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Total Books Read: 52

Fiction: 35
(Novels-27, YA-3, Plays-4, Short Story Collections-1)

Non-Fiction: 17
(Memoirs/Personal Essays-10, Science/Social Science -4, Language/Food/Self-Help -1 each)

Fave Fiction (in no particular order, because ranking things is hard, dammit):

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet -David Mitchell
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -Jonathan Safran Foer
Juliet, Naked -Nick Hornby
Shades of Grey -Jasper Fforde
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian -Sherman Alexie
Freedom -Jonathan Franzen
The Year of the Flood -Margaret Atwood
The Help -Kathryn Stockett

Fave Non-Fiction:

Manhood For Amateurs -Michael Chabon
The Happiness Project -Gretchen Rubin
Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture -Daniel Radosh
Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America -Barbara Ehrenreich

Le Grand List, in the order I read them )
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Started Early, Took My Dog -Kate Atkinson
This is the latest Atkinson featuring the awesome Jackson Brodie, and a host of other mysterious characters. She is a master of multiple plotlines that magically converge in the end--in this instance, I found that there were maybe a couple too many characters for me to try and keep track of. Could be a fault of my attention span/memory, and not the of the author. Still well worth a read, but not my very favourite Atkinson.

Packing For Mars:The Curious Science of Life in the Void -Mary Roach
I love Mary Roach! She brings her immensely readable science writing to the subject of astronauts (after previous books on sex, ghosts, and dead bodies). It's hilarious and informative--I had never given any thought to how astronauts go to the bathroom, but now I know a *lot* about it. More than really I ever wanted to.

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran:One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut -Rob Sheffield
Sheffield tells great stories about his life in the 80s. Very fun and enjoyable, although I think I would have liked that much more if I were about 5 years older than I am. Some of the details about the early 80s would have been more relatable had I been 12, like the author, and not 5, when the decade started.

The Help -Kathryn Stockett
I put off reading this for a long time, having the vague notion that it would be kind of Oprah-y or something. After a couple of recommendations from friends, I finally picked it up, and I'm so glad I did! So great. I was totally immersed in the lives of these Southern maids in the 60s, and the white woman who decides to try and help them tell their stories. It made me cry, and made me really damn mad--this book only takes place 50-odd years ago! That's scarily recent.

The Fry Chronicles -Stephen Fry
A new Stephen Fry memoir! Super exciting. It was delightful, as expected. I has quite a different tone than "Moab Is My Washpot", his last memoir detailing his childhood and high school years. This volume takes us through his 20s, when he was at Cambridge, and met Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, and other future collaborators. I want him to be my friend--he is so smart and funny and awesome. Sigh. Is it wrong for me to have a bit of a crush on a 53-year old gay man?
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Yay, year-end wrap-up!

Movies Seen In Theatres: 40
10 were released in 2009 (or 11 depending on how you count Un Prophete), the rest from 2010

I'm trying to make a top 10, and it's hard! I saw lots of great movies, and a few movies that I really really enjoyed, despite not being the kind of movie that should maybe be on a "best of" list. Plus, there are still a bunch of movies I need to see before I can make any kind of definitive 2010 list. Nonetheless, I usually make my rankings based on what I saw in a calendar year, not counting the ones I see later (flawed methodology, to be sure.)

My top 5 would be maybe some combination of (in alphabetical order, because I am a wimp):

Black Swan
The King's Speech
Never Let Me Go
The Social Network which I'd probably add:

Easy A
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
The Kids Are All Right
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
True Grit

...and then I'd sneak in and 11 and 12, because I also really enjoyed:

Please Give
The Trotsky

...and maybe a 13, while not technically a "best" movie, one that I enjoyed a great deal:

Babies (because, people--Babies! Babieeeeeeeees!)

Dishonourable mention to the only two movies I saw that were really bad:

Sex and the City 2
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Le Grand List )
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Fair Game didn't call out to me as a must-see, but I ended up really enjoying it. I'm hot and cold (usually fairly cold) on Sean Penn, but he's great in this, as is Naomi Watts. I remember when the real Valerie Plame outing happened, and was glad to get a refresher on what a nutso thing it was. So infuriating!

I'd been dying to see Black Swan even since I saw the batshit trailer. The movie certainly lives up to the crazy! Totally wacko, totally camp, totally strange and awesome mashup between dance movie and psychological thriller. Natalie Portman is justifiably getting lots of praise, but Barbara Hershey, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder are also all great.

