Saturday, January 31, 2009

Books read in January.

This month was a bit troublesome. I did read six books, but it seemed like I couldn't settle into a good reading groove. It seems to me that there were a lot more start-and-abandon books than usual. But it also had some highlights, too. It's early, but I'm guessing Becky will be up for some sort of an award at the end of the year. And Sit, Ubu, sit gave me insight into the workings of one of my favorite growing up shows. So all was not lost. Hopefully next month will be better.

Understanding Skin Problems.
Linda Popadopoulos.
I thought this would be more of a "why you must suffer from the dread psoriasis" kind of book, but really it was a "how you can deal mentally with the dread psoriasis and other skin diseases" sort of book. Which was interesting. I'd not read anything about the psychological effects of skin conditions.

I'm pretty at home with the psoriasis that has been living with me for seven years now. I don't do a lot of the things the author covered, like skipping social activities. I don't mind educating people about why my arms are red. Indeed, I work in a school and children are often curious, and sometimes horrified. I've learned to live with that. I did note, thanks to the author, that I had fallen into the trap of thinking all the things psoriasis was keeping me from. Just in the past month I caught myself thinking that in my current state I could not be an actress, stripper or prostitute. These also happen to be three jobs that I've never wanted.

The discussion about skin conditions being a "visible disease" was interesting also. I'd not thought about it, but people with diabetes, or heart disease don't have to out themselves, while people's skin conditions are always on display for comment or suggestion, welcome or not. This is a short book and worth reading.

Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire.
Rafe Esquith.
Reading this book, I kept thinking, "I wonder what it is like to teach fifth grade at the same school as Rafe Esquith. He is clearly a master teacher and I wonder if he overshadows the other teachers, or if his mastery rubs off on others and they too, are fabulous teachers.

This is a great book covering a complete elementary curriculum. Parents would benefit from reading this too, as Esquith includes many different games to play with children that reinforce learning. It also includes thoughts about what is required from a teacher (replace fear with trust, be dependable, use logical discipline and never forget you are a role model) and outlines what level of moral development to strive for with your class. This book is chock full of information.

Rock on.
Dan Kennedy.
I don't think people realize the extent of the revolutionary times we are living in. True, there are no skirmishes in the streets (at least not where I live in Portland, Oregon) but before our eyes (and ears) the way people have found and obtained music for more than 50 years is crumbling before our eyes. I'm not sorry. While I mostly reject anarchy and embrace institutions that provide services (roads, education, food etc.) the record company has always been "the man" to me. Sure they find and help bring fabulous songs and artists to the rest of the country. But the amount of money they make off of said artists is obscene. The conversion of music from something to be purchased on a record/tape/CD to a digital file has the companies on their knees and I can't say I'm sorry to see the greedy bastards in desperate shape.

My ideal music world would have the artists who create music I love fairly compensated for their creations. If, in this ideal music world some other people want to help bring along that creation and take a small part of the profit, I'm fine with that too. Small is the operative word. I think this future is not far off and it does not include the institutions I so despise.

Dan Kennedy worked for one such institution for 18 months. He chronicles his time served in humorous prose and sparkling anecdotes. There are several laugh-out-loud moments as well as more evidence that we all should stick it to the man, while still supporting our musician friends. The chapter containing the Iggy Pop concert was electric. Kennedy is a wordy writer in the vein of Dave Eggers and I found my eyes glazing in some portions, but that shouldn't detract you from his adventures. Bonus "Reading Group" questions are hilarious.

Garlic and Sapphires.
Ruth Reichl.
A breezy enjoyable book about keeping the Restaurant Critic of the New York Times real. How would you react if everyone in the finest restaurants knew who you were? This includes some good life lessons and delicious sounding recipes.

Becky: The life and loves of Becky Thatcher.
Leonre Hart.
Historical Fiction? Check. Characters based on great literature? Check. Plucky heroine? Check. Feminist leanings? Check. Star crossed lovers? Check. The story told by the "real" Becky Thatcher had pretty much everything I could ask for in a novel.

