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In a Meh Year for Movies, These Releases Won the Battle

7 Jan

So, 2017 was a funny year for the movies.

Not funny ha ha, but more like, it was just a meh year overall. With few exceptions, many of the movies I saw were good, not great. And it wasn’t just me: There appears to be little consensus across critics groups and award nominations so far because of it.

To that end, movies like Get Out and Call Me By Your Name I liked but didn’t love. (In the latter case, I thought Armie Hammer was miscast.) Same with Wonder Woman, which I liked but didn’t think was even the best superhero movie of the year. And on the flip side, movies I did really like, you won’t necessarily see on other top 10 lists. And some would never make my list in another, better year. Continue reading

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The 2018 Happiness Project

2 Jan

I don’t know much, but I know this: You can’t plan to be happy.

That said, you can make an effort to be mindful and appreciate good things that happen and that make you smile. And those things will make you happier. It’s a simple idea, but it’s an effective one.

And being happy has many benefits — not least of which is that nobody wants to hang around with a perpetual Debbie Downer. But all kidding aside, being happy has multiple health benefits, including increased strength and decreased stress, a stronger immune system, and reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Scientific evidence also suggests that happiness can help you unlock creativity, improve your memory, and make you more productive. So, it’s really not a trite or superficial (or sexist) thing when someone wishes you a “Happy New Year” or “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Holiday,” or suggests you smile more. They’re actually wishing you increased wellness and productivity. Continue reading

2017 … No, Really. Where Did the Time Go?

30 Dec

We’re all pretty much in agreement that 2017 was not a good year.

But I’ve gotta be honest: At the risk of sounding like Taylor Swift, I actually had a lot of fun these past 12 months. From the #SocialRoadTrip weekends in Austin and Boston, to a couple Red Sox games, to Memorial Day Weekend in New York City, to concerts, to my vacation in Nashville, to milestone celebrations (like weddings, bat mitzvahs, and baby showers) with good friends, to a week in Chicago for work and play, to a few visits with my niece and nephews, and so on, I had a lot to smile about this year.

And that’s a big reason why 2017 seemed to zoom by faster than a lot of other years have. Continue reading

Looking for the Light in a Very Dark Year

29 Dec

Charlottesville: “We replaced you.” (Photo credit: Casey Kilmartin)

So, let’s just get this out of the way: 2017 sucked.

As bad as 2016 was, 2017 was, in many ways, even worse.

We had a new President*, and he set the tone for the year. Trump used his bully pulpit to anger, frustrate, provoke, frighten, threaten, belittle, and mock ethnic groups, other world leaders, the press, and many others all year long in his tweets and unscripted remarks, and through his actions (or inaction). He undid as much of President Obama’s forward-thinking legacy as he could. And he displayed virtually no warmth, compassion, or leadership — just a lot of callous self-centeredness. As hard as you may have tried to avoid him, he — and the effect he had on everything — was inescapable.

There were events like those in Charlottesville, where newly emboldened hate groups took to the streets and a young resistance protester wound up dead. There were the shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, and no action taken to prevent others in the future. There were deadly and destructive hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico that left many without power, food, or necessary, essential supplies — even now, months later. There were multiple terror attacks in London and elsewhere. And there were all those revelations of sexual harassment and assault by those in Hollywood, the television media, and Congress, among other places.

The political scene and cultural moment this year forced us to do a lot of soul searching. To reckon with parts of ourselves and the country’s wounded psyche we don’t like to deal with, and to confront racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and unsavory acts from people we know, like, trust, and admire. It wasn’t easy, and it was often exhausting.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, we lost legends like Tom Petty and Mary Tyler Moore, among others. At the start of the year, two of my own friends passed away unexpectedly, and way too soon. Over the summer, Ari Schultz, the five-year-old son of two friends of mine, was taken from us. And other friends and colleagues lost family members, friends, and people close to them.

No, by any definition, 2017 was not a good year.

But now that we’ve covered all of that, can we move on? Continue reading

This Time Capsule Playlist Provides a Musical Reminder of All the Moments that Mattered in 2017

13 Dec

The Lone Bellow at the House of Blues in Boston, November 2017. (Photo credit: Martin Lieberman)

Every December, critics (both professional and amateur) like to share their lists of the year’s best music. And while that’s important, and much appreciated, it’s near impossible for music fans to agree on what’s “best.” Musical taste is too personal. Case in point: For every Taylor Swift fan out there (and I know there are a lot of them), there’s someone like me who can’t stand her. On the other hand, I have a soft spot for other artists who don’t often show up on top 10 lists of best music and don’t win many awards. John Mayer, for example.

Point is: We all listen to different things and like what we like. And that’s a great thing.

So, when the end of the year comes around, I choose a different angle on the music recap thing, and prefer to compile a sort of “time capsule” playlist that provides a soundtrack of my year. Continue reading

Thank You to Everyone and Everything That’s Made Me a Happy Person So Far This Year

30 Jun

View of Boston from Look Out rooftop bar at the Envoy Hotel

Photo credit: Martin Lieberman

I don’t know how it happened, but somehow, we’ve already come to the midpoint of 2017. Holy crap, did time fly.

Usually at the end of the year, I like to look back and take stock of all that happened, and celebrate the good times I had. This year, there’s been so much going on that I didn’t want to wait till December to do that. Continue reading

Happy Birthday to Me … and Here’s to What’s Next

7 Jun

Photo credit: Diapicard / Pixabay

I was watching CBS Sunday Morning the other day, just like I do every weekend, and there was a great segment about three Hollywood comedy legends: Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke, and Norman Lear.

Towards the end of the interview, Lear and Reiner shared their perspectives on the secret to a long and happy life.

“I think there are two little words we don’t think enough about: ‘over’ and ‘next,’” Lear said. “When something is over, it’s over. We’re on to next. I mean, this is the moment.”

Then Reiner added: “If you have something to get up for, you’ll get up. You won’t die in the middle of the night if you have something in the morning you gotta do.”

These were good sentiments to hear a few days before my birthday — and not just because they helped inspire this blog post. Continue reading