As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden

21412202The first movie I can remember watching is The Princess Bride. I’m sure there were Disney movies before that, but this is the first movie I have a clear memory of watching. My family would always spend a week on the Outer Banks with another family (the parents were my parents best friends from college) and one evening, they put in the VHS tape of The Princess Bride. I know I didn’t get all the jokes, but it was fast and funny with all the things that Peter Falk describes at the beginning – “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” I also, of course, had a huge crush on Westley!

That was the first of MANY, MANY viewings. So, when I saw that Cary Elwes was coming to the Castro Theatre in 2015 for a Quote-Along screening of the film, followed by a Q&A and book signing, I knew we had to be there. The screening itself was hilarious. It was so fun to be with 3000 other people who know all the words and enjoy being dorks about it. My dad even got an inflatable sword to wave about when they start fighting. The Q&A highlighted a few of the anecdotes from the book, but the best part was getting my copy of the book signed by the man himself. I can’t recall what I might have said (if anything at all), but I DO remember that his eyes were incredible! I was giddy the whole way home, having met my first crush and not embarrassing myself (for once).


Meeting Westley in person

Oh right, the book! I don’t know why it took me so long to actually finish this book as it’s a delightful read. Elwes is self-deprecating about his own part in things, while heaping glowing praise on his co-stars. It’s a lovefest all around, as his co-stars also contribute anecdotes related to each chapter. I loved the behind the scenes photos and all of his stories about Andre the Giant. I also hadn’t realized all the work that went into the sword fight as well as how extended it became at the last minute. Elwes is good-natured about how the movie is entwined with his legacy, which is always nice to read, since some actors get tetchy about associated with one role, no matter how long ago it was.

My only quibble with the book is that the anecdotes from his cast members are presented in boxes along with the main text, so it’s hard to figure out when the read them without losing the story that Elwes is telling. I’m sure there’s a good reason for the publisher doing this, but it was rather distracting. However, the book has further enhanced my enjoyment of the movie (which was on cable this week) as I watch for all the little things he mentioned. Knowing that he really was knocked unconscious after the Fire Swamp put that scene a whole new light! But I don’t want to give away anymore – you should really just read the book because it’s excellent, and then watch the movie because it’s excellent.

“Yes, you’re very smart. Shut up.”


What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

18373272Turns out, when I don’t spend so much of my life on planes, I don’t read as much – oops! One of my co-workers lent me this book back in February before my first jaunt across the country, but I didn’t get it read until now – double oops!

Kristin Newman’s travel memoir hits a lot of my buttons, but I still ended up feeling a little empty at the end. Maybe it was the movie-perfect ending, whether after all her travels and friends and men, she’s no longer single and everything turned out great. My intense wanderlust jealousy was also activated as she described some truly amazing activities that I’d love to have the opportunity to try. Or perhaps it was the fact that she’s a successful television writer (my secret dream) with tons of disposable income (see all her travels) and time off during hiatus months. It also didn’t help that she and I are totally different kinds of travelers and she’d probably hate traveling with me because I “do it wrong.”

I did enjoy her advice to “do the thing you’re supposed to do in the place you’re supposed to do it.” You really can’t do wrong with that.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

20910157If Minda Kaling is the girl I want to be best friends with and Tina Fey is the woman I wish I could be, Amy Poehler is my awesome big sister, who will always be cooler than me, but lets me tag along anyway.

I was going to ask for this book for Christmas, but I got this fancy new laptop instead, so last week, I figured I could buy my own damn book and shut up about. This week has been stressful (more than usual where family is concerned), and it has been absolutely lovely to dive into Amy Poehler’s words as a bit of an escape. She’s funny, witty, soulful and a bit more crunchy than I would have expected. There are a lot of things in this book that I don’t get because I’m a not a mother, but it never feels like she’s shoving it down my throat. I especially loved the chapter written by Seth Meyers and her chapter about Parks and Recreation, annotated by Michael Schur.

I expect I’ll be re-reading this book again and again, grasping different little bits of wisdom each time. That’s what big sisters are for anyhow, right?

Bossypants by Tina Fey

9476337One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve started to read about the lives of my favorite comedic writers is that they had very similar childhoods as I did. I don’t know if that’s what draws me to their comedy or if it’s just a byproduct of growing up when we did. Add to that that Tina Fey went to UVA for college (which I didn’t, but a lot of people I knew did) and a lot of her book felt VERY familiar. Until of course, the chapter where she meets Lorne Michaels. Then our lives go in very different directions.

This book is exactly what you think it is, and if you love Tina Fey (which you should or we really can’t be friends), then you’ll love this book. And now that I know Tina Fey also had a horrific experience climbing Old Rag, I think the Commonwealth of Virginia should just shut it down for the sake of humanity. Either that or Ms. Fey and I should go hiking together sometime (and by hiking, I mean, eating our way through Southern Virginia). Nonetheless, reading this book was like spending the afternoon with Tina Fey and that is a quality way to spend time.

My only regret is that I borrowed this book from the library, so I can’t go through and highlight my favorite passages for quick reference. Instead, I’m going to list them below.

“If you are a woman and you bought this book for practical tips on how to make it in a male-dominated workplace, here they are. No pigtails, no tube tops. Cry sparingly. (Some people say “Never let them see you cry.” I say, if you’re so mad you could cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.” (p. 3)

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

As I knew I would, I loved this book. It’s a quick read and it sounds exactly like how I imagine a conversation between Mindy Kaling and I would go. And after reading this book, I feel confident that Ms. Kaling would have no problem with the fact that I may imagined how a conversation between us might go.

There are times when it feels disjointed, but it does appear that the book is to be read straight through. There were some sections that I wished went on longer and others that I was left scratching my head as to why they were included. But it’s all perfectly Mindy (in the way that she portrays herself to be while in public) and that’s all I really wanted. Basically a longer version of her Twitter feed, a revival of her shopping blog. (It’s actually way more than that, even in between the “Guys should have chest hair” and “Here’s how I want my funeral to go” essays, but it was still a nice break from the Pulitzer Prize winner I’ve been reading.)

I definitely laughed a lot and found myself nodding along with many of her observations. She seems much more put together than me, even though she’s only a year older (at press time) than I am. But I guess, if I wrote down all the weird, strange places I’ve lived, jobs I’ve had and people I know, it would probably look like I’d done a lot as well. You just can’t see mine on television (yet).