Movies and Books: 2013

Another year of keeping track of films and books read… I suspect that I missed a few graphic novels when you count the collected editions (since I read a lot of them for review purposes in serialized formats), ah well. Definitely a big uptick on movies for 2013.

Movies:

  1. Django Unchained
  2. Zero Dark Thirty
  3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  4. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013: Live Action
  5. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013: Animated
  6. Silver Linings Playbook
  7. Amour
  8. Side Effects
  9. Party Girl
  10. The Company You Keep
  11. The Great Gatsby
  12. In the House (Dans la Maison)
  13. Stories We Tell
  14. Star Trek Into Darkness
  15. Iron Man 3
  16. Mud
  17. Frances Ha
  18. Behind the Candelabra
  19. The Painting (Le Tableau)
  20. Rent a Family Inc.
  21. AFI Docs Shorts Program Two: Life and Death
  22. Approved for Adoption (Couleur de Peau: Miel)
  23. The Bling Ring
  24. Much Ado About Nothing
  25. The Way, Way Back
  26. The Heat
  27. I’m So Excited (Los amantes pasajeros)
  28. Blue Jasmine
  29. The Wolverine
  30. The Spectacular Now
  31. Word Wars
  32. Gravity
  33. 12 Years a Slave
  34. The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green
  35. Frozen
  36. The Deflowering of Eva Van End (De Ontmaagding van Eva van End)
  37. Our Heroes Died Tonight (Nos héros sont morts ce soir)
  38. Tiny Furniture
  39. Dallas Buyers Club
  40. American Hustle
  41. Her

Books:

  1. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  3. Blue Heaven by Joe Keenan
  4. Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts
  5. Among Others by Jo Walton
  6. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky
  7. The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
  8. The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher
  9. The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski
  10. Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship by Amanda Hesser
  11. Redshirts by John Scalzi
  12. Fair Play by Tove Jansson
  13. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  14. The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories Volume One: Where on Earth by Ursula K. Le Guin
  15. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  16. The Virtual Reference Handbook: Interview and Information Delivery Techniques for the Chat and E-mail Environments by Diane K. Kovacs
  17. Men and Cartoons: Stories by Jonathan Lethem
  18. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman
  19. The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt
  20. The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts edited by Ken Haycock and Brooke E. Sheldon
  21. Reference and Information Services: An Introduction by Richard E. Bopp and Linda C. Smith
  22. Doctor Who: A Big Hand For The Doctor by Eoin Colfer
  23. Doctor Who: The Nameless City by Michael Scott
  24. Doctor Who: The Spear of Destiny by Marcus Sedgwick
  25. Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil by Philip Reeve
  26. Doctor Who: Tip of the Tongue by Patrick Ness
  27. Doctor Who: Something Borrowed by Richelle Mead
  28. Doctor Who: The Ripple Effect by Malorie Blackman
  29. Doctor Who: Spore by Alex Scarrow
  30. Doctor Who: The Beast of Babylon by Charlie Higson
  31. Doctor Who: The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage by Derek Landy
  32. Doctor Who: Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. Lightspeed Magazine March 2012
  2. Granta 114: Aliens
  3. Lightspeed Magazine April 2012
  4. Lightspeed Magazine May 2012
  5. Lightspeed Magazine June 2012
  6. Kinfolk Vol. 3
  7. Lightspeed Magazine July 2012
  8. Lucky Peach Vol. 7
  9. Lucky Peach Vol. 8
  10. Kinfolk Vol. 9

Continue reading Movies and Books: 2013

Five Things That Make Me Happy (part 19)

My Abuela's KitchenMy Abuela’s Table: An Illustrated Journey into Mexican Cooking by Daniela Germain
I found this cookbook at a great home goods store just down the street (Trohv) and even though the last thing I need is another cookbook, I had to take it home with me. The recipes appear to be nice and good, but what really caught my eye were the illustrations by Germain. They’re gorgeous, with delicate watercolors that occasionally bleed out of their borders and onto the page around them. I’d flipped the cookbook open to the illustrations of the different chili peppers and I just fell in love with Germain’s art; the deep, rich colors make those oranges and reds and greens just call out to me. I may never make anything from this cookbook (although I plan on doing so!), but I feel like I’ve devoured the art in it enough that it was a worthy purchase.