Sit, Ubu, Sit: How I went from Brooklyn to Hollywood with the same woman, the same dog and a lot less hair.
Gary David Goldberg
I think the Oregonian recommended this to me. It sounded good at the time so into the to-read Goodreads que it went. It didn't look quite as interesting when it came up in the Goodreads que, however. But I'm mostly committed to at least sampling the books I put in that que so I ordered it from the Library. I'm glad I did.

The title pretty much says it all. Reading this book, you get vignettes from different periods of the author's life: wandering hippy, young father, daycare owner, TV writer, TV producer. I grew up hearing "Sit Ubu, sit." at the very end of Family Ties and other shows in the 80s and 90s. I did wonder who Ubu was, off and on, and now I know. In addition, Goldberg has some good stories too.

The back-and-forth vignette can be a bit confusing at times, and I agree with the statement Goldberg makes at the end of the book. Something to the effect of "memoir writers tend to cast themselves as better than they are" he hopes he hasn't done so, but guesses he has. An interesting companion to this book would be if his daughters wrote a book about their childhoods. One, the flower child and the other a successful producer's daughter. The contrasts must be amazing.

Started but did not finish.
The Riders.
Tim Winton.
Good premise, but it took about 100 pages to get to the premise. I got bored and lost interest. Even when the interesting premise kicked in.

Mr. Emerson's Wife.
Amy Belding Brown.
Slow to start. I read the first 50 pages and put it down.

Meritocracy: a love story.
Jeffrey Lewis
I really wanted to like this, because there are four books in the series. But there were too many characters introduced all at once and the plot wasn't compelling enough for me to sort out who they were. The writing was a bit dry, too.

Extraordinary Teachers: the essence of excellent teaching.
Frederick J. Stephenson, ed.
A bunch of essays about, you guessed it, extraordinary teachers. I read the introduction and the first essay, but I'm looking for more specific teaching information right now.

Did not even start.

A Soldier of the Great War.
Mark Helprin.
Normally I love nice thick historical fiction. But this is a very large book and I was obsessed with Sports Night. Had I brought it home at the beginning of my vacation, I would have devoured it. Near the end, I was afraid to start. Perhaps for Spring Break.

How to be popular.
Meg Cabot.
I brought this home as a "just in case" novel. As in, "just in case I finish everything else, I will have this to read." But I didn't finish everything else and so this went back to the library unopened.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Three sentence movie reviews--Doubt

The acting in this was top notch, with three actors who are worth watching no matter what the project is (although I haven't wanted to see Mama Mia). However, I thought the plot had many rather convenient trajectories which left me feeling a bit grumbly, like I went to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and instead they had a postcard posted for me to look at. It may be that when I pay $8.25 for a matinee, very few movies are that valuable and this, alas, wasn't one of them.
poster from:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Where that building used to be.

Remember my capturing the destruction of this block? You can see the posts here, here and here.

This is what it looks like now. This picture is taken from the opposite side of the block, but it affords the best view of the large hole in the ground.

The picture is a bit blurry, because I took it from the Max. I love that they dug such a vertical hole. Did you ever dig holes in your back yard as a kid? Mine were never anywhere near this neat and tidy. I also like looking at temporary infrastructure that has to be built so the building can be built. Like those stairs on the the left. What happens to them after they are no longer needed? Are they disassembled and moved to another job site?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Three sentence movie reviews--The Fist Foot Way

Danny McBride did a good job stealing scenes in All the Real Girls and I was happy to see him in Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express. Despite his presence here, this movie has some funny parts, but mostly is just so-so. If you are into martial arts of any kind, you may find this movie even funnier.

poster from:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mayor Adams,

I follow city politics fairly closely and I’ve always admired you as a politician. When people ask me what I like about you, my standard answer has been “I think he is a politician for all the right reasons.” Namely, I think you love this city as much as me, and want to work to make it a great city not just for people in power, but all of us in the middle and working classes.

