Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Books read in July 2013

Many books were read this month, but only six of any measurable length.  That librarian book club really pads the numbers with those picture books.

Doll Bones
Holly Blade
Read for Librarian Book Group
Fun and creepy/scary.  Entirely unbelievable from an adult perspective, probably completely believable from a middle-school perspective. Also includes a good depiction of the time in adolescence when everyone is transitioning from child to teenager at different rates.  I liked this a lot, even if I did wonder if maybe I shouldn't be reading it right before bed, due to worry about potential bad dreams.

The Good House
Ann Leary
I hadn't read a "grown up" book for a bit and I think I might have expected a bit too much from this.  The characters were interesting and lively, but as the novel wore on the informal tone started to annoy me.  I think if I had been expecting the informal tone things would have been fine, but I got it in my head it was a more literary book.  This is a good read for people interested in alcoholics in denial, real estate agents, and people who live around Boston.

Harry Bruce
This biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery, best known as the author of the Anne of Green Gables series, has a crackling opening.  Harry Bruce knew not to bury that lead.  Well done Mr. Bruce.  However, after that, it settles into a rather standard biography which, inexplicably peters out when Montgomery gets married.  I was looking for information about how she lived with depression, and this book does not examine anything in that realm, which I found disappointing.

Jennifer Bradbury
Most distracting--and completely not the author's fault--was that the main character had the same first and last name as my brother.  Granted, "Chris Collins" is a rather common name, but it was still strange to come across it on the page, picture my brother and then have to wrench myself back into the story.

That said, I greatly enjoyed this examination of adolescent male friendship set in a cross country bike ride.  Aside from those good qualities, it also had a bit of a mystery to it.  All of these things made this an enjoyable page-turning quick read.

I see the Promised Land
Read for Librarian Book Group
I would not recommend this to elementary-aged children, nor middle school and I would be leery of recommending it to high school students because I think some parents would have a problem with the content.  I found the prose style distracting at first, but it grew on me as the book went on.  I found the artistic depiction of women throughout the book to be sexist and somewhat offensive.  Was it necessary to draw protruding nipples on all of the women including Rosa Parks?

Lottie Paris and the Best Place
Read for Librarian Book Group
Bright and fun and Lottie Paris and I agree that the best place is the library.

Barbed Wire Baseball
Read for Librarian Book Group
Great introduction to the forced relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II. It will probably be most interesting to children who are interested in baseball.  Illustrations were bright and I appreciated the inclusion of the photograph referred to in the text.

Nino Wrestles the World
Yuyi Morales
Read for Librarian Book Group
Incredibly fun.  A lot of good words here.

P.S. Be 11
Rita Williams Garcia
Read for Librarian Book Group
I started this not knowing this is the continuation of an earlier story.  Though I prefer to read things in order, I was pressed for time, so I read on and was glad I did.  I loved the depiction of Brooklyn in the late 1960s, also the 11-year-old viewpoint seemed very authentic and the letters from the main character's mother were beautiful pieces in themselves.  There is a very solid sense of growth and growing up within these pages.  I'm not the biggest fan of J-chapter books, but this was a gem.

Black Dog
Levi Pinfold
Read for Librarian Book Group
So incredibly delightful I would buy it if I had more children in my life.  Good especially for the tiniest among us.  The illustrations were delightful and had many details to pour over.

Maggot Moon
Sally Gardner
Read for Librarian Book Group
I think the very short chapters (some not even a page) will be great for struggling readers.  The distopian setting was minimally described.  This was distracting for me, but might be fine for others.    I found that I had to do a lot of inferring because there were fewer words and I wonder if struggling readers would fine this frustrating.

Also, if you have the print copy of this book in your hands, be sure to check out the "flip book" quality of the illustrations.

Lessons from Madame Chic
Jennifer Scott
The author lived in Paris as an exchange student during college and she learned stuff from the mother of her host family.  She wrote a book to tell us about it.  There were some interesting lessons and observations.  Often, I found the fact that the author is in a different income bracket than I am to detract from her life lessons.  It's great that she gets a mani/pedi every two weeks and also a regular massage, as well as seeing an esthetician etc. etc. etc.  However, my budget rarely has room for any of those things very often.  So after awhile I had to work not to think, "bully for you, Jennifer Scott.  Your husband actually had $600.00 to spend on pants."  Still, I get her overall message and think it is a good one.  I'm glad she's built a good life for herself and will incorporate some of her life lessons into my own life.

