Bliss Thru Shopping: Read it, watch it, hear it! Our summer picks.


First, Bag Lady has to apologize, profusely.

She didn’t tell you how amazing the Netflix series “Wet Hot American Summer” is sooner because she didn’t know.

Maybe you don’t know, either.

That ends now.

The show — and Bag Lady’s insistence that Shopping Siren start watching it NOW. But she was in the middle of lunch, and then maybe performing brain surgery? Didn’t matter; watch it, anyway. It’s that good — got us thinking about what we’re both watching, listening to and reading this summer. It also got us wondering what you’re watching, listening to and reading this summer.

Why? Because we’re about shopping, first and foremost — but we’re also about sharing general awesomeness and the free-flowing exchange of ideas. 

And, fine, yes, it can probably wait until you’re done performing brain surgery — but then share away!

What we’re watching

Bag Lady’s picks:

* “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” Netflix original series 

Bag Lady is going to skip over all the obvious things this new series has going for it — amazing cameos and cast, crazy funny, a spot-on 1981 setting — and get straight to the best stuff: It’s set in Maine!

The show has references to Kennebec County and Waterville. In between laughs, you’re like, “What, this is in Maine?”

It is (at least fictionally). And it’s awesome, so it makes sense.

* “Storage Wars,” A&E, Tuesday 10 p.m.

Bag Lady and Mr. Bag Lady are absolutely hooked on this reality show about Californians who bid on abandoned storage lockers for a living. The entire crew is a bit unpolished and many of the lockers are loaded with trash, but lurking here and there is treasure. Just like the show itself.

Shopping Siren’s picks:

* Red Sox, NESN, check listings for days and times

Shopping Siren is an optimistic sort of gal when it comes to the Red Sox. She’s pretty sure the team can do anything. Like, right now she’s pretty sure the team can make it to the World Series.

Next year’s World Series.

This year, she’s just watching the losses build. It’s fascinating, in a morbid kind of way.
* “Last Comic Standing,” NBC, Wednesday 10 p.m.

This eight-week competition show pits 100 of the country’s funniest people against each other in a raging, take-no-prisoners, stand-up comedy showdown. It. Is. Awesome. Over the hour, you are guaranteed to chuckle, giggle, guffaw, snort and snicker, or your money back.**
(** No one will actually give you any money back.)

Bliss summer reading list

Bag Lady’s picks:

* “Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny” by Holly Madison

A new, New York Times-bestselling expose about life in the Playboy Mansion by Hugh Hefner’s former No. 1 girlfriend. ** Spoiler alert ** Hefner is creepy, controlling and not someone you want your daughter to fake-date, according to Madison. Candid, sad and ultimately empowering, it’s also an interesting look behind the scenes of reality TV (Madison and two other girlfriends starred in E!’s “The Girls Next Door”). ** Second spoiler alert ** Reality TV is so not real. (Except for “Storage Wars.” I, mean, right?)

* “Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet” written by Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, art by Reilly Brown and Scott Koblish

So Bag Lady’s summer reading taste is a little . . . eclectic. 

The Marvel comics character Deadpool is known as the “merc with a mouth,” quick to throw a witty remark — or a knife — whatever feels right. The “Deadpool” movie is coming out next February with dreamy Ryan Reynolds. Give this graphic novel a read and know what to expect. (Carnage. Banter. More carnage.)

Shopping Siren’s picks:

* “The Python Trail” by Richard Afuma with Thatcher Freund

To be fair, Shopping Siren is only just starting this book, but it looks really good. Published by Down East Books, it follows the journey of Richard Afuma, who grew up in Cameroon and immigrated to the United States. He now lives in Portland. His story is eye-opening and compelling, filled with experiences most Americans can’t fathom. (Washing machine? He’d never seen one. Microwave? He’d never seen one. Computer printer? Thought it was run by ghosts.) A story well worth checking out. 

* “The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life From a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook” by Ellen McCarthy

The Washington Post has a relationship and wedding reporter, and, oh, the stories she can tell. The book is filled with the couples she’s met, the weddings she’s attended, the advice she’s gotten. A great read if you’re in a relationship. Or want to be in a relationship. Or wonder what the heck a wedding reporter does.   

Listening to

Bag Lady’s picks:

* “Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!” and “Fresh Air” podcasts, NPR

A dear friend recently introduced Bag Lady to the world of podcasts — in this case, basically your favorite shows, encapsulated in neat little episodes that can be played back at any time on your phone or, through Bluetooth technology, the car radio. And so with that, Bag Lady finally outs herself as an 88-year-old woman.

* “Babel,” Mumford & Sons

Rocking banjo and the perfect scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs songs to join in on.

Shopping Siren’s picks:

You know what’s great? Free. Free is great. (All the more money to pay for pina coladas by the pool. Or, you know, the electric bill.)

That’s why Shopping Siren loves Maine InfoNet: free e-books and audio books. If you’ve got a library card from any one of dozens of libraries in Maine, including both Auburn and Lewiston, just sign in online, find a book you want to borrow and upload to your computer/cellphone/MP3 player/other technological marvel. Shopping Siren recommends the audio version of “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, a funny-yet-introspective tale about a pair of middle-aged men who take on the Appalachian Trail — soon to be a major motion picture starring Robert Redford! (No, really, it is.)

* “Shut Up and Dance,” Walk the Moon

Double dog dare: Listen to it all the way through and not bop to the beat. It can’t be done! Bouncy, light and fun, it’s Shopping Siren’s song of the summer.

Now, what say YOU?

Bag Lady and Shopping Siren’s true identities are protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who don’t listen any time of year, but probably most especially in summer) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected]