Saturday, February 2, 2013

This is the way the blog ends...

If I were cleverer, and more hard working, I would do something super connecting my blog title with The Great Gatsby, which would connect with the last blog post (which had a reference to a great Chris Bohjalian novel that used Gatsby as its central theme), which would somehow knit together neatly with the T.S, Eliot poem referred to at the get-go.  Alas, my blog title refers to the wrong T.S. Eliot poem to make any of that actually work.

Which is about as me as you can get.  I love to read, and I read a lot.  But I am apt to get the reference a little bit wrong, mis-remember the quote just slightly, miss the thematic connection, etc.  I'm an amateur reader, not a scholar.

As if you needed further proof:  the 40th book I read in this just-over-one-year exercise was the latest in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich.  Given that I've read about sixteen of the total (thus far) nineteen in the series, I am not in a position to throw stones.  They're not great books.  They used to be hugely entertaining.  Now, it's more a matter of habit that I read them at all.  This one was thoroughly adequate.

Having this blog has been interesting.  It has made me realize that I value taking the time (though I don't do so frequently) to stop and reflect on what I'm doing.  It's made me realize that I like having people weigh in on what I say; that the conversation is nearly as interesting to me as the reflection.  I've learned that I am not good at, nor am I fond of, writing summaries.  Part of why I started my other dream blog is that I think it would be interesting to try to get better at writing descriptions, particularly things that are incredibly vivid and hard to describe.  I might try to keep at that one.

But I think this one is done!  What a fun little journey this has been!  Thank you, if you've been reading!  Having a goal always motivates me, even if I don't actually achieve the goal.  Striving, I find, I get somewhere other than I would have gotten, even if I don't get to where I thought I might go.

Thank you, and good night.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Books #38 & 39

I'm kind of deflated, actually.

I was just about to write about the two most recent books I've finished, Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy, and The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian.  And I was doing what I do when I prep to write one of these blogs: opening up Amazon windows and author pages to link through to.  I was going to talk about how pleasing I find Maeve Binchy's books; I've probably read ten.  I was going to tell you about how I don't understand the appeal, given that the books are broadly predictable and vaguely mushy, but that I genuinely love them, every time.

And what I found was this memorial on Maeve Binchy's author page.

Maybe when she died, I did hear about it.  I don't remember it, though.  And seeing that announcement really deflated me.

Another time, maybe, I'll talk about books #38 and 39.  For now, I'm just going to look through the list of books that Maeve Binchy wrote, and see what I recall, and enjoy remembering them.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book #36 & #37

Book # 36:  I listened to a book-on-not-tape ("audio book," I know, but book-on-tape is still how I think of it) of a book I found through the Goodreads list of the Funniest Books of 2012.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple, read by Kathleen Wilhoite was completely wonderful: weird, interesting, funny, challenging, expansive, bright.  Totally loved it. Wilhoite did a really lovely job narrating and voicing the book.  I was taken aback (in a good way) when she sang "O Holy Night" as part of the novel; she's got a spectacular singing voice.  It's a book I would love to reread with my eyes someday.

Book #37:  Laurie Notaro, in a rant against Fifty Shades of Grey recent column made a list of books we all should be reading; old classics that have been forgotten (or a few that have been, luckily, recently republished).  So, taking her sage advice, I got Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons from the library.  It was such a delight!

Set in the late-1930's in pastoral England, it's the story of a Viola, a shopgirl who married up.  After less than a year of marriage, her husband has passed away, and she's been summoned to live with the Withers, her in-laws, at their country estate.  Life is dull, with her spinster sisters-in-law, snobbish mother-in-law, and stingy father-in-law.

Gah, I hate summarizing books.  There's a perfectly serviceable summary on the amazon link above.  The point is, I really loved it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Movie #11 - This is 40

If you have been reading this, maybe you know I have a weakness for what I like to call "Dumb Guy Movies".  Here is what I love about them:

1)  Dumb Guy Movies do not give you a headache.
2)  Your heart does not race when you watch Dumb Guy Movies.
3)  Dumb Guy Movies don't make you queasy.