Three sentence movie reviews: The To Do List

While this movie is a bit uneven in places, and probably very few people will see it because most of the reviews say "eh, it's American Pie from a girl's perspective," I found this to be an enjoyable movie that was different from American Pie in several key ways.*  Graduates of the class of '93** will enjoy this movie because there is a lot of attention to detail with clothes and props, so there's a fun nostalgia injection there.  And main character's transformation hits on a very good point that we don't often see from a female perspective.***

Cost:  free due to passes.
Where watched:  Regal Lloyd Center 8, with Matt.

*Which are outlined in the forthcoming essay.  That's right.  This movie made me write an essay.
**And graduates of the class of '93 who lived in Boise, Idaho.  And graduates of Borah High School in particular.
***That said, it's a raunchy sex comedy.  You've been warned.

Three sentence movie reviews: Friday Night Lights Season 3

Season Three pulled back a lot of the drama from season two, which I appreciated.  It also spent a goodly amount of time writing out characters, which I understand, but is still kind of sad.  But overall, it was a very good season with a brand new villain, who reminds me of George W. Bush, and all sorts of interesting twists and turns.

Cost:  free from library
Where watched:  at home, with Matt

poster from:

Pendulum Aerial Arts

To begin my vacation, I attended a free performance of Pendulum Aerial Arts. They were breathtaking.

Here's the rope girl.
This was a great hula hoop routine.
I think my favorite is the length of fabric.
The guy did the hoop.
Four of them did a floor routine where they did a lot of amazing balancing.

This was a very good way to begin my vacation.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The CT picture spread in VF

My Channing Tatum peccadillo is such that I not only bought this issue on the newsstand (actually from the supermarket) but TWO people gave me a copy.  I enjoyed the article, but the photo spread was my favorite part.  And not because it featured Mr. CT, (who I do not find that appealing in static 2-D, he only works for me in moving 2-D, a.k.a. movies) but because it was hilarious.

The cover isn't too bad, it's the captions inside that slay me.
Here we go.  The captions will be big and bold.  My commentary will be normal sized.

Tatum shares soup with a puppy.
This is actually a cute picture, one of his better static 2-D images. He, unlike many men of his era, can carry off a hat.  And I know he likes dogs.  But really?  Who thinks of these things?  "Get me a puppy!  And some soup!"
The former male dancer shows off his body.
Ugh.  The sweats!  Has Vanity Fair decided to become the new Seventeen?
A vintage Mustang.
Um. Okay?  But why?
A portrait of the young man as an artist.
Again, why?  Are these things planned ahead of time?  First, we will do the puppy/soup picture, then put you in sweats.  After that!  Step into this sweater and these velour pants and look arty.
Back in the saddle.
The other problem is that CT has a pretty limited male model look. (Paging Zoolander!) Above, we saw it face on, here he's looking to the side.
Animal Magnetism
This is the requisite scrotum photo.  Though I actually like this one because he is squint-y smiling.

A view from the ranch.
What ranch?  Where does this ranch come in? It is not mentioned in the article.  And why waste a picture on a forgettable "ranch" view when you could be showing your public more CT?
Tatum in the riding ring.
Here we get his model look from the other side.  And learn that the shirt above, in the black and white photo, is blue.  And the "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha" part of me needs to point out that he's not actually IN the riding ring, but standing right outside.
Yes, that is really the caption.  With the exclamation point.  Again, is this Vanity Fair or Seventeen?

Shot by Bruce Weber in 2001.
"Oh my god, is that his pubic hair?" Matt said, as I was walking him through the photo spread.  Hmmm.  It is.  And I hadn't really noticed, either.  This picture was taken four years before he would appear in Coach Carter and five years before A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, when an astute reviewer would comment that "the camera doesn't just love him, it wants to marry him, settle down and have his babies." Yep-per.
A vintage boat.
Dammit!  We don't care about the damn vintage boat.
Preparing to Launch
I sort of get this one, as the gist of the article is that Channing Tatum is big, but Channing Tatum himself seems to think he could be even bigger.  And I guess he's willing to step into an astronaut suit for a cheesy photo shoot.

I mean really Vanity Fair?  This was the best you could do?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Common Ground Coffee House. Art.

