Monday, November 14, 2011

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by Maarten Troost

This actually has nothing to do with the sex lives of cannibals, unless you count the chapter about dogs. It's an arresting title, though, isn't it? It's also very funny and entertaining, all about the author's adventures living on a pretty desolate island in Kiribati. Always irreverent, sometimes downright vulgar, it was a fun way to learn about Kiribati (which, by the way, is pronounced "Kiribas"--I don't know why). There's some history and background and lots of hilarious stories about learning to live in a place that's really different from America. I liked it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Letters to Juliet (2010)

The one redeeming element of Letters to Juliet was the travel. I liked that the English and American characters were in Italy, speaking Italian to the people they met (although, of course, switching to English pretty quickly for the sake of an American audience). Otherwise, I thought it was kind of dumb.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Third Wheel (2009)

I usually like the movies that Luke Wilson is in, and this one is no exception. It's light-hearted and funny and pleasant. I really liked it (in spite of the too-high-pitched laugh of Denise Richards).

As of October 2, 2011, it is streaming on Netflix.

These is my Words by Nancy Turner

It has been a long time since I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed this one. I can't think of anything I didn't like about it. Thanks to Ivy for encouraging me to read it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

We had this DVD from Netflix for quite a while before we watched it. I can't remember why I moved it to the top of our queue, but after watching (and hating) Paper Heart, I had very little desire to see another movie with Michael Cera in it. Even before that, I suspected and feared that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World might be kind of like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow--I'd hear about how wonderful and innovative and amazing it was and then I'd see it and be kind of bored.

But I was wrong. I found it delightful, funny, strange, clever. My favorite ex-boyfriend was the vegan one. I wish it were cleaner, so I could show it to my kids. I'm sure they'll all see it eventually, but there's too much "adult" material in it for a family flick.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Alaska Basin and Cascade Canyon

Friday morning I left on an overnight backpacking trip with Zed, Jacob, and Phin. We drove up Teton Canyon from the Idaho side and had our camera take a picture of us.

We hiked past the Devil's Stairs fork toward Alaska Basin, and stopped for lunch here.

We arrived in Alaska Basin having met only 2 or 3 other hikers.

We had made good time, so unlike the last time we hiked up to Alaska Basin 3 years ago, we decided we'd hike all the way to the east side of the Tetons to Jenny Lake.

Thus motivated, we hiked up to Sunset Lake.

These were some of our views leaving Sunset Lake and heading up to Hurricane Pass.

Soon we arrived at the border between the Jedediah Smith Wilderness and Grand Teton National Park.

Then we descended down to Hurricane Pass.

Here was our view over Schoolroom Glacier.

Zed looked down from Hurricane Pass into the South Fork of Cascade Canyon and the Teton Crest Trail.

Morning sun made it a nice time to play around the lake under Schoolroom Glacier.

Here Phin and Jacob filter water from a snowmelt stream for us to drink.

We met a lot of other people on the trail the further down we went in Cascade Canyon. It was a nice late-summer day and lots of day-hikers had headed up the trails from the Jenny Lake side.

Erin picked us up at Jenny Lake at 4:30 pm. Our total hiking distance over those two days was about 24 miles.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Paper Heart (2009)

Here's what IMDb says about this movie:

Charlyne Yi embarks on a quest across America to make a documentary about the one subject she doesn't fully understand: Love.

Jon and I watched it a few nights ago. Well, Jon fell asleep about halfway through, so I guess I'm the one who watched it. I didn't hate it while I was watching it, but the more time that goes by since I saw it, the more it makes me kind of mad that I wasted my time on it. Charlyne Yi doesn't believe in True Love, so she travels around the country (and even to Paris towards the end) asking people about True Love--do they believe in it, what is it, what are their experiences, etc. She even consults some "experts" who might have something to say about love--some professors of biochemistry or something like that. She has some famous friends, one of whom is Michael Cera, with whom she starts a relationship. In spite of her experience with him, she refuses to change her mind about the existence of love. Nobody can teach her anything. Why are they driving and flying all over the place, presumably spending a bunch of money? Apparently, it is just to make this documentary. There are also scenes featuring paper cut-out figures.

