Sunday, June 27, 2010

shame on me!

I have no excuse for not showing up here more and just phoning it in with my books-read once a month. No excuse at all.

I'm petsitting again, but hey! At least they have wi-fi! I don't recall mentioning here that in May I sent a letter out to all my clients letting them know I was getting out of the business and they have until the end of August to find a new petsitter. I am done with this...or, at least, I will be September 1st. It's no fun anymore, I don't make THAT much extra money, and Binky is 14 years old and I'd rather not leave her alone all the time anymore. My last extended period of petsitting in March, my septic tank dried up because I wasn't home to use it. Let me tell you how fun and exciting that was. No, I'll let you guess. AND I got home once and smelled something dead when I opened the storm door and lost. my. mind. I thought Bink had died while I was gone. In hindsight, it wasn't QUITE stinky enough to be a large cat (it was a mouse) but for a minute there....

Moving on. My doctor and I have decided to take a somewhat more aggressive approach to my weight loss so I'm trying an appetite suppressant. Things seem to be going well so far. A little trouble sleeping is all and the doctor recommended cutting back on my dosage. That seems to be working. I really, really want to succeed this time and I'm committed to doing that. I keep a food and exercise journal, though of course, at this exact time I develop some sort of knee problem and can't exercise as I'm accustomed to. I got a steroid shot under my kneecap but that only worked for a few days so I have a referral to an orthopedic office mid-July. That's a long time to wait and limp around, but if it will get something done it'll be worth it. I was accustomed to taking the stairs, walking frequently during the week, and just getting around fairly speedily in general and this is more maddening than the discomfort of it all. The elevator at the library is ssssssllllllllllloooooooowwwwwww.

I did another of my epic batch cooking marathons two weeks ago. $163 worth of groceries cooked up to 111 portioned and frozen entrees. I made turkey sausage and corn chowder, chicken and dumplings, taco soup, curried chicken and rice, turkey meatloaf, pot roast, chicken enchilada casserole, and vegetarian lasagna. On the more processed side, I got some turkey sliced at the deli for sandwiches, hot dogs, soy burgers, and a Kashi thin crust veggie pizza. Both freezers are filled to bursting and I just have to get lettuce, fruit, cheese, and soymilk as needed. I feel like I'm doing alright in that arena.

What's up with you?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

the movie with the girl with the dragon tattoo

KT and I went to the Capri Theater in Montgomery last night to see the Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (adapted from the book of the same name) and IT. WAS. AWESOME! Hollywood is remaking it right now and I have to be this moment, I'm terribly unenthusiastic about seeing it. The director did an excellent job of condensing the lengthy book into a manageable film that doesn't seem too forced and hasn't sacrificed too much to keep the forward motion going. All the way home we discussed what was included that we especially enjoyed and what we were disappointed was left out and both heartily agreed that enjoyment easily won out over disappointment. I thought the actress playing Lisbeth was PERFECT!

I read some of the less favorably reviews on Rotten Tomatoes just to see what the critics didn't enjoy and for the most part it was the violence and I thought to myself, "Did they even KNOW this was adapted from a book?" and if so, "Did they even bother to read it?". The screenwriters (Arcel and Heisterberg) cut a lot of the violence but left everything that was central to both the plot and the course of the trilogy as well. I look forward to seeing what Sweden does with the other two books in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Friday, June 4, 2010

May Reads!

May was a colossal month for me and I have no idea how I managed to read 10 books in with all the other crazy stuff, but I did! Ten books and only one dud. I'm kinda ashamed that I finished it. Oh well.

The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott
A young man is abducted by demon clowns and taken down an elevator shaft in a port-a-potty to the "circus" where people's souls are drained while they watch violent and disturbing acts that they don't remember afterward. This was the dud. I thought it would be creepy and edgy but it was silly and gratuitous instead.

The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Academics called Historians spend years specializing in historical eras, then are sent back in time to those eras to study lifestyles, customs, etc. However, Kivrin's drop in the year 1320 was doomed from the start. Loved, loved, loved it! And this despite some tediously repetitive story lines. For me, the whole story overcame those small details to be a standout for the month. I definitely will read her other works dealing with "historians".

Laura Bell graduated from college in 1977 and was a loose ends with what to do with her life. A fateful summer trip to Wyoming led her to seek a job on a sheep farm there as a herder. For months on end it was Laura on a mountaintop with 1,000 sheep, two dogs, a horse, and her own company. Beautiful vistas, contemplative introspection, gorgeous writing! This is the most beautifully written book I've encountered in recent memory. I sent an email to the publisher to tell them they should consider submitting it for the National Book Award (because, you know, my lofty opinion is so highly valued...seriously though, I HAD to!). I got a response from them saying that it was definitely on their shortlist!

Biology lite. Entertaining, but sometimes dry. I enjoyed Jonah Lehrer's books much more.

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
James Stark somehow manages to escape Hell, still alive after an 11-year stint as a gladiator-turned-demon assassin in Hellian society. He's back in L.A. and looking for revenge on the group of Magicians who sent him "downtown". Now THIS is what I thought the earlier book would be. Unapologetically irreverent and dripping with sarcasm, Stark hammers his way to the truth of why his friends betrayed him and how he managed to stay alive in Hell.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Narrated by Death, this wonderful book chronicles the early life of Liesel Meminger. Liesel's mother, sensing that her own Communist leanings would be her downfall in Nazi Germany, sends Liesel to live with a foster family in Molching. Hans and Rosa Huberman, her foster parents, are merely going through the motions of Nazi patriotism and teach Liesel how to do this also. Late one night, Hans Huberman's past catches up with him when the son of a long lost friend shows up seeking asylum. Now, having learned to read, Liesel now learns how to keep a secret...there is a Jew being hidden in her basement.

I mean really, what person who considers themselves a reader doesn't know about this? If you've just now emerged from under a rock, this is the first in a Swedish crime trilogy. A journalist, wrongly sentenced to prison for libel, digs to uncover the truth behind a 30 year-old murder. A mysterious young girl with seeming magical computer hacking skills is the only one who can help him. Family secrets, depraved killers, suspenseful investigation. This book has it all. It is translated from the Swedish and it is immediately apparent but give it 100 pages or so and you won't even want to go to sleep!

Zaslow got the idea for this book from a piece he wrote for the Wall Street Journal on women's friendships. I found this book about a group of 10 women who've been friends since they were young girls to be delightful, insightful, AND made me want to call all my friends and get together.

Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
A highly philosophical, prose driven (VERY little dialogue) short novella about an embittered man who has retired away form what he considers the tedium of civilization and its people. Alone and preferring it that way, he thinks back on the wrongs he imagines done to him and how foolish and shallow society is. I don't know quite why I like things like this, but I loved it. Reminded me a lot of Beckett's Genesis and Twain's What is Man?

The Golden Globe by John Varley
A Shakespearean actor out in the far reaches of the galaxy, on the run from the law due to a 70 year-old crime. Modern science kept him 8 years old for 20 years while he was on a kid's show but his life spiraled out of control after he chose to grow up. He committed the crime and has been running for the past 70 years. All the parts of this book in present tense are funny and adventurous. The huge portion that is flashbacks and, ridiculously, corporate memos and tv reviews of the man's former kid show, should have been cut. It was like slogging through mud in a straightjacket. I did like the genetically engineered Bichon Frise, Toby!