The King’s Speech is pretty standard Oscar-bait, but damned if it isn't really successful and compelling. Wonderful performances all around, and it makes me want to read more about the real story! Fascinating.

I went to True Grit a bit grudgingly. It was on my Oscar-probable list, but I really don't like Westerns usually. Turns out, I really enjoyed it. More westerns could benefit from the addition of a sassy 14-year old girl who spouts awesome dialogue effortlessly. And Matt Damon as a Texas Ranger.

Tron: Legacy was about exactly what I expected. I re-watched the original last month, and for some reason really wanted to see this. I don't even know why! It's not exactly the kind of movie I usually go to, and I knew it wasn't going to be good. And indeed, it was not good. But fun! Perfectly acceptable matinee fare.

Burlesque was terrible and ridiculous and also pretty hugely entertaining. I mean, it was BAD, really bad, and yet, I laughed my head off and had a thoroughly good time. I don't think it was necessarily trying to be funny--I'm not sure. Fun and terrible. Yay!

At home, we watched the BBC Sherlock and it is superduperly fun and great. I can't wait for Season 2! Plus, now I can't stop saying Benedict Cumberbatch. Hee! Benedict Cumberbatch!!

Our Buffy re-watch/introduce-it-to-CJP has brought us through Season 5. Such great moments, great episodes, devastating ending. But, oy--Glory! Man, I hate her. HATE. I'd forgotten her nails-on-chalkboard quality. Blerg.

I saw some theatre, all of which involved friends, which is always fun. I adore seeing people in shows, especially when the shows are good, as these were!

Forbidden Broadway is a hard show to pull off, with the impersonations, and the Broadway in-jokes. But it was great! My friend Cathy did most of the big, broad characters (Ethel, Carol C, etc) and she truly rules.

White Christmas was really lovely. My friend SJ was one of the sisters, and she's a pleasure to watch on stage. The whole show was big and warm and fun! Lots of excellent tapping, too, which I always enjoy.

We took CJP's niece to Suessical: the Musical, by a professional children's theatre company. We lucked into front row seats, which was just perfect! It's a fun little show, with great performances and magical bits. It was awesome to see it with a kid!
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Half-Empty -David Rakoff
Rakoff is my favourite melancholy essayist. I also love his appearances on This American Life. These personal essays are darkly funny, sometimes surprisingly poignant, and always wonderfully written. The essay on "Rent" alone had me laughing my head off and reading it out loud to people. The essay on his cancer diagnosis and treatment is powerful and raw.

So Much For That -Lionel Shriver
Well, I can't say that I 'enjoyed' this book, because man, was it depressing. It was really interesting and well-written, though, so worth a read if you're not too sad already! The protagonist has been planning all his life to retire to a small island nation, where his nest egg would let him live like a king. The night he's about to leave, his wife reveals that she has terminal cancer, and will need his money for treatment, as his work insurance has recently been slashed. It's a pretty damning statement on the American health care system, that's for sure!

Mary Ann In Autumn -Armistead Maupin
Yay, new Tales of the City book! Unlike the last one, which wasn't great, this book was a pretty great return to the old school TotC style. Funny, sad, weird, awesome.

The Hunger Games -Suzanne Collins
I finally succumbed to the (imagined) pressure, and read the first book in the popular series. And......I liked it! I don't want to overuse the word 'compelling', but that's how I'd describe it--once I started, I didn't want to put it down!
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I thought I could somehow get caught up enough to do a year-end wrap up on time, but alas. A few more posts to come! Sorry if I end up spamming you with many book and movie posts this weekend!

Freedom -Jonathan Franzen
I loved this! A big, sprawling, amazing family saga. Deserving of all the praise it's been getting, for sure.

God of Carnage -Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton
I had heard this play was amazing, and I'd still like to see it on stage sometime, but on the page, it didn't do it for me. The characters are all mean and unpleasant and just yell at each other a lot. Oy.

Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America -Barbara Ehrenreich
Considering I threw "The Secret" across the room when I read it, this book is right up my alley. She explores the history and the dark side of the positive thinking movement, and has chapters on everything from cancer treatment to the recent economic crisis. Really well-researched and reasoned, eminently sensible and clear-headed. I loved it!

