Friday, August 31, 2012

Books read in August 2012

Yes!  A mere six books finished this month!  And with three weeks off from work!  Good job me!

Are You My Mother
Alison Bechdel
This was beautifully drawn and pretty hard to slog through.  Alison Bechdel has done a lot of therapy and thinking about herself.  Her story is sort of interesting, sort of annoying.  Parts are rather funny, but the whole thing is very cerebral, in a distancing way.

The World of Downton Abbey
Jessica Fellowes
This was a "companion book" to the TV series which I totally grabbed from the "Lucky Day" shelf at the library and enjoyed.  Aside from insights about the actors, the book also examined different facets of society and related them to the characters we saw in the series.  It was the kind of "history-lite" learning I enjoy.

Why We Broke Up
Daniel Handler
Matt and I read aloud.
Reading this out loud is a perfect way to capture Handler's fabulous prose.  I liked it the second time just as much as the first.

Scott Westerfield
It may have been the wait between the last book and this one or it may be that it took me too long to read it, but I found this book to be less compelling than the first two.  The elements were there, but they had grown stale.

Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte
Read for Kenton Book Group.
By the time I got to the end of this book, I loved it.  This book has everything!  And I mean everything!  At one point I challenged Matt to tell me any fiction plot point that didn't involve guns or sci/fi and that it would be in Jane Eyre.  And it was!  We played that game for 45 minutes and every plot point he mentioned was in the book which was doubly interesting because he was mostly recounting plots from comic books.  I realized that the book had everything in it when Jane Eyre goes on what would now be termed as a "shopping spree" near the end of the book.

That said, I had trouble getting in to the book. The dense prose and archaic vocabulary was off-putting before I realized that I love dense prose in modern books, why not love it in this one.  Still, I think if I hadn't been on vacation, I might not have finished this.   And wouldn't I have missed out?

The Marriage Plot
Jeffrey Eugenides
While I adored Middlesex I found this to be incredibly "eh."  None of the characters caught my attention which is often the kiss of death for me and a book.  There were some amusing observations here and there, so that was nice, but overall, I was not a fan.

Started and did not finish.
Prince Caspian
C.S. Lewis.
Yep.  I'm throwing in the towel on this series. I just don't care enough.

Maybe if I had not already seen the movie I would be more interested in this book?  But the movie so nicely sums things up, I just let this book go after a bit.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New clothes.

Thanks to a coupon I had a great time at Macy's.  I bought:
Two pairs of PANTS THAT FIT!!!!
One green t-shirt, with polka dots and a cute ruffle on the neck.
One absolutely flattering black dress with cute buckle at waist.
One absolutely gorgeous crochet dress which was originally $139.00 and I paid $19.00
One very flattering black t-shirt dress.
One skinny black belt to go with the crochet dress.

Three sentence movie reviews: Moonrise Kingdom

Viewing two of this movie was just as delightful as the first, perhaps more so as I didn't have to pay attention to plot and could just immerse myself in what was happening on the screen.  I think my favorite line was the simultaneous "that was the girl!" spoken by Bruce Willis & Edward Norton.  And it's interesting to look at both Bruce Willis and Edward Norton, who have both played action heroes and compare them in these roles.

Cost:  $6.25 (plus $5.00 in ATM fees because I didn't think to bring cash)
Where:  Cinemagic, which is a lovely theater I've only been to one other time.

Three sentence movie reviews: Red Dawn

I hadn't seen this since I was fifteen or so and though the opening scenes were awesome, it slowly but surely rolled down into mediocre territory from there.  I think one of the problems was that all the boys looked alike which made it hard for me to feel sad when something happened to one of them because I couldn't tell which one it was.  Also, the many gratuitous shots of the various characters shooting their guns made me realize we used to see that all the time in movies and now we never see that, probably due to advances in computer animation; before showing us what happened after the bullets were fired was an expensive endeavor and we had to use our imaginations, now it's just computer generated and we can see what the gunfire does.

Cost:  free from library
Watched: at home.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Essay: Everybody Talks is awesome.

Why is “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees the most perfect set-them-up-and-knock-them-down pop/rock song?  Here are 11 reasons:

