BYBG Newsletter

Random Recommendations

In each issue of my Be You Be Great Newsletter, I’ll make a recommendation for something I think is worth your time. It could be a movie, a book, an album, a specific episode of a show, or even a must-eat food.

This page is the archive of all Random Recommendations featured in the newsletter.

Remember, you can always find every BYBG Newsletter issue in full here on the website.

Subscribe to receive new issues every other Wednesday.

Enjoy the recommendations! đź’« #BYBG

Volume 1 Issue 1

What: Pancake Bread
Where: Trader Joe’s
Why: It’s downright delicious. The secret is to microwave it for 8 seconds.
Cost: $3.99

Volume 1 Issue 2

What: The Two Popes
Who: Anthony Hopkins & Jonathan Pryce
Where: Netflix
Why: Based on a true story, the movie tells the story of Pope Francis’s rise to the Papacy and the relationship he develops with his predecessor, Pope Benedict. While there is certainly artistic liberty taken, it reminded me why I enjoyed studying Catholicism. There is beauty in exploring religious & philosophical questions, and that beauty shines brightest when leaders are not just for the people but of the people. I’m a staunch critic of the Church, but it is the Catholicism of people like Pope Francis that I deeply respect. I hope he continues to lead by example, and I wish him well.
Cost: Your friend’s Netflix subscription.
Bonus: Jonathan Pryce was nominated for Best Actor for this role.

Volume 1 Issue 3

What: Evil Apples
Who: People who make you ugly laugh.
Where: Apple App Store & Google Play
Why: This game is set up exactly like Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity, but this is the only option I’ve found to play online and with your friends. (You can play with strangers, but I don’t.) I played with my friends and family on my Quarantined Birthday, and it was everything I needed. We’ve been playing a bunch ever since. It’s a perfect way to get the pandemic off your mind and laugh til your stomach hurts, but warning: the game is definitely Rated R. Oh, and be a little patient because the game can run slowly sometimes.
Cost: Free.99
Bonus: Start up a Google Hangout or Zoom while you play. It’s not the same without it!

Volume 1 Issue 4

What: Baby Cobra
Who: Ali Wong
Where: Netflix
Why: This is Wong’s debut stand up special from 2016. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to. Wong is hilarious. She talks about pregnancy, sex, marriage, feminism, and growing up as an Asian American. Especially with the endlessly frustrating circumstances of the quarantine, we all could use an hour of escapism and laughs.
Cost: Your friend’s Netflix subscription.
Bonus: She did a 2nd stand up with Netflix in 2018 called “Hard Knock Wife,” which is definitely worth a watch. And she’s pregnant in that one, too!

Volume 1 Issue 5

What: Everyday Matters
Who: Danny Gregory
Why: I’m not going to lie to you, the premise of this graphic novel is sad. Danny’s wife is seriously injured after being run over by a subway train, and this is the story of their family in the aftermath of her accident. However, it is a profoundly honest & uplifting story — one that brought me much more joy than sadness despite an opening that in undeniably heartbreaking. I was new to non-superhero graphic novels, but this book enthralled me. The illustrations remind me of Roald Dahl (minus the Nazism, of course), and it finally made sense to me why some folks swear by graphic novels. The visuals perfectly complement the prose.

These past 2 weeks were some of the toughest of my quarantine experience. There was a lot of sadness, and there are no two ways about that. I found myself thinking about this book and how it made me feel, and I hope it brings you some of the comfort it brought me. I first read Danny’s story about a year ago mostly during my now sorely missed rides on the subway (ironic for this book, I know). In the age of COVID-19, with all the depressing news and equally daunting uncertainty about the short and long term future, I’m reminded of Danny’s family, their struggle, and the grace they shared.
Where to Buy: Check your local bookstore before going to Amazon.
Cost: Approximately $10 depending on the bookstore.

Volume 1 Issue 6

What:Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Who: Written & Directed by CĂ©line Sciamma; Starring NoĂ©mie Merlant & Adèle Haenel
Where: Hulu
Why: Simply put, it’s a love story like I’ve never seen before. The premise is this: a wealthy woman in 18th century France is set to be married off by her mother. In advance of the arranged marriage, the husband-to-be wants to see his future wife, so the woman’s mother commissions an artist to paint her portrait. Then, they fall in love. It’s not a story with wild twists and turns. Rather, it’s one that dives deep into the two characters and tells their story of forbidden love with the grace and thoughtfulness that gay love stories are too often deprived of. Instead of sensationalization and fetishization, there’s honesty and beauty.

The pace is methodical, the dialogue is calm, and the cinematography is stunning. By the end, I found myself fully invested in the love these two women shared. Certainly enhanced by the fact that I’m a mush, the next few days had me thinking a lot about love, companionship, and the millions of gay love stories that were never allowed to blossom because of homophobia. It’s a story that I imagine will push some folks outside of their comfort zone, but that’s ok. That’s a good thing. Enjoy!
Cost: You know the drill. Hit up your friend with Hulu.

Bonus: At the 2020 CĂ©sar Awards (which is the French equivalent to the Academy Awards in the U.S.), Roman Polanski received 12 nominations and won in 2 categories. Polanski is a sexual abuser, rapist, and pedophile who has been a fugitive of the U.S. since 1978 after raping a 13-year-old girl. Obviously, there was widespread disgust at Polanski’s nominations. When he was announced as a winner, Adèle Haenel walked out in protest and shouted â€śWell done, pedophilia!” — she was joined by CĂ©line Sciamma. Haenel has been very public about the abuse she suffered as a 12-year-old girl at the hands of a man in the film industry. It’s gross that Polanski was honored, and it’s enraging that survivors like Haenel are forced to see such reminders that their abusers are protected.

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