I’m a fan of government. I think it can do wonderful things such as provide roads for us to get from place to place, educate children, encourage development, help us to recycle and so many other important things. I’m not one of those citizens who think that people in government make too much money, or are lazy or greedy, or don’t know what it is like to run a business. I want good people making comparable wages running our city. Until Monday, I thought you were one of those people.

What I require most in my life is for people to tell the truth. I work in a school and say it over and over again, “If you had come to me and told me what happened, we wouldn’t be dealing with this situation right now.” It is fine for me to say this to elementary aged students, it’s even great. Because each time they don’t tell the whole story, or outright lie, that gives me another opportunity to help them understand that coming clean, though it seems to be hard at the time, is the better option. My hope is that as they grow older, they will embrace this fact of life and their adolescent and adult lives will be better for it.

I can’t know the thought process that got you into the mess you are in, but I do know that had you admitted then what you are admitting now, we all would have been much better off. You may have lost the election, or you may have won. But either way, the people of Portland would have the whole story from the beginning. Now you look stupid, the people that defended you look naive and there are calls for your resignation. Speaking for myself, the trust I had in you as a politician and a person is gone and I’m not sure what you are going to do to earn it back.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that this story broke over the two days we celebrate the birth of a civil rights pioneer and the historic day we all watched Barak Obama inaugurated. That historic day which should have been full of joy and jubilation, is a dark one for you. You, too are a pioneer. I’m just sorry that you made the choice you did and I’m sorry you asked another person to lie.

Patricia Collins

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Historic Day!

Where were you when Barak Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States? I was at work, watching the ceremony with 44 forth and fifth graders and 22 kindergarten and first graders, as well as their teachers, and various parents. Both 2/3 classes and the other K/1 class watched the ceremony in another classroom.

It was an exciting ceremony and the students, crowded onto the floor, stood unprompted when Joe Biden was sworn in, and again when Barak Obama was sworn in. They stood one last time for the star spangled banner, which I sung out lustily. In between, they listened closely to the prayer, the inaugural address and the benediction. Well, the 4/5s did. The K/1s saw the swearing in and the speech, but didn't stay after that.

Aside from the historic nature of the day, I think my favorite part was walking around referring to "an historic day." Which I now know is actually incorrect, grammatically, because the "an" sound goes with the vowel sounds. So a word like "honor," which would be phonetically spelled "on-her," gets an "an" in front of it, while "historic" has the "h" sound and doesn't. But still, fun to say.

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK Day Walk.

What better way to celebrate MLK Day than to take a walk? Actually, I can think of a few better ways, like doing service, or going to an MLK celebration, but I did neither of those, so a walk was my better way. Kelly and I cracked open the new City Walks book I got for Christmas and began a walk that took us from the Kenton Neighborhood to the bluffs above Swan Island, to Swan Island itself. It was a pretty long walk (6.2 miles) and so we got a lot of talking done, too. New Mayor Sam Adams came up in conversation as he does from time to time. (This will be important a few blog posts from now.)

This is Kenton School. Or it was. Now it is a branch of the De La Salle North campus. Very near the school is the Lombard Transit Center and it is always fun to contrast the neat appearance of the De La Salle students with many of the other riders waiting for transit. I don't think the early 21st century will be remembered fondly for its grooming.

Anyway, Eagle Eye Kelly asked, "What's that, way up there?"
And then, Eagle Eye Kelly, who was been doing a lot of walks and learning about architecture identified it as most likely where the flag pole used to be. I was pretty impressed. Both with the old flag pole and with Eagle Eye Kelly.
Outside the Historic Kenton Hotel, now apartments, is this hitching post-themed bike rack.
It was a beautiful day, with a wind, but the wind brings clear blue skies, giving us this view of the Portland Skyline with Swan Island in the foreground.
A beautiful view of Mt. Hood.
"What the heck is this square thing?" we both wanted to know. The book refers to it as a "maw" and apparently, it is Freightliner's Wind Tunnel. Although I'm not sure what will become of it once Freightliners closes their plant on Swan Island.
After that there were some lovely walks along the Willamette. It was interesting to contrast the river setting with the heavy industrial that is Swan Island. But then, Swan Island was built when the river was used almost exclusively for industry. Now that the industry is leaving, more and more the percentage of recreation increases. I just hope that we can afford to recreate, that is, that something is replacing those industry jobs.