The Year of the Flood -Margaret Atwood
I probably should have re-read Oryx and Crake before reading this--I didn't realize they were both in the same universe, and I'd forgotten most of O&C. Regardless, this was awesome! Margaret Atwood gives good dystopia. Super compelling and weird, dark, funny, all around great.
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November was a pretty busy month for me, so I only saw two movies and one musical. Slacker!

Inside Job is a fascinating, compelling documentary on the recent financial crisis, and it made me so sad/mad--smad!

Love and Other Drugs was almost really good, but not quite. I am all in favour of naked Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, both of whom are very pretty. I am emphatically not in favour of the terrible boorish brother character, who I wanted to punch repeatedly in the nose. Seriously, he brought the movie down at least 2 letter grades. If they'd excised him entirely from the film, it wouldn't have made a lick of difference to the plot, and there would have been time for more naked pretty people scenes! Missed opportunity, people.

I also saw the west coast premiere of a new Canadian musical: Mimi, or a Poisoner’s Comedy, based on the true story of a murderous 17th century marquise who poisoned her father and brothers. The music was decently interesting, the performers were hamming it up enjoyably, and I liked it quite a bit!
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Some movies:

I loved The Social Network. Loved the performances, the screenplay, the direction. Really well done! I know Aaron Sorkin is apparently a jerk in real life, but the man can write some snappy fast dialogue, which is one of my favourite things.

Easy A was a pleasant surprise--I totally enjoyed it! It wasn't perfect, for sure, but what great performances! Emma Stone was great, but Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as her parents just stole the whole movie for me. "So, where are you from, originally?" is a line that still makes me burst out laughing, when I remember the context. (Seriously, I'd recommend renting it just for that line.)

Waiting for “Superman” is a documentary about the public school system in the US. Quite compelling, somewhat polarizing (let's just say that the teacher's union comes off reeeaaaaaally badly, which, as a child and sibling of teacher's union leaders, I found pretty unfortunate), definitely worth checking out.

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is the latest Woody Allen and it's...not good. CJP thought it was possibly the worst movie he's EVER seen, which, while I wouldn't go that far, is pretty damning. I just thought all the characters were unpleasant and that the plot was boring and lame. Blerg.

A couple of musicals:

I've always enjoyed the score to The Fantasticks, but hadn't seen it done since I was a teenager. The Vancouver Playhouse's production was just lovely--a great cast, whimsical set and direction.

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline is hardly a show at all--mostly an excuse to hear a bunch of fabulous Patsy Cline songs. Luckily, this Arts Club production has the songs belted out by a good friend of mine, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, who is insanely talented. She is a joy to listen to for an evening of great old tunes.
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I really like compiling my year-end lists, but I'm so far behind still! I gotta get going...

In the theatres in September I saw:

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, an excellent and compelling documentary. I do find it fascinating how so often funny people are totally damaged and sad inside. Definitely recommended.

Going The Distance is a rom-com with Drew Barrymore and Justin Long that I barely remember. I think I liked it ok! Man, I gotta write these posts quicker. Sigh.

I do remember that I liked Never Let Me Go quite a bit. I read the book a few years ago, and I think the movie did it justice. Great moody atmosphere, good performances, great overall creepiness. Good!

I continued my Bones-watching with Season 5. Fun stuff.

September is Fringe month in Vancouver, so my month was theatre-riffic!

TJ Dawe's latest, Lucky 9, was my total favourite. Is it a cliché to say that I laughed and I cried? 'Cause I did! So good.

Also quite good: Every Job I’ve Ever Had, Die Roten Punkte: Kunst Rock, 52 Pick-Up.

Decently fine: Raccoonery!, Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog (I was excited for the live-action version of this, and it was fun, but not as great as I was hoping...)

Not my cup of tea, although I'd always heard such great things about him: Jem Rolls: One Man Riot

I also saw Tear The Curtain!, a super-cool show at the Arts Club that blended theatre and film and was bezonkers. I'm not sure it added up to anything, but it was sure fun to watch.
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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet -David Mitchell
LOVED THIS. David Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. I shall refer you back to the post I wrote right after I finished it.

Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine -Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst
The authors claim to be objective, and do a pretty good job, but it's also clear that they think a lot of popular alternative medicine is bunk. Fair enough, so do I, so the book had me on their side from the start. They also have the science to back it up, which I appreciate, so I'd like to think they could change someone's mind, if they came to it with a mind open to hearing the science. They also give fair props to treatments that do appear to be effective, which is nice!

