Saturday, January 31, 2009

2009 Audiobook Challenge

This is my reporting spot for the 2009 Audiobook Challenge - I recently started listening to audiobooks and so was very excited to find this challenge! The rules are pretty simple - just listen to 12 audiobooks over the course of the year. I spend a LOT of time driving children to and from activities and driving for work so this challenge should be one I can actually complete! Click on the title to go to the review.

1. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

2. Burning Bright by Tracey Chevalier

3. Night by Elie Wiesel

4. Beyond the White House by Jimmy Carter

5. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

6. The Beach House by James Patterson

7. 4th of July by James Patterson

8. The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

9. This Rock by Robert Morgan

10. The Power of Simple Prayer by Joyce Meyer

11. Lifeguard by James Patterson

12. Undead and Unreturnable by MaryJanice Davidson

These are some extras...
13. When Madeline Was Young by Jane Hamilton

14. The First Family by David Baldacci

15. Long Lost by Harlan Coben

16. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

17. The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

18. The Unquiet by John Connolly

19. Got the Look by James Grippando

20. Memory in Death by JD Robb

21. Open House by Elizabeth Berg

22. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

23. White Oleander by Janet Fitch

24. Gone for Good by Harlan Coben

25. A Fine Dark Line by Joe Lansdale

26. King of Torts by John Grisham

27. Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass

28. The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

29. Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg

Binging and Purging

I have been on a baking binge recently. In the past week or so I've made a three layer lemon cake, two pans of brownies, and a large batch of chocolate chip cookies. I've also done a few loaves of bread in the bread machine and a dozen blueberry muffins. All this baking is because I am trying to purge enough stuff from my pantry that I can actually see what is in the pantry. This is my road to hell right here - my good intentions as I need to buy the Otis Spunkmeyer muffins in all that excessive wrapping (even the ungreen me knows that is not good for our planet!), I'll just whip up a batch. I can walk by the bakery with it's pre-made cakes for sale, I'll make my own. Chips Ahoy?! No way - I can make chocolate chip cookies. (They don't compare to my mothers but that's another blog post)

The pantry is starting to look a little better except that now it would seem that I need to go on a pasta binge as I must have two boxes of every kind of noodle that Mueller's manufactures. But I (me, myself!)am looking a little worse. Just a pound so far but it's a pound in the wrong direction! I want the scale to move down - not up! When it comes to eating, I'm all for the binging, but not at all interested in the purging. I'd rather just let it settle and then binge again.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What if Sybil were on Facebook?

I don’t have quite 16 or whatever large number personalities Sybil had but the various versions of me that have occurred from high school through adulthood have all converged on Facebook and it is somewhat unnerving. I wrote before about how the transition to high school was hard for me so I fell in with a "bad crowd" well I didn’t stay with the bad crowd my whole high school experience. I was on the college track which a lot of my smoking buddies were not, so eventually my peer group shifted to the smart but risky crowd.  (The smoking automatically eliminated me from the smart and sweet crowd before I even had a chance to petition for entry.)  There was smoking and a little pot and a little hash, a LOT of beer and occasionally things like golden grain and orange juice and gin and tonics and before you know it - high school is kind of a druggy drunken slutty blur. And that girl is having fun reconnecting with old friends on Facebook!

Then off to college to try for a fresh start. I used a nickname, joined a sorority (actually two - one social, one service), did the "right things" for awhile. But some of my old bad habits came back to haunt me and pretty soon college became a tipsy whirlwind - no drug use - that was out of my system - but plenty of opportunities to drink and I continued to smoke. I had several serial boyfriends. So that girl, with that nickname, she's on Facebook too.

The post-college years when I met ex-Marine and started my family have had the big twist. I converted to Catholicism. At some point along the way, I reined in the drinking to the point where I am now a "one glass of wine" girl (most of the time). I became a Catholic school teacher, then a government worker, a school board member, a PTO volunteer. In other words - the Church lady - a pillar of respectability and responsibility. And she's on Facebook too. And, BTW, so is her daughter.

And, finally there's the private me. The one that reads voraciously, that blogs, and enters writing contests. The woman that has an online community of friends to which my nerdy self is fully revealed - but not any of the other parts of me - up to this point, no real names, no real pictures. But, of course, she's on Facebook too, so that wall of anonymity is slipping.

