The Zengrrl Top Ten Posts of 2014 – A Look Back

The Top Ten Posts of 2014 at Zengrrl dot com

Looking back at the last year in posts, my Google Analytics showed me my most popular posts of the year were either about my fight with cancer, or were geek stories.

According to the reports, these were the most popular stories on this blog in 2014:

1] The Big C … I Has It
2] The Avengers: Age of Ultron First Look Trailer
3] Not Easy Being Cancer Free … What’s Next
4] The Big C Battle Rages ON
5] A Game Night Party to Review Some Awesome Disney and Star Wars Games

A Review of Season One of the Amazon Original Series Transparent

Amazon original series Transparent - image courtesy of Amazon Studios

The new Amazon original series “Transparent” is a bittersweet dramedy that has some rough edges but is worth watching.

The title of the show serves two purposes in defining the series.

Transparent, as in trans-parent, to describe the lead character Morty, who is transitioning into Maura late in life. He’s actually been dipping his toe into the waters for years, but only recently has decided to go public to his family, and the world at large.

Transparent, as in “easy to perceive or detect,” can also used to describe the way Maura’s new life choice is processed by his kids. To her face, the grown children seem to be fine with it, but we can tell they are having a bit of trouble with being fine with it.

I enjoyed following the story of Maura, played brilliantly by Jeffrey Tambor with grace and integrity. I also liked the way he interacted with his ex-wife, Ali, played by Judith Light. They are the perfect Jewish couple, even after the marriage is over.

It’s the children that annoyed me a bit.


A Review of Season One of the Amazon Original Series Mozart In the Jungle

Mozart In the Jungle - image courtesy of Amazon Studios

A little known fact about me: when I was a teenager I was obsessed with performing music and my dream was to go to New York City and train at Julliard.

Life got in the way and that never happened. But tonight I got a look into what my life might have been like had it happened when I binge watched the new Amazon original series, “Mozart In the Jungle.”

Amazon debuted the first season, all 10 episodes, online on Tuesday, December 23, 2014. Each episode clocks in at around 30 minutes, but are so good you wish they were longer.

“Mozart In the Jungle” is based on the acclaimed memoir, Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music by Blair Tindall. The story starts as the New York symphony orchestra is in the middle of a transition from the current long-time maestro, Thomas (Malcolm McDowel), to the new wildly eccentric maestro Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal), hired to breathe new life into the symphony by the chairwoman of the symphony orchestra’s board, Gloria (Bernadette Peters)


A Game Night Party to Review Some Awesome Disney and Star Wars Games

One of the best things about reviewing products for companies is being able to host get-togethers with friends to test products out.

Wonder Forge gamesRecently I had the opportunity to put six games from Wonder Forge to the test. To do so, I held a game night with my friend Carol and her two children, Matt and Abby. We had so much fun putting the games through their paces.

We had the most laughs playing Disney Frozen Surprise Slides! Game, which was like a Frozen-themed version of Candy Land, but with the twist of having removable pieces on the board that can get switched around, altering the course.

We also enjoyed Pictopia-Family Trivia Game: Disney Edition, though some of the questions were easier for the adults. All things Disney were included in the questions from vintage movies and TV to current ones to theme park attractions. Definitely a good gift for a Disney nut.

We tried four other games, and if you’re interested, you can read my complete reviews over at The Disney Blog. But the night reminded me how much fun can be had with traditional board games. We all had a blast eating pizza and trying out each of the games.

Most importantly, we were connecting and talking with each other, instead of sitting in front of a screen. I highly suggest holding a board game night if you don’t already.

Thanks again to Wonder Forge for sending the games to review. As always, my opinions are my own.

Venturing Out for a Night of Yelp at the Museum

Yelp at the Museum

I love living in Orlando because there are always so many interesting things to do. A few days ago, website Yelp hosted a social get-together called “Yelp at the Museum” at the Orlando Science Center, and I was one of the ones chosen to attend from all the Yelpers who RSVP’d.

My blogger friend Diana and her husband Ben let me catch a ride there and back with them, and we reached the OSC just as the event started…and it was already packed.

There were stations throughout the venue where local restaurants offered samples, and I set out to try restaurants I hadn’t yet visited. Ok, so I did make a pit stop at the American Q table, but they had Swine Candy samples (bacon roasted with maple syrup and spices), and you just don’t pass up bacon.


Some Important Vines For You to Check Out

I interrupt your regular web surfing for these important vines:



Crackle Original Charity Concert Series “Playing It Forward” Returns With Imagine Dragons #PIF

Imagine Dragons during the Crackle original concert series Playing It Forward.

Imagine Dragons perform for Playing It Forward. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for Crackle)

Last month, multi-platinum GRAMMY® Award-winning rock band Imagine Dragons played a secret show in Las Vegas as part of the Crackle original concert series, “Playing It Forward.”

The November 8 show in front of the Bellagio Resort & Casino on the the Strip showcased the band performing three fan favorites: the newly released single “I Bet My Life” from their upcoming second album; the 9x platinum single “Radioactive”; and the 2x platinum breakthrough single “It’s Time.” The video also shows some behind-the-scenes footage of the band.

Crackle’s original music series, “Playing It Forward,” is a special documentary-style music series produced by Team Downey, an entertainment company founded by actor Robert Downey Jr. and his producer wife Susan Downey, as well as veteran music producer/composer Tony Berg and Kevin Lake. The first episode in the series starred John Legend.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens Lights Up the Internet with Teaser Trailer

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As a long-time Star Wars fan, I have been anxiously awaiting the first look at the upcoming new installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Today I, along with the rest of the internet, got that look via a teaser trailer.

It wasn’t long enough to really tell us anything about the plot of the movie, but there was plenty to set our hearts racing.

The first shot that sticks in my mind occurs about half-way through the clip: that badass Sith lightsaber with a laser hilt guard, like a real sword. Check it out:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Things That I Have to Be Thankful For in 2014

On Thanksgiving, it’s traditional to look at your life and share all the things you’re thankful for. So in the interest of tradition, here’s my attempt to count my blessings.

Me on the last day of my external radiation therapy.

Me on the last day of my external radiation therapy.

There’s no doubt this has been a rough year for me, but I actually have so much to be thankful for.

I am thankful that I am able to have a roof over my head, and food in my belly. Many people do not have this.

I am thankful that my writing allows me to have experiences I might not otherwise be able to do.

I am thankful for all of my friends who helped give me strength through my recent cancer fight. Your words of encouragement and love really got me through a few rough patches.

I am thankful my friend Carol was available and willing to get me to my cancer treatments. And to Bette and George for getting me there when she wasn’t available. Without them, it would’ve been very hard for me to kick cancer’s ass.

I am thankful that I live in an age where medical treatments exist to treat cancer with minimal side effects.


Finishing My Last Day of External Radiation

Me with a few staff members at Florida Hospital Kissimmee Radiation Therapy on my last day of treatment there.
Yesterday I finished my last day of external radiation for my cancer, and I’m so happy to be done.

For the last five and a half weeks, I’ve gone Monday through Friday to have my 20 minute radiation sessions.

Every morning, I partially disrobe in the room as the one or two techs set up the machine. I hop up on the table and get into position. Then I’m pulled, tugged, and taped, so my skin lines up with the marks and I spend the next 20 minutes lying perfectly still as the arms of the machine spin around, radiating my abdomen and pelvic region from all sides.

The first week or so wasn’t too bad. Then the cumulative effects of the daily radiation started causing skin irritation – like a mild sunburn – and my digestive system started to just flush everything out as soon as I ate it, it seemed.