Fifty Fifty Challenge “Marches” On

For crying out loud! Where did the time go? One minute it’s here, right in front of me, like a red carpet rolled out for the Oscars, and I’m all gussied up getting ready to make the most of my time and ease on down the red—

And, the next minute it’s flown the coop!

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are rookie cops who go back to high school in "21 Jump Street."

I mean March has 31 days, not like it’s awkward sister, February, who most years has a meager 28 and, this year had a whopping 29. Close, but no cigar.

So you’d think, with 31 days, I can do plenty of damage on my Fifty Fifty list, right? I mean, think of all the movies I can watch! The books I can read! The sky’s the limit, no?

Alas, no. All that supposed time I had to read books and watch movies got hit by a train and left town.

In other words, I ran out of time and didn’t really make a dent in my Fifty Fifty challenge. I’m embarrassed to say that, in the month of March, I saw only four movies—that’s one a week!—and read just two books, one of which was less than 150 pages. Pathetic, I know. Tsk, tsk.

And yes, I know. I’ll never reach my goal at this rate.

So, laugh at me, if you will, but before you do, I submit for your entertainment, my paltry list:

The Movies:

21 Jump Street – I’m putting my rep on the line here and coming out and saying it: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum make an awesome team and this is one hilarious film. It’s a laugh a minute, with unexpected moments and ridiculously funny ones, too. I loved it right through the credits. I can’t wait for the sequel (and you know there’s going to be a sequel). Look for great cameo from original cast member Johnny Depp. It is a classic scene, an homage to the series, which, by the way, I never saw. In other words, two thumbs up! If nothing else, see it because it co-stars Nick Offerman who plays Ron Swanson, the baddest curmudgeon you’ll ever meet, on my favorite sitcom, Parks and Recreation!

Friends with Kids – Great cast, nice, sweet, somewhat predictable, slow in spots, great cast (oh, did I already mention that it has a great cast?). This is a film by Jennifer Westfeldt (of Kissing Jessica Stein fame, which I never saw), who convinced her boyfriend, Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, to co-star in it and play a jerk, to boot. First of all, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that The Jon Hamm is her boyfriend. A moment please while I take it in…

…Okay, anyway, as I was saying, this film stars Adam Scott, from Parks and Recreation, along with Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph (have you seen Miss Maya in Up All Night? Simply fabulous!), Edward Burns, and Megan Fox.  Wait for the DVD. You’ll enjoy it more that way.

The Muppet Movie: Fun film. I saw this with my kids (who are grown, as you no doubt know) and we all enjoyed it. Jason Segel wrote the screenplay and co-stars in it with Amy Adams, Rashida Jones (who also stars in Parks and Recreation), and a slew of Muppets. Songs could be better, but everything else, indeed, was. Charming film with lots of cameo appearances, everyone from Jack Black to Neil Patrick Harris.

The Old Curiosity Shop: Charles Dickens, need I say more? You’ll weep for Nell, you’ll despise Quilp and you’ll want to give Derek Jacobi as Nell’s grandfather, a good kick in the pants. This BBC production feels a bit like the condensed version of the book, but worth seeing because it’s a terrific yarn.

The Books:

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: I love Sylvia Plath. I first read this book ages ago and the first line is still my hands-down, favorite, all time opening for a book:

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

Simple, to the point, and so evocative. Immediately draws you in.

Love Story by Erich Segal:  Another book that I read as a teen. Why did I love it so much back then? Who knows? I was a sap for romance. Why did this become a HUGE bestseller? Who knows? I wasn’t the only sap for romance, I guess.  In retrospect, as far as writing goes, I’ve read better. I can’t help but wonder, if this book were submitted to a publisher today, would it get published? Rather trite and simple, if you ask me.  This coming month, I plan to watch the movie with Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal. I’ll let you know if it’s any better.

And one more…

Corduroy by Don Freeman:

Okay, I didn’t read this book this month. But, I read it to my kids, over and over, when they were young. I’m sure you know its endearing story. Corduroy is a teddy bear who finds a home with a girl named Lisa, when she buys him with money she saved in her piggy bank.