Oscar-Nominated Shorts Compilations
Every year, Charlie and I go to see two of the Oscar-Nominated Short Film compilations (the Live-Action and the Animated categories). These are pieces that chances are you’d never be able to see otherwise, unless you hit the film festival circuits. And while I don’t think there’s ever been a year that I was crazy about all the nominees, there’s always something to recommend about each one. This year I was especially taken by Death of a Shadow (a strange steampunk tale about a man who captures the shadows of people about to die all throughout time) and Asad (a Somali boy struggles to become a fisherman) among the live action pieces, and Adam and Dog (the story of the Garden of Eden through the eyes of the first dog) and Paperman (the start of a romantic relationship with the help of paper airplanes; you may have seen this before Wreck-It Ralph). But like I said, there’s something to recommend for all of them. 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I’m coming to this one a little late. I’d been hearing recommendations about it for ages (and first and foremost from Linda Holmes on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour), but I knew very little about it. That’s a good thing. I hate to do this, but it’s a book that the less you know about, the better; all I’ll say about the plot is that it’s about a woman who vanishes under mysterious circumstances. It’s a book that digs down deep and gets you at just the right moment, and it’s also a very fast read; I think I read it in two days. It’s not high art, and in a few places you’ll scratch your head and say, “Really? Really???” when it’s over. It doesn’t bear too much thinking about it afterward, to be honest. But it’s a classic example of the pageturner, and I’m glad I read it.

“Candy” by Robbie Williams
I know this song is a few months old (and I’ve talked about it on Facebook before, in fact), but every time I need to grin I just listen to it. Seriously, I defy you to not be happy after listening to “Candy.”

Great Friends Every February
Every year in February I head out to Los Angeles to attend the Gallifrey One convention, which is all about my all-time favorite television show Doctor Who. And yes, a lot of the attraction is the convention’s guests and programming; this was my 13th straight year of attending, after all. But just as much of an attraction is going to see all the friends that I’m reunited with every year because of Gallifrey One. There are too many to list—over the years I’ve met so many great people there—but let me just say that if none of my friends were going one year, I might stay home too. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of friends there every time I go. My friends? They’re the greatest. Just what the doctor ordered to perk up what could be a cold, grey month.

Gallifrey 2013

Movies and Books: 2012

Yet again, I got a little obsessive and tracked the number of books and movies I’ve consumed in the past year. Why? Well, if nothing else it’s an easy way to remember what I’ve seen when asked, “What was the best book/movie you’ve seen/read this year?” Also, it amuses me. This year showed a slight increase in all categories… And now, on to 2013!

Movies:

  1. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  2. The Artist
  3. Albert Nobbs
  4. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2012: Animated
  5. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2012: Live Action
  6. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  7. Bully
  8. Mirror, Mirror
  9. The Avengers
  10. Headhunters
  11. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  12. The Hunger Games
  13. Moonrise Kingdom
  14. Prometheus
  15. Safety Not Guaranteed
  16. Beauty is Embarrassing
  17. To Rome With Love
  18. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923 film)
  19. Brave
  20. Magic Mike
  21. The Amazing Spider-Man
  22. The Queen of Versailles
  23. The Dark Knight Rises
  24. The Imposter
  25. Cosmopolis
  26. Sleepwalk With Me
  27. The Master
  28. Argo
  29. Cloud Atlas
  30. Wreck-It Ralph
  31. Holy Motors
  32. Skyfall
  33. Hitchcock
  34. Travels With My Aunt
  35. Les Misérables

Books:

  1. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
  2. The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
  3. Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
  4. Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
  5. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  6. Lyra’s Oxford by Philip Pullman
  7. Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman
  8. Glasshouse by Charles Stross
  9. Embassytown by China Miéville
  10. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
  11. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  12. Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater by Frank Bruni
  13. After the Apocalypse: Stories by Maureen F. McHugh
  14. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
  15. Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner
  16. Bumbling into Body Hair: A Transsexual’s Memoir by Everett Maroon
  17. Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
  18. Moominpappa’s Memoirs by Tove Jansson
  19. American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michelle Obama
  20. God’s War by Kameron Hurley
  21. Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson
  22. Howards End by E.M. Forster
  23. The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia by Paul Theroux
  24. Who Is The Doctor: The Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who: The New Series by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?
  25. The Ninnies by Paul Magrs
  26. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  27. Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction edited by Brit Mandelo
  28. All About Emily by Connie Willis
  29. Hav by Jan Morris
  30. A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. James Patrick Kelly’s Strangeways #1
  2. Fantasy Magazine July 2011
  3. Fantasy Magazine August 2011
  4. Fantasy Magazine September 2011
  5. Fantasy Magazine October 2011
  6. Fantasy Magazine November 2011
  7. Fantasy Magazine December 2011
  8. Chelsea Station Issue 1
  9. Lightspeed Magazine July 2011
  10. Lightspeed Magazine August 2011
  11. Lightspeed Magazine September 2011
  12. Lightspeed Magazine October 2011
  13. Lucky Peach Issue 2
  14. Lightspeed Magazine November 2011
  15. Lightspeed Magazine December 2011
  16. Fireside Magazine Spring 2012
  17. Lightspeed Magazine January 2012
  18. Lightspeed Magazine February 2012

