Friday, November 30, 2018

I won at Christmas Movie Bingo

Ok, I don’t mean to brag, but I recently dusted the competition in a spirited game of Christmas Movie Bingo (more on the rules below—you’re dying to know, right?).

Like apparently millions of other across this great nation (who have access to Netflix, Amazon Prime or the Hallmark Channel), my family and I have embraced the much maligned film genre of Christmas movies. Sure, they’re cheesy. Sure you can figure out the plot in about five seconds. And, sure, it’s 90 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back.

But Christmas movies are also lots of fun. And, guess what? This year you’ll have more options than ever before if this is the way you like to spend a Friday night.

According to today’s Wall Street Journal, The Hallmark Channel knows exactly what we love to click on and is releasing 22 new Christmas Movies on that channel, plus 15 on their Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel this year alone (I don’t get those channels but am hopeful they’ll cross over to my streaming services in the future).

And Netflix has wisely created a sequel to last year’s runaway hit, A Christmas Prince. (Apparently Netflix tracked viewership and found 53 viewers watched the movie every day for two weeks—who are these people?!?). The cleverly named, A Christmas Prince: A Royal Wedding comes out today. But I’ve already promised my far-flung children to wait for their holiday arrival to watch it. I promise not to have an unfair advantage for that movie’s bingo game! 


What’s the appeal? Christmas movies are basically the comfort food of TV: the whole family can watch them together and you can count on a happy ending (which is, of course, an appealing alternative to the news headlines).

So, go ahead. Put aside the cynicism, pop some corn and gather your loved ones near. 

Rules for Movie Bingo

  1. Select cheesy movie
  2. Watch 10 minutes and pause.
  3. Have each participant choose eight items they believe will happen in the movie and use these to create your bingo card (see sample below)
  4. First person to fill their card wins!

(And only some of the above card got me the win in The Princess Switch so don’t cheat and use my guesses).


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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

What do libraries mean to YOU?

I recently started reading Susan Orleans’ latest, The Library Book. Her memories of the power the library had for her as a child—as a place where she first experienced autonomy and could delight in both a free treat and special time with her mother—got me thinking back to my own childhood library experiences.

Like Orleans, I grew up in a house where there wasn’t a lot of money to buy books—the times when we could order something from the Scholastic school book order were thrilling indeed! But my mother always made sure we had books to read and if memory serves she was on a first name basis with all of the children’s librarians.

Orleans was in Madison last week, thanks to the Madison Public Library and an incredibly generous bequest from a local library lover, Helen Matheson Rupp. Her amazing $3.4 million donation to the library made our evening with Orleans possible (including—hooray!—a copy of the book) and recently funded improvements to a local library and a librarian to oversee their teen section.

As expected, Orleans was funny and smart and her book—which chronicles the Los Angeles central library, the destructive fire of 1986 that provides the story’s framework and all things library in general—is quite fascinating.

If you haven’t stopped by a library of late, put it off no longer! The “shh, quiet” atmosphere of my childhood has largely been replaced by a busy feeling of community, but the sense of wide-ranging possibility that only a book can offer remains. Enjoy!

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Has it been a scary week in the world of international news—or is the planet still largely spinning on its axis? You might rely on things like NPR, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal (or, more globally, the BBC) for your answer. I like to rely on People magazine.

Wait, wait, hear me out (and don’t judge that a subscription is actually delivered to my home each and every Thursday—I’m taking advantage of credit card airline miles and will fully confess that it makes a nice addition to my lunch!).

Because I actually do experience a little moment of “ahhh” when the cover story is the Royal Family. I mean, sure, there were plenty of things that went wrong this week (the impending hurricane, tariff worries, flooding are just a few), but if how Meghan is handling the pressures of royal life makes the cut for “biggish news,” things are sort of alright.

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One of my daughters just introduced me to Grandma Eileen. 

This lovely, feisty 100 (or I guess she’s 100 by now) year-old woman is just wonderful (as long as you don’t ask her the secret to living to be 100 or 101 years old). I won’t even attempt to tell you about her as she does such a lovely job all by herself.

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Where were you in the summer of 1983? I was an about-to-be college senior, enjoying one last  burst of freedom before heading into the stress of finding a job and figuring out what post-college life was all about. And, I just learned, 1983 was also the summer the band Toto had a big hit with the song Africa. I remember it as one of those ear worm songs that everyone knew but didn’t particularly like (though considering that it was a #1 hit for the band, I guess someone did).

I was a bit bemused to open this morning’s paper and see this song is currently enjoying a second life thanks to Weezer, a band that’s typically occupied a fringe position in popular music (and whose song, Feels like Summer, was a favorite around our house last year). But, surprise, surprise, their remake version is now #8 on the “adult Top 40 radio stations with a bigger audience” (which is quite a long and specific way to describe a station). Who knew?

Apparently the boys in Toto are just as bemused as I and confirm the song was  a bit of nonsense whose success took them all off guard. (And for more on Weezer’s embrace of all things Toto and the overall embrace of all things ’80s, check out this delightful article on Esquire).

Here’s a little something to kick your day off, whether it also creates a trip down memory lane or not. Enjoy.


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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Movin’ Shoes does it again


Back in 2017, I wrote a post about how much I hate to shop and my reluctant trip to Movin’ Shoes after failed attempts to buy shoes online.

