Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vacation reading

I haven't been reading as much lately--a combination of being busier than usual and watching more online TV than I used to, I admit it--so it was nice to devour four books on our two week vacation in November.

Passage by Connie Willis. I've read a couple of other Connie Willis books and they were funny and engaging. This one's a little long and repetitive, but it was perfect for beginning my vacation reading. I pretty much sat around and read for a couple of days straight. Very relaxing.

The Makeover of James Orville Wickenbee by Anya Bateman. LDS fiction with an unusual narrator, but mostly pretty run-of-the-mill LDS fiction. I accidentally stole it from my mom. (Sorry, Mom. I'll keep it for you. Or send it if it's very important.)

The Honk and Holler Opening Soon by Billie Letts. I'd never read anything by Billie Letts, even though Where the Heart Is is an Oprah book and I considered reading it many times. This novel has interesting characters and a good story. I liked it pretty well.

True to Form : A Novel by Elizabeth Berg. I have not yet been disappointed by Elizabeth Berg. This is a sequel to Durable Goods and Joy School, but it's not one of those lame sequels. I really liked it.

Two kid movies

I don't really like to watch kid movies, so I don't usually. But I do take the kids to the movies occasionally, and these are the two we saw most recently:

Up (2009): I had no idea this would be so enjoyable. Maybe it was because my expectations were low, but this movie delighted me. I loved the talking dogs. It was nice to look at, too. (My sister Ivy would disagree. She didn't like it.)

Planet 51 (2009). We saw this in Lake Havasu when we visited Jon's brother and his family. I spent a lot of the movie getting popcorn and drink refills, which was fine because it seemed kind of dumb. And one time when I was out in the lobby, I almost saw Robert Redford! Right after the guy in the line to my right left (presumably Robert Redford), the teenage girl behind the counter asked me who Robert Redford was. Apparently, he'd given her his autograph and she had no idea who he was. I explained who he was and described him, and she just kept nodding her head while her eyes got bigger and bigger. It's kind of a sad story in a way: a screen legend going unrecognized by the girl who's too young to know him. On the other hand, I was glad that she seemed impressed just based on my description. At least she wasn't rolling her eyes and going, "Whatever."

I guess it's not saying much about the movie that my lame story about almost seeing Robert Redford seems more interesting to me. (Of course, there's also the chance that it was a Robert Redford look-alike just trying to mess with that girl. In which case, it's great that she didn't recognize him!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mira: grammar (and drama) queen

Lillian and Mira have apparently formed a "club" or something, where their names are Millian and Lira (cute, huh?). There have been some conflicts between them, which makes the "club" a somewhat delicate topic. So today, Jon and I were talking to Mira and suggesting that Millian and Lira was a great idea!

"You can be a rock band!" I said to Mira. (Band names are a big topic of conversation around here.)

"No!" Mira said, refusing to be flattered.

"You could be a dance team!" I said.

"No! I would just dance suckily!"

And then she burst into tears as Jon and I laughed. We tried to explain her superior use of adverb, but she was just in the mood to cry today, so that's what happened. At least she didn't cry suckily.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice is a novel about a Harvard psychology professor who's diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. I was reluctant to read it. I mean, how depressing. But one of the book clubs I attend occasionally was reading it, and it came very highly recommended, in that "You HAVE to read this!" kind of way, so I decided to give it a few pages. And that's all it took. It's excellent. The point of view is all Alice, the one with Alzheimer's, and the picture of what it's like to live with Alzheimer's is vivid and brilliant. It's also a great story of how members of a family deal differently with the difficulties their mother and wife face. Parts of the book had me wincing because I could so easily imagine myself saying that exact same thing under those circumstances. It's beautifully written, sometimes painful, finally inspiring and uplifting. In fact, it might be a little too uplifting, but maybe that's a good thing, considering that it might help some people deal more positively with Alzheimer's. I don't have personal experience with Alzheimer's, but this novel is endorsed by the Alzheimer's Association, and I guess they ought to know.

The Goonies (1985)

The Goonies was one of those movies my brother and sisters and I all had memorized when I was a young'un (although I must have been at least 15, so I wasn't that young). But I remembered all the swearing in it, so I waited until now to let my kids watch it. I'm not sure what the benefit of waiting is, since my little ones are still little (youngest is 4). But I guess that's the natural way of large families--the younger ones get privileges at any earlier age than the older ones do. Anyway, it was fun to watch, although cheesier than I remembered and not quite as clever. That seems to be the case generally with movies that I liked back then.

Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center

I just read an interesting blog post exploring the idea of marriage literature, i.e., literature with narratives about challenges and growth in marriage, and how Mormons should be creating and contributing to that body of literature, and it reminded me of this novel that I picked up at the library several weeks ago. It fits into this marriage literature category quite nicely. I read it in 24 hours and loved it. It's not super literary or anything. It's more like chick lit for grown up chicks. Anyway, so much of this book was familiar to me. I loved it and raved about it so much that Jon read it right after I did. I think he liked it, too.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

In September, I suddenly found myself the accompanist for our local high school's production of Singin' in the Rain, which was about four weeks away. I'd never seen the movie, so I thought it was about time I did. The kids and I watched it together and enjoyed it quite a bit. I loved Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont (and our local Lina was pretty great, too; both of them! That's a long story). I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but after playing the piano for this, I like it so much better than at first. And since that's one of my measuring sticks for movies and books, I guess that makes Singin' in the Rain a classic. Like anyone was waiting for me to say that.