IMDb says this is a partially-scripted documentary, and I'm not sure what that means, but I don't care. The director, Charlyne's friend Nick, is played by an actor, but everyone else is just who they are. What I learned is that Michael Cera acts just like every character he's ever played (as far as I have seen, and I guess it's possible he was acting in this movie, too). I also learned that some people think they're clever enough that we should watch them making a "documentary." I think it was meaningless, self-referential, and self-indulgent. You could probably put some more "self" words in there. I hope I can stop being annoyed by it now. (I supposed there are some people who would say the movie succeeded because it got stuck in my head, but again, I don't care.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Amsterdam, Netherlands

After our trip to Helsinki, we went to Amsterdam for a night. We stayed in a hostel that was movie themed. Our room was Star Wars themed, and had a huge picture of Darth Vader on the wall.

We went to the Anne Frank house, and looked at some of the older buildings along the way. One of them was an old church that had a really weird Roman numeral on it.

It looked like cbbc, but for real it was C I backwards C = M, I backwards C = D, C which adds up to 1600. Wikipedia has a close-up image.

At the Anne Frank house we saw a lot of cool stuff. I didn’t really know anything about her before going, so I’m glad I could go.

We went to an Indian restaurant that was really good, and then we returned to our hostel for our last night in Europe. This square was nearby:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Helsinki, Finland

Our ferry to Helsinki from Tallinn was canceled because of rough seas and they sent us over to another ferry, but we had to wait another two and a half hours so we walked around Tallinn for a while. Finally we got on the ferry and there we met these two Finnish guys who didn’t speak any English at all. They didn’t even understand hello. Dad thought they were speaking Estonian at first and kept trying to communicate with them using our phrase book. Finally one of the people next to us asked us if we wanted them to translate for us. After that little adventure, we went to our hotel. We just stayed in there because it was late.

The next morning was Sunday. We went to church at a building about a quarter mile down the street. A lot of the people there spoke English, and missionaries translated for us.

After church, we walked around in the bay area for a while, then went to a ferry to go to the fortress island Suomenlinna. That was awesome. It was probably a ten or twenty minute ferry trip, and was really cool. It has lots of old cannons, and stuff.

At the south island there were a lot of tunnels running around underneath the walls.

It was totally one of my favorite parts of the trip.

After Suomenlinna we went to a couple of the big churches near the docks. In one of them we heard an organist practicing for his performance that night.

Then we met up with someone Dad knows from Interchange named René Hertell. We went to dinner at a restaurant called Virgin Oil. After that we went back to our hotel.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tallinn, Estonia

Thursday, 18th August 2011 We went for a walk around Riga for one last time before we went to Tallinn. Then we went to the bus station. There we met a guy who went to YAPC::EU. (We could tell by his t-shirt.) His name was Sergey and he lives in Tallinn. He rode the same bus as us there and was nice enough to show us how to get to our hostel. Our hostel is awesome. We are in a six person bedroom with four Germans. After that we walked around town for a while, seeing some of the sights. Here's a building by our hostel:

It’s really a nice place. We went into the Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral, and saw some of the inside.

After that we went back to the hostel and hung out in the lounge. They have guitars and other musical instruments that you can play in there. After a while we went to bed.

Friday, 19th August 2011 So after a good night’s rest, we went to a bookstore in the old town that sold some old magazines, and stuff. We went to a free walking tour that lasted two hours. We went on almost the same route as the one we took on our own the day before. It was still good though. One of my favorite things about Tallinn is that half the city wall still remains and it’s really cool.

One of the towers along the wall was named the Virgin’s Tower, a town joke because it was used as a prison for prostitutes.

There were probably 75 or 100 people on the tour, but the tour guide had a loud voice, so we could all hear.

After the tour we went to the beach at Pirita. We swam and stuff for a while, then we started walking back. We took the bus there and after a while we decided to take the bus the rest of the way back. Dad contacted Sergey, and arranged dinner with him. Then we went back to the hostel. We hung out in the lounge for a while. I played guitar along with some people who were playing bongos. We went to bed a little after 1:00.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

More photos from Rīga

The weekend is over now, and tomorrow morning the YAPC::EU conference (Yet Another Perl Conference, Europe) begins. We'll be busy for the next three days with the conference, so we won't have much time for sightseeing. Here are some more photos from our trip so far, in chronological order.