The last leg of the walk is up Greeley Avenue. That's a pretty busy road with a lot of truck traffic and it was an uphill walk. Still, Kelly and I planned our inauguration festivities if we were elected president, namely who the poets, ministers and performers would be. Mine were poet: Marge Piercy, minister: Tom Disrud. (although since I get two, I would also have Robert Fulghum). For performers I picked women, The Indigo Girls were mentioned. Then we were brainstorming other women. I wanted a figure of longevity. Kelly was explaining one of her picks I hadn't heard of and she said, "she's on that Dolly Parton cover album..." and both at the same time we exclaimed, "Dolly Parton!" So Ms. Parton would definately be at our inauguration.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Three sentence movie reviews--Frost/Nixon.

Though I like Ron Howard as a person (what I know of him) and am happy for his success, I mostly always get a little bored during his movies. This one was no different. Still, quite good, but during my bored period I wondered, "Was this really the best title that the author of the play could come up with?"
poster from:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

City skyline and contrails.

Another picture brought to you by the bike commute home.

Shampoo free.

December marks a year of alternate hair care. It started, as many good things do, with yoga class. Rachel, who was very far from a greasy-haired patchouli-scented hippy, mentioned that her hairdresser told her to stop washing her hair. Apparently her curly, curly locks would do better if they were washed less frequently say, once a month or so. She couldn’t imagine going that long, but had cut back to only washing every two weeks. Upon hearing this, another woman with wavy hair chimed in that she rarely washed her hair and thought it was better for it. I protested that with my straight hair, I had to wash it every day or it would become too greasy. We left it at that, but it did get me thinking.

One of the benefits of working in a school is the many regular long stretches of vacation. During vacations, projects can be started and finished and different ways of doing things can be tried. With the above conversation in mind, and with the encouragement of the recess helper at school who also had abandoned the daily ritual of shampooing his head, I decided to experiment over winter break, 2007.

Since puberty, I have washed and conditioned my hair every day. Though I fast figured out that the “lather rise repeat” method was invented to sell more shampoo, I could not go a day without washing. The days I did skip my shower and lather routine, my hair felt gross, very thick and oily. To begin this experiment, I decided to only condition my hair, and skip the shampooing. Here’s what happened the first three days of my experiment.
Day one: “My hair feels incredibly gross.
Day two: I can’t believe this, it is incredibly disgusting.
Day three: This is horrible, how will I last the week?
Day four: Fine.
Note that no shampooing happened between days three and four, my head just adjusted.

From then on it was smooth sailing. Six days of the week I would condition my hair, and only on Sunday would I shampoo first. For awhile I studied my hair to see if it was greasy and even asked a few opinions, but everything seemed fine. I was pretty happy. My shower routine was shorter and now I bought much less shampoo.

Fast forward to June. I attended Monique Dupree’s Sustainable Living on a Budget workshop and learned about the “No Poo” method. I hate the name that has attached itself to this phenomenon, but it really changed my hair care world. No Poo is short for “No Shampoo” and it is a movement of women--and men I would imagine too--who have stopped using shampoo and conditioner entirely. Completely. People’s methods differ, but they have given up their former rituals of daily shampoo and conditioner. I did some research online and was amazed at the different methods. I decided to try not washing my hair during my two week trip to Hungary and Romania.

That was an interesting experiment. I came home from the trip with rather thick hair. It sort of became an entity in its own right. I think that the three different swimming venues contributed greatly to its size, but I knew that I couldn’t just quit washing my hair all together.

My next attempt was the baking soda and cider vinegar method and I’m happy to report that it works well for me. Here’s what I do. On Saturdays, I put a tablespoon of baking soda in an empty 8-oz yogurt cup and bring it and a bottle of cider vinegar with me to the shower. After I wet down my hair, I fill the cup with the baking soda part way and swish it around with my finger to mix it, then add a bit more water. This water/baking soda mixture is then poured over my head and I rub it into the scalp. I let this set for a bit (it feels very nice on the psoriasis) and rinse. Then add a bit of cider vinegar (say 1 teaspoon) to the yogurt cup and fill that with water. That gets poured on my hair and worked into my scalp.