Continue reading Movies and Books: 2012

Five Things That Make Me Happy (part 15)

I tried a little experiment where for each week of the month I added an item to the list, with the fifth slot reserved for any particularly fantastic week. Bizarrely, several of entries for this month ended up involving travel in some way, but it’s strictly coincidence. Anyway, with that in mind…

Moonrise Kingdom
I enjoy Wes Anderson’s movies (which reminds me that I still need to finally see Bottlerocket and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou one of these days), so seeing Moonrise Kingdom was a given. Bill Murray’s and Jason Schwartzman’s presences were almost a given, but it was nice to see him working with a lot of new-to-Anderson actors; Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton were all great, but the kid actors stole the film over and over again. Just a charming film from start to finish, with an ever-increasing level of insanity as it progresses. By far my favorite film of 2012 to date. Also, for about two days I wanted to live on an island off the coast of Rhode Island. (Fortunately sanity reasserted itself quickly.)

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle
Guy Delisle’s travel graphic novels are fantastic; he’s a cartoonist who’s in the past written about taking trips for work to China (Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China) and North Korea (Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea), as well as—thanks to his wife’s job at Doctors Without Borders—living for a year in Burma (Burma Chronicles). Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City places Delisle and his family in East Jerusalem as his wife works in Gaza and Palestine. I love Delisle’s comedic tone mixed with moments of serious reflection, and Delisle does a nice job of making you feel you are there with him thanks to little details like trying to find playgrounds for the children, or going through security whenever he returns to the country after a business trip. There are a few moments that are head-scratchers (how did he not know what Yom Kippur was before moving to Jerusalem?) but on the whole I’m enjoying it a great deal. I’m reading just small chunks at a time to make it last longer; it’s been four years since Burma Chronicles so I want this experience to stretch out as much as possible.

Silverdocs 2012
It’s taken me 10 years, but this time I finally made it—briefly—to Silverdocs. Silverdocs is the AFI’s documentary film festival, held at the AFI Silver in Silver Spring, Maryland. Every time I’ve heard about it, I’ve wanted to go, and every time it comes and goes without my presence. This year with Silver Spring just around the corner, Charlie and I finally made it up to the festival at the end to catch a showing of Beauty is Embarrassing, which is about artist Wayne White. (You’re probably most familiar with him via his design on a lot of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse; in fact he even voiced several of the puppets, like Randy and Dirty Dog.) The documentary was fun (and I hadn’t made connections until seeing the film to some of the other people and projects he’d worked on, like the Smashing Pumpkins video Tonight, Tonight, or his collaborations with people like Gary Panter and Mimi Pond), although the Q&A afterwards was dreadful and we should have left as soon as it ended. But still, it was a blast to finally make a showing, and I am now determined next year to see a lot more. (I might even take a day or two off from work and go whole-hog and spend a day or two seeing the documentaries, workload willing.) It was a good time.

This American Life #467: Americans in China
Oh look! Another travel story. (Well, sort of.) This episode of This American Life (one of my favorite radio programs, although I primarily listen to it via the podcast) spotlights Americans living in China, with two main stories. The first story about a Chinese-American man who grew up in the United States to Chinese immigrant parents, then moved as an adult to China, was good… but it was the second story that really grabbed me. It was about Michael Meyer (no, not that one), a writer who lives in Manchuria in a tiny town called Wasteland. It was a fascinating story about living in a remote, rural community as an American, and I was entranced for its entire 17 minute portion. Meyer does a great job of dipping you into that culture and making you feel like you’re there, which is exactly what I want from my travel writing. It turns out it’s part of a book that will be published later this year titled In Manchuria: Life on a Rice Farm in China’s Northeast. I will absolutely be buying this book.

Potential Work Trip To Somewhere I’ve Never Been
No details yet, because I don’t want to jinx it (and because it could easily not happen in the blink of an eye) but if everything lines up just right, I get to go on a work trip at the end of August to a country and continent I’ve never visited before. Fingers crossed!