When I open up my Facebook wall, it is a complete crapshoot over whether the postings will refer to Rocky Horror Picture Show or Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body. I get invited to join the cause that opposes gay marriage and the one that promotes it. I've been sent flair for both Obama and McCain. There are pictures of christenings and weddings and school performances. And then there are rock concerts and parties and a logo for a monster truck that says "My other ride is your mother." I guess I'm going to trust that God allows me to love all these people and I'll hope that he will allow them to love me back - all of me -even the parts they didn’t know about before.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

God or my personal good luck charm?

I am a Catholic now but I was raised Lutheran. When I attended the classes for conversion known as RCIA, the presiding priest told me that Lutherans were "Catholic Lite" and that my transition would not be difficult. For the most part that has been true. I say this because I am going to start my post with "my Protestant friend" so I feel the rules of full disclosure would let you know that I once was a Protestant but not any kind of evangelical, talk in tongues, handle snakes kind - just Lutheran, "Catholic Lite". So my encounters with this Protestant friend have their own flavor - they truly do not resemble what I experienced growing up in the Lutheran church. Although to quell your imagination, I have to add that she doesn't handle snakes or talk in tongues either. 
My Protestant friend is always telling me that I am "blessed". I get a good parking spot, I come into a little money right as the big bill comes due, I find just the dress I need in the first store I go to...all blessed events. Whatever good fortune comes my way, she responds with "You are just so blessed." or "You are the most blessed person I know." And she means it in absolutely the kindest way but it really just feels wrong. But at the same time, it is rubbing off on me a bit. I suppose it was inevitable, we've been working together every day for over three years now. The things that I just see as happenstance - like happening upon the good parking spot as I come to work, used to be just that - coincidence, chance, serendipity. But now, I find myself saying, "Thank you, Lord!" for these little things. And, I am somewhat conflicted about it. If I were to take her view that all these little items were truly blessings from the Lord, it seems like I am being favored and I have done nothing to incur any special favors. And, if I was then to not get the good parking spot, which happens 90% of the time (or more!) am I then being punished?
"You are so blessed." My Lutheran mother has said something similar to me in the past. What she said was, "You seem to lead a charmed life." She was noting that often times, in my life, everything works out in the end. I don't want to take any credit away from God, but sometimes, it really has little to do with things actually working out in the end because I am blessed or not blessed, charmed or not charmed. Many times, things work out in the end for me because I choose to be happy with something different or with something less or, perhaps, even with nothing at all. It works out because I let it work out.
When I was heading off to the University of Georgia, I was excited about the prospect of sorortty rush. I had been up to the campus the previous Spring to a sorority dance at the Pi Beta Phi house, an invitation sent at the request of a dear friend's mother who was a Pi Beta Phi alumuna. I knew I would sail through rush and pledge "Pi Phi", I knew that I had had a wondeful time at the dance and felt like I fit right in. I assumed that the feeling was mutual. It wasn't. After the second round of parties, when I receievd my list of invitations to the third round parties, Pi Beta Phi was not on it. I had been "cut" and it was a shock, a devastating shock; I hid in my dorm room crying my eyes out. But then I looked at the list again and at the invitations that I had recieved. I dried my tears, reapplied my make up and headed out to the next round of parties. I ended up pledging with a great group of women to Alpha Gamma Delta fraternity. I spent four years there, making friends, living together in the sorority house, holding an office, - being happy. I chose to be happy even though what I had first thought I wanted didn't materialize. Amd I am grateful to the Lord when I am happy, I know that his hand is in there allowing me to experience joy in my day to day life. But I just don't know that His hand is in there to the extent that my Protestant friend believes. I don't believe that I found the perfect dress because I was blessed but rather, I found the perfect dress because my defintion of perfect was very broad.
So.. I'm not blessed any more or less than you are blessed, I just have lower standards. Thank you, Lord, for the blessings that you send out to all your people day in and day out. Let us take the moment to notice each one and be grateful. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Another collection of essays from David Sedaris....loved it! I liked part one, the essays about his family, a little bit more than part two "deux" , the essays about his time spent in France. David's learning the language/fish out of water stories are solidly funny but I still like the family better. He has such a way of capturing them. He doesn't spend a lot of time on physical decsriptions of them; I don't have any kind of mental image to try to find them in a photo but their voices are loud and clear. I think if I was out in the world and heard one of them speak that I would know instantly who it was because he has painted them so vividly.

This book is my "M" for the A-Z Reading Challenge! Click on the logo to see my progress.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lowcountry by Anne Rivers Siddons

From the publisher's website: Caroline Venable has everything her Southern heritage promised: money, prestige, a powerful husband—and a predictable routine of country-club luncheons, cocktail parties, and dinners hosting her husband's wealthy friends, clients, and associates in his successful land-developing conglomerate.