The first time I did this, I could tell that the baking soda worked to clean my hair. I was sure nothing happened when I put the cider vinegar on. “This is not working!” I thought and almost grabbed for the conditioner. But I carried through so I could see the results. My hair seemed so tangled and not smooth. But when I combed through it, it was tangle free.

So that is what I have been doing since July. I haven’t touched my shampoo or conditioner. On Saturdays, I wash my hair and, aside from brushing, that is the sum total of my hair care for the week. I love it. My showers are shorter, my hair is thick and shiny (but not greasy), I don’t have to worry about clogged drains, I save money, and I rarely have to go outside with wet hair.

I feel it is also necessary to point out that I jog a few times per week and bike commute to work three days per week. You would think the sweaty head would contribute to disgusting, oily hair, but it doesn’t. Things dry and everything is fine. I also don't use any "product" in my hair. I'm not sure what effect that would have with this method. But I do know from my research that many people who stop shampooing daily have lovely, non-frizzy waves and curls appear.

Below is a picture of my hair after nine days of not washing. During this winter break I was testing to see if I could go two weeks between washings. I decided to stick with once per week, mostly so I could avoid the whole, “do I wash my hair this week or next?” conundrum.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Requiem: flash drive

January of 2004 brought us a "weather event" that closed schools for four days. I was student teaching at the time, and so I had ample time at home. I put all my CDs on my computer and then, having nothing much more to do in my tiny studio apartment, I began to obsess that I "needed" a laptop. I made the mistake of asking Matt if he thought I should get one--he was trapped at his house, too, playing video games until his eyes turned red--and he thought I should. In retrospect, I knew I was asking the person who would tell me to go ahead and buy. Matt agrees with a good argument and doesn't really weight the financial factor, which was significant, in my case. At that point, I was pretty poor due to a SNAFU with financial aid.

So the laptop was bought, used for five months and it did come in handy while student teaching. Then, as I grew increasingly worried about it getting stolen and also the fact I shouldn't have bought it in the first place, I sold it at a loss on eBay. The result was that I essentially paid a little over $100.00 per month to use a laptop. Not the best deal, but not horrible, either.

I tell you all this, because at the same time I bought this jump drive. (Flash drive, thumb drive, cigar, it needs a standardized name.) 128 MB of storage and it cost $49.95. This was totally worth it, because I have used it for four years. Though now you can get multiple gigabytes of memory for less than the price I paid, this little guy was state of the art at the time and it worked for me.

Now, however, he is broken and I must bid him goodbye.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Read away the day day

My favorite thing about K/1 Read Away the Day Day at school is that I get to call it Read Away the Day Day. Yes, that last day is superfluous, but like those people who enjoy misusing quotation marks, I enjoy superfluous words.

My second favorite thing about Read Away the Day Day, is that people come in costume to read. For this day, no one had volunteered for Kristen's class, and so I was pulled into duty. The costume is all Kristen. I said I would wear whatever, as long as I didn't have to think of the whatever. Kristen happily whipped me up this Sam costume. Do you like green eggs and ham?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stop the misuse of quotation marks!

Some people who read this sign, will interpret the message as "this company really finds it important that I stop driving at this point and instead enter on NW Davis Street. I can tell that they find it important because they have put quotation marks around the word to draw my attention to it."

However, people who understand the correct use of quotation marks (and, I will agree, we are in the minority) will giggle because by putting quotation marks around the word stop, they are actually encouraging us to not stop our vehicles. Had the company, or the sign makers asked us, we would have told them that when trying to draw people's attention to something, perhaps the use of the exclamation point would have been a better choice.

Yes, that's right folks. When you look up how to use quotation marks correctly there is a whole lot of information about using them for dialogue and where the commas go and on which side of the quotations the punctuation lives. There is nothing that instructs you to put them around "words" willy-nilly when you are trying to draw people's attention to them.