Last week, I discovered that fellow blogger, Lisa Rosenberg, is the inspiration for the Lisa in the Corduroy stories! Her’s is an amazing tale, and I encourage you to find out more in her post, The Hunger Games, Corduroy and Me.

So, tell me, what movies or books did you enjoy last month?

52 thoughts on “Fifty Fifty Challenge “Marches” On

  1. I was one the fence about 21 Jump Street, but now I want to see it! My sister swoons every time that Tatum guy shows up on the TV, so it won’t be very hard getting her to go with me. Guess what I’m finishing tonight? Your letter…your handwritten letter I should say.

    • Hey, Nate. First, I apologize for not responding to your comment sooner. Mea Culpa.

      Second, did you go see 21 Jump Street yet? Let me know what you thought of it.

      Finally, WTF is my letter? What’s a gal got to do to get a letter in the mail??? Do I need to send you the postage? Sheesh! 😉

  2. You make me smile. I might be considered a loser and I do wine about lack of time ALL THE TIME, but I always seem to manage time for reading and watching movies. Watching movies is where I go to unwind. I haven’t the movies you mentioned, but I did watch, ‘Like Crazy’ – not a bad movie, but a frustrating watch since they could never get there emotions inline with the timing of when they were together. Keep going and think of your watching and reading more as something that inspires your writer’s soul.. It’s a treat and never a chore to watch movies with a glass of wine and some popcorn.

    • “Think of your watching and reading more as something that inspires your writer’s soul.”

      Brenda, that’s a great way to look at it–something I can definitely wrap my head around. I love your perspective!

  3. I read so much I might as well have taken on the challenge but I just couldn’t commit . . . for the very reason your spirited post suggests. March had me hungering through a best-selling trilogy and reading another book with a brilliance all its own, Jonathan Safewn Foer’s ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’. Re: movies. — most recently ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ (5 stars) and ‘Safe House’ (3 stars even if it is Denzel) 😉

    • Deborah, I want to see the Extremely Loud movie. Have you seen it? Re Salmon Fishing, I saw the previews and it looked a bit strange, so I was curious about it. Thanks for letting me know you liked it. I may try if after all.

  4. I don’t know how you’re managing all of this but you are. I’m learning from the list you have here. I can experience some of the novels on my new Nook.

    • Totsy, what do you think about reading on a Nook? I’ve tried reading on a Kindle app and I think I’m old school in that I prefer old-fashioned books. I need to hold them in my hands, and turn the pages myself. I like knowing how many pages I have left in the chapter. But I am reading a book right now on my Kindle app and it feels weird but doable.

  5. Monica, can I be honest and say I had trouble concentrating on the words of your post after getting a glimpse of Channing Tatum? I’m a cougar, I know. She hangs her head in shame. But really, the man is fine! I can’t believe how much you accomplished the last month! I think you’re being too hard on yourself. You’re way ahead of anything I’ve accomplished in the last six months, let alone 31 days, sister! I love Corduroy Bear! His little jumper makes me smile! 🙂

    • Go see the move and you’ll get to see Channing in shorts! 😉
      But, I’m feeling the fifty fifty pressure, which is why I didn’t think I did well. But, I’m okay as far as films go. Just need to keep reading!

  6. OK so nobody told me I could count kids books towards the 50/50! That makes a huge difference! What about Archie comics? Can I add those too? If so I’ll just have Ruby do her list. She seems to read more books and see more movies than I. She is almost done with the 3rd Hunger Games book and just saw Mirror, Mirror. I’ll live the 50//50 vicariously through her.

    • If you noticed in my post I said that I was not counting Corduroy. I just slipped it in because I wanted to share about Lisa’s story.

      That said, you can count children’s books within reason, but ixnay on Archie comics. Those are not considered books! I’m sure if Ruby signed on, she’d do much better than any of us in this challenge. 😉

  7. Oooo, I looove the Bell Jar…but Monica, you must read **The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.**
    This is the ultimate book by Plath…there are about 800 pages and I have several of them shaded in yellow marker…..

    Do you mean to tell me you have not watched LOVE STORY? R U serious?

    I’ve watched it about 10 times.

    I was in love with both Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal ❤

    Xx Kisses.

    • That sounds amazing. I’m going to look for her journal. What insight it’s sure to provide. Oh, Kim, I did see Love Story but that was ages ago and I recently purchased the DVD, so I want to see it to see if it’s as good as I remember it. I’m sure to write about it next month. Thanks!

  8. Like you, Monica, I always start new projects with the best of intentions. Some I actually manage to finish! But the fifty-fifty challenge? Fuhgeddaboudit!

    On another note, I have a special place in my heart for Corduroy. When my daughter was 4, she spotted him at a book expo. After watching the character from a safe distance, she finally found the courage to approach him. I can still see her looking up, leaning in and whispering to him: “I have all your books!” He reached down and gave her the biggest hug. It was SO sweet. Within the month, she was asking me if he was real. Kids grow up too darn fast.

    • Maybe you’re right. And, initially, when I first heard about the fifty fifty challenge I did say fuhgeddaboudit! But, then I reconsidered and said, why not? Might be fun to see if I can do it. Well, at the very least, it gives me something to write about every month.

      What a lovely, memorable experience your daughter had with Corduroy. I’m sure it helped give her a love of books and reading. She sounds adorable, though I’m guessing she’s all grown now? Thanks for sharing your story. You should share Lisa’s story with her. 🙂

  9. …before reading the caption below the Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum picture, all I thought was this is how my face would look if you went on a “rant rave” on how weird Feb was and how fast March had flown by. LOL – I know I probably should have my head checked….

    • lol, yeah, I almost did rant. I get so mad that time literally flies by without giving a second thought as to whether I’m ready for it to pass. Oh, well. Thanks for stopping by today! So appreciate it.

    • I though about you this morning while I was watching the news and heard about your team’s win and all the looting, rioting. Why do folks show their happiness that way? I’ll never get it. Glad you went to bed and slept through it. Hope your lazy boy is still intact. 😉

      Plath is awesome. Gone too young.

  10. You’re “paltry” has me beat. I watched one movie, “Young Adult” on pay-per-view. Theron was fabulous. Movie deserved much more attention than it got. And I’m in the middle of three books, mostly essays because that’s how my attention span is working this month.

    • Well, thank you for making me feel better at your expense. 😉

      I have no heard of “Young Adult.” Will keep an eye out for it on Netflix or something. I’m not very good at reading multiple books at once. I end up either mixing the stories together or forgetting what happened, usually the latter. It’s an age thing.

  11. Boy, oh boy, am I glad I’m not participating in the Fifty-Fifty Challenge! I didn’t watch a single movie during March, not a single one! How bad is that?! As for reading, I wasn’t too much better, sad to say. I’ve been up to my ears with other stuff and sometimes it’s all one can do to keep one’s head above water. Good for you — at least you’re progressing step by (small!) step!!

  12. Thanks so much for the mention, Monica. And don’t be so hard on yourself. This list is pretty impressive. Some nights I don’t get to read more than a few paragraphs without nodding off! AND I think you get extra credit for The Bell Jar!

  13. We had so much company last month that I’m way behind on my reading and film watching. I did get to see Hugo (so beautiful!) and just watched Temple Grandin. Claire Danes did a superb job playing Temple. As for books, Night Circus is waiting for me on the library hold shelf. Have you read that one?

    I haven’t read Love Story… saw the film, though. It’s more about character than plot, as I assume the book must be, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I watched it when my hubby was out of town and I had the TV to myself. 🙂 He likes movies with car chases and explosions.

    • I’ve yet to see Hugo, but it’s on my list. Night Circus sounds interesting. Will have to check it out. Re Love Story, I was really disappointed with the book. It feels more like a summary, with all the descriptions left out. It’s very short so read it and you’ll see what I mean.

      I loved the film back then when I saw it so I’m hoping I remember it stands the test of time for me. We’ll see.

  14. I was a huge 21 Jump Street fan Monica and I am really happy you liked the film, I will be seeing it too. I love the combination of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. I can’t believe March practically flew by, It sadly meant the end of my vacation – I had been planning it for so long, hard to believe in a matter of 2 weeks we were back home and adjusting to life here 🙂

    Can you believe I never read ‘The Bell Jar’ and I heard brilliant things about it. It is on my list.