To escape her stifling routine, Caro drinks a little too much. But her true solace is the Lowcountry island her beloved Granddaddy left her—an oasis of breathtaking beauty that is home to a band of wild ponies. When Caro learns that her husband must develop the island or lose the business, she is devastated. The Lowcountry is her heritage—and what will happen to the ponies whose spirit and freedom have captivated her since childhood?

Saving the island could cost Caroline more than she ever imagined. To succeed, she must confront the part of herself numbed by alcohol and careful avoidance—and shatter long-held ideals about her role in society, her marriage, and ultimately, herself.

Anne Rivers Siddons signature is her ability to capture a setting. I can say with authority that she captured the Lowcountry because this is my home and I felt right at home in her descriptions. She must do great research or, perhaps, she travels and immerses herself in the location she wants to feature next - the answer to that is probably out there on the Net but I am too lazy to go Google it right now! Laying around reading a book about the marshes and islands of South Carolina will do that to you - you just want to give everything up and go lay in a hammock!

I liked the story line of the book even though I could see most of the plot twists coming far in advance. There was just enough question left for me to make it satisfying to get to the end and have it all sorted out. The tale reflects some of the story of a real island here, Dafuskie Island, which some folks may remember Pat Conroy made famous in his tale The Water is Wide which was later made into a movie called Conrack. There are still Gullah people on the sea island and now, there is increasing interest in and plans to collect their history and preserve their culture. It is not the "Gullah Disney Land" that Caro feared in this story but is instead respected ventures like the Penn Center on St. Helena Island.

Back to the book...what I didn't like. I didn't like the character of Luis Mansells. He was the Hispanic gardener/hero and was straight out of a Harlequin romance. He comes on all chauvinistic and gruff but the women fall for him anyway and he ends up being Prince Charming. Yuck.

The conflict between development and preservation is played out here daily. The book is over ten years old but the tug of war is still going strong and the book still feels timely.

This book is my "L" for the A-Z Reading Challenge!Click on the logo to see my progress.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Finish Line

There's a line I love in David Sedaris' book When You Are Engulfed in Flames, it is a non-English speaker trying to describe that someone has quit smoking and he says, "He is finished with the cigarettes." Sedaris notes, and I agree, that it sounds like the person was allotted a certain number of cigarettes and he had smoked them all; he was finished with the cigarettes. That sums up how I felt on the day I had the last cigarette. I was finished. If I close my eyes and allow my body to relax, I can transport myself back to that moment.

I head out the side door to the utility porch of the rambling two story clapboard house. I'm dressed in a flowing denim dress with tights and long johns underneath, a turtleneck and sweater over the top, and my heavy lace up boots. At that point the girl who never wore jeans hadn’t yet succumbed to what would be become my uniform during the Maine winters - L.L. Bean flannel lined jeans. I reach for the window ledge and feel for the pack and lighter hidden there. I stand facing out to the landscape surveying the snow and ice as I go through the familiar ritual. Tamping down the pack, finally, hitting it just right to make a single cigarette shoot out into the waiting opposing hand. Bringing it to my lips and lighting it with that first heavy drag. My warm breath is already making visible puffs as I exhale and that combines with the tendrils of cigarette smoke to obscure the scene in front of me. I savor every drag of the last cigarette.

The first cigarette came years earlier at an age much too young. The summer I was preparing to turn 13, my family moved due to a transfer in my father's work. I left seventh grade at middle school expecting to go to another middle school for the all important "top of the hill" eighth grade year. But this particular town didn’t have middle schools. Here kids went to elementary school from kindergarten through seventh grade and then high school for eighth through twelfth grade. So the first day of school found me streaming into the building with an assortment of unknown and some much older students. I was a sub-freshman - the lowest form of life at the high school. All the kids from Hightower Elementary assume that I had gone to Kingslee Elementary, and the students from Kingslee thought I must be from Shallowford Elementary, and those kids from Shallowford were sure I was from Chestnut Elementary. So no one felt the need to befriend me because surely I had friends from my old elementary school. The teachers were no better, they were facing a sea of new faces all converging from the four elementary schools and everyone was new and they didn’t know their names much less their history or whether they had a need for matchmaking.

For a new student with no one to talk to the longest six minute of every hour are the change of classes. When the bell rings and you are dismissed from the safe structure of your assigned seat and the classroom's prescribed expectations, you are thrust out into the hall where everyone seems to be busy with their friends. The couples are pressing each other up against lockers for a mini make out session, the single girls are in groups at their lockers looking into mirrors, talking to each other and applying lip gloss, the jock guys are horsing around pushing and shoving in that fraternity of physical familiarity. I escaped from the halls by heading into the bathroom, pretending to go, dilly dallying as I washed hands to use up the endless minutes. And as the day passed, I ventured further and further back into the bathroom until I was at the very back of the bathroom where the other misfits hung out. The smoking girls were huddled in the last stall puffing on their cigarettes. To join this clique, all that was required was a quick lie, "I left my cigarettes at home, can I bum off you today? I'll pay you back." And I was in.

I smoked through high school and through college and through the first years of teaching as a young single woman, and through my engagement. But it was during the engagement that the fiancée, who also smoked, suggested that we quit. We would quit together before the wedding and start out married as non-smokers. I agreed and we managed it. We did not smoke through the first move, the pregnancy and birth of our baby, nor through the second move. Then when the baby turned one year old, I decided it was time to return to work. The work place I chose happened to be populated with many smokers. My boss smoked, and her boss smoked, and her boss smoked too. As the new girl, with little to do, I became everyone's favorite chum to ask outside to keep them company for their cigarette break. At first it was just that, sit with them, talk, get incredible inside scoop on office politics. Then it happened, I caved and had one, and another, and another, and before you know it I was smoking again full time.

This time smoking had a new aspect. It took me away from my family. Husband didn’t smoke. I certainly didn’t want to smoke in front of the baby. So it became a complication to find the chance to have the next cigarette. Baby fell asleep in the car seat? Pull over and stand on the side of the road and have a smoke. Husband busy on the computer? Take out the trash and while you're outside, have a smoke. Eventually, there was no need of the trash taking ruse, I just left the two of them inside to read books, play with Little People, or watch the Disney movie, and I went outside to sit in my chair and smoke. It went on like that for two maybe three years until it was time for the next move.

But the next move brought a surprise, I was pregnant with baby number two. And so I stood out on the porch the morning of the positive test looking at the blue plus sign on the pregnancy test, with the phone handset beside me, knowing it was time to call husband and tell him the news. But first, I had to have that cigarette. I was one cigarette away from the finish line. I was about to be "finished with the cigarettes" but first I needed to have those last few seconds of just being me. I stood still in the cold, surveying the snow and ice covered landscape, slowly smoking the last cigarette before I squashed that butt, made that phone call, crossed that finish line and became a non-smoker, an expectant mother - finished with the cigarettes.

This post was written for the monthly Write-Away contest hosted at Scribbit. This month's topic is The Finish Line. Head over..there's still time for you to enter too! And, just for the record, haven't had a cigarette since - baby number two is now twelve years old!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Eden Close by Anita Shreve

From the back cover: Andrew, after many years away, returns to his hometown to attend his mother's funeral. Planning to remain only a few days, he is drawn into the tragic legacy of his childhood friend and beautiful girl next door, Eden Close. An adopted child, Eden had learned to avoid the mother who did not want her and to please the father who did. She also aimed to please Andrew and his friends, first by being one of the boys and later by seducing them. Then one hot night, Andrew was awakened by gunshots and piercing screams from the next farm: Mr. Close had been killed and Eden blinded. Now, seventeen years later, Andrew begins to uncover the grisly story - to unravel the layers of thwarted love between the husband, wife, and tormented girl. And, as truth about Eden's past comes to light, so too does Andrew's strange and binding attachment to her reveal itself.

Now this was a good Anita Shreve book! You would think with a TBR pile that is more mountain than pile, that I would not dare to read "off list". But Anita Shreve calls out to me. I was not enamoured of Weight of Water, a little bit meh about The Last Time They Met, and Wedding in December was just OK. But I held onto the great pleasure I got from The Pilot's Wife and from Sea Glass and just knew she had a voice that I loved. Well, this is right back to what I like about her. There are stunning revelations - none of which I will reveal here - although I will say that I nailed one fairly early on - yeah me. I love the story switching back and forth from present day to Andrew's memory with the memories revealing details that then color the interactions Andrew has with the people he sees every day while he goes about the work after the funeral of settling his mother's estate. I tend to be a linear writer - if I tell a story it is from point A to point B and point C without deviation. I think Anita's Shreve's writing in that regard is artful. I'm so glad I deviated from my TBR list... this was a treat.

This book is my "E" for the A-Z Reading Challenge!Click on the logo to see my progress.

Friday, January 9, 2009

When You Are in Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

From the publisher's website: "David Sedaris's ability to transform the mortification of everyday life into wildly entertaining art," (The Christian Science Monitor) is elevated to wilder and more entertaining heights than ever in this remarkable new book.
Trying to make coffee when the water is shut off, David considers using the water in a vase of flowers and his chain of associations takes him from the French countryside to a hilariously uncomfortable memory of buying drugs in a mobile home in rural North Carolina. In essay after essay, Sedaris proceeds from bizarre conundrums of daily life-having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane or armoring the windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds-to the most deeply resonant human truths. Culminating in a brilliant account of his venture to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, David Sedaris's sixth essay collection is a new masterpiece of comic writing from "a writer worth treasuring" (Seattle Times).

I'm going to try really hard not to gush but I am IN LOVE with this man -so bad for me that he is both taken and gay. I listened to this book on CD so it was an extra treat to hear his anecdotes told in his voice with his great timing and intonation. He is just so funny. I listened in the car, and laughed and laughed so hard, I am certain other drivers must have thought I was nuts. Now I find myself replaying scenes from the book in my head, sometimes at the most inappropriate times...lying by my husband as we are about to drift off to sleep, laying in corpse pose during yoga class, while the priest is giving his homily...all times where my chest suddenly starting to heave in a fit of giggles is not good.

For those of you who have read it, I'll just put a few nuggets here about my favorite parts...Helen (of course!), dingos, guinea worms, Town and Country, Bangkok, and always Hugh. Go ahead - chuckle!

This book is my "W" for the A-Z Reading Challenge!Click on the logo to see my progress.

And it counts for the 2009 Audiobook Challenge too. Hooray for crossovers!

Twilight a book and a movie

In the course of a few days I read the book and went to see the movie. Brace yourself - the book was better. (Don't you just love saying that? It's best said with a harumphy sniff and a nose in the air.) It's definitely teen fiction so the longing looks and Bella's endless analyzing were a bit much to take. But in the end, the love story is H-O-T and even middle aged suburban housewives are enraptured of Edward. (That part makes my teenage daughter, Bookworm, feel physically ill.) Then finally the action begins and the vampire violence was captivating.

So what was up with the movie. Well, the good part would be that they did a nice job with the editing so that the story still made sense despite having to cut out so much. I had higher expectations for certain scenes - like when Edward exposes himself to her in the sunlight and he is supposed to be shimmering so radiantly that all the world would notice if he was out in the light in public. But in the movie he just kind of looked like he had thrown on some glitter dusting powder - not nearly as "oooh" as I had expected - more like an aging 80's pop star. And, of course, so much of the book takes place in Bella's head and you can't capture those internal conversations on screen. Not that I wasn't just a little bit sick of them by the end of the book! I guess the book had too much Bella deep thinking and the movie had too little - call me Goldilocks, I want it just right.

Overall both the book and the movie were great fun. I can see how they have inspired pages upon pages of flair on Facebook. Stephenie Meyer has a website - you can check it out here.

And the best Twilight humor is at Norman Mormon Husbands here and here.

This book is my "T" for the A-Z Reading Challenge!Click on the logo to see my progress.

This book is also the first in a series (like you didn't know that!) so it also counts for the First in a Series Challenge. Click this one to see how I am doing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Another Facebook "Meme"

SUPPOSEDLY if you've seen over 85 films, you have no life. Mark the ones you've seen. There are 240 films on this list. Copy this list, go to your own facebook account, paste this as a note. Then, put x's next to the films you've seen, add them up, change the header adding your number, and click post at the bottom. Have fun.

(x) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
() Pirates of the Caribbean
( ) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
() Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
() Starsky and Hutch
() Neverending Story
(x) Blazing Saddles
(X) Airplane

(x) The Princess Bride
() Anchorman
() Napoleon Dynamite
() Labyrinth
() Saw
() Saw II
() White Noise
() White Oleander
() Anger Management
() 50 First Dates
(x) The Princess Diaries
() The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Total so far: 7

(x) Scream
() Scream 2
() Scream 3
() Scary Movie
() Scary Movie 2
() Scary Movie 3
() Scary Movie 4
() American Pie
() American Pie 2
() American Wedding
() American Pie Band Camp
Total so far: 8

(x) Harry Potter 1
(x) Harry Potter 2
(x) Harry Potter 3
(x) Harry Potter 4
(x) Harry Potter 5
() Resident Evil 1
() Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
(x) Little Black Book
() The Village
(x) Lilo & Stitch
Total so far: 16

(x) Finding Nemo
() Finding Neverland
() Signs
(x) The Grinch
() Texas Chainsaw Massacre
() Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
() White Chicks
() Butterfly Effect
(x) 13 Going on 30
() I, Robot
() Robots
Total so far: 19

() Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
() Universal Soldier
(x) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
(x) Along Came Polly
() Deep Impact
() KingPin
() Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents
(x) Meet the Fockers
() Eight Crazy Nights
() Joe Dirt
Total so far:23

() A Cinderella Story
() The Terminal
( ) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
() Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
() Dumber & Dumberer
() Final Destination
() Final Destination 2
() Final Destination 3
() Halloween
() The Ring
() The Ring 2
() Surviving X-MAS
() Flubber
Total so far: 24

() Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
() Practical Magic
() Chicago
() Ghost Ship
() From Hell
() Hellboy
() Secret Window
() I Am Sam
() The Whole Nine Yards
() The Whole Ten Yards
Total so far: 24

( ) The Day After Tomorrow
() Child's Play
() Seed of Chucky
() Bride of Chucky
() Ten Things I Hate About You
() Just Married
() Gothika
() Nightmare on Elm Street
(x) Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
() Coach Carter
() The Grudge
() The Grudge 2
() The Mask
() Son Of The Mask
Total so far: 26

() Bad Boys
() Bad Boys 2
() Joy Ride
() Lucky Number Slevin
(x) Ocean's Eleven
() Ocean's Twelve
(x) Bourne Identity
(x) Bourne Supremacy
( ) Lone Star
() Bedazzled
() Predator I
() Predator II
() The Fog
(x) Ice Age
() Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
() Curious George
Total so far: 30

(x) Independence Day
() Cujo
() A Bronx Tale
() Darkness Falls
() Christine
(x) ET
() Children of the Corn
() My Boss's Daughter
(x) Maid in Manhattan
() War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
(x) Rush Hour 2
Total so far: 35

() Best Bet
(x) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
() She's All That
() Calendar Girls
(x) Sideways
() Mars Attacks
() Event Horizon
() Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
() Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
() The Terminator 2
() The Terminator 3
Total so far:40

() X-Men
() X-2
() X-3
(x) Spider-Man
(x) Spider-Man 2
() Sky High
()Jeepers Creepers
() Jeepers Creepers 2
() Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
(x) Freaky Friday
() Reign of Fire
() The Skulls
() Cruel Intentions
() Cruel Intentions 2
() The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
(x) Shrek 2
Total so far:46

() Swimfan
(x) Miracle on 34th street
() Old School
(x) The Notebook
() K-Pax
() Krippendorf's Tribe
() A Walk to Remember
(x) Ice Castles
() Boogeyman
() The 40-year-old Virgin
Total so far: 49

() Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
() Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
() Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
() Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Total so far: 51

() Baseketball
() Hostel
() Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 Corpses
() Devils Rejects
(x) Elf
() Highlander
() Mothman Prophecies
() American History X
() Three
Total so Far: 52

() The Jacket
() Kung Fu Hustle
() Shaolin Soccer
( ) Night Watch
(x) Monsters Inc.
(x) Titanic
(x) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
() Shaun Of the Dead
() Willard
Total so far: 55

() High Tension
() Club Dread
() Hulk
(x) Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
() Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
() 28 days later
() Orgazmo
() Phantasm
(x) Waterworld
Total so far: 58

(x) Kill Bill vol 1
() Kill Bill vol 2
() Mortal Kombat
() Wolf Creek
() Kingdom of Heaven
() the Hills Have Eyes
() I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
() The Last House on the Left
() Re-Animator
() Army of Darkness
Total so far:59

() Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
() Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
() Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
() Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
() Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
() Ewoks The Battle For Endor
Total so far: 61

(x) The Matrix
() The Matrix Reloaded
() The Matrix Revolutions
() Animatrix
() Evil Dead
() Evil Dead 2
() Team America: World Police
() Red Dragon
(x) Silence of the Lambs
() Hannibal
Total: 63

Harumph - only 63? This list is so lame. It's very heavy on the horror, sci-fi, violent end of the movie spectrum and pretty light on the romantic comedy end of the spectrum.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I followed a link on someone else's blog to find the story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button available to read online. As the original post so nicely put it, the movie was not based on the book because it was so vastly different. Instead she put it as the movie was "inspired" by the book.

