What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

TV’s Rape Problem is Bigger Than Game of Thrones (Salon)

After last Sunday’s Game of Thrones aired, there was a lot of discussion about the rape (make no mistake, guys, that was a rape) that occurred at Joffrey’s wake when Jaime raped his sister Cersei.  The fact that it’s been changed from the original scene isn’t the point anymore.  I’ve tweeted about it a lot and I did a round-up of some of the best think pieces about it on the internet, but this piece at Salon (originally posted at The Daily Dot) gets at the larger issue:

Another major problem with the rise of rape on television is its inclusion as a explain-all for complicated female characters. At Entertainment Weekly, Karen Valby recently urged television writers to put a stop to this practice, imploring them, “Here’s something else to imagine: the idea that there are stories to tell about the sources of a woman’s anger, her ambition and fear, her brokenness and resolve, that don’t involve pinning her under some man’s heaving chest.”

So it feels a little pervasive, but perhaps my biggest issue is that it’s representative of lazy and insensitive writing.  It feeds into rape culture, and when show runners try to rape-splain it, it gets even worse.  More insulting, and more tone deaf.

It’s not that rape can’t ever be used to advance plot. But rape should never be used just to advance plot. Rape informs every part of a survivor’s life, but it also isn’t the only thing that informs their life. Rape should never be easy. It should never be a show’s quick fix for the writers’ bigger story problems. Rape should be treated with the same severity, thoughtfulness, and urgency on television that we’ve just started to treat it with in real life.

Ben Brantley is Asking For It (Daisy Egan)

In the same vein of rape culture, this internet gem was almost missed by me.  A little background: perpetual creeper and giant diaper baby James Franco threw what can only be called an instagram hissy fit over a NYT review of the Broadway play he’s currently starring in.  In his tantrum, he referred to reviewer Ben Brantley as “a little bitch.”  Which, whatever.  But what’s interesting is this piece by Daisy Egan, which is well worth your time.  In it, she takes issue with Brantley’s comments about the role played by Leighton Meester, and she is brilliant:

In his review of Of Mice And Men in Wednesday, April 16th’s edition of The New York Times, Ben Brantley says Curley’s wife, portrayed by Leighton Meister, “provides no evidence” of being either “slatternly” or “provocative” which, “[G]iven the grim events that eventually befall her character… may have been a conscious choice. We don’t want to be left thinking, ‘Well, she was asking for it.’”

That’s the background.  Here’s the takeaway:

When we talk about a “culture of rape” in this country, we are referring to a culture in which, “She was asking for it” is a common, acceptable defense for criminal behavior.  The only time a woman is “asking for it” is when she is literally asking for it.  As in, “Let’s have sex”, or, “Will you have sex with me”, or, “I’d like to have sex with you”, or some variation thereof, either explicitly or implicitly with another consenting adult with whom sexual contact has been mutually agreed to by both parties.  “Rape culture” is a culture in which an educated, prolific theater critic would assume that anyone would ever think “she was asking for it”.

Now go read the rest of it.  I’ll wait.

Greg Rucka on the Gatekeepers of Women in Geek Culture (The MarySue)

I’m not fully enmeshed in geek culture, but I dabble a bit.  And lately I’ve been tracking the female experience in geek culture, because there have been some awesome, vocal girls on the internet talking about their experiences as gamers or at conventions.  Let me tell you, it can be really hard to be female and active in various aspects of geek culture.  So when I came across this piece at The Mary Sue, I found it fascinating, insightful, and ultimately hopeful.

Greg Rucka is a father and a geek, and he recently came across some misogynistic piece of garbage who was wearing a T-shirt that said “I like fangirls howI like my coffee: I hate coffee.”  Rucka had some thoughts on this kind of thinking:

Fake geek girl? This is still a thing? Rape threats because a woman has the temerity to point out flaws in a grievously flawed cover? Bullshit arguments about inclusiveness being overdone, overrated, that we don’t need it?

So, yeah, this is directed at the guys, and you know who you are. Odds are you’re the ones who’d never read this in the first place, but that’s not going to stop me. You, yes, you. Come here. Listen.

What in the name of everlovingfuck is the matter with you? Are you simply stupid? Are you just ignorant? Are you broken? Newsflash: you are owed NOTHING. Not a thing. Not a goddamn thing. This fandom, that fandom, guess what? It doesn’t belong to you.

You don’t own it. You partake in it. It’s called community.

You want something to be your thing, make a club, build a tree-fort, and do us a favor. Don’t come down.

The whole post is sort of brilliant and amazing, but that part stood out to me.   I don’t have anything incredibly new to say about it, but I just really liked this post.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

Some Non-Fiction Titles I’ve Been Reading

I mostly stick to fiction on the blog, and lately it’s been mostly YA fiction at that, but I wanted to highlight some of the non-fiction titles I’ve been reading this year.  Every once in a while, I go through a phase where I read some non-fiction, and right now, that’s the case.  Here are a couple titles that I thought were pretty outstanding.

Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder

I’ve been a Sylvia Plath fan since my misanthropic teenage days, and this micro-biography (is that a thing?) is so accessible and so fascinating I had a hard time putting it down.  Winder chooses to focus on the summer Plath spent in New York as an intern for Mademoiselle, interweaving first-hand accounts from the other women who interned with her with historical details about the time period, as well as excerpts of Plath’s work and snippets of her journal entries.  The result is incredibly successful: the fashion, the glamour, and the things we’ll never know about Sylvia’s inner-thoughts make this a standout non-fiction title.

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kokler

Probably one of my favorite reads of the year, Kokler’s impeccably written and obsessively researched look at the disappearances and murders of a slew of women working as escorts through Craigslist on the East Coast a few years ago is haunting, riveting, and something that I still cannot get out of my mind.  Kokler digs into the lives of the women who disappeared and humanizes them in a way that a lesser writer would not have been able to do.  It’s accessible, well-written, and completely worthy of your time.  I loved it, inasmuch as you can love something that’s about a horrible thing that’s happened.

Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

In the interest of full disclosure, I picked this one up with the intent to just read the parts where Chevy Chase comes off as a complete sociopathic asshole (read: every single time he opens his mouth), because I pretty much think Chase is the worst, and after hearing the book mentioned on one of my favorite podcasts, I knew I had to check it out.  But I ended up reading the entire thing, because it totally hooked me.  I’m not a huge SNL fan in general–I can appreciate the significance of the show’s presence in the pop culture cannon, and I’ll watch an episode if I really like the host, but I haven’t considered it must-watch TV in years.  But this was a surprisingly great read.

God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America by Hanna Rosin

Initially, I wanted to read this one because I have a love-hate thing going on with Rosin as a journalist in general.  I listen to the DoubleX podcast and am always rankled by how clueless, pompous, and generally nutso Rosin can be (not to mention her proclivity to cut people off when they are talking), but there’s no denying that she’s an intelligent person (and she would be the first to tell you so).  I knew about her book The End of Men, but I didn’t realize that she’d written this one until it was mentioned on the podcast when they were discussing sexual assault on Christian college campuses.  So I decided to check it out.

The result surprised me.  I really enjoyed reading it, but I’m not sure how much of that was Rosin (at least a little bit was, because her ability to balance snark and respectful reporting was quite good here) and how much was my complete horror that people like this exist in the world.  At any rate, I devoured this one.  And am still terrified of the fundamentalist Christian right.  Of all fundamentalists, actually.

Books that Stick to Your Ribs

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the books that stay with you long after you’ve finished them.  This could be anywhere on the spectrum of Emotional Reactions to Things You Have Read (this isn’t a real thing, yet) : it could be books you hated to your very core, or it could be books you loved so much that you feel actual heartbreak when they’re finished.  For me, the books that stick to my ribs are the ones that I either love so much it hurts, or they’re the ones that challenge me to think differently about the world.  These are not mutually exclusive criteria.  They overlap, sometimes.  Here are a few of the books that come to mind when I think of the books that have stayed with me and even shaped me (as a person and a reader, natch).

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: I first read this book in high school, and I revisited it in college when I took a (terrible) freshman-level English class that the instructor turned into a dystopian-themed course (because that’s what his dissertation was on, obviously).  I loved the book when I first read it and found the entire thing incredibly haunting.  When I revisited it as a depressed, displaced 20-year-old (I refer to my early college days as my “Dark Days,” and that, my friends, is a story for another time), I found that I still loved it, but that I also identified with it in new ways.