This Is 40 is the painful and funny story of a couple who are suddenly 40 and don't know what to make of their lives, together or individually.  They've been married for years, have a couple of kids, unusual relationships with their own parents, and so forth.

As often happens in Judd Apatow movies, you veer uncomfortably between incredibly hilarious moments and truly heart-wrenching moments.  It never goes to sappy, mostly because of the really amazing performances (Paul Rudd, John Lithgow, Albert Brooks and Melissa McCarthy are completely fabulous).

But that heartfelt vibe is also what keeps his movies from being pure-bred Dumb Guy Movies.  No matter, though. I had fun!  I didn't get a headache!  I laughed, and didn't cry!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Movie #10 - Argo

Sometimes when people recommend movies, I am skeptical.  But then, if their recommendation complies with a ton of other recommendations, I start to assign it a little bit of gravitas.

We watch so few movies a year.  Generally, we choose to assign our babysitting time to live events (concerts, plays, dinners with friends), and often we don't have the time / energy to watch an entire movie at home. But we had a stretch of time where the kids were with my mom, and we threw a bunch of it to movies.

We went to see Argo, a thriller (based on a true story) about the CIA evacuation of 6 of the US personnel who escaped from being hostages in 1979-80.  I don't know (or, really care) what proportion of the movie is real or dramatized.  I LOVED it.  So well done, so well documented.

I'm reluctant to share my one quibble with it, given how well it was done.  But I'll throw it out there.

The hero of the the actual event is Latino. Despite the otherwise meticulous attention to detail, Ben Affleck elected to replace the central character, Tony Mendez with a non-Latino actor - himself.  I totally get that Affleck wanted to be the man in this amazing movie, and he did a lovely job IN the film.  But after I watched the movie, I wished he'd cast it elsewhere.  He's likely to win an Oscar (or maybe several).  Did he need to jam himself in there?


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On Goals - The 3rd Edition

At the start of the calendar year, I said (alleged? posited?  threatened?) that I was going to read 40 books and watch 40 movies.

Now, it is December 25.
According to the www, that's about 359 days into a 365 day year.

Let's throw down the facts, as collected:

In those 359 days, I have:

read 35 books
watched 8 movies.

The uncollected, imagined statistics are:

In those 359 days, I have:

unloaded the dishwasher 280 times
read 195 picture books
done 42 craft projects that didn't result in something I could use, wear or hang up
washed 5,898,623,009,237,401,912 loads of laundry
packed 642 lunches
posted 1,097,865 facebook updates
run 330 miles
NOT run 200 miles

Which is all to say this:

I am nowhere NOWHERE nowhere close to reaching the goal I set last year, of reading 40 books, and watching 40 movies.

I'm okay with this!

Book #35 - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Maybe the most telling difference between novelists and film-makers is that a novelist is down with the title, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and a film-maker thinks that Blade Runner is more the way to go.

But really, neither of those are true. The novelist rarely chooses the book title; the film-maker often has little input into the movie title.

Nonetheless, the differences between Blade Runner, the movie based on the novel Do Androids Dream of  Electric Sheep, are many.  I have only seen Blade Runner once, a zillion years ago.  I remember rain, and Harrison Ford, and dim lighting.

I absolutely loved Do Androids Dream of  Electric Sheep.  I thought it was weird (but not in an offputting way) and interesting (but not in an "I'm saying interesting because what I mean is bad" way) and noir (in the best possible Raymond Chandler way) and sentimental (but not in a cornball way) and deep (but not in an inaccessible way).

The protagonist is a bounty hunter who's charged with tracking down androids.  It's a post-apocalyptic Earth, where most humans have emigrated to Mars, and most living creatures are extinct.  The few humans (and androids) left on Earth are faced with the inevitable degradation of the left-behind Earth.  The novelist (Philip K. Dick) coined the term "kipple" to describe the infiltration of crap that comes with abandonment.

Loved it.  Looking forward to reading more.