I still hate to actually go into a store—though recently had the ah-ha moment that I could get an item the very same day if I did! (Amazon would be so pleased to know the impact they’ve had on my buying choices—though, I guess they already do). But after last year’s positive experience decided that I must return to a physical shoe store. 

Just here to say that the team at Movin’ Shoes continues to be amazing. I have especially enjoyed working with Tim–who even remembered me after more than a year. We’ll chalk that up to his amazing memory and customer-first focus, instead of the fact that it took a lot of time and energy to find a pair of shoes that worked for me (I fear my picture might be on a wall somewhere, sort of like the “don’t take checks from this person” warnings of pre-Internet). 

Hope to enjoy my new shoes later today and thanks for the great service and products!



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Friday, July 13, 2018

Musings on a hot summer day

I’m not going to complain about the sultry weather as I have a strict “I can only complain about one season” policy (and, in case you’re not sure, it’s WINTER), but I will say that I finally relented (for today) and turned on my air. It hasn’t quite hit my second-floor office yet, but hope springs eternal.

Here, in no particular order, are a few things I’ve been thinking about this week.

The rescue of the Thai soccer team. I’m thrilled all the boys and their coach were rescued safely, but’s let not forget the sacrifice of the one man who didn’t make it home: Saman Kunan. I can’t find an image that isn’t subject to copyright, but here’s a tribute posted by his wife that’s heartbreakingly poignant. 

The end of the middle child. I hadn’t given a lot of thought to the reality that if most families are having two (or fewer) children, that means there will soon be no more middles. Sure, they’ve been the eternal punching bag (ala Jan Brady), but did you know, for instance, that there have actually been more U.S. presidents who were middles, than oldests (the common stereotype which was likely perpetuated because—another fun fact–many of these were originally counted as “oldest” because they were second to a sister, who, of course!, didn’t count). I’m an oldest myself, but have a lovely middle child and am married to another lovely middle so I’d hate to see middles go the way of the passenger pigeon. Check out the story here. 

Middle school literature. Have you ever noticed that there are quite a few delightful books aimed at the age 12-ish crowd? (And I am not talking about you The Hunger Games, though I admit to having read the entire series).

My most recent middle school read: She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. It’s about a Beatles-obsessed girl struggling to find her way in the wake of a best friend’s discovery of the cool kids and I thought it was just delightful. Of course, it might be because I’m not a middle school girl and no longer share an address with any (i.e., not watching that kind of angst close up undoubtedly made it easier to read about), but check it out and see for yourself.

The reality that big ugly tennis shoes are apparently in. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that big ugly tennis shoes are only in if you’re 20 and look like Karlie Kloss, but maybe I need to dig out the lovely orthopedic shoes from a few years back (it was following a foot injury, not a fashion statement) and see what happens. 

Some how I don’t think these are going to net me a lot of compliments.

The beauty of cold treats. This requires no explanation, but let me put in a plug for these delicious things: 


Keep cool and have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Building a table with Ryan Gosling

Ok, I’m just kidding (and apologies if you were all excited about the possibility that RG and I had bonded over the wood glue). But the guy who recently sold me the wood to build a table did have a certain Gosling nonchalance so he’s become “Ryan” in my mind (actual name: Marty).

Marty was one of the very nice employees of Heritage Timber who kindly moved approximately three tons of lumber (and I’m not kidding) to help my husband and me find the perfect boards to build our daughter a table. I would have expected Marty and his co-worker Thomas to be put out by having to move wobbly towers of old barn remnants via forklift, but they were both friendly and cheerful and assured us this was just another day at the lumber yard for them. 

One of the many towering stacks that Marty kindly moved.

Thomas and Marty hard at work. 

A perfect day to polyurethane…again and again and again.


I felt a bit like Chip and Joanna Gaines as we repurposed old barns and embraced the chance to build something with our own two hands (though I must confess that “my own two hands” only wielded the debit card to buy the wood and the brush to apply the polyurethane).  Certainly beats an Ikea table and comes with a full set of memories to boot!


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Monday, May 14, 2018

One space or two?

When I learned how to “keyboard” (which is what we used to call “typing” when I was learning all about my friend QWERTY), you learned to put two spaces after a period. I don’t think I ever questioned it. I just did it.

Fast forward to the era of word processing and computers and all the rules changed and I learned that now we were supposed to only put one space. I reprogrammed my brain and adjusted to one space and, again, didn’t really question it just figured, “That’s how it is now.”

So, imagine my surprise when I recently learned that one space vs. two isn’t necessarily a given—and has actually created quite a lot of controversy. Who knew?

In an effort to answer the question once and for all, three psychology professors from Skidmore College have decided to employ science to address the two vs. one conundrum. 

You know you’re dying to know the answer. So click on through and find out








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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Long live School House Rock!

Driving home mid-afternoon yesterday, I was sad to learn Bob Dorough, the mastermind behind School House Rock had died.

If you aren’t a child of the ’70s you might not be familiar with his catchy tunes that explained everything from how a bill becomes law to my personal favorite, “Interjections!” But take a few minutes to check him out (and sorry in advance for the ear worm that will undoubtedly follow).



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Knowledge junkie. Raconteur.

Vicky Franchino

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