Do you know why? Because when you put quotes around things that aren't dialogue, it can often be read that the word you are quoting is not true. My favorite example from my workplace was at Bread and Circus and the sign in our Prepared Foods department advertised "fresh" sandwiches. "Are we trying to tell people we only serve old, moldy sandwiches?" I asked aloud before erasing their quote-ish presence. That sign above? It is saying to keep driving right through there. Don't stop, no matter what other context clues tell you.

And really, what is wrong with the exclamation point? They are scattered all over the blogs (including this one) as well as enthusiastic people's letters and notes. Why are they not used more on signs? Are they not dignified enough? And shouldn't sign makers know better? Why not have an English major on staff to proofread those signs before you print them? God knows there are tons of unemployed English majors out there. Do us all a favor and hire one. The English major gets a job. Businesses don't suffer the expense of incorrect signs and the general public isn't assaulted by incorrect grammar.

Happily for those of us who get pleasure in the misuse of quotation marks, there is a blog. Yes, you too can enjoy The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Guidelines, Friday and Saturday

Well, my Guidelines did their job, but they went out with a whimper.

Up and dressed: yes, Friday and Saturday
1 hour study: yes, Friday, no Saturday
1 hour blogs: yes, Friday, and then 20 fruitless minutes spent searching for a count up timer for the blog on Saturday
1 hour exercise: yes Friday, yes Saturday. Both days there was jogging.
4 hours work: I think I did some work on Friday, but probably not four hours. No on Saturday
Keep up with dishes and picking up: Yes on both days.
Nap maximum time 30 minutes: I think I didn't nap on either of those days.
Eat only when hungry, stop when full. Nope.
Plan food. Nope.
Fruit and veggies while watching movie. Nope.

So overall, I would say the guidelines kept me from going into a slide early on. I count them a success and will use them on my next break.

Three sentence movie reviews--Truly, Madly Deeply

The pacing of this movie was slow, and I had time to contemplate a variety of things, one of which was not very nice and I won't say it here. I would categorize this movie as "a nice movie." It also contains a good message for people who are entirely sure they will never get over a former spouse or boyfriend.

ps. Alan Rickman is one of my "phone book" people. That is, he could read me the phone book and I'd be happy to listen.

poster from :

Friday, January 2, 2009

Sports Night.

Having just watched 960 minutes of a television show in five days, I figure I should give a shout out to Sports Night. I didn't watch this when in was originally on TV, though I knew who Aaron Sorkin was and really enjoyed the movie The American President. I've spent other vactions watching seasons of The West Wing. Having some time on my hands, I figured I would get the series and see how it was.

It was good enough for me to spend over three hours per day watching it, causing me to avoid much of the "work" I had planned over my vacation. From the pilot episode, where Peter Krauss' hair was entirely too poofy, this show had zing and pop that kept me saying, "just one more." The characters were well developed and likable and the plots nicely balanced the story development, the fluff and the nice big statements. And the writing is so intelligent. I expected it on the West Wing. After all, people working in the White House must have incredibly complex and thoughtful discussions on a daily basis, even under the worst presidents. But intellectual leanings on a show about a sports show?

I also appreciate the shout out Aaron Sorkin gives to those of us interested in the minutiae of life, aka "trivia". Throughout the series, someone was always talking about some little nugget of information, for example the correct definition of the word montarily, or the curse of Thales. I admire television that is not afraid to be smart, even when you wouldn't expect it from its characters.

Guidelines, vacation is nearing its end.