Room -Emma Donoghue
I liked this quite a bit, but not as rapturously as many others seemed to. It's told from the point of view of a 5-year-old boy, which is definitely inventive, and the story is sad and compelling and touching, but the POV is a bit limiting--by design, I guess. I thought maybe a short story would have been enough. It's definitely worth reading, though. I just didn't think it was the greatest book ever, as some reviews seem to be saying. (Especially since I read it right after Jacob de Z, which kind of IS the greatest book ever.)
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I thought maybe I'd stop bothering to do my little write-ups, but I want to catch up, because I do like looking back at them later on. Trouble is, if I keep doing them months later, I won't remember anything about the books/movies/plays!

Let's see what I remember about August:

August: Osage County -Tracy Letts
I saw this play in Toronto last year, and it's coming here to Vancouver next year, so I thought I'd read the libretto. It's so intense, and darkly funny and upsetting. Not quite the same right on the page, but a play is really meant to be seen, or at least heard out loud. I cannot confirm or deny that I occasionally read scenes out loud to myself, playing all the characters.

Great House -Nicole Krauss
I remember quite liking this, but the details have faded pretty fast. It's a bit dense, and I didn't love it like I loved her previous novel "The History of Love", but this is still a beautifully written, sad novel. There are several different plots and a big, imposing desk that ties the many characters together.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian -Sherman Alexie
I loved loved loved this!! Why hadn't I read any Alexie before? Everyone should go read this right now.

Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture -Daniel Radosh
I have a definite fascination for books about mysterious religious things I don't understand. Radosh wrote a great, funny and informative overview of, well, the title says it all. I knew a certain amount about, say, Christian pop, but my eyes were opened to the worlds of Christian movies, theme parks, romance novels, pro wrestling, you name it. Great book.

Going In Circles -Pamela Ribon
Yay,! I still feel all proprietary and proud when a blogger I've read for years starts writing books! This third novel was her best yet, I think. The main character goes through a divorce and takes up roller derby. It's funny, and sad, and a good quick little read.
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Oh meme, I am growing tired of you. But I will finish you, I will!!

I will tell you of a moment last night.

I finished a really good book (which you should all read: "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet", by David Mitchell), and it was so good, so good, and I was just so excited to find out what happened at the end, and it was so good, so good, and SO SAD, SO SAD, and all of a sudden, with about 2 pages left, I burst into crazy, uncontrollable sobs. I took me about 10 minutes to read the last two pages, because I couldn't stop hysterically weeping. It was a bit over the top. It was about 11:30 last night, and CJP was reading in bed (I was out on the couch in the living room) and he was kind of concerned! He called out to make sure I was ok. I was in full-on ugly, mascara running, heaving sobs. Weird. It was kind of cathartic, though, I think. The book was just so beautiful, and so tragic, and so....AWESOME. I didn't want it to end, but I was so glad to find out the end, and it was (have I mentioned) SO SAD to me, yet beautiful and wonderful and omigod. I might cry again.

I then immediately texted my friend who loaned me the book, and she called me right away and we had a 20-minute phone call that basically consisted of:

-I know, right?
-And [this part]
-Yes, and [this amazepants part]
-And when [this] happened--OMIGOD
-Those other 6 books can't possibly be better than this one!
-I know!

etc, etc.

In conclusion, go read the damn book. It's about Dutch traders on a island post off Nagasaki in 1799. I know--didn't sound that exciting to me, either. And it takes a tad to get going, but when it does? OMIGOD. I adored it.
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The Happiness Project -Gretchen Rubin
I picked this up based on a few recommendations from friends, and I'm so glad I did! Rubin recounts her year of trying various projects to get more happiness into her life. Get More Sleep, Sing in the Morning, Start a Blog (which became wildly popular, and led to this book!), Take Time to be Silly, and many more. I can't say that I immediately went out and made myself a million projects to try, but I definitely enjoyed reading about her year, and I think it's a book I'll return to every so often to give myself a boost.

Bite Me: A Love Story -Christopher Moore
I do love me some Christopher Moore. This was the latest in the vampire-y series, which isn't my very favourite stuff of his, but is reliably silly and funny, as expected. Good times.

