9.26.2010

Amazing Race and stuff

I'm about 15 minutes into The Amazing Race and I'm already praying for a particular team to be eliminated. It's two college guys who are part of an a capella singing group, and apparently, they like to sing about EV. ERY. THING. So annoying.

Beyond that, I'm happy the show's back on again.

Time for a movie recommendation: The Town. Great flick. Saw it with my pops on Friday afternoon--his treat. That was nice. Ben Affleck did a great job in his role, but also as director. I was all into the Boston accent when we got out of the show, so I also put in Good Will Hunting over the weekend.

Getting ready to check out Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters...I love new Fall TV!

9.24.2010

Books, books and more books

There was an interesting covnersation going on over at washingtonpost.com the other day. The National Book Festival is taking place on the National Mall this weekend, and in gearing up for that, the Washington Post posed this question to readers:
As we gear up for the National Book Festival, we want to know: Which books did you love as a kid? Which books defined your high school experience or got you through college? Tell us what you loved to read before BlackBerrys and iPhones ruled the world. Which books changed your world?
I have a difficult time saying that any book that "changed my world," per sé, but there certainly are many books that I've adored over the years and do mean something to me. Did they change my life? I don't think so, but who knows, maybe my values and beliefs would be different today if I hadn't read them. I was once asked a similar question about albums, and I had a hard time with that too. The music I listened to as a kid definitely influenced what I listen to now, but I can't say that any one album changed my life.

Anyway, for the beginning part of the Post's question--which books did you love as a kid?--my top answer has to be anything by Judy Blume. My all-time favorite was Are You There God It's Me, Margaret. These books taught me about being a girl, about being a teenager, about boys, about insecurities, about life. As a young kid, before I got into Judy Blume, I read all of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary as well as all the Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol. Starting in 6th grade, I also read a lot of V.C. Andrews' stuff, starting with Flowers in the Attic. Those books were so scandalous for a sixth grader.

My whole sixth-grade class passed different books around with the corners of pages with juicy scenes turned down so you could flip to them easily. In addition to Flowers in the Attic, I also remember passing around Judy Blume's Forever, which is about a young girls' first love and first sexual experience. We also passed around Amityville Horror. To this day, all I remember about that book is a black toilet and large flies. Ew. For what it's worth, our sixth-grade teachers introduced us to Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giving Tree. All was not lost.

As I moved in to junior high, my friends and I got into romances. We'd skip through most of the plot and read the hot sex scenes. I remember spending the night at a friend's house and we were reading Judy Blume's Wifey, which is basically about an unhappy woman trying to find fulfillment through sex. When we heard my friend's mom coming up the stairs, we would quickly hide the book under the bed, and pretend we were just talking.

In 8th grade English, we read To Kill a Mockingbird, and that remains my favorite book. Scout and Atticus definitely left an impression on me that's lasted throughout my life. But, can I say it changed my world? I'm not sure.

In high school, college, and for some time after, I read a lot of trashy novels. They were guilty pleasures. I spent a lot of time reading Jackie Collins (favorite=Lucky), Danielle Steele (Fine Things), and Sidney Sheldon (The Other Side of Midnight). In college, I used to go to my math classes (yep, I majored in math) and would hear other students fretting over the fact that they couldn't solve question #7 of the homework. Meanwhile, I would sit there and read Hollywood Wives, figuring the professor would explain #7 when he got there. (By the way, my favorite "trashy" novel of all time is called Butterfly by Kathryn Harvey. I read it every couple of years and it still manages to keep me on the edge of my seat. You should check this one out ladies--on Amazon.com it has a 5-star rating, with 97 reviews. It really is a good book!) Anyway, I also went through a period of long books. There's no rhyme or reason to it, but I read Gone with the Wind, Roots, The Stand, It, and maybe some others that I can't think of now. I also read several gangster books (The Godfather and Donnie Brascoe come to mind), and I also went through a Vietnam phase (Bloods, FNG).

All of this brings me to where I am now. My tastes are all over the place. I still like to read fiction, but I also like memoirs. I like satire and humor (Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris, Laurie Notaro, Jen Lancaster). I like reading books that I can relate to (i.e., "chick lit"). Or books that make me smile or warm my heart (Water for Elephants), or tug at my heart (Art of Racing in the Rain). Or are clever (Ella Minnow Pea, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and make me think (Barbara Kingsolver, Life of Pi). I like page turners (The Firm, Dragon Tattoo books). I'm always thrilled when I find a book that I want to read without stopping. Every once in a while, I'll challenge myself with a classic that I've never read (my favorite of these being Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen). I always say that Sci-Fi/Fantasy isn't my thing, but I enjoyed what I read of Dune (I didn't finish--got sidetracked by something else, probably. I'll get back to it again one day), and I loved Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.

Whew! I could go on and on, but I guess my point is that I love reading, whether it's changing my life or not. And despite BlackBerrys and iPhones (and Droids) taking over the world, this will never change.

9.21.2010

Gleeeeeeeee

Glee's back and I'm so happy. 