Like Offred, I felt incredibly stifled by my life and longed for the days gone by, when things were easier and freer.  Obviously I wasn’t living in a patriarchal society in which women weren’t allowed to read and the few fertile women were sold to powerful older men to basically be Baby Machines, but there were aspects of the book that stood out to me I had missed the first time through.  I suspect if I were to revisit the book now, nearly 10 years later, I would find other things.

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty: This one is harder to explain, mostly because my relationship to it is more complicated than my relationship to the other books on this list.  I first came across McCafferty’s funny, achingly real Sloppy Firsts when I was 19 or so.  My cousin had recommended it.  Although it can sometimes be found in the adult fiction section, it is definitely YA, and at that point in time, I didn’t read YA, I didn’t understand YA, and we weren’t yet in the publishing boom that is YA today.  So my frame of reference was super warped and limited.

I remember reading this book and staying up all night to finish it, because Jessica Darling and I were, like, totally the same girl.  I mean, not even remotely at all the same girl, because I didn’t run track and I definitely didn’t have anyone as challenging or intriguing as Marcus Flutie interested in me, but apart from that, we were totally the same person.  Before reading Sloppy Firsts, I had no idea that YA fiction could be so great, that YA fiction could be funny and really smart and so real that sometimes it was like holding up a mirror to myself.  Before this, my frame of reference for what YA books looked like was Sweet Valley High novels.  So this revolutionized my view of books and reading.

I credit McCafferty for being my gateway author into the weird, wonderful, rich world of YA.  If you’ve spent a second of time with me in real life, read my Twitter, or taken a look at my blog, you know that YA fiction is where my passion is.  So this book—this entire series, really—has stuck with me and shaped me into the passionate (sometimes crazy) reader that I am today.

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver: I like to joke about this one, because it might be the book that took me the longest time to read, like, ever.  By the time I finished Shriver’s smart, thoughtful, Sliding Doors-esque novel about a woman with two different timelines splitting off from one moment in her life, I’d been reading the book for close to a year.  I’d read some, put it down, and come back to it sometime later.  I didn’t start over.  I just kept going.

Shriver’s book really is excellent—and I remember that at the time I couldn’t believe how immersed I’d become in these characters’ lives only to drop them again without really meaning to.  But it would happen, again and again.  And yet, I kept coming back to the novel.  I found myself thinking about the characters during those in-between times, which must mean something.

Here’s the thing: I read The Post-Birthday world years ago, back before I started blogging and reviewing books.  I’ve read literally hundreds of books since then.  But I still think about Irina and Lawrence and Ramsey Acton (you have to say his full name, because reasons).  I still wonder about those richly drawn characters, and I feel this weird pull to revisit them now.  I’m closer in age to them than I was when I read it originally.  Would I root for one of Irina’s timelines more than I did before?  How would my growth as a person impact my reading of it if I were to pick this one back up now?

That’s the thing about books that stick with you: they change as you change.

March 2014 Recap

Another month gone.  This was an interesting month in that movie-watching was at an all-time low and I supplemented my voracious reading of Sweet Valley High with a slew of non-fiction.  So the result is a mixed bag.  Let’s get to it!

Reading:

Best Book of the Month: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Books Read: 30
Adult: 4
YA: 21
MG: 5
Children’s: 0
Fiction: 26
Non-fiction/Memoir: 4
Graphic Novel: 0
# of Pages Read: 6223

Thoughts on March’s Reading:

  • As far as non-fiction goals go, I read four non-fiction/memoirs (Soul Survivor, The Honest Life, Live From Saturday Night: The Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, andGod’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America).
  • I didn’t read much in the way of YA fiction outside of SVH this month, but I did knock out Side Effects May Vary and And We Stay.
  • My numbers are insanely high because I read so many Sweet Valley High novels this month for my other blog.  These books are a breeze to get through (I can knock them out in about 30 minutes if I’m not distracted by other things), so they count–but just barely.  I’m on a roll with them right now, so who knows how long that will last.

Watching:

TV:

Much as I’d like to, I’m not obsessively tracking what TV show episodes I watch and when.  So this will be mostly bullet points.