The Book of Dahlia -Elisa Albert
I went into this one knowing nothing about it, but somehow having the idea that it was some sort of murder mystery or thriller or something (maybe the name Dahlia made me think of the Black Dahlia? Dunno.) That's not what it's about! It's about a slackery, misanthropic 30-year-old woman who is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. No one in the book is particularly likable, but the writing is great and the story definitely drew me in. Funny and sad.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -Jonathan Safran Foer
I liked Foer's first novel just fine, but this one just slayed me. So much love. Experimental and emotional and funny and terribly sad and just...LOVE. Oskar is a weirdly precocious 9-year-old whose father died in the Sept 11 attacks, and who sets out on a quest across New York City to find the lock that fits a mysterious key. Foer intertwines this with the story of Oskar's grandparents (including some passages so beautifully written that I gasped out loud), and the novel is also studded with photographs and drawings and other bits of experimental layout. Possibly too precious or consciously sentimental for some, I totally bought in to it and it got to me big time. I burst out laughing, and crying, several times. Highly recommended.
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In the theatre, I saw:

Solitary Man, which featured Michael Douglas doing what he does very well--the middle aged kinda sleazy jerk. The character is quite unpleasant, but man, he does that well. I thought the movie was pretty good--it's hard to build a story around such an unlikeable guy, but it was certainly compelling and interesting to watch.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was big and colourful and hyperstylized and goofy and ridiculous and quite awesome. I dug it, for sure.

We watched a bunch of DVDs:

Now, I didn't have any particular desire to see 27 Dresses, but in the space of a few days, two different friends told me it was good. Or at least, that it was "better than you'd think." Alas, I thought it was terrible! Oy. Bleargh. Bad script, bad acting, bad bad lame.

I hadn't seen Clue for years, so it was time for a viewing. Cracks me up every time.

I was pretty sure I hadn't seen The Purple Rose of Cairo, and I'm trying to watch some of the Woody Allen older stuff, but about half way through (took me a while, I know) I realized I had seen it. And it's so great. Totally funny, but quite a sad ending. Great film.

After seeing The Kids Are All Right last month, I wanted to introduce CJP to Lisa Cholodenko's last movie, Laurel Canyon, which I'd seen but he hadn't. I quite like it--it's not perfect, but Frances McDormand is so sexy and fierce and layered and awesome. It's definitely worth watching just for her.

For some reason that I can't remember, we decided to watch the Winona Ryder Little Women, which neither of us had seen for years. It's good! I mostly like watching it because it was filmed in Victoria, and a bunch of people I know did background work on it, so there a few scenes in which to play Spot Vestra's Friend!

Crimes and Misdemeanors is another Woody Allen movie I wasn't sure whether I'd seen or not--turns out I hadn't, but I'm so glad I did! Alan Alda is especially fantastic, but it's a strong cast all around. Good stuff!

We've just finished Season 4 of Buffy, so CJP wanted to show me Professor Walsh Lindsay Crouse in something else: House of Games, a great little David Mamet film with Crouse as a psychiatrist getting caught up with con man Joe Mantegna. Crouse's line delivery was weird and stilted, but according to an interview, that was very deliberate, on Mamet's request. I found it distracting, but otherwise I really enjoyed the movie.

After seeing the trailer for the new Tron movie, we thought it would be fun to watch the original, which I saw as a kid, but CJP hadn't ever seen. Super cheesetastic fun!

We also, as mentioned above, made it through some more Buffy, Seasons 3 and 4. Season 3 is so so good. Season 4 has some great moments (Hush! Restless! Superstar!) but some appallingly bad ones, too (Beer Bad! Where The Wild Things Are!) I'm still loving the re-watch, though. Yay, Buffy!

I'm also trying to catch up on Bones, and watched Season 4 over the past while. It's not the world's greatest show by any means, but I do find the character interactions entertaining.

What with all the DVD watching, I only got to one live theatre show:

Glengarry Glen Ross is a play I've always wanted to see live. I love the movie, and jumped at the chance to see a professional production of it at the Arts Club. It was so great. Powerhouse actors just pouncing on the brilliant David Mamet script that is insane to deliver. Loved it.
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I gotta catch up on this!

June was a giant roadtrip, basically, so I didn't really read much. I get a bit sick reading in a car (plus I figured making conversation is the politer option!)

So, yeah. Only three books read. Let's see if I remember anything about them two months later!