A balcony of The Powder Tower and Latvian War Museum:

Jacob a short distance from the central market area:

Views of the Riga central train station, Rīgas centrālā dzelzceļa stacija:


A neighborhood of Communist-era Neubau apartments seen from the train en route back from the beach at Jūrmala:

A street in Vecrīga, old town Riga:

This morning Jacob and I went to church at one of the two Latvian Latter-day Saint (aka Mormon) branches in Rīga. There are also two Russian-language branches here. It was conveniently located just a few blocks from our hotel, on the appropriately named Baznīcas iela (Church Street), though of course named not for the LDS church but rather for Vecā Sv. Ģertrūdes Evaņģēliski luteriskā baznīca, the Lutheran St. Gertrude Old Church. The local LDS people were very friendly, and English-speaking missionaries translated for us, an unexpected bonus for our comprehension!

Even nearer to our hotel we stopped in the early evening to see the Kristus Piedzimšanas pareizticīgo katedrāle (Riga Nativity of Christ Orthodox Cathedral). It has had a troubled history. It was built between 1876 and 1884 by decree of Russian Tsar Alexander II, then during World War I was turned into a Lutheran church by the occupying German military. It was restored during Latvia's inter-war independence, and then was turned into a planetarium by Soviet authorities in the early 1960s. It has been recently restored. Here is Jacob's photo of the outside:

It is said to be the largest Orthodox cathedral in the Baltic region. The interior makes quite an impression. There are beautiful icons and murals with various Old Church Slavonic texts. No photography was allowed inside (quite understandable for a church in active use), though printed brochures have some interior photos.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Trip to Rīga, Latvia

August 10th–13th, 2011, Rīga, Latvia

We woke up at 5:30 to go to the Jackson Hole Airport. We then proceeded to fly to Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Airport is pretty much a mall. We went to a burger restaurant there that was pretty good. We then flew to Amsterdam. I watched Green Hornet on the plane. In Amsterdam we had a seven hour layover. We didn’t leave the airport for that. Finally we got on our plane to Rīga and arrived about 3 hours later.

Dad bought a SIM card for his phone, but it partly doesn’t work. We then rode a bus from the airport to the old town. There were a lot of street musicians performing on corners. Some people playing accordions, Two girls playing the cello and flute together, some other stuff. We walked about half an hour to the Albert Hotel.

The Albert Hotel is themed on Albert Einstein. I don’t really get how it’s themed after him, but it has quotes from him in our room, which works for me. Our room is really nice, we have special place you have to put your room key or the power goes off. It has a good view, and is on the ninth floor. It has a really good breakfast too. Huge selection, good food, all in all it’s an awesome hotel. We went to dinner with Stefan and Jure, two of Dad’s friends who work on Interchange. The restaurant was an outdoor restaurant with live musicians. After dinner me and Dad got lost on our way back to the hotel for a while, but got back on track.

We woke up at 8:30ish on Friday, and went to meet Stefan and Jure at their hotel. We went to the wrong one, because there are like four of the same one in town. Once we got there they started to work on their presentations for the conference. I got bored and walked around old town alone for a while. I saw some pretty cool stuff, but didn’t do much. Once I got back we went to lunch at an Armenian restaurant. It was really good. At night me and Dad went to an organ concert at the Rīga Cathedral.

The organ was the biggest organ in the world when it was first made. The cathedral had lots of cool stained glass windows, some cool statues, the tombs of a bunch of dead bishops, and some cool paintings. After that we went back to the hotel for the night.

I woke up at 9:00 on Saturday. We went on a free walking tour of the city. We saw some cool churches, the central market, the main train station, and what’s left of a synagogue that was burned down in World War II.

The tour lasted about three hours. After that we went to the train station to go to Jūrmala (means sea-side in Latvian, made up of a bunch of towns all spread along a long beach).

We got to swim and Dad ran four miles on the beach. After we got back, we went to the market and bought some food. We looked for a restaurant we had read about in a magazine but it was closed down or something. We couldn’t read the sign on the door because it was in Latvian. So far our visit has been awesome, and I’ll be posting again in a few days.

(Another church we saw:)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jason Zweig on Wall Street ethics

A funny but sadly true note:

Wall Street may have higher ethical standards than some businesses (smuggling, prostitution, Congressional lobbying, and journalism come to mind) but the investment world nevertheless has enough liars, cheaters, and thieves to keep Satan's check-in clerks frantically busy for decades to come.

--Jason Zweig

That's in a footnote on page 262 of the 2003 revised edition of Benjamin Graham's classic book The Intelligent Investor. Graham first published the book in 1934 and revised it several times, publishing his final edition in 1973. Graham died in 1976.

