Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: Entertainment

Thank you, Kurt Sutter

Hey Kurt,

Can I call you Kurt? I feel like I can. You don’t seem like someone who goes by “Mr. Sutter” but then again, maybe you are and if that’s the case, then please pretend I started this by saying “Hi, Mr. Sutter” or “Dear Mr. Sutter” or something else formal.

I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing this after I watched the finale of Sons of Anarchy (as an aside, thanks for punching me right in the heart AND stomach with that one) but it seemed kind of weird, me writing you a letter on the internet for all the world (or more likely, my 14 readers) so I waited and then I thought about it some more and I realized that weird is right up your alley and here we are.  

I know you’ve heard this countless times but it bears repeating: Sons of Anarchy is one of the best shows on television. Ever. Period. I never thought I’d find myself obsessing over a motley, violent gang of bikers led by Lloyd from Undeclared  but I do. Daily. Still. And when anyone asks what shows I recommend, SOA leads the pack along with Friday Night Lights and Freaks and Geeks (I know. These shows make no sense as a group. On the surface. How they fit together is a discussion all by itself), and I thank you, along with the creators of the other two shows, for changing not only the way I watch television but for changing my expectations for what makes great TV. 

I’m pretty sure other shows I watch from here on out are screwed. It’s a good thing I’m no one of significance instead of a TV critic. 

I digress.

So, in addition to forever altering TV for me (and thousands of others, I’m guessing), here’s a few others thank yous I’d like to throw your way:

  • Thank you for being fucked up enough to create the idea of SOA.
  • Thank you for being open with all your addiction and career struggles and for continuing to bust your ass until you got hired to write for The Shield. I love that you were around 40 when that happened. I’m nearing 40 myself and I can’t tell you how much inspiration your story gives me.
  • Thank you for your temper, your Twitter tirades, and your ability to apologize for them when necessary. 
  • Thank you for using cast members from The Shield on SOA. There’s something oddly heartwarming about seeing those familiar faces, even if they get blown up by landmines or sport boobs bigger than mine. 
  • Thank you for turning the idea of what makes a good person on its head. I’ve long believed that doing bad things doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person. Jax proved that (even if he couldn’t see it himself).

But most of all, thank you for the seven seasons of Sons of Anarchy. Jax and SAMCRO will take up space in my head and heart for years to come and, much like I always wanted to know if Mr. Vernon did, in fact, know that Barry Manilow raided his wardrobe, I’ll always wonder what happened to Abel and Thomas and if Jax’s actions and choices achieved the desired outcome.

I know there are rumors of prequels and sequels and if they come to fruition, I’ll watch them with the same fanaticism (and maybe some skepticism) I did SOA. And if not, that’s okay, too. 

I’ll just keep making up the stories in my head.

I like to think you’d approve of that.

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Random acts of thought

Christmas is very soon. Hanukkah is even closer. And you know what’s before all of that? My daughter’s birthday. I’m a 100% unprepared for all of it. It’s making me anxious and sad and annoyed and nervous and I really need to get my shit together if I’m going to pull off anything decent in the next two weeks. 

Here’s what else is going on:

    • I am an emotional wreck over the series finale of Sons of Anarchy. The beautiful disaster that was Jax Teller and SAMCRO is no longer. I’m struggling with the fact that it’s gone and if you watched the finale, please let me know if you’re still reeling from it, too. We can start a support group.
    • While we’re talking about shows ending, I’m pretty sure the networks are conspiring against me because almost every show I like to watch is ending this year. But I did just read that Jesse Plemons (Landry from Friday Night Lights and Todd from Breaking Bad) is going to be on Fargo so maybe I’ll try that one to fill the void.

      He's the guy in the middle.

      He’s the guy in the middle.