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage -Elizabeth Gilbert
I read Eat, Pray, Love several years ago when it first came out (before all the hype) and really enjoyed it, so I was intrigued to read this followup. I have also often been fairly skeptical of marriage (and yet find myself contemplating it), so the subject matter interested me. Gilbert has a way with a phrase, and did a lot of interesting research on the history of marriage. I enjoyed the book!

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers -Xiaolu Guo
I picked this up based on the concept: a young Chinese woman comes to London to learn English, and, as it's written from her perspective, the grammar and vocabulary of the book improve as the character's English improves. I thought it was a really interesting idea! The plot of the book was pretty standard, but I loved the experimental style. From choppy, broken English at first to complex fluency by the end. Neat idea.

The 100-Mile Diet -Alisa Smith and James McKinnon
I certainly admired this book, and the yearlong experiment this couple undertook. Eating local is a great idea, but they went hardcore! It hardly seems realistic for most people to go quite as far as they did, but it was a very eye-opening idea. Anything that gets me thinking about where my food comes from is a good idea. I try and get local food, and looooooove farmer's market season, but I confess that I couldn't possibly live without things like avocado, so a fully local diet ain't gonna happen.


Aug. 15th, 2010 12:30 am
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I saw this meme via [ profile] audrawilliams and I'm totally thinking of doing it! I keep meaning to write on here more, and maybe this would help me do it. I can't promise that my "great detail" is going to be more than a paragraph or two, but that might still be fun! (For me, at least...) Anyone else want to do it?? It would be nice to see more activity around here than there has been recently...

Day 01 - Introduction
Day 02 – Your first love, in great detail
Day 03 – Your parents, in great detail
Day 04 – What you ate today, in great detail
Day 05 – Your definition of love, in great detail
Day 06 – Your day, in great detail
Day 07 – Your best friend, in great detail
Day 08 – A moment, in great detail
Day 09 – Your beliefs, in great detail
Day 10 – What you wore today, in great detail
Day 11 – Your siblings, in great detail
Day 12 – What’s in your bag, in great detail
Day 13 – This week, in great detail
Day 14 – What you wore today, in great detail
Day 15 – Your dreams, in great detail
Day 16 – Your first kiss, in great detail
Day 17 – Your favourite memory, in great detail
Day 18 – Your favourite birthday, in great detail
Day 19 – Something you regret, in great detail
Day 20 – This month, in great detail
Day 21 – Another moment, in great detail
Day 22 – Something that upsets you, in great detail
Day 23 – Something that makes you feel better, in great detail
Day 24 – Something that makes you cry, in great detail
Day 25 – A first, in great detail
Day 26 – Your fears, in great detail
Day 27 – Your favourite place, in great detail
Day 28 – Something that you miss, in great detail
Day 29 – Your aspirations, in great detail
Day 30 – One last moment, in great detail
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I heart movies. I saw three movies in July, and they were all excellent!

The Kids Are All Right has great performances and a good script and was overall very good and recommendable, although there were a couple of plot points that I didn't totally buy, or thought maybe the tone was a bit off. I may need to watch it again to get my thoughts clearer. Mostly, I thought it was awesome.

And speaking of awesome, Inception blew my mind up into a million pieces. Unlike some overly ambitious/complicated/layers of reality movies, I thought this was constructed in such a way that I pretty much knew what was going on, which was nice. I didn't particularly care about the central relationship that a lot of things hinge on, but the visual stuff was so awesomely fantastic, it didn't bother me too much. Ellen Page-as-exposition-fairy was just fine by me (an area that some people didn't like) and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt should be in all movies, weightless fighting or no weightless fighting. He's awesome.

Toy Story 3 made me laugh and cry, as predicted. I'm not a giant animation fan, but Pixar makes good movies, it's true. Well done, and lives up to the quality of the first two. I particularly enjoyed Michael Keaton as a Ken doll.

On DVD, we watched a couple of movies that I'd seen and enjoyed, but CJP hadn't ever seen. I introduced him to:

Searching For Debra Winger, a very cool documentary that Rosanna Arquette made about women in Hollywood. She set out to find out why Debra Winger quit the business (this movie came out several years ago, before Winger was in Rachel Getting Married) and along the way interviewed dozens of actresses about acting, motherhood, getting older in Hollywood, etc. Very interesting movie.