·         Amazing catchy chorus.  It wormed its way into my brain after hearing the song only once and before I knew it I was googling lines of lyrics to find out what song it was.*
·         Slight inability to understand exactly what the singer is saying in places.  Back in the day, when I needed to sing the exact lyrics I had to rewind and transcribe lyrics and listen to the unintelligible parts again and again, never really sure if I had it right.  Now, however, I can find the lyrics online and discover he is singing “everybody talks back” instead of “everybody talks, babe.”  Before, mush mouth lyrics inspired debate, now they just fuel insider knowledge.
·         Reference to drugs.  Every good rock and roll song should have some reference to drugs, however mild.  This one seems to lean toward prescription drug abuse.  Bonus points for implying the person being sung to could be the drug.  Who doesn’t want to be someone's drug?
·         Mild profanity.  Just like reference to drugs, mild profanity is always welcome in a classic pop/rock song, the better to imagine the scandal if one’s parent heard it.  That the mild profanity could be interpreted as “not a swear” makes it that much better.
·         Implied sex, but of a very innocuous strain.  We now have drugs, profanity and sex! Awesome! We know there was a kiss, but there’s also discussion of a love shack.  And really, is everybody talking just because they kissed?  I think not.  However, tweens might have a different interpretation.
·         Classic structure: verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus.  It is a setup that has been working well for more than half a century, and it still works now.
·         Short (2:59) so you can hear it often.  When it takes less than three minutes, commercial radio can play it every hour.  Or I can hear it three times in 10 minutes.
·         Self pity.  With lyrics like “I’m the sorry sucker and this happens all the time,” don’t you want to just snap up the singer and tell him he deserves so much better?
·         Lyrics need a bit of interpretation musically.  There’s that “oh my my” section in the second verse that requires a bit of ballsy singing, making this a tough karaoke song to pull off successfully, despite its simple construction.
·         Not too many words.  Though a lot of repetition can be bad (see “Lean on Me”) it can also be quite good because it means that the lyrics can be learned quickly.
·         Slightly nonsensical video that is quite fun.  They are watching the zombie movie and in the zombie movie? Huh?  Also, there’s a bit of backup singer-type choreography in the cars, which is delightful.

You want to hear it again, don't you?

ps.  Female drummer!  Awesome!

*Not only did the internet tell me, I then listened to the song three times in a row on YouTube.  This is why I love the internet, though I acknowledge that it is causing a shift in the economics of being a musician.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: GI Joe, Rise of Cobra

This was a big, dumb action movie, but it held my attention.  There were some pretty cool things, and I didn't see the plot twist coming at all.  It could have done with more character development, but something has to get sacrificed to the special effects machine and I guess that's as good as anything.

Cost: Free from library
Watched: at home.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

City of Roses "e"

The City of Roses Motel, down the street from my house, is no longer there.  The sign remains, however.  When we first moved here, the sign said "City of Roses OTE."  I realized today that we were down to just the "e".  Then I wondered what happened to the letters.  Were people prying them off as souvenirs or were the letters falling to the ground?

Investigation brought me to this broken M.  But there were no other letters about.  So maybe letters are falling AND people are stealing them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

This was an awesome vacation!

I know not why blogger chose to rotate my photo that was in the correct orientation before I uploaded it.  Blogger is not my friend right now.  But onto the point!

This vacation was awesome!  Every time I have a long school vacation I make myself a planning calendar.  It has the days of the vacation and sometimes the goals.  Then I write in what's happening and have the whole vacation at a glance.  This vacation I accomplished all my goals:  paint bathroom, paint bedroom, garden, finish reading a friend's book, clean out physical inbox, catch up blogs.  Not only did all that get done, but I did social things with my friends, did work trades with my friends, watched a whole lot of (mostly Channing Tatum) movies and even read.  It was fabulous!

Non-Matt Muddy Buddy

The job of Athletic Supporter requires standing around with a camera ready to capture whatever action is happening with the athlete you are there to support. Because I have so few opportunities to capture the athlete and so many opportunities to capture everyone else, I inevitably come home with a lot of pictures of the athlete and then even more pictures without the athlete that I just like.  Here's a tour of the Muddy Buddy, without Matt.

So the "buddy" aspect of the race means there are a lot of "twins" outfits.  This is fun.
The race itself had people walking around taking photos.
The "buddy" aspect of the race means two people are often doing the same thing at the same time.
Two of the photo people.
One of the better male outfits.  Way to embrace the chest hair!
This man doesn't know it, but he's an Athletic Supporter, too!
The blue line registers the athletes start when their chips cross over.
This guy reminded me a bit of Julie McCoy from Love Boat.
There were two other guys with Julie McCoy hyping up the crowd at the start, though it looks like there's about to be a fight.
I think this lady is not an Athletic Supporter, because she was standing on the side where normal spectators weren't.  I think she might have been with the male announcer.
She kind of looked a bit bored.
This photographer's efforts to get the kids to cheer resulted in the kid in the red running back to his mother.   Which resulted in me laughing.
Fans!  Much more so than the woman checking her phone.
Waiting to start.
This blue mat is not quite right.
South Salem High School's ROTC were the volunteers.  There were two guys who had to stop people from walking across the course when athletes were coming through.  It was a tough job and I was interested in the contrast between their ROTC role, their job stopping clueless people, and the demeanor they projected.  I faced this guy, so got more photos of him than the other one.  I tried my best to capture all of the above, but I don't think I did.
These guys had the fun job of pulling people over the wall, which was sprayed in fabric softener to make it even more slippery.
A younger competitor waiting for his partner.
Both of these women wore shirts that said, "I will step on you to win."  They were a bit scary, though less so, post shower.
Done showering.  Just wait!  These guys will appear again.
We were at Kruger's Farm.  There were chickens.
First place already!
I loved this interaction between Kate, the owner of our gym, and her race partner.
Heh.  This team placed in the coed category.
Hey!  It's the guys from before!  Being weighted as part of the "Beast" category (Over a combined 450 pounds). I liked the interplay between all these people.  This is my favorite picture I took.
They turned out to be the winners!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Public Enemies.