  • I’ve completely slowed down on Breaking Bad.  I’d say I’m watching something like one episode a week?
  • For reasons completely unknown to me, I’m on a serious The Vampire Diaries kick.  I’ve blown through three seasons this month, and I can’t seem to stop watching, even though everyone is dumb and parts of the show really squick me out.  Expect a post on this at some point.  Probably.
  • J. and I tore through the first season of Orphan Black, which is great and you should watch immediately.  The second season premieres in mid-April, and I can hardly wait.
  • I’m also casually re-watching Daria, which HOLDS UP and is still really, really funny.
  • I’m still watching The Good Wife, am looking forward to the return of The Mindy Project, and can’t wait for the return ofGame of Thrones.

Movies:

vmarsBest Movie(s) of the Month: Veronica Mars

Movies Watched: 4
New: 2
Re-Watch: 2
Theater Trips: 1

Thoughts on Movies Watched in February:

  • Not a stellar month for movies, probably because I’ve been hardcore bingeing on TV.
  • Veronica Mars is the clear winner here.  I haven’t written a post on it, and I’m not sure I will, because it sort of feels done to death, but I did love it while also recognizing its flaws.

Goals for March:

  • Continue reading and watching diverse things.  Keep up with keeping track.

Happy reading and watching, readers!

Movie News and Blather

Time for another installment of movie news and randomness.  Here’s the movie news that’s got me all atwitter this week:

1. Only Lovers Left Alive Trailer

This looks weird as can be but boasts an impressive cast, including Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, and Mia Wasikowska.  The movie is about vampires?  And playrights?  At any rate, it’s getting good buzz.

2. Rooney Mara to play Tiger Lily in Pan Movie

And I won’t see it, because I’m so tired of this RACIST SHIT that Hollywood keeps throwing at us like it doesn’t matter.  Even though Joe Wright is claiming that he plans to make a multi-racial Neverland to “challenge” people’s assumptions about the world, so far he’s cast Hugh Jackman and Garrett Hedlund, so yeah, pretty multi-racial.  Are you fucking kidding me? (The Wrap)

3. Tracks Trailer

Another Mia Wasikowska movie, and this one also stars Adam Driver, so you know I’m there.  It’s based on the true story of Robyn Davidson, who trekked across 2,000 miles of Australian desert in the late 1970s.  It’s also garnering good buzz.  So, yes to this one.

4. The world needed a sequel to that last Alice in Wonderland movie, I guess

It’s called Through the Looking Glass.  Because it’s definitely happening.  I thought that movie bombed?  No?  Why else would it take four years just to start contract negotiations?  At any rate, it looks like the original cast is set to join up.  If I ever watch this one, it will be while drunk on my couch.  YAWN. (Variety)

5. Cuban Fury Trailer

It looks kind of silly but stars Rashida Jones, whom I like despite the disasterpiece of Celeste & Jesse Forever, and some other people, too: Nick Frost, Chris O’Dowd, etc.  A former salsa prodigy tries to make a comeback?  All right.  I’m in.

What movie news got you all worked up this week?

February 2014 Recap

Somewhere over the course of last year, I lost the plot with regard to monthly recaps of what I’d be reading and watching, and that’s too bad.  I actually really like these posts to help me reflect on the past month, in terms of what kinds of media I’d been consuming.  So, with the start of a new year and a fresh resolve to track more thoroughly what I’m reading and watching, here’s my attempt at starting up these monthly recaps again.

Reading:

Best Book of the Month: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Books Read: 25
Adult: 4
YA: 19
MG: 2
Children’s: 0
Fiction: 22
Non-fiction/Memoir: 3
Graphic Novel: 1
# of Pages Read: 5554

Thoughts on February’s Reading:

  • As far as non-fiction goals go, I read two memoirs (I Don’t Know Where You Know Me From and Never Have I Ever) and one biography (Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer, 1962).  I loved the Plath and was lukewarm on the other two.  I didn’t read anything I would qualify as “hard” non-fiction this month.
  • A lot of the YA I read this month was really, really disappointing: I kind of hated Asylum, thought Royally Lost was painfully silly, and didn’t connect with The Museum of Intangible Things the way I wanted to.  Even so, Cammie McGovern’s Say What You Will was my favorite read of the month, hands down.
  • My numbers are insanely high because I read so many Sweet Valley High novels this week for my other blog.  These books are a breeze to get through (I can knock them out in about 30 minutes if I’m not distracted by other things), so they count–but just barely.  I’m on a roll with them right now, so who knows how long that will last.

Watching:

TV:

Much as I’d like to, I’m not obsessively tracking what TV show episodes I watch and when.  So this will be mostly bullet points.

