories (e.g. someone found out her Swedish great grandma who had emigrated to the US had left behind an illegitimate daughter in Sweden because she didn’t think she’d find someone willing to marry her in the US if she brought her daughter with her).

    “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer – fictional story about a boy whose father is killed in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

    And we didn’t read this in bookgroup but I really enjoyed “Circe” by Madeline Miller. Retelling of Greek myths from Circe’s point of view.

    Also I didn’t read this in bookgroup – but I admit to finding guilty pleasure in reading all 3 books in the Crazy Rich Asians series. I also liked the movie.

  22. Crazy Rich Asians series.

    We just watched the movie over the weekend. My favorite line from the movie is when the nouveau riche family is eating dinner in their gold plated dining room and the father says to the kids, “Finish your dinner, there are kids starving in America.”

    To think when my parents were kids 10s of million of Chinese were dying of starvation and now it’s a global industrial powerhouse. It so amazing.

  23. The books are fun, but I liked the movie better because it is so over the top to see it vs imagine in your mind. Awkwafina was awesome.

    Rhett, that was my favorite line too, and it is also in the book. I used to hate stuffed peppers, and my mom served it at least once a week for dinner. I used to have to sit there and attempt to take a bite while she mentioned the starving children in China.

    I just started a series by Beatriz Williams. She has written a lot of books, but I just discovered her because one of my friends read Along The Infinite Sea in her book club. I am reading the trio of books about the Schuyler sisters. I am mid way through the second book and I am enjoying the books. I also just finished the Bob Woodward book about Trump, but that gave me a headache. I just received the new Ina Garten book as a gift and that book has some great recipes and tips.

  24. I thought of The Totebag when I saw that scene in Crazy Rich Asians where Nick and Rachel are settling into their first-class cabin on Singapore Airlines, and an astonished Rachel asks Nick, “So, your family is rich?”, and Nick answers, “we’re comfortable.” Like a Totebagger insisting against all evidence to the contrary that they’re middle class!

  25. Ditto on all the Crazy Rich Asians comments. We just watched it a few weeks ago as well and all enjoyed it.

  26. I still play bunco, and I’ve been with the same group for over 20 years. It orginally started as part of the newcomers club in my town. Women have come and gone but there are still quite a few of the originals. I liked that it had women from all over town and not just one or two elementery schools. When I returned to work full-time, meeting up with the bunco chicks really helped to keep me clued in on what was going on in the schools, around town, etc.

    I’m also in a book club that’s been around for a dozen years or so. Originally there were 5 of us, now there are only 4. A few times women have approached us about joining the group which I’m OK with but the others want to keep it as is. What I like about this group (besides the fact that I really like hanging out with these women) is that each one of us has different reading preferences and I’ve read a lot of great books that I never would have selected on my own. We take turns providing book selections (3-4) and then we vote on the final book to read.

    I am so behind when it comes to TV shows and movies. I’m hoping to get some suggestions here!

  27. I am watching the Americans right now, so that’s not new for this group. However, I also recently binged on The Mindy Project, which was a nice break from dark and brooding. Also watch the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel if you haven’t. The second season starts soon. I watch truly deplorable reality tv for my junk fix. Right now, that’s Below Deck. I recommend it.

  28. My key goals for the week (everyone else left by 5pm Sunday for school, work, business trip and I’m on my own till Friday dinner when DW will be back): don’t buy any food*, there’s plenty in the house; go to the gym every day and lose 5lbs. So far, so good.

    I did reschedule a checkup with my internist from this Thursday to four weeks later; I’m not ready to hear the ‘you’ve got to take better care of yourself’ lecture this week. Maybe by the time I see him I’ll shed 10lbs and feel better about myself.

    *I will have to stock up on fresh fruits, salad stuff, veggies, other regular stuff on the way home Friday, but that won’t count and I will have burned thru a lot of inventory by then,

  29. I broke down and signed up for Britbox and found a couple of mystery type series, but then found they only have 1 season out. Also, following up on one of last year’s resolutions – to actually use more of the prime features we pay for, I got hooked on the detective show VERA. Only to find out that Amazon Prime only gives you access to certain seasons. I binge watched, Season 3-4 and 8 – the rest require an Acorn-TV subscription or to “buy the season”.