A new edition was published in 2003, with the original text of Graham's last edition left intact, but surrounded with Talmudic-style treatment by Jason Zweig. Jason's new commentary appears after each chapter and in footnotes. This brings the book up to date and adds some perspective and humor, and notes cases where Graham has been vindicated or (rarely) disproven by history.

This kind of layered text is, as far as I know, unusual among financial writings. I'm finding it an enlightening read because newer writings haven't had time for history to shine light on their assertions, so they may all sound plausible or implausible depending on the reader's mood.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

FreedomFest 2011

Jon and I have been libertarians forever, but we didn't really know what to call it until we found and bought a copy of Liberty magazine at Barnes & Noble many years ago. Well, Jon was an anarchist in high school, and he still sometimes borders on that; I think I've always been a libertarian. Liberty became the only magazine we subscribed to without interruption, until they stopped making the print edition a year or so ago. There were times when that magazine was like a cozy, cuddly blanket for me, even though much of what appeared in it was argumentative, sarcastic, sometimes pessimistic. Even our friend Brian, who is not known for his sunniness, found Liberty too caustic when we tried to indoctrinate him with it. But I loved it. So did Jon. We still read it online, but I do miss the print version.

Anyway, my point is that many times over the years, Jon and I saw ads for various libertarian conferences and one of us would always say, "We should go to that someday." Well, someday finally came: we went to FreedomFest in Las Vegas last week. Their tagline is "The world's largest gathering of free minds." FreedomFest has been going on every year since 2002 and is organized by Mark Skousen, with significant help from his wife Jo Ann Skousen, who organized the first-time libertarian film festival Anthem this year. (Jo Ann is the entertainment editor of Liberty and Mark is a frequent contributor.) We didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be interesting, inspiring, and thought-provoking, as well as full of useful and practical information that we'll be using in our home school, finances, and other areas of our lives.

I'm used to being alone in my political beliefs. Most of my friends and family are conservatives, with a healthy dose of liberals among them. Very few identify themselves as libertarians. Of course, there are other things about Jon and me that are "weird"--the home schooling, for example. So it was different and fun to be around so many like-minded people at FreedomFest. I think there were plenty of libertarian-leaning conservatives around, but what a trip to be hanging out with a couple of thousand straight-up libertarians. Here are some of the well-known people we heard speak:

Rand Paul, new Senator from Kentucky and son of Ron Paul. He was delightful every time he spoke. Funny, articulate, principled in his politics (though more open to compromise than his father). I hope he gets a chance to do some good things in the Senate.

Judge Andrew Napolitano. I know he's famous because he's on Fox News, but I never watch TV news, so I'd never heard him speak. Unfortunately, I missed the speech (Jon said it was great), but I heard the Q&A that followed, and he was fantastic. One great thing he said (not quotes, because I'm going from memory here): There's just one party in this country: the big government party. It has a Republican wing and a Democratic wing.

John Mackey, CEO and founder of Whole Foods Market. It's great to have a pro-free market "tree hugger" (his words, and others') running a successful company like Whole Foods. I was really impressed by him, his efforts to re-brand capitalism, and the innovative incentives to live a healthy life he has introduced to his employees and that will soon be introduced to customers. Too bad the closest Whole Foods to us is in Salt Lake.

Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. The highlights of this session by some entertaining impersonators were Benjamin Franklin hitting on all the women who asked questions and Thomas Jefferson breaking the audience down into voting persons according to 1786 standards. I'd say 5% of the audience was eligible.

Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital and doom and gloom finance guy who frequently appears on TV to argue with people. He's a great speaker and very compelling. But when Jon and I talked to him briefly, he was kind of a jerk. Maybe he was having a bad day, or maybe Jon touched a nerve when he mentioned Schiff's unsuccessful campaign for a Connecticut Senate seat last year. In any case, he is super sharp and fun to listen to (from a distance).

Herman Cain and Gary Johnson, candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. I didn't actually hear Herman Cain, but Jon did and enjoyed hearing him speak, though he was much more conservative than libertarian. Gary Johnson was governor of New Mexico a while back and did some impressive stuff there, cutting taxes and vetoing like crazy.

There were others, too, some from TV, some from the more narrow libertarian world. I wish I'd heard more from Mark Skousen, but I did hear him moderate debates, and he was very entertaining as his 8th great-grandfather Benjamin Franklin. I came away from the conference even more impressed with the Skousens than I already was. Jo Ann Skousen did a session on Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities that was very good and reminded me that I used to want to be a teacher. I think I'll start pursuing that again by teaching a literature course to my oldest boys and inviting other home schooled families in the valley. I do have a degree in Comparative Literature, so I guess I ought to use it. (Some people think that because I home school, I must be teaching my kids, but they really learn most stuff on their own with a little guidance from me.)