  • I’ve completely slowed down on Breaking Bad.  I think we’re still slogging through the third season.  I will finish it.  It’s just not something I ever look forward to sitting down to.
  • Instead, I hate-watched my way through four seasons of Glee, which I’m not proud of, but there it is.  I don’t know why I can’t look away from this show–it is literally the worst and represents everything I hate, but damn if I can’t stop binge-watching.
  • I also still watch New Girl and Switched at Birth.  Everything else seems to be on hiatus right now.
  • J. and I have started watching The X-Files as something to have on in the background sometimes.  It’s enjoyable but I don’t see us finishing it (as well we shouldn’t because it’s one of those shows that refused to die).

Movies:

12yearsBest Movie(s) of the Month: 12 Years a Slave

Movies Watched: 8
New: 5
Re-Watch: 3
Theater Trips: 0

Thoughts on Movies Watched in February:

  • Not a stellar month for movies, despite my best intentions to get ready for the Oscars.
  • Despite not liking animated movies, I watched Disney’s Frozen and found it adorable.  I mean, largely forgettable, but something I probably would have loved as a kid.  I also watched The Croods and didn’t hate it, so that’s something, I guess?

Goals for March:

  • Continue reading and watching diverse things.  Keep up with keeping track.

Happy reading and watching, readers!

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the articles I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Let’s get to it.

The Gaslight District: The Dangerous Precedents Being Set By the Woody Allen Molestation Case (Pajiba)

Honestly, guys, I don’t care if you’re sick of hearing about it, because like this article states, you should be sick over this issue.  You should, because it’s disgusting what’s happening.  We need to be talking about this, because when we don’t talk about these things, we set the precedents talked about in this article, and we reinforce everything that we allow in a rape culture.

There’s a lot at play here, and there’s a lot to unpack.  Biological vs. adoptive parents, victim blaming, the concept of a vindictive mother, etc.  All of these things are worth talking about, but by wanting to quickly move on, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and the victims of sexual abuse.  This is an accessible article and it tackles all of those things.  Read it.

#SochiProblems is More of an Embarrassment for America Than For Russia (PolicyMic)

I’m not watching the Olympics because I literally don’t care and also because I don’t think we should be in Russia.  But my best friend sent me a link to a compilation of the best hashtags about the problems in Sochi, and my immediate response was, “This is fascinating because cultural privilege.”  And this article, whether you agree with it or not, is worth taking a look at.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone created a novelty Twitter account called @SochiProblems to document all the perceived mishaps that are happening in the city during the Olympics, but it is worth it to take a minute and think about the larger implications of that.  It’s malicious glee, and while I’m certainly guilty of feeling that way about certain pop culture events, it’s important to reflect on what that says about me (and the culture at large):

As faves and retweets on @SochiProblems explode, it’s clear that the meme is based on cultural misunderstandings borne out of sheltered ignorance: The posts reflect actual issues that directly impact the quality of life of Russia’s 143 million people…Most Russians don’t drink water from the sink due to fear of illness, and the ones who can’t afford bottled water just boil it and hope they don’t get sick. Only around half of Russians had access to drinking water that met reasonable health standards in 2002, according to Jean Lemierre, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. And the situation is still so bad that Putin himself admittedlast May that even he has dirty water running from his sink.

This article is definitely on the earnest side, but hopefully it also makes people stop and think for a second.  The #SochiProblems trend makes me super uncomfortable, and this helps me pinpoint why that is.

J.K. Rowling Did Make a Mistake, But it Wasn’t the Ron-Hermione Pairing (Book Riot)

Apart from sort of wishing that Rowling would stop talking about things that should have happened in her books that are already published in a series that is (probably) complete, I’ve stayed pretty far out of the latest reveal that Rowling thinks Harry and Hermione should have ended up together.  Mostly because I DO NOT CARE.  But this article is interesting, because it doesn’t really care about that, either.  Instead, it tackles one of the biggest issues that even hardcore fans have with Rowling’s books: that epilogue:

I still remember when I turned that final page and saw for the first time that Rowling had added an epilogue to Harry’s last book. It didn’t take more than few sentences for me to develop a sinking feeling in my stomach. What?, I thought, 7 books of plot twists and suddenly everyone marries their high school boyfriend and has adorable moppets who become friends with their high school friends’ similarly aged moppets!??! Even Draco Malfoy is there?