It says, "Our Northern Wonderland."

45RPM: Laid by James

Where I match a song to a specific memory.
I lose songs sometimes.  I will hear them once or twice, think, "that song is awesome, what is it?" and then, poof, it is gone.  If I have no snippits of lyrics there is no way to find the song again and I have to wait until it comes to me.

This song came back to me in a bar in Medford, Massachusetts.  I came to be in said bar because of a guy who I met working for Whole Foods.  He was short and charming.  The Boston Metro Area is chock full of short, and charming guys, thanks to the combined immigrant past of the Irish and Italian.  The guy's hair line was receding at an alarming rate for his age, he wasn't much to look at, but man, could he flirt.  He was also a musician--guitar player--and the son of Italian immigrants which meant he had a classic Italian name that rolled off the tongue.  We will say it was something like Donatello Gribiasi.  At the point I came to be sitting in the bar with him, we had both quit Whole Foods, but I called him up to see if he wanted to go out before I moved away.  He did, and that's how we came to be sitting together bar when this song came back to me.  "Who is this?" I exclaimed as the song amped up. Donatello Gribiasi, being a musician, knew the title and the artist and, just like that, I had the song again.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Colette Patterns' Laurel: Fabric Preview and more muslin action.

Straight from the dryer.  The blue in the back is the color of the shirts/dresses. The striped material in the middle is to make bias binding for the shirts/dresses. The green seersucker (this is how I can get more seersucker in my wardrobe) and awesome print are for aprons.  Note:  It is very difficult to dry 10.5 yards of fabric.  Very, very difficult.
To review: Full Bust Adjustment gave more room in the bust, but then, due to lack of dart, gave too much room in the abdomen area.  I have not been able to find any solutions for this on the Internet and so... is where I remove some from the sides to attempt to fix this problem.  It's all I can think to do.
Eh.  I'm not sure that did much good.
Plus, now I'm wrinkly in the back.
I'm making the sleeve a bit bigger.
And here I am with sleeves. I don't like how they flare out.
Back view.
Yep.  I think the sleeves need to be even bigger.

Three sentence movie reviews: Hope Springs

Given that its subject was the incredibly un-sexy frustrations of a long-married, kind of boring couple, I'm actually surprised that this movie was even made.  But I'm glad it was, because Streep/Jones/Carell were all incredible to watch and I loved how my opinion of the main characters changed and grew as the movie progressed, just as the characters were changing and growing themselves.  This is one of the better examples of a "grown up" movie put out by the Hollywood machine.

Cost: free from library
Where watched:  at home.

(ps.  The amount of airbrushing on this poster is insane.  Meryl Streep looks good, but not that good.  And Tommy Lee Jones has many more wrinkles than depicted here.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Three sentence movie reviews: The Lorax

I'm going out on a (very firm and stable) limb here and remarking that Computer Animation and Dr. Seuss are a win-win.  The computer animation world can bring to life the wild exuberance that is the work of Mr. Geisel.  Though I was surprised a lot of the content of this book made it to the big screen--it's fairly anti-capitalism--I found it to be a very good adaptation.

Cost:  Free movie in the park in Vancouver.
Where watched:  In the park (it was a big one in East Vancouver out on 138th street or something) with Kelly

The Lorax Setup.

Kelly and I arrived at the park in Vancouver, Washington ready to see the Lorax.  We were early so we claimed a seat in the front and got to witness the trouble with the inflatable movie screen.

The wind was a problem.  It wasn't big and gusty, just a persistent blowing that blew that screen right over.  They tried to raise it a few times and then called for backup in the form of stakes.
When the stakes arrived, up it went again.
And employees held steady.
And pulled.
And tugged.
And stood patiently while stakes were pounded into the ground.
Like what is happening here.
Some support?  Or just looking busy while chatting?
There was a lot of standing and waiting.
And phoning.
And waiting.
The mom said, "Okay 1-2-3 open your eyes" and the kids eyes flashed open for a second while she snapped the picture.
Still waiting. (Tom Petty says, "The waiting is the hardest part.")
But that waiting ends eventually.
A band of caution tape to keep everyone safe.
And a tie off.
Go City of Vancouver!
An announcement about how it will all work.
More tying off.
These were darling.  This outing marks the first time I've seen the fold-y chairs with sun shades.
 All that hard work means kinks in the back.  Luckily, someone can do something about that.