    • On the plus side, with all the shows I like to watch not airing anymore, I’ll have a ton more free time to read the 80 billion books I have on reserve from the library that have all come in at once. I have literally thousands of pages to read. I can fortify an entire city with the amount of books stacked on my nightstand. 
    • That fact makes me think I need an e-reader. I have the Kindle app on my iPad but I can’t access the Kindle store on Amazon, rendering that part of my Amazon Prime subscription useless. I don’t like wasting money, and I really don’t like not being able to access something that would give me books. But I have no idea which version of the Kindle to buy. TOO MANY CHOICES.
    • You know what goes well with books? Coffee. I don’t really drink coffee but I do drink tea. Lots of tea. One of my favorites is chai tea. And I’ve figured out that if you put french vanilla coffee creamer in chai tea, it’s extra delicious. I found a homemade version on Pinterest. It’s 3 ingredients: 1 can sweetened evaporated milk, 1 1/2 cups milk, and 2 tsp vanilla. Use fat free milk (both kinds) for a lower fat version. You can read the full instructions here.
    • Remember how I said that John Krasinski would make the perfect Lincoln if Rainbow Rowell’s book Attachments was made into a movie? I changed my mind. Jason Segel would be better. Or Ryan Hurst (I told you I wasn’t over Sons of Anarchy). I recognize that they’re older than Lincoln is supposed to be but they can pass for younger. 
    • I need a new tagline for my blog. Please leave any suggestions in the comments. There’s no prize for winning except my everlasting gratitude.
    • Speaking of prizes, congrats to my friend Revanche from A Gai Shan Life for winning the Amazon gift card giveaway!!! Also, she has some of the best tweets ever so make sure you go and follow her (that’s not part of the prize package; that’s just a personal endorsement because she cracks me up daily).
    • Have you been following along with me and Nadine on Instagram and our #inthedrawer challenge? If you haven’t, here’s some of what you’re missing:


    • I’m currently obsessed with this song and video. It is everything.


Thanks for listening. Come back tomorrow. My daughter is guest posting. You won’t want to miss it.

Oh! And if you didn’t already see it, I’m guest posting over at Life According to Steph so you should go read that, too, because two posts from me in one day is definitely better than one!

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Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff and Things

Kristin's Knook


Monthly book chat: December edition

 It’s my favorite time of the month. The day we all talk about what books we read! 

book button linkup

After last month’s book reading blitz, I slowed down for November, only finishing 4 (well, 5 but I’m not reviewing one of them). It averages to one book a week and I’m quite pleased with that. 

Last month, I also told you that I’d review Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think because I wanted to work through some of the exercises she recommended. While I fully intended to do those, I maybe sort of definitely didn’t do them, although if I want to prioritize how I spend my time next year, I will (specifically the list of 100 dreams and a time study). But I wanted to share my thoughts on the book.

So, Jana Says: The book is loaded with fantastic ideas and concepts for thinking about how to manage and use your time. After reading this, there’s really no excuse for complaining that you can’t get everything done. It’s all about how you choose to manage your time and being realistic with your goals, plans, and how you’re really spending your days, and it’s essential to figure where you’re spending your time. Does it match with your core competencies? Are you as busy as you think? Questions to think about and answer. However. Many of the ideas and concepts are presented with a very middle to upper class privileged bias, and sometimes it’s hard to see past her entitled attitude. Also, she believes exercise is crucial and as non-negotiable as sleep and eating. She has a point but I felt like she harped on it too much and almost went out of her way to make those who don’t have a regular exercise regimen feel like shit. Recommendation level: High. Even if you don’t read the book, check out her website or Facebook page for related information and downloads for the time study.

Moving on to the books I read this month.

december books



Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Jana Says: My Rainbow Rowell binge read is finished for the year as this was the last book of hers I needed to read (she’s written 4). This lands as my second favorite, after Eleanor and Park. It turned out to be a very cute, very creative love story that kept me reading long after I should have put the book down and I adored that it took place in the late 90s around the time of the Y2K obsession. I found myself liking all of the characters in the book, which almost never happens, and I want Lincoln to be a real person. Actually, thinking about it, he sort of reminded me of Jim Halpert. John Krasinski would be the perfect person to play him if this book ever becomes a movie.

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard. Jana Says: After reading her book Reunion, I had high hopes for this book. I should have lowered my standards. Told from the first person plural perspective of a group of boys obsessed with a girl gone missing and her younger sister (which continued into adolescence), I found the book boring and tedious at times and some of her depictions about teenage (and later, adult) boys were stereotypical and cliche and annoying to read. At other times, though, it was weird and engrossing and made me glad I picked it up. I’m glad I read Reunion first because if this was the first book of hers I read, I wouldn’t read any more.

Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little. Jana Says: This was a fun little book. If you’re looking for an intriguing mystery along the same lines of Gone Girl, this is not it (despite what people say). The writing is more immature than Gillian Flynn’s, and the plot gets convoluted, and you don’t feel the same emotions but it’s still a good read for a Sunday afternoon while your husband is watching football and you need something else to do. I liked the almost real-time element of TMZ updates and blog posts and “breaking news” and the submystery of “where did Janie go”. I hated the ending, though. Not in the Gone Girl “I hate this” but I genuinely hated it. I definitely rate it lower because of it.

The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley Jana Says: I genuinely don’t know how to review this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, even if the pro-life agenda hidden in the story line bugged me from time to time (it was kind of preachy) but within the context of the story, it makes total sense so I’m willing to let it slide. The backstory between the two main characters was incredibly touching but I found myself getting annoyed with almost all of the characters at one point. The author did a wonderful job of handling the subject of infant loss, giving it the respect it deserves, and the controversial nature of the plot reminded me of Me Before You and some of Jodi Picoult’s books that deal with morally ambiguous (I can’t think of the actual word I want to use), and that makes for interesting reading.

On the December/January list: Yes Please, Leaving Time, Fourth of July Creek, and Why We Broke Up, among others. 

Now it’s your turn. Link up below and share what you’ve read:



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Friday favorites: Christmas stuff

For those who are new or who might not know, I am Jewish. Which means that growing up, I didn’t have Santa or the joy of Christmas morning or even got remotely infected with the Christmas spirit (where I grew up in New York was predominately Jewish, too). The closest I came to celebrating Christmas was my freshman year of high school when I flew to Atlanta to with 2 of my friends to visit another friend who had moved there. She wasn’t Jewish so we got to experience her tree and all that good stuff. 

I liked that.

As for my family, we had some great Christmas traditions that typically involved eating Chinese food and going to the movies on Christmas Day and also celebrating Hanukkah for eight crazy nights (and by crazy, I mean lighting candles and giving each other presents. We know how to party) because that’s what good Jews do. And I figured those would always be my traditions. 

Then I met my husband. And he’s definitely not Jewish. So we celebrate Christmas now and have different traditions and we’re probably a handful of houses that have a Star of David ornament on their Christmas tree. 

Actual ornament on our actual tree.

Actual ornament on our actual tree.

Now that we’ve been together for 19 Christmases (including this one), it’s hard to imagine a time when Christmas wasn’t part of my December. 

Christmas lights. Sure, there were houses where I grew up that decorated for Christmas, including two that went absolutely overboard (in a good, only moderately tacky way) with their outdoor light displays, but now that I celebrate Christmas, I appreciate them more. They’re just prettier for reasons I’m struggling to explain. Also included in this: home decor, Christmas scented candles, 

The food. Holy hell, THIS is what I missed out on. Fudge. Christmas cookies. Fudge. Christmas dinner which is like Thanksgiving part 2. Gingerbread houses and men with frosting and candy and assorted other deliciousness. Fudge. Sure, potato latkes are fried perfection but they pale in comparison to all the other foods.  Sugar and fatness galore. This is part of why my yoga pants are my favorite. One caveat: No, absolutely no, eggnog for me. That shit is revolting.

Bonus: Here’s an easy recipe I found on Pinterest for fudge: combine 3 cups chocolate chips and one can condensed sweetened milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium power for one minute, stir, repeat until chocolate is dissolved in milk. Spread on wax paper in 9×13 dish, and chill for 1-2 hours. Cut into squares. Jana inspired variations: replace one cup chocolate chips with mint chips, peanut butter chips, or replace regular chocolate with white chocolate. This is mint chocolate with crushed candy canes. It tastes as delicious as it looks.


Movies. I had watched Frosty and Rudolph and the Grinch as a kid but now, as an adult with a child and as someone who actually celebrates the holiday, the movies are infinitely more enjoyable. And then there’s the whole host of Christmas movies that never meant anything when I was a kid but now I can’t imagine the holiday without: A Christmas Story (true story: I saw for the first time in 7th grade English class), Christmas Vacation, A Muppet Christmas Carol, and Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas (which is really just The Gift of the Magi but with Muppets. I had this epiphany last year).

School vacations. Clearly, as a kid, I loved Christmas even as a Jew because thank you, two weeks off from school. Hard to beat that. Now the two weeks off from school means no early morning fights with the child to get her to school on time, no homework to help with, no lunches to pack, no wasting my time in the afternoon pick-up line, and no wondering what mystery object or paper will come home in her backpack. It really is a wonderful time of the year.