  30. I want to get Britbox for my mom. Aside from Fox News she only watches BBC America and CBC (from Canada). She loves Vera, but can only watch that one via the library DVDs. The problem is that my parents aren’t very techie. They have cable, but they don’t have any streaming service attached to their TV (setting them up for it just isn’t going to happen). It looks like Britbox can be watched via an Ipad (which they have), but I’m curious if they can connect the ipad to the TV to watch BritBox on the big screen. Is this easy to do? I just don’t know how much my mom would watch using the ipad. But this is the perfect gift. Also, I don’t live in the same state, so I can’t physically help with any set up.

  31. “connect the ipad to the TV to watch BritBox on the big screen. Is this easy to do?”

    Do they have wifi and a TV with HDMI inputs? A common way to connect devices like iPads to TVs is using wifi, facilitated by something like a Chromecast.

    If the iPad is just the means they’re using to watch stuff they’re streaming, they could get something like a Firestick or Roku and bypass the iPad.

  32. A book club is something for me to consider in retirement. Right now I’d have a hard time finding the time to read.

    DS tried to start a family book club, suggesting a reading list for all of us, but I think only DD read anything from that list, during the summer when she had time. His suggested list consisted largely of books he wanted to read for HS English but couldn’t fit into that reading list.

    At the kids’ school, a reading group was formed several years ago that sounded interesting, although I’m not sure its current status. That group’s first book was “The Republic.”

  33. don’t buy any food*, there’s plenty in the house

    I keep trying to do that because we have so much food, we could probably go two weeks aside from buying fruit, but DW can’t do it. She always buys food for the current week.

    If you’re tired of blood and guts and gloom,

    The Hallmark Christmas movies are in full swing.

  34. I loved Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix. It’s a cooking show, sort of, but it ended up being more of a travel show. The weakest of the four was when she was home in Berkeley.

    We’ve been watching The Good Place, which I am really enjoying. And Succession – but I’m sure Rhett already watched that.

    I was just in Detroit for work, and I was excited to get CBC in my hotel. I watched that show Hello Goodbye which is this sappy and earnest and oh so Canadian show where this therapist talks to people at Toronto airport about the person that they are picking up & they cry and tell all their secrets and feelings.

  35. And Succession – but I’m sure Rhett already watched that.

    One or two episodes. I hated it! None of the characters had any redeeming qualities. They were all so repellent.

  36. Hello Goodbye which is this sappy and earnest and oh so Canadian show where this therapist talks to people at Toronto airport about the person that they are picking up & they cry and tell all their secrets and feelings.

    Sold! You missed your true calling as anadvertising copywriter.

  37. I highly recommend Ugly Delicious for food shows. One of the most intelligent ones I have ever seen. I have always been a big David Chang fan

  38. I have rented Crazy Rich Asians which I will watch this weekend.
    Netflix has so many new original shows, it’s hard to keep up and decide which ones to watch first. Now a whole series of a show is available so no waiting for new episodes.

  39. I came home early with a headache yesterday and binged Single Parents. Cute show and definitely not dark and broody! I’m excited that Top Chef starts soon – always love that one.

  40. Bunco is a dice game played with a larger group. You are at tables of four, and winners/losers rotate to other tables after each round so you get to chat with different people. To me that is the appeal – you are doing something while chatting, and you move around. And the alcohol. There is always food and alcohol, and prizes for highest score, lowest score, etc.

  41. There was a great line on Single Parents a couple of weeks ago. One of the dads was driving carpool and said something like: “I’m going to drop you off in order of earning potential. John, you’re the only white male, so you get dropped off first.”

  42. settling into their first-class cabin on Singapore Airlines, and an astonished Rachel asks Nick, “So, your family is rich?”, and Nick answers, “we’re comfortable.” Like a Totebagger insisting against all evidence to the contrary that they’re middle class!

    Hah! IIRC Rachel’s response to “we’re comfortable.” Is, “That’s what rich people say!”

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