Channing Tatum is in this movie for about 15 seconds.*  I thought I would like this as I am a fan of all three starring actors (Bale, Cotillard, Depp) but Michael Mann likes to make those "manly men doing manly things" movies that I find mostly boring, as I did this one.  However, there are a fun amount of small parts and cameos to look for (Hey that's Billy Crudup/Lili Taylor/Givonni Ribisi/Leelee Sobieski!).

*Possible lucrative movie site: clocking the amount of screen time an actor logs in each film.  Thus, those of us on personal film festivals would be able to better judge if we wanted to view a film in which an actor appears.  Feel free to take this idea and run with it.  Just tell me when you get it up and running.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Men in Black III

How often is the third movie in a franchise awesome?  This was good enough that I loved it despite uncomfortable seats, bad sound and a viewing in an un-airconditioned theater on a day when temperatures reached 100 degrees.*  The plot was tight, fun and funny and the acting was quite good making this a good escape from the heat, even while sitting in a steam bath.

*McMenamin's St. Johns Theater has many charms, but they are more difficult to channel on a very hot day.  To be fair, they told us to go in the theater before we bought our tickets, so we could see just how hot it was.  We bought tickets anyway.

Cost:  $3.00 (plus another $10.00 for a sandwich when I realized I was starving)
Place:  McMenamin's St. Johns Theater.

Essay: Swimming

I have been swimming recently, something I have not done since training for the sprint triathlon, which happened in 2006.  How time does fly.

I grew up swimming, though the dearth of indoor pools in Boise made it a summer-only activity.  Once in a great while my girl scout troop or a church group would travel to the YMCA downtown and we would pay the admission fee and wander down staircases and through locker rooms with naked ladies full of hair in odd places showering to emerge in the heavily chlorinated room with the pool.

Summer was different.  The public pool was right next to the high school, a short drive away—though today we would probably ride bikes, as it was close enough for a short bike ride and much too far away to walk.  Come to think of it, I walked that distance often in high school, it wasn’t far for my adolescent legs. But for a mother and two children it would have been a long walk in the hot Boise summers.

Mom always signed us up for the first round of swimming lessons.  She never learned to swim herself and so we received the largess of a skill denied to her.  We did the first round of lessons because she liked to get them out of the way for the summer.  As a child this sometimes meant the pool was frigid, and as I got older and realized there were other lessons sessions, I lobbied for a later date--to no avail. This seemed tremendously unfair at the time, but now I would do the exact same thing. 

Swim lessons were fun, taught by the lifeguards, with varying degrees of competency.  My brother and I progressed through the levels.  He always passed everything with flying colors; I passed everything except diving.  The skill of diving came late to me. It was scary to plunge head-first into water, even clear, chlorinated water I could see the bottom of.  I eventually mastered it, and eventually could do something besides jump off the diving board.

But swimming lessons weren’t the point of the pool, the afternoon swim was.  We had a family pass, which was used by the children in the family, not the adults. My father worked when we went swimming and since my mother didn’t swim, it was my brother and I with the round patches sewn to our swimsuits who entered the pool every day. My mother probably walked us in when we were younger, and then took her place in the covered bleachers outside the fence.

I headed off to the right, toward the women’s locker room, my brother to the left to the men’s.  The locker rooms were bare bones, a few changing stalls (none of which had curtains) a bench and some hooks to hang the green bags while you stuffed your clothing and shoes into them.  There were showers, which I never used despite the “take a shower before entering the pool” sign.  No one seemed to follow this adage, so I didn’t either.  There were toilets, which I didn’t like to use because the seats were always wet.

From the locker room my brother and I met up at the lifeguard station, where we turned in our bags for pins with numbers on them.  After pinning our numbers to our suits, we headed to the pool.  Like most things in childhood, the pool was huge and grew smaller as I got older.  If I viewed it today it would probably be tiny.  The main area of the pool was six lanes and 25 yards, ranging from four feet deep to 12 feet deep.  During open swim times, there were no lanes.  The four foot area was blocked off from the “deep end.”  Though there were about two lanes worth of swimming area, most of the deep end was taken up with receiving the people coming off the diving board.  We had a “low dive” and a “high dive.”  The low dive was a standard diving board, with the high dive being 10 or 12 feet.  It was a rite of passage to take your first jump off the high dive. 

