4.20.2018

A Wrinkle in Time by Madelein L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I never read this as a kid and became curious about it when I saw the previews for the movie. The book wasn't for me and now I don't really want to see the movie either. It took me several weeks to read because I could never get into it. I just plowed through trying to find a way to like it like so many others seem to, but that never happened for me.

SPOILER:

I didn't care for the way religion hits you over the head in this book.  Maybe if I'd read it as a child, before I became cynical about religion, I would have enjoyed it more.  I've seen comparisons with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe which I read as a kid and once as an adult.  I enjoyed that.  At least the religion was much more subtle and symbolic there. 

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4.14.2018

You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to ExplainYou Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I listened to the audio version of this book and wish that I had read it instead. Phoebe has great insights and there were many times I was nodding along with her or thinking, "Exactly!" I could quite often relate to her tales of being the only black person in the room and how you navigate those situations. What I didn't enjoy about the audio version though, was her extensive use of slang...particularly all the "hashtag this" and "hashtag that"and the "bee tee dubbbbs." It's one thing to read "hot af" and another to hear "hot aaa effff," constantly. I also recognize that this could be an age thing. Still, I think it's a great book and a worthwhile read. I'll probably read it again at some point to confirm that I'd enjoy the written form over the audio.

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4.06.2018

Above Us Only SkyAbove Us Only Sky by Michele Young-Stone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed emotions about this book. There is some beautiful writing and some moments that moved me to tears. At the same time, there are parts that are confusing (the book is written from so many points of view and over multiple time periods) and it felt quite messy. There were some plot points that seemed unnecessary and left me unfulfilled.

***SPOILERS!!!***
Some examples of what I didn't care for or left me wanting:

  • Did Daina ever tell Stasys what she saw from the closet that day? 
  • Daina and Stasys' daughter just seemed like an afterthought.  What did she think about her mother having wings?  
  • Other than what Olga did to Daina, I didn't see the point of learning so much of her life story.
  • What was the deal with Wheaton?!  Why could he see Prudence's wings?  I didn't feel his character was well enough developed.
  • I wish there was some folklore or something that described these women born with wings.  It didn't seem like the wings really served any purpose to the story.  The women weren't magical; the wings were just.....there. 



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4.03.2018

YouTube Rabbit Hole

I was watching the Top 10 moments of Jesus Christ Superstar and as I was watching Norm Lewis sing in #9, it reminded me of his performance as Javert in Les Miserables that I saw in this concert I saw on PBS years ago:


And that led me to this, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel doing Confrontation.  They apparently used to do this backstage on How I Met Your Mother all the time. I love it!


Now I'm off to listen to Les Mis!

4.02.2018

Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE on NBC

I recorded last night's Jesus Christ Superstar intending to watch it this weekend.  I was looking forward to seeing it, but didn't have super high expectations because: 1) I'm not a huge John Legend fan and, 2) NBC has done pretty poorly with their previous ventures into live Broadway shows.  The Sound of Music was terrible, and The Wiz should have been good, but was rather dull.  I think part of the problem was that there was no live audience for either show.  It's weird for a song to end and not hear any applause.  The Sound of Music had bigger problems with terrible casting.  When FOX tackled Grease, they had a live audience and the show had so much more energy and was so well done.

WELL.  I ended up watching all of JCS last night after seeing a few comments on Twitter, and wow.  They knocked my socks off.  The show was fantastic.  John Legend, as Jesus, did a fine job.  Sara Bareilles has such an angelic voice and was wonderful as Mary Magdelene.  But man.  Brandon Victor Dixon, who played Judas, was OUTSTANDING.  The show was SO good.  The staging and the production and the music and the lighting and the performances--everything about it was so damn good. The Crucifixion scene was stunning.  Someone on Twitter said they'd never seen such exquisite staging.  It was really so beautiful.  I'm so glad I watched last night.  Much respect to NBC for this turn of events.  I'm going to keep this on my TiVo and will definitely be watching again.

UPDATE:  I came back to add a link to this Playbill review.  I agree with everything.


3.24.2018

The March for Our Lives

I'm watching coverage of today's March for Our Lives calling for better gun laws and an end to gun violence.  It was organized by a group of teenagers from Parkland High School after 17 students were killed there.  There are over 800 marches around the world and in DC, the streets are packed.

A young lady named Naomi just spoke on behalf of young black girls who are killed by guns everyday, but don't make the front page news.  She was so well spoken and eloquent and noted that in just 7 years, she and her peers will be able to vote too.

I'm so moved and impressed by the kids who are speaking today.

My mom and dad have a collection of letters that they wrote back and forth to each other in the mid-to late 1960s while they were dating and my dad was attending grad school out of state.  In one of the letters, my mom discussed Martin Luther King, Jr., and how she admired the young who were staging sit-ins and marching and demonstrating for Civil Rights.

Although there's thankfully no violence with this protest, as I watch this coverage now, I think I understand how my mom felt back then.  These kids are creating a movement and it gives me so much hope for our future.

3.20.2018

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss

A Day in the Life of Marlon BundoA Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the audiobook which was quite charming and has a great message for everyone about love and being who you are. My hardcopy will arrive in the mail in a few days and I'm so pleased that all of the proceeds are going to the Trevor Project (supports at-risk LGBTQ youth) and AIDS United. Bravo to John Oliver, et al.

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3.10.2018

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyHunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really feel for Roxane Gay and admire the courage it took for her to put her story into words. What happened to her is difficult to read, and the reader gains a little understanding how such a horrible event can affect someone their whole life. What she went through is unimaginable and horrific.

My problem with the book is how repetitive it is. At the end she mentions that pieces of the memoir had previously appeared in other various works, so the repetition makes sense. I wish more editing had been done to better weave those disparate pieces together.

This review by Hank Stuever really captured my reaction to the book.  He expresses it so much butter than I ever could.

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3.04.2018

And the Oscar goes to...

So, how did my predictions turn out?  Let's review:

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

• Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
• Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
• Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
• Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
• Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  WANT / WILL / WON

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

• Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
• Allison Janney, I, Tonya  WANT / WILL / WON
• Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
• Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
• Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

• James Ivory, Call Me by Your Name  WON
• Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist  WANT / WILL 
• Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green, Logan
• Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game
• Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, Mudbound

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

• Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick WANT 
• Jordan Peele, Get Out WON
• Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
• Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
• Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri WILL

Woo hoo!  Go Jordan Peele!

BEST DIRECTOR

• Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
• Jordan Peele, Get Out  WANT
• Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
• Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
• Guillermo del Toro, Shape of Water  WILL / WON

BEST ACTOR

• Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
• Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
• Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
• Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour  WANT / WILL / WON
• Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

BEST ACTRESS

• Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
• Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  WANT / WILL / WON
• Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
• Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
• Meryl Streep, The Post


BEST PICTURE

• Call Me by Your Name
• Darkest Hour
• Dunkirk*
• Get Out**
• Lady Bird
• Phantom Thread
• The Post
• The Shape of Water  WON
• Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  WANT / WILL

So, five out of eight.  That's not too bad, but I missed the big category.  I understand why The Shape of Water won though. 

I loved Frances McDormand's speech recognizing all the female Oscar nominees in every category--that was great and I got a little verklempt.

Lonnnnng show, but good. 

I'm going to bed.

3.03.2018

2018 Oscar Predictions

The Oscars are on tomorrow night, and since I've seen all of the Best Picture nominees, I figured I'd post my predictions.  I apparently haven't done this since 2015. I admittedly went through a period where I wasn't that *into* movies like I was before. Maybe I'm getting my mojo back.

Below are my predictions for who I WANT to win, and who I think WILL win. Movies I haven't seen yet are in italics.

BEST PICTURE

• Call Me by Your Name
• Darkest Hour
• Dunkirk*
• Get Out**
• Lady Bird
• Phantom Thread
• The Post
• The Shape of Water
• Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  WANT / WILL

Of the nine movies, Three Billboards is the one I most enjoyed, and my prediction is also based on the awards it has already won.

I heard on the radio today that Oscar voters are asked to rank the nine movies from best to worst--here's how I'd do that strictly based on how much I enjoyed it:

  1. Three Billboards
  2. Lady Bird
  3. Get Out
  4. Call Me By Your Name
  5. Shape of Water
  6. Darkest Hour
  7. The Post
  8. Phantom Thread
  9. Dunkirk

* If you want to get technical, I really only saw 8 1/4 of the movies because I could. not. finish. Dunkirk.  Man, that movie was boring.  It reminded me of The Thin Red Line, which I saw in the theater and slept through.  It's a beautiful movie though--maybe it'll get something for cinematography.

** I wouldn't be upset if Get Out slipped in and won best picture.  And I kind of think that could happen. 

BEST DIRECTOR

• Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
• Jordan Peele, Get Out  WANT
• Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
• Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
• Guillermo del Toro, Shape of Water  WILL

BEST ACTOR

• Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
• Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
• Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
• Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour  WANT / WILL
• Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

BEST ACTRESS

• Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
• Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  WANT / WILL
• Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
• Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
• Meryl Streep, The Post

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

• Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
• Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
• Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
• Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  WANT / WILL

If I could, I would write in my own nominee here:  Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name.  His speech toward the end of the movie was everything and he really should've received a nomination for it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

• Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
• Allison Janney, I, Tonya  WANT / WILL
• Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
• Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
• Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Allison Janney can do anything.  She is such a great actress.  If she wasn't so great or not in this category, I'd give this to Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread.  Bravo to Mary J. for getting a nomination!

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

• James Ivory, Call Me by Your Name
• Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist  WANT / WILL
Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green, Logan
• Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game
• Virgil Williams and Dee Rees, Mudbound

I haven't read any of these, so as is often the case, this is a guess.  The Disaster Artist is so crazy.  If you don't know, it's about the making of a terrible cult film called The Room.  At the end of the movie, they showed scenes from The Disaster Artist compared to the actual scenes from The Room and they were dead on.  I imagine that same kind of meticulous treatment was applied in converting the source material into the screenplay.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

• Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick WANT
• Jordan Peele, Get Out
• Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
• Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
• Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri WILL

This is the hardest category.  Any of them could win.  I'd love to see The Big Sick win because it was a true story and so good.  Get Out is a horror movie but also such a great social commentary--I think it gets people thinking.  Lady Bird was a different kind of coming of age story...there was nothing stereotypical about it.  The Shape of Water is very original, but now that I think about it, I don't actually think it had the best screenplay...I had some issues with some parts, so I'll take that one out.  And that leaves Three Billboards, which was so great and different.  And the movie clearly resonated with people because now folks are making billboards of their own.  That quiet method of protest and questioning authority seems to have taken hold.  That's why I went with it as my predicted winner.

We'll see what happens tomorrow!