Watched Hawaii Five-0 and enjoyed it.  The banter between Danno and Steve McGarrett was great.  And now I want to go to Hawaii.

Also watched The Biggest Loser and am happy to see someone from my hometown on the show.  It's fun to have someone to pull for.  

Short post, but I gotta get to bed.  More on the new season tomorrow.

First reviews...

Watched a couple of new shows last night.  One was good, one not so good.  Also, before the new lineup even started, I already decided to drop The Event.  Hank Steuver gave it a terrible review in the Washington Post, and I tend to agree with his reviews, so I skipped it.  A friend of mine confirmed later that I made the right decision--he said it was horrible. 

But I did watch Lone Star and really enjoyed it.  The main character is a con man who leads a double life and is trying to go straight.  He's played by James Wolk who is cute and charming and I just love his crooked grin.  Adrianne Palicki (Tyra from Friday Night Lights) plays the wife in the "straight" life--good to see her again.  I really missed her on FNL.  I look forward to seeing this again next week.

The other show I watched was Mike & Molly.  I was looking foward to this because I love the lead actress, Melissa McCarthy.  The show is about the romance between a guy and a girl who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.  Right before I watched it on Tivo, my dad called to say he was watching it and was laughing so hard that he was crying.  Well, let's just say he kinda oversold it a bit.  I never laughed to that point, and only chuckled a couple of times.  Something must've struck my dad's funny bone, but it couldn't have been this show.

With great comedies like Modern Family, The Office, and The Middle, I'm finding that I just can't stand a laugh track any more.  Funny should stand on its own.  I shouldn't need a cue to laugh.  The laugh track on Mike & Molly makes the bad jokes seem even worse.  To put it more succinctly, my sister sent me an email that said, "just watched it. hated it. don't think i'll be watching."

I also watched the return of How I Met Your Mother, which I enjoy, even though each new season, I wonder how much longer they can hold out on revealing who Mom is.  The narrator has been telling his kids this story for FIVE years now.  Come on.  That's not to say that I don't love the show.  I really do.  I just don't think the original premise can last that much longer.

I have Hawaii Five-0 on Tivo and I'll try to watch tonight.  Same friend who said that The Event was horrible, also said that Hawaii Five-0 exhibits how a pilot episode should be done, so I'm looking forward to seeing it.

9.20.2010

My Fall TV Schedule - 2010

I'm WAY behind, but I went through Entertainment Weekly's Fall TV Preview and picked out my TV schedule. With no further ado:
 


NOTES:
  • The shows with asterisks are those that EW picked as the Best Five of the new season.  I decided to try them all at least once, but I'm most looking forward to Boardwalk Empire, which is about Atlantic City during Prohibition.  Martin Scorsese, Steve Buscemi, gangsters....all right up my alley.  The other four are Hawaii Five-O (which I'm not really that interested in, but decided to try because it's on EW's list), Lone Star, Blue Bloods and Raising Hope.
  • Really  looking forward to Wednesday nights--especially The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougar Town.
  • Tuesday nights are tough, but I'll make it work.  That's what Tivos are for.
  • Glad to see Vanessa Williams found a new job so soon after Ugly Betty ended.  She'll be moving to Wisteria Lane on Desperate Housewives .
  • Decided to watch Mike & Molly strictly because I loved Melissa McCarthy as one of Christina Applegate's best friends on Samantha Who? 
  • Project Runway is on that list somewhere, but thanks to Tivo, I'm not sure of it's real time and couldn't be bothered to look it up.  It records in the middle of the night on Wednesdays, but I'm not sure of its true air time.  
We'll see how long all of these shows last.  I'm looking forward to the season though.

CORRECTION:  Hawaii Five-O is on CBS, not ABC.  Just FYI.  

9.13.2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


As I've heard from others, this was, by far, the best of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. I didn't want the story to end, and as I did in the first two books, I again found myself on the edge of my seat as I was reading. As a certain sequence in the book unfolded, it reminded me of a great scene from The Godfather, and I smiled. I'm sorry to see the series end.

View all my reviews

9.01.2010

Revolt against Youth in Revolt

Kinda stealing that title from a review that Gene Shalit did years ago for Far and Away. He said, "Stay far and away from Far and Away." While you're at it, stay far and away from Youth in Revolt too.

Ay yi yi. As I sat here and watched this movie, I often felt compelled to just stop the DVD and forget about it. I kept hoping it would get better, but it never did.

I'm a huge fan of Michael Cera, but in this movie, he played the same character that I've seen him play his whole career, starting with Arrested Development, and also in Juno and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist , and it just seems he played it one time too many. The only difference is that here, his character has a rebellious, bad-boy alter ego, also played by Cera. He did a decent job stepping outside of his box, but not well enough to redeem the movie.

Beyond the fact that the movie was slow, the characters unlikeable, and moments that were supposed to be funny, weren't, what drove me most crazy with this movie was the constant, monotone drone that every single character spoke in. It was like fingernails slowly dragging across a chalkboard for 90 minutes.

Definitely feeling disappointed tonight.