In unpacking, I came across a cassette of the Newsies soundtrack, which led to me to force CJP to watch the movie. It was a favourite of mine when I was a teenager, but I warned him that except for the big dance numbers, it was pretty bad in my memory. And woah, is it! Bad, that is. There are definitely some fun song and dance bits, but any time there's no music, the movie stops dead in its tracks. Robert Duvall is TERRIBLE, Ann-Margret is terrifying. But, still--I had the songs in my head for weeks after, and I can see why teenaged me liked it. Cast of dozens of cute teenage boys singing and dancing. My kind of movie!

We have also embarked on a grand and glorious Buffy rewatch. Well, rewatch for me, first time for CJP! In July we watched Seasons 1 and 2. Man, I love that show. It's exciting to watch it with someone who hasn't seen it. Whenever I know there's an episode or a plot point or even a funny line coming up, I can watch him enjoy it, which is super fun for me!

We went to the theatre, also! A young local company, Fighting Chance Productions, was putting on Hair. It was great! Mostly excellent voices, some cool staging ideas. I love the music in Hair so much-it was great to hear it done well. Yay, theatre!
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So, I went to do my Books Read In July post, then noticed I hadn't done June...or May. Oops! It's so silly--I quite like writing up little things about books, but I seem to never get around to doing it. So now I shall start back with May, and I probably won't remember much about them....sigh.

The Discomfort Zone -Jonathan Franzen
A great little book of autobiographical essays about Franzen's awkward adolesence. "Portrait of the artist as a young geek", as another review said! Good writer--he has a new novel coming out soon, the first since "The Corrections", which I'm excited about!

The Blue Girl -Charles de Lint
I read an urban fantasy YA novel! Why? Who on earth knows, but it was super fun! Not really the kind of thing I often read. (Oh yes, actually I know why I picked it up--I remember [ profile] dangerdean telling me how awesome De Lint is.) A goth girl (who turns blue!), her shy nerd friend, and a sad ghost--oh yeah, and some fairly malevolent fairies. Fun stuff.

Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language -Ruth Wajnryb
I like the idea of a book on cursing, and I'm sure there's a good one out there, but this was a tad boring. Some interesting bits, but quite dry overall. Not as fun as I thought it would be!

Slammerkin -Emma Donoghue
My first Donoghue (recommended by [ profile] listersgirl and it won't be my last! I generally shy away from historical fiction, so I wasn't drawn to the book initially, but I'm so glad I read it. It was a totally compelling page-turner about a poor young girl in 18th century London who yearns for higher station but ends up in prostitution then servitutude. Fascinating and a great read.

Welcome to Higby -Mark Dunn
I'm a big fan Dunn's debut novel, "Ella Minnow Pea", which is experimental and superawesome. This is a more straightahead novel, and it didn't thrill me to bits, but it was definitely worth a read. Cast of thousands in a small Southern town. Wouldn't seem out of place as a Robert Altman film.

Ok, that was May. Perhaps I'll get to June tomorrow! Or maybe by October...
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I only saw one movie in the theatre in June--the French film A Prophet (Un Prophète). It was nominated last year for an Oscar, and had amazing reviews. I thought it was a very well-made and interesting movie, but the violence was a bit much for me. I mean, it's an intense drama set in a French prison, so the violence wasn't gratuitous or unexpected, but I watched the movie through my fingers for a good portion. Overall, I still thought it was a very compelling story, with great performances.


My friend S has a great knack for going to the video store and picking totally random, weird little movies that I haven't even heard of--and I've heard of most! To wir: Peacock, a totally random, weird little movie starring Cillian Murphy as a man with a female second personality. When a train crashes into his backyard, some townspeople meet the female personality for the first time and assume she's the protagonist's wife. Also starring Ellen Page and Susan Sarandon. Not bad, pretty odd.

CJP was distressed to learn that I had never seen Searching for Bobby Fischer, so we rectified that. It was great! Very compelling.

A Time For Burning was nominated for the best documentary feature Oscar in 1967, which is how it made its way to our Zip queue. It's a fascinating look at a church in Nebraska, and its pastor's attempt to start a dialogue between his congregants and members of a local black church. Definitely worth searching out.

TV-on-DVD-wise, I'm still working through Bones, and just got through Season 3. I'm definitely still really enjoying it. On a side note, CJP and I just started a Buffy re-watch (well, re-watch for me, first time for him!) and man, does David B look young!!