Directly off of the main swimming area was the kid’s area.  It was about 12 by 12 feet and ranged from two feet to probably three and a half feet deep.  It was here I logged the most hours as a child.  The four foot area of the pool was too deep for me for all of my childhood.  It was also where the adolescents hung out and thus not only too deep, but too scary for me.  But the kids area was just the right deep and full of fun.  We played.  We had goggles and messed around with them, we did handstands and somersaults and played “Marco Polo” and other invented games. The pool in the summer was my favorite place to be. In my mind, we stayed there for hours, though I bet it was 90 minutes, max.

As an adolescent, I joined swim team and became intimate with all 25 yards of the bottom of the pool, swimming back and forth with my fellow teammates.  They were good lap swimmers, some of them had been on the team since they were six, so I had some catching up to do.  My years of lessons meant I had the technique down for three of the four strokes.  I had apparently not progressed far enough in the lesson series to learn the “fly.”  After some tutoring from my teammates, it became one of my favorite strokes, so splashy and powerful.  I became a good swimmer.

I’ve swum off and on during the years.  In college my first PE class was Advanced Swimming and Diving taught by Professor Needham, a jolly older woman who parlayed her teenage lifeguard experience to a life-long career teaching women to swim, or to swim better.  We worked on our stroke technique, swam for distance and learned how to dive.  As an adult, I loved the precision of diving, but diving opportunities in these litigious times are few and far between.  Professor Needham also taught me Lifeguarding and Synchronized Swimming.  I loved her classes.

Currently, I’ve been swimming at Columbia Pool, which is an indoor pool located in a park near my house.  I suffered a few delusions of grandeur before my first visit, hoping that there would be a sauna.  My first visit had me chuckling because Columbia Pool is the exact sort of bare-bones setup of my childhood pool.  There is a changing room, showers, toilets and the pool itself.  Forget the sauna, there aren’t even lockers.  I put my street clothing in a green mesh bag exactly like the bags of my childhood and hang it on a rack in the pool area.  Columbia Pool is even more bare bones because there is no bag check.  Though it is covered, giving me a year-round swimming opportunity fairly close to my house.

I’m quite happy there.  The majority of the swimming population consists of what I call “fat old ladies” women who come regularly to do their exercises, water walk, and chat.  They are quite friendly and I look forward to joining their ranks someday, though I prefer lap swimming to water walking.  The plus of my exercise companions being 30-40 years old than I am is that I feel like the young, fit one.  There are few people in my age demographic and they too, mostly do not fit the super athlete profile.

I like swimming’s solitary nature.  There is optional chatter in the changing rooms, but the entire workout involves putting my face in the water, leaving little time to chat.  In addition, I count the number of laps I have swum, and due to my inability to keep numbers in my mind for very long I repeat my lap count over and over again, much like a counting meditation.  Swimming is also one of the few athletic activities I do well.  My arms power through the water and I feel strong and fast.  Because I can only compare myself to the people in the lanes on either side of me, I have limited data that will challenge my “I’m good at this” feelings.  It’s wonderful.

So I’ve become one of those saggy women with hair in odd places showering in the locker room.  I hope to keep up my swimming habit when school begins again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Letters to Juliet.

So while Amanda Seyfried's acting (and the presence of Channing Tatum) saved the day in Dear John, this movie did not fare so well. It suffered from the problem of both male leads being insufferable, so I found myself wishing poor Sophie would find someone else.  It was also kind of boring.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Limitless

I liked this movie, it was interesting and had Abbie Cornish who is fast becoming another Melanie Lynskey* in my world.  I haven't seen much of Bradley Cooper and he was interesting to watch.  Also, Anna Friel had a bit part which was lovely as I miss her and Pushing Daisies.

*Melanie Lynskey is a fabulous actress who delights me by appearing in bit parts here and there. Unlike Abbie Cornish who seems to be the girlfriend of the moment, Melaine Lynskey didn't go through that phase. I wouldn't mind seeing her star in something, or get to be the girlfriend, though she is now old enough to be the wife.

Three sentence movie reviews: Snow White and the Huntsman.

So while Magic Mike held up to a second viewing, this movie did not, alas.  Matt fell asleep in the middle and I was not nearly so charmed as the first time.  But Charlize Theron's costumes were still fabulous.

Cost: $3.00
Where:  Kennedy School

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jack-Jack and Kelly Point Park

My friend and I took her dog to Kelly Point Park and had a picnic at the end of a very hot day.  Jack-Jack enjoys biting waves, finding really big sticks and then obsessively digging in the sand. He's also a handsome fella.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Enough already, I feel guilty as it is.

My garden this year is awful and none of these books at Powells will make it any better.