Books and Movies: 2011

Once again, I went and tracked how many movies, books, and graphic novels I saw/read over the course of the year. Last year’s tally had me at at 31 movies, 21 books, 1 fiction magazine, and 124 graphic novels. This year? 31 movies, 24 books, 13 fiction magazines, and 110 graphic novels. Two increases, one decrease, and one exactly the same. Not bad overall… And now, let the counting start all over again!

Movies:

  1. True Grit
  2. Rabbit Hole
  3. Another Year
  4. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2011: Live Action
  5. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2011: Animated
  6. The Illusionist
  7. All About Eve
  8. Cedar Rapids
  9. Source Code
  10. Scream 4
  11. POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
  12. Bridesmaids
  13. Potiche
  14. Meek’s Cutoff
  15. Midnight in Paris
  16. Super 8
  17. X-Men: First Class
  18. The Future
  19. The Prestige
  20. The Help
  21. Griff the Invisible
  22. The Debt
  23. Weekend
  24. The Skin I Live In
  25. Martha Marcy May Marlene
  26. Le Gamin au Velo
  27. The Deep Blue Sea
  28. The Descendants
  29. Shame
  30. Hugo
  31. Young Adult

Books:

  1. Voodoo Heart by Scott Snyder
  2. The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan
  3. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
  4. Last Summer by Michael Thomas Ford
  5. Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson
  6. Shopgirl by Steve Martin
  7. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa
  8. This Is NPR: The First Forty Years by NPR
  9. The Diary of a Dr Who Addict by Paul Magrs
  10. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
  11. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
  12. Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia by Samuel R. Delany
  13. The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee
  14. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  15. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
  16. Twinkle Twinkle by Kaori Ekuni
  17. D.C. Noir edited by George Pelecanos
  18. Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More by Ashley English
  19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  20. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee
  21. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
  22. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  23. Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy edited by Ellen Datlow
  24. Bob the Book by David Pratt

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #23
  2. Lightspeed Magazine, January 2011
  3. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #24
  4. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #26
  5. Lightspeed Magazine, February 2011
  6. Fantasy Magazine, March 2011
  7. Fantasy Magazine, April 2011
  8. Lightspeed Magazine, March 2011
  9. Lightspeed Magazine, April 2011
  10. Fantasy Magazine, May 2011
  11. Lightspeed Magazine, May 2011
  12. Fantasy Magazine, June 2011
  13. Lightspeed Magazine, June 2011

Continue reading Books and Movies: 2011

2011 Oscar Live Action and Animated Shorts

Charlie and I got to see all of the Live Action and Animated Shorts over the weekend (we just couldn’t squeeze in a showing of the documentary short subjects too, alas) thanks to Landmark’s E Street Theatre in DC. Have to say, there are no duds in either category, just ones not up to the strength of its fellows. So good pickings overall. I definitely want to make seeing all of the nominees a tradition.

ANIMATED SHORT:

Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage — The one that, were I a voter, I’d cast my ballot for. Someone’s sketch-journal coming to life and illustrating a trip to Madagascar, which switches styles effortlessly and looks amazing. I was almost disappointed they showed this one first because nothing else could live up to it. (It also helps that I am a big fan of travel writing.)

The Lost Thing — Based on Shaun Tan’s children’s book of the same name, it’s got the strongest “message” and the inventiveness of Tan’s illustrations is just amazing. Beautiful, beautiful work.

Day & Night — The one everyone’s seen thanks to it being at the front of Toy Story 3. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really good, one of Pixar’s best short animated features to date. The only reason why it’s not at the top has to do with the strength of the first two (especially Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage). If Day & Night wins, it’s not for a lack of talent and skill involved. I’ll still be pleased if any of these first three win, honestly.

Let’s Pollute! — A fun parody of informational films from earlier days with a strong, in-your-face environmental message. I suspect that’s going to actively turn some people off though (there’s no subtlety at all involved).

The Gruffalo — My least favorite, it’s not bad but it’s a very literal adaptation of a children’s book, and it overstays its welcome at 29 minutes. The repetition of events and phrases that works well in reading a kid’s book gets tiring in this adaptation. It’s nicely animated and the actors they got for the voices are all strong, but toward the end I began actively wishing it was over.

LIVE-ACTION SHORT:

The Confession — Once again, the best one was the first one aired. Great child actors, emotionally brutal, and even though you see some parts totally coming a mile away it still grabs you and squeezes hard. Really happy this one was nominated.