One of the Skousen daughters, Valerie, did a session about funding the arts in a libertarian way, something I think about pretty often (with no great ideas yet). Their oldest son, Tim, had an excellent film shown at the film festival (but not eligible for awards, for obvious reasons): Zero Percent, about a successful college education program in Sing Sing prison.

And if you need more proof that the Skousens are cool, here's a great advertisement parody they made for "ObamaCare" (and by laughing with this I don't mean to imply that I think the status quo in health care is fine and dandy):

I wish I'd had more time to take in festival films, but we did see a couple in addition to Zero Percent: Final Census, a dark and hilarious 10-minute short, and The Cartel, a documentary about how more money doesn't seem to be helping public schools, especially in New Jersey. There was a lot of good information in it, but it went on a bit long. Worth watching, though.

I read a blog post about FreedomFest on the Ludwig von Mises Institute website that claimed that the sessions at FreedomFest were of two kinds (and I'm paraphrasing here). One kind was about trying to "take back the country" through political lobbying, money, etc. The other kind explored alternative ways of living "outside" the state. I hadn't thought of this distinction while I was there, but it resonated with me. I'm not the kind of person who tries to change the school system so it will better serve my children; I'm the kind of person who keeps the kids home from school. In fact, I think there should have been a session or two on home schooling to complement the sessions/debates on school choice. I'm glad there are people who are trying to change the status quo in government, school, etc., like the tea parties. But I'm also glad there are people trying to live differently and with as much freedom as possible. It was fantastic to be around many of both types last week. I hope Jon and I will continue to attend.

A word about Las Vegas. Walking through the casino at Bally's every morning and evening was a weird contrast to the conference we were attending. I don't get the attraction of the slot machines, especially. Nobody at those machines looks like they're having fun. However, we ended up moving to a delightful hotel room after one night in a crappy room next to the loud elevators. The second room had a bank of windows across the outside wall that looked out on the Paris pool, Eiffel Tower, and the strip. One night we heard the live, muffled-by-the-windows Ben Folds concert that was going on across the street, complete with video being broadcast on one of those huge, Times Square-like video screens. Our room had a Jacuzzi centered on a marble dais kind of thing. I guess that's the benefit of getting the last non-smoking room next to the elevators the first night. I have been known to kind of freak out in the past when we've stayed in Las Vegas because I don't like it. I get all tense and unpleasant. But I think I did okay this time. I was able to observe the gambling, drinking, guys handing out pornographic cards/flyers on the corners, and the young kids out on the strip with their families at 11:00 pm without taking it all personally and feeling threatened or something. It was the best time I've ever had in Las Vegas.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I'm not necessarily a fan, but a famous person is a famous person!

Over the 4th of July weekend, I took my kids to the Huntsman Springs event in Driggs. It's in its second year, but this was the first time they had an all-day carnival type of thing going on during the day. Face-painting, bouncy houses, various kinds of entertainment (of which I only saw the air show, which was cool). All free, except for the food vendors. (True to form, I bought the kids one funnel cake and one cup of honey lemonade to share; I'm cheap. Also, I wouldn't let the kids do anything that required standing in a long line. I'm cheap and mean!)

It was really a great event, but we couldn't stay long because of other obligations we had that day. On our way out, we bumped into this guy:

Okay, we didn't literally bump into Glenn Beck. (Although I did nearly bump into one of the security guys who was creating a space around him as he walked along.) But we were pretty close for a few minutes. In the above photo, he's sitting in the real Herbie, the Love Bug. Mira said (loudly), "Why is he allowed to get into Herbie?" I think I said, "Because he's a celebrity," and she thought that was pretty cool. That's Seth in the front left corner, black hat.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jon's Sweater: Free as in Freedom

I finally finished the sweater I designed and made for Jon, and here it is:

Jon is a programmer, user, fan, and proponent of free software (similar to open-source software), hence the "free as in freedom." I don't know if the phrase is the official tagline of the Free Software Foundation, but it's the title of a biography of Richard Stallman, the father of the free software movement, and it describes what is meant by "free software." Anyway, I wanted Jon's sweater (the first I've made for him) to be unique to him, and this is what we came up with.