    • Oh, MM, I loved, loved, loved it. The Hill-Tatum duo were dynamite! I want to hear your thoughts on it. And please, please read the Bell Jar. I think you’re going to enjoy it and, the way you read, you’ll be done with it in no time!

  15. As I suspected, I am behind on my film watching but not by much thanks to my spate of movie nights in prep for the Oscars. Saw The Hunger Games this weekend, which I would not have seen, but the son and his girlfriend were in town and how could my husband and I refuse a double date offer. So glad I saw it; it was intense! Last two books I read were Blue Bear and Walking Home by Lynn Schooler, in prep for my Alaskan Adventure by the Book. If you want a wonderful memoir with some great Alaskan culture, history and geography interspersed, you will enjoy one or both of these books!

    • After reading Lisa’s blog (her link is in my post), it made me want to read the Hunger Games first, before seeing it. And that’s what I’m reading now. The book so far is very exciting so I imagine the movie will be, too. Can’t wait!

  16. RON SWANSON!?!?


    I heart me some Ron Swanson. Best. Character. Ever.

    Now I’m totally seeing 21 Jump Street. Brett has wanted to for a few weeks, and I was reluctant. Now, no more…


    • You love Ron Swanson, too?? Isn’t he so dreamy perfection? I love his relationship with Amy Pohler’s character. The whole cast really is divine.
      And, as for 21 Jump street, don’t hold out any longer. Go see it today! I have a feeling that if I liked it, you will, too. After all, we’re two of a kind! 🙂

    • Jon Hamm is so hot, I don’t get it, either. After all, he should be with me! 😉

      But seriously, thank you for making me feel good about my flimsy achievement. Guess it wasn’t so bad after all, even if one of the books I read was 138 pages. More like a long short story, really.

    • Oh my goodness, we never laughed so hard! It had so many unexpected moments, lines. I don’t like predictable and this was anything but. Go see it and let me know what you think!

  17. Ah, you are reading the classics and I like the variety. I’ve read all of those – ‘The Bell Jar’- wonderful! Sylvia Plath – amazing, perhaps more so because we know about her struggles. I haven’t seen any of the movies. Shame on me. The last movie I saw was ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. It was on New Year’s Day. Talk about time flying by…..

  18. Monica, One a week, keeps you on track, doesn’t it? I watch A Dangerous Method about Freud and Jung. (Research for my book.) For a therapist who studies shamanism, I know surprising little about Jung. Now I feel I must learn all I can. I am a bit fascinated. I am reading from many books (All research also). The Birth of Pleasure by Carol Gulligan and The Meaning of Mary Magdalene by Cynthia Bourgeault. But I have piles of books everywhere! I love to learn. I can’t remember the whole month, these are just this week…

    • One a week for movies, yes. I think I’m doing okay in that arena. It’s the books I’m sweating bullets about. Yikes. I wish I had more time to read, that’s all. 😉

  19. I must admit I am not a great film watcher, but when I do I prefer the older films to most of the new stuff.

    Read a couple of books though which actually were re-reads as I read them both some time ago.

    March flew by for me as well zoooooommmm and it was gone. I wonder if I could get a refund and get some of it back?

    What are your favourite type of films Monica? Or do just like a good film irrespective of the type?

    • Robert, I’m a big fan of older films. Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, William Powell and Myrna Loy. I could go on and on. Don’t you think time flies as we get older? How can we avoid that, do you suppose?

      • Yes certainly time appears to go faster, I reckon it’s because I am getting slower!!
        No way of avoiding it, I just go with the flow that’s the easy option for me.
        Speaking of films, at the steam railway I volunteer at we have some filming at my station at the end of the month. No major production but will get some pictures of it and put them on my blog. We have had lot’s of films shot there or at least parts of them including a couple of James Bond films. The Dirty Dozen the second mission had some scenes shot at the railway as well.. All excitement!!!
        As you like quotes who was it who once said “I am not young enough to know everything” I can’t for the life of me remember.

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