God of Love — This one was, however, the most enjoyable one to watch. Loved the entire cast, the sensibility, the music, everything about it. It’s very light and fluffy unlike The Confession, and this is one I’d want to watch again. Just great, and I want to see more from this filmmaker.

Wish 143 — It’s good (and it’s got the best basic concept, with a teenager with cancer getting a facsimile of the Make-a-Wish foundation asking what he wants, and he says to lose his virginity), and it earned its nomination, but… this is a short film that felt like it was trying to cram an entire movie into its shorter length. Emotionally it’s all over the place. I’d actually quite like to see this one remade into a full-length film; it’s got more than enough material to do so. (Added bonus: Margaret Slitheen appearance!)

Na Wewe — Is it wrong to say that this short film needed a minute or two trimmed off of it? I can see why it got nominated, because it’s an extremely tense story set during the Hutu/Tutsi conflicts in Burundi. But the cycle goes one too many times, I think, and part of the resolution ultimately relies on an extremely lame pun. This is one that I liked less the more I thought about it, and while it still ended up in 4th place in my book, the amount in which it was in fourth place slid down a great deal.

The Crush — It’s not a bad idea, but the child actor who plays the lead is really poor. As the entire short film hangs on him (he’s in all but maybe two scenes?) he drags this one to the bottom. The other aspects (the writing, the directing) are good, and when it was all said and done I had a smile on my face, but I think this film is lucky that everything else was strong because that kid needed to be recast and badly.

My Favorite Movie Trailer

First, I love movie trailers. Good, bad, doesn’t matter. I love seeing the glimpses of films (or in the case of the infamous Days of Thunder trailer, the entire film) and the pieces that the filmmaker and/or the studio have decided to share with us. Often the trailer is the best thing about the film.

But my favorite trailer in recent days? It’s got to be the one for the Coen Brothers film A Serious Man. You not only get a vague idea about the film’s plot, but more importantly, they’ve turned the way they edited those shots into a film in its own right. When this trailer came out I must have watched it 30, 40, maybe 50 times. Seriously, it’s fantastic how it all builds.

Now if you don’t mind, I need to watch it again.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FYtprwg1As

Books and Movies: 2010

Once again, I went and tracked how many movies, books, and graphic novels I saw/read over the course of the year. Last year’s tally had me at at 20 movies, 20 books, and 123 graphic novels. This year? 31 movies, 21 books, and 124 graphic novels. The “just one higher” for the last two categories was a happy accident, really…

Movies:

  1. Avatar
  2. Invictus
  3. Alice in Wonderland
  4. Greenberg
  5. How to Train Your Dragon
  6. Iron Man 2
  7. Please Give
  8. The City of Your Final Destination
  9. Micmacs
  10. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
  11. Winter’s Bone
  12. Toy Story 3
  13. Despicable Me
  14. Inception
  15. The Kids Are All Right
  16. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  17. Salt
  18. Christmas in Connecticut
  19. A Letter to Three Wives
  20. Easy A
  21. Heartbreaker
  22. Never Let Me Go
  23. Waiting For “Superman”
  24. The Social Network
  25. Red
  26. Fair Game
  27. Certified Copy
  28. Tangled
  29. Black Swan
  30. The King’s Speech
  31. Somewhere

Books:

  1. Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
  2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  3. Hapworth 16, 1924 by J.D. Salinger
  4. Aye, and Gomorrah: And Other Stories by Samuel R. Delany
  5. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
  6. Blackout by Connie Willis
  7. Ash by Malinda Lo
  8. Twelve Stories by Paul Magrs
  9. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
  10. The City & The City by China Miéville
  11. Stealing Fire by Jo Graham
  12. Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison
  13. Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney’s Humor Category ed. by Dave Eggers
  14. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
  15. Second Line by Poppy Z. Brite
  16. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa
  17. The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff
  18. Soulless by Gail Carriger
  19. Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson
  20. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  21. All Clear by Connie Willis

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #25

Continue reading Books and Movies: 2010

Drive-By Blog Update

Been awfully busy lately, and that means the blog is the first thing to not get updated. I then tell myself, “I’ll have to update my website with all of the interesting things I’ve been doing.” Except, of course, it’s not terribly interesting, really. But a few things of note as of late…

Worst Open House Ever?

Probably not. But Charlie and I did look at some open houses over the weekend (not that we’re buying in the near future, but to get an idea of right now what is available in our suspected price range) and there was one house that stood out in particular for being unwelcoming. First, when we got there, the front door was locked. As we were standing right next to the front window (with the realtor slumped on a couch), he saw us trying to open the door and hopped up and opened the door. “I don’t know how that happened,” he said. Because of course the door locked its own deadbolt.

