Monday, June 16, 2008

Reading Watching, Listening..... May in Review

What I Was Reading in May
The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin
Books and Beyond: New Ways to Reach Readers by Michael Optiz
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Book Thief by Markus Zusack

I read The Children's Blizzard for book club and didn't really enjoy it. There was far too much meteorology and history of meteorology for my taste. It's pretty bad when you look forward to the stories where small children died from exposure, but that's the only joy I found in this book. I liked that I knew all the places it referred to, but it felt a little like Giants in the Earth for me and THAT is not a good thing.

I knew a lot of the content in Books and Beyond, but it works for me to use as a rationale for some of the choices I make in my regular English class and in my Title 1 Reading class. I thought it was pretty interesting and well written. Fairly easy to whip through. However, not really all that cutting edge. No section on graphic novels and not too much about online texts. Oh well.

I've been on a real young adult/juvenile literature kick lately and The Invention of Hugo Cabret was just one more recommended title. Only it wasn't. This is an unusual book. It's incredibly thick but I read it in two sittings. It's part picture book, part novel and it's illustrated and written by a favorite children's book illustrator, Brian Selznick. So, the style alone is cool enough to warrant a read, the Caldecott award suggests I'm not the only one who thought it was good and the very coolest bits are how it explores the life of early French filmmaker, Georges Méliès. Even if it's in a fictional way, I think it's cool to expose young readers, or any readers for that matter, to bits of history. If a book makes me look something up after I've read it, to learn more, then that book has succeeded in some way. I highly recommend this book for young readers. It's just too cool. And in the end it winds up being a nice story about belonging and being true to yourself...

This is my second Zusak book. It's another young adult book but it feels more universal than all that. This one was quite different from Zusak's book "I am the Messenger but equally as good. I was fighting tears while donating plasma when as I finished the book. Its narrator is an unlikely one--death. Though that might be appropriate for a holocaust book. I am not typically drawn to that sort of story, but I did enjoy this one. It's about a girl who loves books. How could I resist?

What I was Watching in May
Heroes Season 2
The Bachelor: London Calling
Brothers and Sisters
Desperate Housewives

Lost season finale did not disappoint. My mom and I spent far too much time analyzing it and trying to make sense of it all. I am not sure WHY I watch Desperate Housewvies and Brothers and Sisters. I guess for something to do. I was thrilled that Matt picked Shayne on The Bachelor.

On Film
Die Another Day
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Nancy Drew
I'm Not There

Die Another Day was one more in my quest to watch all things Bond. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Soon, I'll be done with all the films and I'll have to simply start all over again since it's been so long and I barely remember the likes of Dr. No and From Russia With Love, for example.

The French film Moliere was decent, but not fantastic. It was fun for me to learn more about the life and love of this famous playright and I enjoyed the performances of the actors in the film. It was beautiful, sexy, amusing and worth a rent. At least for me.

Walk Hard wasn't nearly as funny as I'd hoped. It was much like those spoof films "Not Another Teen Movie" or "Scary Movie." Having seen all the films it spoofed I did get a kick out of it, but I wasn't bowled over.

Nancy Drew, on the other hand, turned out to be much better than I expected. In my childhood I was a big fan of the books and I am still a bit fascinated by girls series books, namedly the Judy Bolton ones, but whatever. Nancy Drew offers comfort to a person. She's reliable, she's smart and her books are fun but predictable too. Sometimes I crave a nice safe read that launches me back into my childhood. The film was a modern one, but Nancy was a bit traditional and stood out from the crowd because of it. The film featured Nancy and her dad in LA rather than River Heights and I missed Hannah Gruen and Bess and George (though the girls who portrayed them seemed young and a bit silly). In fact, Nancy seemed a bit too young for the way I remember her. But I would still recommend this wholesome entertaining flick.

Lust/Caution was steamy, true to its NC17 status. It was an interesting tale of the subversive efforts of a young radical group attempting to infiltrate and destroy the Chinese who collaborated/cooperated with the Japanese during the Japanese occupation of China. I enjoyed it, but wish it had ended differently.

I'm Not There was a fun examination of the life of Bob Dylan. I really enjoyed Cate Blanchett's performance and that of Richard Gere. I thought this was a really cool idea for a film and it's something I think Bob Dylan fans should watch.. just to see one more artistic impression of his life. Love it or leave it, it's fun to watch and discuss. And the music is great.

What I Was Listening to in May

She & Him
Volume One
I just discovered that Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward will be performing live at First Avenue in Minneapolis on August 7th... for a whopping $16.00. I can't believe it. I wonder if there are still tickets available.

a random sampling from my MP3 player here are my posted shuffles:

That Ain't Love by REO Speedwagon
Girl Sailor by The Shins
Wheel's on Fire by The Magic Numbers
Does Your Mother Know by ABBA
Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

Devotion by Tracy Chapman
Hungry for Love by Patsy Cline
I Don't Love You by My Chemical Romance
I Know it's Over by The Smiths
The Price you Pay by Bruce Springsteen

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