Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Book and Movie Updates!

It's been a while since I've blogged about what I've been reading and watching, so I thought it was time for an update...

I've done a fair bit of reading, a lot of it with Michael, lately...

We just finished the latest Philip Gulley book, Almost Friends. In this particular book, Sam Gardner takes some time off to care for his ailing father, and becomes intensely jealous of the interim pastor, Krista. When Krista inadvertantly pisses off some of the church bigwigs (and most religious zealots), Sam must take action!

Almost Friends was a WONDERFUL book. It was full of the kind of hilarity, warmth, folksiness, family, and friendship I've come to expect of the Harmony series. I get so mad when we finish one, since they're all wonderful and we breeze through them so quickly. Each book is about 150 pages long, and you can read them in a day if you put your mind to it. Even reading it outloud, this particular book only took us 3 sittings to complete...

I love these books because they're not preachy, and some of the other books we've read have really turned me off with their preachiness. Since I consider myself a "sort-of Christian", I don't like all the stuff about praying and being saved and the gospels and the Bible being crammed down my throat nonstop. Why do I read Christian literature? Because if you skip all that stuff, you usually wind up with a darned good story... But I'm kind of getting off topic here. Read Philip Gulley's entire Harmony series, if you haven't already. You won't regret it.

We are about halfway through Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, which we are enjoying. Barbara took a year and traveled around the country, trying to survive on only minimum wage jobs. She worked as a waitress, cleaning hotels, and as a store clerk, and tried to sustain herself with an apartment, food, etc. She set up only minimal parameters (she allowed herself the privilege of a car and refused to live in a place that felt unsafe) and then tried to make do. I can't comment on the entire book, as we haven't finished it yet, but it has been a great deal more interesting than Bait and Switch.

Our last book club book was Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer, which I didn't particularly care for. I read the first 70 pages and felt like it was every other chick lit book I'd ever read. Fat girl is unhappy, skinny girl best friend is getting married and making her miserable, she gets revenge and the boy, lives happily ever after. Blah. Don't bother unless you're looking for pure fluff.

I've just started The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (I think??), which everyone is raving about this summer. I get a lot of book picks from the Diane Rehm show (http://www.drshow.org), and the panel was raving about it a couple weeks ago, and I was excited to read it. I'm only about halfway through the first chapter, but so far it's quite compelling!! I will post a better review later.

Our current book club book is Wuthering Heights... Now this one will blend into the movie portion of this post... It was an interesting pick for the club, since we haven't read any classics before. I had an idea in my mind that Heathcliff was quite the sympathetic character, and quite frankly I think I had Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre all mixed up in my head.

Anyway, I started reading WH, and I was getting very confused indeed, so called my sister and asked her what on earth was going on with this book... She suggested I add it to my Netflix, so when I found a version featuring Ralph Fiennes (pant, pant, drool, drool), I did.

Ok, that freakin' movie literally gave me nightmares. I can't believe I've had such a strong reaction to a character, but I dreamed that I was young Catherine and Heathcliff was drowning me under his boot in a pond behind Wuthering Heights...

I plan to read the book, as I suspect there were many portions that might have been missed should I not read the book, but WOW, the movie was really something... It was deliciously creepy in a psychological kind of way... Ralph Fiennes was really quite something. Juliette Binoche was also excellent.

Other Netflix I've recently viewed...

I finally saw Capturing the Friedmans, which I'd been wanting to see for a while. It was a documentary about the Friedman family, which is torn apart when allegations of child sexual abuse circulate about the father and youngest son. Supposedly the two men molested young boys during the course of a computer class they were teaching in their home in Great Neck, Long Island, NY. The documentary included family film footage, as well as a lot of interviews with the police detectives, victims, family, friends, and others involved.

It was a fascinating look at the hysteria that begins to happen as allegations start to fly. It was kind of like the Salem Witch Trials, honestly... I can't say for sure what happened, I doubt anyone will ever know what happened, but I must say, based on this documentary, the evidence and the whole thing looks rather suspect. Just my opinion based on nothing but a documentary, people!

I also just watched Adaptation. I am not typically a Nicolas Cage fan, but I thought I would take a crack at it, since I've been on a bit of an Oscars kick lately. I have to say, I loved it! The story was great--the tale of a screenwriter trying to adapt a book into a movie, and his crazy twin brother is making his life difficult, as is his devotion to and vision of the story. Meryl Streep was great, Nicolas Cage was great, Chris Cooper was great. It was a little bit out there, but definitely a good film.

Before that, I got The Safety of Objects, in which four suburban families attempt to connect with each other over their disfunctional lives. I did not like this one at all... It took me two days to get through it, and I just keep thinking, "Why are you people torturing yourselves in these ridiculous ways?!" At the end when it all comes together and you see how all the people are related (I guess, actually, that starts happening about 1/2way through), it's kind of like, "Yeah, I already figured all that out. Thanks."

I also got Better Off Dead, in a fit of adding John Cusack to my queue. Frankly, I might have been better off dead than watching that stupid thing. I love him, but... A girl's got limits, John. I probably would have loved it back when I was 12.

So, you are all now up-to-date on what's been keeping me busy... I am also still addicted to Dog, the Bounty Hunter and Project Runway. I watched the two hour Dog wedding special, and I've been combing the web for PR updates and sneak previews. Judy, Heather, and I have a Wednesday night date with the TV at Judy's and then we re-hash until Monday of the following week when I start calling up the teasers and so forth and we discuss that. It's a sickness. But there are only 6 designers left. And they are pretty much insane. From Laura "I can't get emotionally attached to another baby" to Jeffrey "I hate your mother" to Vincent "Everything sparkly makes me giggle" I just can't get enough of that show... For tons of great info and links, visit http://bloggingprojectrunway.blogspot.com and read to your heart's content! (I'm so crazy about it, 2 of this season's designers are on my MySpace friends list!)

Nighty night!

4 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Lesley said...

I'm probably going to come back and make a few comments to this post, since there's so much in here!

I have The Memory Keeper's Daughter on my wishlist and might make it our October book club selection. I heard the author being interviewed on the Diane Rehm show awhile back and it just sounded so interesting to me. I'll be curious to know your thoughts on it when you're done.

For a positive spin on the fat issue, I highly recommend 'The Fat Girl's Guide to Life' - it's one of my favorite books.

I *loved* 'Nickel and Dimed' and have recommended that one to a few people. Great insight into the lives of the working poor. A&E did a special on the subject a couple years ago, based off her book. And did you see the episode of '30 Days' where Morgan Spurlock and his girlfriend live on poverty level wages for a month? Very interesting stuff.

Oh yes, and Project Runway! I can't stand Jeffrey and his stupid neck tattoo. He's such a jerk! I think it will come down to Uli and Michael and they're just keeping Vincent around for the 'crazy makes good TV' factor.

Brian said...

I probably would have loved it back when I was 12.

Of course, the target market for that movie was teenage boys, so...

Kate/Susan said...

I still love some of those old teen movies though... Just not that one!

Talmadge G. said...

Four words: "Where's my TWO DOLLARS??!!"