I did this in the wrong order. I almost always read first and then watch later and then I get to say, "Oh, the book was so much better!" with a little bit of an attitude. But this time...the movie was better, way better! Reading the story was satisfying in that it assuaged my curiosity but it was so less interesting, less detailed, just plain less than the movie that it certainly wasn't satisfying in a pleasurable way. Kudos to whoever the screen writer was - that person has a great imagination. And perhaps, if I had read first, I might would say the same thing about F. Scott Fitzgerald. But I didn't.

So here is where I should wax on for just a minute about how Brad Pitt is handsome at every age and why, oh why, did he leave sweet Jennifer to marry that pouty lipped, tramp stamped fruitcake Angelina Jolie? Let's have a photo...


This book is my "C" for the A-Z Reading Challenge!Click on the logo to see my progress.

A-Z Reading Challenge

I've signed up for this challenge using ...Option B: Read titles A to Z. Commit to reading 26 books theoretically speaking.

Here's where I'll keep track of my progress.
A- Amethyst Dreams by Phyllis Whitney
B- Burning Bright by Tracey Chevalier
C- Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitgerald
D- Dry by Augusten Burroughs
E- Eden Close by Anita Shreve
F- Fourth of July by James Patterson
G- Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
H- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I- Isle of Palms by Dorothea Benton Frank
J- Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark
K- Kitchen Privileges by Mary Higgins Clark
L- Lowcountry by Anne Rivers Siddons
M- Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
N- New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
O- One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
P- The Power of Simple Prayer by Joyce Meyer
Q- The Quiet American by Graham Greene
R- Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
S- Soul Catcher by Michael White
T- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
U- Undead and Unreturnable by MaryJanice Davidson
V- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
W- When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
X- The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson
Y- The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
Z- Zapped by Carol Higgins Clark

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Why I Need to Quit My Job

Things have gotten a little out of hand with my TBR pile. I'm going to have to whittle this down. I've joined some reading challenges and some I am just going to have to pass on. I'll keep you posted!

A Green Desire by Myner, novel
A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen, reflection
A Son of the Circus by John Irving, novel
A Sudden Change of Heart by Brabara Taylor Bradford, novel
A Theory of Relativity by Jacquelin Mitchard, novel
A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons, novel
A Woman of Substanance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, novel
Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne, novel
Anyone But you by Jennifer Cruise, novel
Audacity of Hope, The by Barack Obama, non-fiction politics
**U.S. President's Reading Challenge
Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise, novel
Blood Orange by Druscilla Campbell, novel
Blue Bedspread, The by Jha, novel
Bluest eye, The by Toni Morison, novel
Boleyn Inheritance, The by Phillipa Gregory, historical fiction
Brethenm The by John Grisham, novel
Call No Man Father by William X. Kienzle, novel
Cat and Mouse by James Patterson, novel
China Card, The by James Erlichman, novel
Choke by Stuart Woods, novel
Cider House Rules by John Irving, novel
Color of Water, The by James McBride, memoir
Coming Attractions by Fannie Flagg, novel
Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher, novel
Day of Drums by Philip Shelby, novel
Dear Mem Fox by Mem Fox, memoir
Devil in the Junior League, The by Linda Francis Lee, novel
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee, novel
Doubel Take by Catherine Coulter, novel
Dry by Augustne Burroughs, memoir
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons, novel
End of Summer, The by Rosamunde Pilcher, novel
Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier, historical fiction
Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown,novel
Fried Eggs With Chopsticks by Polly Evans, travel
From Beginning to End by Robert fulghum, essays
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan, novel
Greatest Generation, The by Tom Brokaw, non-fiction history
Hanna's Daughters by Marianne Frederikson, novel
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman, novel
History of God by Armstrong, non-fiction religion
Hours, The by Michael Cunningham, novel
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubuis III, novel
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubis, novel
In the Shadow of the Crown: The Story of Mary Tudor by Jean Plaidy, historical fiction
Jack and Jill by James Patterson, novel
Jane Austen Book Club by Fowler, novel
John Adams by David Mccullough, historical fiction
**U.S. President's Reading Project
Johnny Tremain by Esther forbes, kids lit
Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado, non-fiction religion
Killshot by Elmore Leonard, novel
Kiss the Girls by James Patterson, novel
Kitchen Priveleges by Mary Higgins Clark, memoir
Lords of Discipline, The by Pat Conroy, novel
Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living by Martin Clark, novel
Mary, Mary by James Patterson, novel
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, essays
Mexico by James Michener, novel
Midwives by Chris Bohijalian, novel
My Losing Season by Pat Conroy, memoir
New Testament, The by John Grisham, novel
Other Boleyn Girl, The by Philippa Gregory, historical fiction
Partner, The by John Grisham, novel
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, historical fiction
Praying For My Life by Marion Bond West, memoir
Rainmaker, The by John Grisham, novel
Ralph's Party by Lisa Jewell, novel
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, memoir
Red Tent, The by Anita Diamant, novel
Run With the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams, novel
Running With the Devil by Steve Kissing, memoir
S. by John Updike, novel
Shiloh, Shiloh Season, Saving Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, kids lit
Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen, novel
Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris, novel
Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, The by Anne Fadiman, non-fiction culture
Starting Out in the Evening by Brian Morton, novel
Stone Diaries, The by Carol Shields, novel
Sunday Wife, The by Cassandra King, novel
Surrender the Pink by Carrie Fisher, novel
Thinking Out Loud by Anna Quindlen, essays
Thirteenth Tale, The by Diane Setterfield, novel
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, novel
Thorn Birds, The by Colleen McCullough, novel
Thy Brother's Wife by Andrew Greeeley, novel
Tipping Point, The by Macolm Gladwell, non-fiction business
'Tis by Frank McCourt, memoir
Twelth Card, The by Jeffreu Deaver, novel
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, novel
Under the Tuscan Sun by Francis Mayer, novel
Unnatural Exposure by Patricia Cornwall, novel
Watership Down by Richard Adams, novel
We Wish to Let You Know That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch, non-fiction history
What Is Mine by Anne Holt, novel
When All the World Was Young by Ferrol Sams, novel
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris, essays
Where or When by Anita Shreve, novel
Where You Belong by Barbara Taylor Bradford, novel
While I Was Gone by Sue Miller, novel
Whisperer of the River by Ferrol Sams, novel
Winter People, The by Phyllis Whitnet, novel
World Is Flat, The by Friedman, non-fiction politics
Year of Dreams by Gloria Goldreid, novel
Year of Pleasure by Elizabeth Berg, novel

Friday, January 2, 2009

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

From the publisher's website: "I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current."

So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives.

This was an interesting read. I expected a book about Frank Lloyd Wright and his work with a little love story on the side; what I got was the full-blown love story of his affair with Mamah and a nod every now and again to his work. The Catholic girl that I am could not really enjoy the love story because they (FLW and Mamah) both had intact marriages to start with and were really acting selfishly as they pursued each other. I especially didn't like the older lady character who becomes Mamah's mentor of a sorts and preaches about free love. She was really the anti-thesis of my own beliefs about marriage and commitment. But the story was compelling, I couldn't put the book down. Those who know FLW will know that there is an unbelievable (but true!) ending to the affair. I knew nothing about FLW going in and so had no idea this was coming and was mightily shocked.

The book spurred me on to Google a bit and see photos of the houses he designed and to find out that he went on to have two more wives. I appreciate FLW as an artist - his designs are timeless and appealing. Although, from what I know so far, he's an ass using his genius as an excuse to be an ass. But he's an interesting ass and there's another book about him coming out that I think I may have to pick up!

This book was a pick for the Facebook Historical Fiction book club.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Solemnity of Mary

Update May 25, 2009. I added this post to the Mary Moments Carnival . Click on the link to read some beautiful, thoughtful posts that are much more scholarly than mine!

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. That simple prayer imploring our Mother for help, asking her to ask her Son to help us, takes on different shades of meaning with every utterance. Not the fundamental meaning - help, help, help - but the kind of help needed. As we sat in church at the Mass on the Solemnity it took on for me a shade of desperation. Tween is such a challenge. Sometimes I feel like I am losing him to something that I can't really define and thus can't confront and do battle with.

The parenting books will tell you that during the middle school years children start to look to their peers for reinforcement more than their parents. They just care more about being cool than about pleasing you - at least in public. But we have always had "safe havens". One of those safe havens was the altar of the Lord. When Tween was being his most ornery, he could still transform when it was time for him to serve. He would put the alb on and make me proud. But today, on Mary's special day, Tween chose the other path. He put the alb on and proceeded to torment his older sister, Bookworm, who was captain of the servers that day. She came to me before the Mass started and asked to have him removed. So I talked to him and asked him, "Do you want to serve today?" and he said no. That was that - one sanctuary that suddenly wasn't the safe haven it was in the past for Tween and myself. As he sat beside me in the pew, I prayed and prayed for help in figuring out how to allow him to be his own person but still help him be a child that is kind to others and respectful of adults. I'm not sure how to do that, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.