Presents. It sounds cliche, but I definitely love buying presents for others more than I like getting them for myself. I find it enjoyable to search for stuff my family wouldn’t buy for themselves, and the look on my daughter’s face when she opens her gifts is simply priceless. We also have a family tradition of buying for Toys for Tots, and knowing that some kid somewhere else is having a similar reaction to my daughter makes me happy, knowing that I did that (if you want to read about the time doing something like this really made a difference, read this post). 

Two Christmas traditions I’m still working on: sending cards and enjoying holiday music. I’m too lazy to send cards and the music doesn’t do it for me. I typically avoid it as much as possible. However. There are some songs that I do enjoy and in two weeks, we’ll go into my favorite Christmas songs. They’re probably not what you expect.

But so you don’t think I’m totally grinchy, here’s one that I love. It’s easy to figure out why.

 What are some of your favorite things about Christmas? What recipes should I try?

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Linking up with Amanda

Friday Favorites


Friday Favorites: Celebrity Memoirs

I’m taking a break (again) from my normal Friday Favorite format (hooray for alliteration!) to bring you a special edition. This time, we’re focusing on books. Specifically celebrity memoirs. 

I love a good memoir. Not a huge fan of biographies, although I do have Jim Henson’s and Steve Jobs’s on my bookshelf, waiting to be read, but a good celebrity memoir can make for an interesting and fun read. Some are really well done. Others, not so much. It does get on my nerves a bit that we’re getting to a point that if you’re even a quasi-celebrity, you’ll write a memoir because that’s just what you do (ignoring the fact that you might not be all that interesting. Like me. If I ever become famous, I will not write a memoir because it would be the most boring one of all time. I’d call it Vanilla With Sprinkles (which, incidentally, was what I was planning on naming this blog before I came up with stand out, creatively superior “Jana Says”)). 

I don’t think everyone needs to write a memoir. Which is why I’m happy to weed out the good ones and make some recommendations. Life is too short to read crappy books.


A note before we get started: there are many, MANY celebrity memoirs I have not read so this list is culled only from ones I have read. There are a number that are on my to-read list and we’ll get to those at the end of the list. Also, there are a bunch of memoirs that I have read that I loved but are not included in the list because they were not written by celebrities but I think you should read them anyway (ex., Adam Shepard’s Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream, Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Dave Cicirelli’s Fakebook: A True Story. Based on Actual LiesJared Dillion’s Street Freak: Money and Madness at Lehman Brothers, Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, Rob Sheffield’s Love Is a Mix Tape and Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. This is turning into quite an extensive list. Maybe it needs its own post.)

In no particular order, here are my favorite celebrity memoirs so far: 

tony danza

Tony Danza. I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had. I know. Tony Danza? How could this possibly be enjoyable? But trust when I say that reading about his experience as a teacher for a year in a Philadelphia public school is time well spent.

nikki sixx

Nikki Sixx. The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star. Every kid who takes health class should be required to read this because it’s the most accurate, honest depiction of drug addiction I have ever read. It’s amazingly engrossing and disturbing and you find yourself (often) wondering how he survived.

rick springfield

Rick Springfield. Late, Late At Night. You guys already know how much I love this book. I’ve gushed about it before and there’s no way I wasn’t including it. 

the glass castle

Jeanette Walls. The Glass Castle. I don’t know that she necessarily qualifies as a celebrity but this book was so damn fantastic I’m highlighting it. This book made me feel all the feels: sadness, anger, hope, laughter–the whole gamut. When you can hit the whole range like that, you’re a book that needs to be read. And it’s apparently in development to be a movie with Jennifer Lawrence. 

Honorable mentions: Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out with Me?, and Joe Pantoliano’s Asylum: A Memoir About Hollywood, Mental Illness, and Being My Mother’s Son.

Coming up: Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Cary Elwes’s As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, and Danielle Fishel’s Normally, This Would Be Cause for Concern

#sorrynotsorry for all the links

In addition to everything mentioned here, there are dozens of memoirs I’ve read or have marked to read and I’ll probably do a follow up post to this some time next year. 

 Which ones do you guys recommend or think I should add to my ever growing list?

Coming up on Monday: More cheer mom series. Most likely a list of what to expect when you become a cheer mom.

Have a great weekend!

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Linking up with Amanda

Friday Favorites