It looks good on him, right? :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden

Emily Eden is a delightful cross between Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde, and by Oscar Wilde, I mean The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband (movie versions), because that's about all I'm familiar with. The Semi-Detached House is the second of her two novels that I've read. (The first was The Semi-Attached Couple, and no, I can't explain the over-use of "semi" and words about attachment or lack thereof.) The book that I have is a paperback containing both of the novels, and I have no idea where I got it. Did my Uncle Steve send it to me? Did I pick it up at a used bookstore somewhere? I have no idea. But I'm so glad to have it and that I finally got around to reading both of the books.

The Semi-Detached House is about a young and recently married aristocrat who must move out to the country and into a dreaded "semi-detached" house. But I guess she's not the main character. There really isn't a main character; it's more of a multiple-character novel like Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford, but with more plot. It is funny and a fairly quick read. I'd like to know if English majors are introduced to Emily Eden in their course-work. I had never heard of her, and it seems a shame.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Life slipping away

I just read an article called Why I don't care very much about tablets anymore, and while I don't have a tablet, and think the author's overall point is weak (not being very excited about tablets, yet still planning to always have one), this part resonated with me:

"Some of the really savvy new media efforts like Flipboard are exciting, but after the initial "wow" factor wears off, these apps mainly serve to remind me that there's already too much good stuff to read out there, and that my life is slipping away from me in an infinite stream of interesting bits about smart animals, dumb criminals, outrageous celebs, shiny objects, funny memes, scientific discoveries, economic developments, etc. I invariably end up closing the app in a fit of guilt, and picking up one of the truly fantastic dead tree or Kindle books that I'm working my way through at the moment, so that I can actually exercise my brain (as opposed to simply wearing it out)."

The same thing applies to web reading for me. I find the web extremely valuable for news, conversation, blogging, and longer articles, but there's still a place for more in-depth treatment of topics in books, and for getting out and living and not always experiencing by proxy. Things that are useful and good may still not always be the most important.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

This is streaming on Netflix, so I thought the kids ought to see it. It is as I remembered it: really stupid but also pretty dang funny. The kids loved it, and I enjoyed watching it again, too.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

I did read all of the Chronicles of Narnia books when I was young, but I don't really remember much of them. Before the first movie came out a few years ago, I started to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to the kids, but I found it wordy and kind of boring, so we didn't finish it. Then, when Jon happened to see a trailer for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, he made a declaration that anyone who would like to see the movie would have to have read the book first. I knew the younger kids wanted to see it, and I wanted to give a Narnia book another try, so I read it out loud to the three youngest. Happily, it turns out that it is a great book.

I think it helped that Eustace, the nasty cousin, is so delightfully nasty, and that parts of the story are told from his point of view, via a journal he keeps. The story moves quickly and there are plenty of exciting and interesting adventures. But mostly I loved the religious symbolism in the book. Eustace's recovery scene (I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't read it) is especially wonderful. I thought about it off and on for days after reading it. I really loved the book.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Next Three Days (2010)

I believe this movie might still be in second-run theaters. If you haven't seen it yet, you should. It's pretty tense, although I don't think it would qualify as a straight action movie. There's plenty to think about, too. Also, I love Russell Crowe. Anyway, I loved it.

The King's Speech (2010)

The King's Speech is a delightful movie. All of the acting is exceptional. It's a great story about tackling and overcoming an obstacle, but not in a fantastic or unrealistic way. Also, I love the relationship between the soon-to-be king and his wife. Apparently, it's fairly true to life, too. I loved it. Highly recommended.

To my mom and anyone else who wonders: Yes, this movie is rated R. It carries that rating because of a certain word that begins with "f" that gets repeated many times, mostly in one scene that is integral to the story. Otherwise, it is very much PG. And, for what it's worth, that word doesn't sound nearly so bad when it's being said with a royal British accent.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks by StephaniePearl-McPhee

For the first time in my life, I've completely stopped reading fiction. In fact, I'm not reading much of anything, but when I do pick up a book, it's of the non-fiction variety, and I may or may not finish it. But I read this in a few days. It's not long, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is funny, so her books are easy to read. Even the patterns are easy to read and funny. And I read them all. I haven't knitted socks yet, but this book made me want to. Also, now I want to knit a circular shawl. Knitting something round sounds so interesting.

Now if I can just finish Jon's sweater and get the sleeves to look the same! That is my current crisis. (I'm not using a pattern, and I'm afraid I didn't write down what I did with the first sleeve faithfully enough.)