There’s also this:

It also feels like cheating. If you want to decide what happens to your characters, Rowling, you have to actually write it. It’s no fair summarizing all that time in the middle. You have to make it happen.

Whatever, this piece isn’t going to change the world or anything, but she definitely has a point.  It’s a fun diversion.

The 15 Most Hated Bands of the Last 30 Years (Salon)

I’m really good at hating things, so there’s no doubt that I’d love a list like this.  It’s totally silly and fun, but there’s also a kernel of truth to it.  Some highlights:

Nickelback, Creed (aka “Nickelback before there was Nickelback”), Lana Del Rey, etc. etc.

However, not including U2, my MOST HATED BAND PROBABLY EVER, feels like a great oversight.  You best believe they’re mentioned in the comments (and not by me, because they ARE THE WORST).

Does Length Matter? (Dear Author)

I include this not only because it’s a thoughtful, well-written piece, but because I think about this all the time.  One of J.s jokes about me is that my biggest and most frequent complaint about nearly every movie we watch together is that it’s “too long.” And in my defense, this is mostly true: movies are more bloated than ever before, and there are stats to back it up (you can Google this.  I’m too lazy).  I’m a firm believer in taking the amount of time you need to tell the story, but I often feel like movies, books, and even TV shows could be tighter in how they do this.  So yeah, I believe length matters.  Which is why this piece struck a chord with me.

Obviously, this is different for every reader, but there are some good reasons put forth here, and it’s worth a read if you like to read–no matter what the length of the book.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

 

 

Five Things I’m Into Right Now

A long time ago, I used to do this thing where I’d post a list of things I was into at the moment.  I’m trying to do that again, right now.  I have no idea how often I might post a list like this, but I can promise you it won’t be more than every other week, mostly because I don’t like very many things.  Seriously, this list would be easier for me to post if it was “Five Things I Actively Hate,” but I’m all about the positivity, guys.

1. The Good Wifegoodwife

I wrote about this a little bit in my January recap, but I am legitimately obsessed with The Good Wife.  I don’t remember the last time I was this excited about anything I was watching, really.  Normally not a huge procedural fan, but this show is so smart and is so well-cast that I can’t help but find it completely compelling.  I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m all caught up and have to wait for episodes to air.

If you haven’t given this one a chance, I suggest you do.

2. Ice Cream with Sprinkles and Marshmallows

This is my dessert of choice lately, and I’m completely aware that it’s diabetes in a bowl.  I don’t care.  There’s something about how the marshmallows freeze and the sprinkles crunch that makes me so happy.  Whatever, guys.  I eat pretty healthy the majority of the time, but I’m fundamentally a dessert person, and this is my jam right now.  I’m sure I’ll get sick of it soon, but in the meantime, this is my favorite treat.

tongue3. Zoey, the Love of My Life

It’s no secret that J. and I are pretty in love with our brilliant, frustrating dog, Zoey.  She’s one of the sweetest, friendliest dogs you’ll ever meet.  Full of raw enthusiasm and unbridled curiosity, she amazes us every day.  I guess this is how some people feel about their kids?  I wouldn’t know.

zoeybear

But I do know that I look forward to going home to this crazy puppy every day, and I love getting to spend time with her, whether we’re going for a walk and finding things to smell or hanging out on the couch, cuddling.

How could you not love this dog?  Seriously, how?

4. Ask Polly

My best friend and I regularly read and dissect the Ask Polly advice column, and it’s always a good time.  I think Heather Havrilevsky, who writes the column, gives amazing, thoughtful, and truthful advice.  I often identify with the letter writers as well as “Polly’s” response.  Full of good advice and often very funny insights, this is required reading, every week.

We even have a saying: “WWPS,” which of course means, “What would Polly say?”

5. “Magazine” by Caroline Smith

I had the chance to see Caroline Smith at First Ave recently, and she didn’t disappoint.  She’s one of my favorite artists right now, and this song is so catchy and thought-provoking and fun.  I dare you to listen to it and not get it stuck in your head.  I love it–and this video.

Movie News and Randomness

Time for another installment of movie news and blather! Who’s ready for the five movie-related things I’m most excited about this week?