I saw a lot of live theatre this month, because, oh yeah, I went to New York!!! Always a fantastic trip.

Sondheim on Sondheim is a revue of SS's work, coupled with cool multimedia components. Between songs, there are big video screens showing old-and-new interviews with Sondheim talking about his writing process and even his personal life. Very cool. Neat staging, too, and excellent performances. It was a real treat to see Barbara Cook! My other favourite was Norm Lewis, who can feel free to sing to me any time. His "Being Alive" was insane. Love love love.

Why stop at one Sondheim show? We next took in the revival of A Little Night Music starring Angela Lansbury (!!^*#*&^*&@^!!!) and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who were both excellent. It was a somewhat scaled-down revival in terms of sets, cast size and orchestra, but it was still really effective. "Send In The Clowns" may be a bit (!) of an old warhorse at this point, but in the context of the show, it's devastating, and C Z-J brought it.

Having forgotten that some shows have different weekly show schedules, we weren't able to see the show we were planning for on the Wednesday night we were there (Next to Normal), so we somewhat spontaneously chose Everyday Rapture as a fill-in. It's a semi-autobiographical basically one-woman (there are also two backup singers and a brief cameo by a kid) show starring Sherie Rene Scott, one of my favourite theatre singers. She takes us, through the use of pop songs and stories, from her childhood as a half-Mennonite in Kansas all the way to the semi-big time on Broadway. She has a great voice and a totally winning, weirdo kook persona. I dug it!

After three pretty small shows by Broadway standards, we wanted to see a big old serious capital-B Broadway Musical! Mary Poppins did not disappoint. We chose it because a theatre school friend of mine was in it, and I'm glad we did! It was big--big cast, big set, big Disney Magic. I totally enjoyed it--not to mention, it was awesome to see a friend on Broadway! After the show, he met us at the stage door and gave us a tour of the stage area. Awesome!

Speaking of friends in shows, when I got to Vancouver, one of the first things I did was go see a production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee that several friends and acquaintances are in. It was excellent. I love having talented friends!!
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I love movies!

Date Night wasn't great, but it was silly fun. I enjoy Tina Fey and Steve Carell, and Mark Wahlberg's abs, all of which were featured in abundance.

Please Give is Nicole Holofcener's latest, starring her muse, Catherine Keener, one of my faves. I thought it was really interesting. The characters are flawed, sometimes unlikeable people, but the movie was still very likeable. It raises some interesting things to ponder about guilt and family and class and what it means to be a good person.

Babies. Babies!!! Baaaaaaabiiiiiieeeeeeees!!! Man, I love babies. I love real babies! I love movies about babies! Babies!!

I enjoyed The Trotsky a lot. Very clever Canadian movie starring the adorable Jay Baruchel, about a Montreal teenager who believes himself to be the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky. Good stuff.

I liked the show a lot, and enjoyed the first movie (while realizing it was not *actually* good), but Sex and the City 2 was TERRIBLE. 3 stars for the excellently insane outfits, but -5 stars for the plot, dialogue and acting. Appalling. All of these people have talent--how did this happen? Oy vey.


Starting Out In The Evening is a lovely little movie about an unusual friendship between an aging novelist and a grad student writing a paper about him. Great performances from Frank Langella and Lauren Ambrose.

Hmm-along the same lines of SATC, I'll say: I liked the show a lot, and sort of enjoyed the first movie, but The X-Files: I Want To Believe was pretty bad. Sadness.

I’ll y a Longtemps Que Je T’aime (I've Loved You So Long) is a compelling and affecting French drama starring Kristin Scott Thomas, who gives an incredible performance as a woman recently released from prison who moves in with her sister.

The Big Bang Theory Season 2 was good fun. I'm liking it more and more as I watch it. The characters are getting more developed, and the whole thing is just funnier.

Live Theatre

The Long Weekend is a fun Norm Foster play that I saw done by a bunch of my friends. He's not always my thing, but I found this one quite funny, and I love having talented friends and seeing them on stage!

I got a free ticket to Rock of Ages, otherwise I probably wouldn't have gone. I'm so glad I did--it is ridiculous, loud fun! Way over-the-top craziness, awesome (did I mention loud?) singing, and servers wandering the aisles, selling drinks during the show! What could be better?
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