I took yesterday off from my guidelines and had a day of sloth. There was much consumptive entertainment. So here is the report from Wednesday:
  • Up and dressed to the shoes. I did do that. Oh wait. Wednesday was the day that I hauled myself out of bed, fed the cat, read on the couch for about a half-hour and then fell asleep for 2.5 hours. So I didn't do that.
  • 1 hour study math test. I only made it 37 minutes.
  • 1 hour blogs. I did do this.
  • 1 hour exercise. I had a 90 minute yoga class to welcome in the new year. I also took a 30 minute walk to get the milk.
  • 4 hours work. Nope. After my nap/going back to bed I did the blog/math routine and then watched Sports Night until my evening plans started.
  • Keep up with dishes and general picking up. I did do that.
  • Nap maximum time 30 minutes. Nope
  • Eat only when hungry, stop when full. I did a good job of that.
  • Plan food the day before. I did do that.
  • Fruit and veggies while watching movie. I did this. I don't actually think I ate.
So, on one hand, I missed a lot of my goals. But I am taking cheer in the fact that I've had portions of vacations that passed with multiple days like this day.

Three sentence movie reviews--George Washington

Given how much I loved this director's movie All the Real Girls earlier this year and given the favorable reviews when it came out, I expected to really like this movie. I didn't. The cinematography is great--never has a decaying Southern town looked so good--but I was bored.

poster from:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

There ought to be a law!

In case you hadn't heard, albums are back, as evidenced by their appearance in my local not-hip-at-all Fred Meyer store. Now you youth who grew up with the tiny pictures on the CD covers, or the mp3 files with no picture at all can put the needle to the record and gaze at the cover art and record sleeves as you listen, just as your parents and grandparents did before you.
But, what's this? $16.99 for a record that is older than me? Don't do it. Find it used in the record stores, but don't let the record companies rip you off. Albums used to be $9.99, tops. The promise of "new technology" let CDs be sold for double the price (when they cost less to make than an album or cassette). Don't pay CD prices for a record album, even if it is brand new.

Three sentence movie reviews--Legally Blonde

"Content of your character" movies sometimes come in surprising packages. Legally Blonde's statement about sticking to what you know is right and being who you are rings strong and true. I can't help wondering if the writer grew up to listening to Free to Be You and Me.

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Three sentence movie reviews--Ever After

I've been avoiding this movie for years for unknown reasons. I like Drew Barrymore and fairy tale-type movies, but I just never could hit "play" on this one. Having seen it, I can tell you that I enjoyed it fine.
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Three sentence movie reviews--Akeeleah and the Bee

This was one of those "take your vitamins" movie in that I brought it home from the library and so I felt the need to actually watch it. It was one of the best movies I have seen all year with very good messages about hard work and fear of your dreams and the power of community. I especially enjoyed the twist at the end which I saw coming, but which played out in unexpected ways.

poster from:

Best of the Movies Viewed in 2008 Awards.

Welcome to the first Best Movies Patricia Watched in 2008 awards. We have no celebrity presenters here, or sparkly statues or celebrity gift bags, or even dinner and drinks, so without further ado:

Most surprising movie:
Best message about achievement, success, education and community:
Akeelah and the Bee

Best movie for the whole family:

City of Ember

Little movie I loved:


Best double feature:

Before Sunrise/Sunset

Thank goodness for the Criterion Collection Award:

Mala Noche

Best at presenting multiple perspectives:


Best movie where you are the wedding guest:
Rachael Getting Married

Most quiet, delightful, must see movie:
The Band's Visit

The funniest movie I watched in 2008:

The award for "No cow is sacred"
Tropic Thunder

Best nerd fantasy movie:


Movie that I eagerly anticipated and HATED
The Dark Knight

The "should have not picked up the hat and whip again" award:
Indiana Jones and the Return of the Crystal Skull

My favorite movie watched in 2008

All the Real Girls

Best movie to sit back and experience:

Best movie for launching a reading obsession:

Gone, Baby Gone

The movie that hit the spot:

Iron Man

The movie I really felt like I should like, but found kind of boring:

Miss Pettygrew Lives for a Day

The movie people should see even if they don't think they like animated features

Best use of "Eye of the Tiger" since the 80s

Best "I forgot to breathe for an hour of gripping drama:

No Country for Old Men

Movie that provoked the most interesting reaction:

Charlie Wilson's War

Movie that affected my psyche for days:


Movie I was sure I would like based on the director and the buzz, but didn't.

George Washington

You can find three sentences about almost all of these movies, by clicking on "three sentence movies" in the tag cloud.