1. Bad Words Redband Trailer

This movie, starring Jason Bateman, is about a guy who exploits a loophole in an elementary spelling bee so that he can compete.  Hilarity, I assume, ensues.  I’m not entirely sure about this one, but Bateman is a critical darling and so I’ll probably see this one, just to…you know…see it?

2. Gone Girl will be scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Let’s just give them the Oscar preemptively, yeah? (THR)

  • As they did for The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon TattooTrent Reznorand Atticus Ross will score David Fincher’s adaptation of Gone Girl.

3. Maleficent Trailer

I’m not a huge Angelina Jolie fan in general, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but I am excited about this Maleficent movie, and the latest trailer is pretty awesome.  The background song is appropriately creepy (what up, Lana Del Rey), the cinematography looks beautiful, and Jolie looks like she’s having a lot of fun.  I’ve always found Maleficent to be one of the scariest, most compelling Disney villains, so I’m excited for what they could do with this one.

4. Wonder Woman gets three-picture deal

I feel like Wonder Woman projects get started and scrapped every year, but it looks like this one might actually be happening?  Maybe?  Possibly?  Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman, and it includes an appearance in the Man of Steel sequel, a Justice League movie, and her own Wonder Woman film.  I’m taking bets on which one of those is least likely to happen. (Variety)

5. Better Living Through Chemistry Trailer

This dark comedy stars Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde, so I’m already there.  He’s a pharmacist in a small town that’s always done the right thing, and she’s pretty much a sexed-up vixen.  It looks to be trippy fun.  I’m in.

What movie news are you excited about this week?

January 2014 Recap

Somewhere over the course of last year, I lost the plot with regard to monthly recaps of what I’d be reading and watching, and that’s too bad.  I actually really like these posts to help me reflect on the past month, in terms of what kinds of media I’d been consuming.  So, with the start of a new year and a fresh resolve to track more thoroughly what I’m reading and watching, here’s my attempt at starting up these monthly recaps again.

Reading:

Best Book of the Month: Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker

Books Read: 18
Adult: 7
YA: 5
MG: 3
Children’s: 3
Fiction: 14
Non-fiction/Memoir: 4
Graphic Novel: 2
# of Pages Read: 4855

Thoughts on January’s Reading:

  • I’m trying to read more non-fiction this year without actually making it a hard-and-fast goal, and my default is memoir, of which I read several this month.  But I also read Robert Kolker’s true-crime non-fiction Lost Girls, and it was a standout.
  • A lot of the YA I read this month is scheduled to come out later this year.  E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars is sure to be a critical success (and maybe a little polarizing), while Ava Delaira’s Love Letters to the Dead was a total disappointment.
  • I started the month by reading a bunch of the Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, which is partly why my overall numbers are so high this month.  I fell away from them early on, though, and since I”d like to finish the series this year, I should probably try to tackle a few more of those soon.

Watching:

TV:

Much as I’d like to, I’m not obsessively tracking what TV show episodes I watch and when.  So this will be mostly bullet points.

  • J. is still supporting me as I slowly trudge through Breaking Bad.  We’re up to season 3 now, and while I can see how the show is quite masterful, I also don’t think it’s any fun to watch.  I’m determined to finish it, though.
  • I’ve become OBSESSED with The Good Wife, and whizzed my way through three seasons this month.  J. is on board now, too, which means that I’ve slowed down how many I’m getting through so I can wait to watch with him.
  • I also still watch American Horror Story: Coven, New Girl, The Mindy Project, Parenthood, Girls, and Switched at Birth.
  • I’m also doing a re-watch of Veronica Mars to gear up for the movie, and I’m participating in the beta-forums over at Previously.tv so I can talk about it with other Veronica Mars geeks.

Movies:

way way backBest Movie(s) of the Month: Enough Said, The Way Way Back

Movies Watched: 15
New: 11
Re-Watch: 4
Theater Trips: 1

Thoughts on Movies Watched in January:

  • We watched quite a bit of horror in January, including both Insidious movies and the Carrie remake.  All three were pretty terrible.  The Carrie remake was particularly egregious, because I just can’t figure out what the point was of remaking it (okay, I know, money, whatever)
  • I finally, finally got around to seeing Austenland, and it was TERRIBLE.  Just, like, the worst.  I texted my sister about it, and she agreed, adding that it seemed like the screenwriter just gave up halfway through.

Goals for February:

  • Continue reading and watching diverse things.  Keep up with keeping track.

Happy reading and watching, readers!