But then, we stepped in and were greeted with an overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke. As we gasped for air, then realtor dealt the final blow. “When I got here for the open house I found out that one of the contractors working on the house is not feeling well and he’s lying down in the master bedroom, so I’m going to have to ask that you not go in there.”

“We’ll just come back,” Charlie said, as he and I scrambled towards the door. Which of course, meant, never. Talk about three strikes and you’re out…

Small Press Expo 2010 A Success

This year’s Small Press Expo (a show I first attended in 1995, first volunteered for in 1997, and have helped run in some capacity since 1998) was a huge success, hurrah! It was also my last year as the grand poobah of the Ignatz Awards, so having that off my shoulders (more or less) was also a big relief. I finished up my wine sketchbook, which I started back in 2001. I am determined to buckle down and scan the rest and start posting those sketches here… soon… honest.

Autumn = Soup Weather

I love making soup in colder weather, both on the stove and in my crock pot. I also finally decided to give Soupergirl a try, a local chef who sells her homemade soups that you order in advance. I’m going to keep making my own soup, of course, but I’m dying to see how hers taste too. Especially since hers is a zucchini pear soup, something that sounds strange at first and then intriguing, and more importantly I’d never have thought to try it on my own.

Upcoming Documentary I Can’t Wait To See

Waiting for “Superman” is opening this weekend in the DC area, David Guggenheim’s new documentary on the public school system in the United States and its decline over recent years. Part of the focus is on the DC school system and DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, and I’m looking forward to seeing it for myself. For the record, while I don’t think she was perfect (and made some mistakes along the way), I do think that Rhee was one of the best things to happen to DC public schools in the past few years.

A Month Later

I’m bad, sometimes, about updating my blog. (Ok, most of the time, these days.) But I am alive, honest. But since the last update over here… let’s see…

The Columbia Triathlon went well (full report here), despite some horrific thunderstorms the night before that had me on about three hours sleep, and rain that only stopped right before I got into the water, resulting in slick roads. The hills were much harder than I’d imagined, and I did better on the cycling and worse on the running than I’d thought. (Swimming I came in a matter of seconds after my projected finish time.)

I’d signed up for the DC Triathlon as well, which was today, but I ended up not running it. I thought it would be fun; a much flatter course, going through places I knew, and a promise of some great crowd support. But soon after Columbia, I came down with… well, that’s still up in the air to be honest. I wish I knew. All I know for certain was it meant I was feeling run down and tired for about three weeks. We’re not talking about, “I could use a nap” but rather “I feel like I’m going to collapse.” I tried to run one day and actually felt light-headed and dizzy. Maybe some sort of cold bug? (It never did give me other classic cold symptoms, though.) A strange lack of iron? Too much Super Mario Galaxy 2? Whatever it was, though, it killed the DC Tri for me. I had little running, one spinning class (and no actual cycling), and until two days ago no swimming under my belt, post-Columbia. Add in a high of 95 degrees today and it just seemed like the stupidest thing possible. I’m regretting not being able to run the race, but am also convinced and glad that I made the right decision to cancel my plans.

I’m also at this point unsure on if running the Toronto Half Marathon will actually happen or not. I might have to find a local race to tackle instead, which is going to mean doing some research in the next month or two to figure out what’s even an option. I know the Baltimore Half Marathon exists, if you don’t mind hills. But surely there are some other choices available. We’ll see.

On the bright side, it did mean that last night instead of going to bed at 8pm, I instead went to the movies with Charlie and we saw Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Joan Rivers is one of those women who until about five years ago I really knew nothing about. Sure, I knew she was a comedian, I knew she hosted red carpet events, but that was about it. But as I’d started to learn a bit about her stand-up and her general trailblazing nature, I’ve found her to be much more than the joke she was usually written off as by the public. Well, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work shows all that and more. She’s one of those people who just can’t stop working; it’s actually a little exhausting at times to watch her schedule unfold! The documentary is also rather sad in places, much more than I’d have expected. Really good, try and catch it if you can.

Then again, the last few movies I’ve seen have all been excellent. The City of Your Final Destination (a Merchant Ivory film that’s been done for a while but is just now getting released in the States) was absorbing, and Micmacs (the new Jean-Pierre Jeunet film) was sweet and funny and unpredictable. Still dying to see Toy Story 3, soon. Finally, good movies!

Other than that, a boring life. Which is better than a drama-filled life, right?