Friday, July 31, 2009

16 Books - July Books & Movies

Happy last day of July, everybody! Sorry about no post last week, but we had a funeral to attend which brought the LB to town, so Saturday was spent watching le Tour and then heading to Grandma's condo for a big family get together. It was nice. I got to see some cousins that I haven't seen in quite awhile and aunts and uncles.

I enjoyed the heck out of the Tour de France this year, especially since it's the last sport I truly enjoy, sadly it only lasts three weeks. I wish Versus would show the Vuelta a Espana.

Here are the books and movies I read and watched in July.


32. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling - 870 pages - 2005 - I wanted to re-read book 6 before I saw the movie and thought it would be smart to re-read the fifth book, before the sixth one.

33. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling - 652 pages - 2007 - Ditto.

34. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - 759 pages - Well, after I had re-read the previous two, I had to finish the series, didn't I?

35. Fade by Kyle Mills - 344 pages - 2005 - I had read Kyle Mills' previous books and this had been out for a while (as you can see), but I finally picked it up. If you haven't discovered Kyle Mills yet and you like thrillers you are missing out. His books are meticulously researched and his characters are flawed but likable. In this one the title character, Fade, is an Arab-American who had been a Navy SEAL and ended up injured on a mission. The US government wouldn't pay for the very complicated surgery he needed and he ended up angry and embittered. However, the government now needs his special skills, but he won't play ball.

36. The Second Horseman by Kyle Mills - 339 pages - 2006 - In this one, a career thief, Brandon Vale, is busted out of jail by the person who put him there (for a crime he hadn't done), because he needs Brandon's special talents. There are WMDs, millions of dollars, behind-the-scene string pulling, and Israel-Arab tensions.

37. A Darker Place by Jack Higgins - 337 pages - 2009 - I've been a Jack Higgins fan since The Eagle Has Landed. I've read everything I've been able to find. It seems he's phasing out Sean Dillon (it's about time, he's got to be at least 65 by now) and Charles Ferguson (he's got to be at least 85), but I'm waiting to see where he's going with it. In this one, we had a Russian defector who wasn't quite what he seemed. It was less formulaic that I thought his previous few had been. He's still a classic thriller writer.

38. Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills - 299 pages - 2007 - This was very much a doomsday type scenario book. It scared the ever-livin' shit out of me. Again, the research done by Kyle Mills was extraordinary, this time into oil wells, production, fields, etc. I was especially happy to see that he had brought back Mark Beamon (from his first few books). Previously he was an FBI agent, in Darkness Falls he's the head of the energy department of Homeland Security, and he needs to find out why some major oil wells have stopped producing.

39. Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich - 308 pages - 2009 - This might have been the one that pushes me over the edge on reading anymore of these. She blew up at least four cars in this one. I don't know why Ms. Evanovich think it's necessary for her plot line to blow up cars so regularly, but I'm really over it. The YS has bought the last two books, so at least I'm not wasting my money on these.


33. (500) Days of Summer (Theatre) - 2009 - I loved this movie. I had wanted to see it after I had gotten my VSL newsletter. I laughed out loud a lot, as did most of the crowd at the Detroit "premiere." My friend Katie had free passes and asked me to go when she watched the trailer and saw the lead actor wearing a Joy Division t-shirt. When she asked, I said, "Oh yes, I've been wanting to see that movie." The best part of the movie was that he wore THREE Joy Division t-shirts in it. Two were Unknown Pleasures but one when he was a teenager and another as an adult, along with a Love Will Tear Us Apart t-shirt.

34. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix (K) - 2007 - I had to rewatch the movie before seeing the sixth movie. It sucked just as much as it did the first time around. Read the books, people, they're so much better than the movies.

35. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince (Theatre) - 2009 - I already gave my opinion on this movie at Zombieslayer's place. I have to agree with ZS's assessment that the director sucked. It's the same director as Order of the Phoenix and when a certain character dies and I don't cry...that's a problem...same as in the fifth when another major character had died. I sobbed my way through the end of the book (every time I read it), but the movie was so badly done, I didn't cry. I'm highly annoyed. We won't even discuss the bizarre addition of the burning of The Burrows. WTF was up with that???

36. The Children's Hour (N) - 1961 - Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine own an all-girl's school and are working hard to keep it going. There's a mean, vindictive girl there who spreads a story about them because she had been disciplined. All the parents take the girls out of the school and the women are destroyed. It was friggin' depressing, but it was really well done.

37. Momma's Man (N) - 2008 - I thought this was going to be a comedy and watched it after I watched The Children's Hour thinking it would cheer me up. Yeah, not so much. This was another recommendation from VSL, but I have to say that I did not love it. In fact, I would say that it fights with HP & the Order of the Phoenix for last place in Movie of the Month.

Book of the Month: Fade by Kyle Mills (it was hard since I had read three Kyle Mills and they were all great, but I loved Fade most). Please give him a chance. if you don't want to spend money, go to the library. He really is a brilliant writer and super nice as he responds to every e-mail - I've written to him twice now (last time after I had finished Smoke Screen a good 3-4 years ago and this time after Fade).

Movie of the Month: (500) Days of Summer - There's a line in this movie that is so worth watching. It made giggle for a good five minutes after it was said. It might have been a little juvenile, but it was still stinking funny.

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Sixteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First sixteen you can recall in no more than 16 minutes. Tag 16 friends, including me because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose. (A friend tagged me on Facebook, but I figured what the heck I'd share with you kids, too.)

As this took me over a week to do, I'm obviously not big on rules.

1. The Eight by Katherine Neville
2. Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity by Bruce Bawer
3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
4. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
5. The Sewing Circles of Herat by Christina Lamb
6. Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis by Jimmy Carter
7. Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly by Joseph Minton Amann & Tom Breuer
8. Alex Zanardi: My Sweetest Victory: A Memoir of Racing Success, Adversity & Courage by Alex Zanardi, Gian Luca Gasparini & Mario Andretti
9. The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins
10. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
11. Aztec by Gary Jennings
12. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
13. The Dante Club by Arturo Perez-Reverte
14. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason
15. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
16. Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis by Mick Middles & Lindsay Reade

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cat Scratch Saturday - Igor

Happy Saturday, everybody.

I've been busy already today. I got up late which happens when you're tired, but can't go to bed before 2:30 a.m. because of the stupid bar district. I got my fat butt on the treadmill this morning and then walked to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and since I was only a block away I continued on to the fruit market. Once I got home I did dishes and even though I haven't eaten I just don't feel like cooking anything. It's not hot or anything, I just have reached the point where I don't feel like doing anything resembling housekeeping, so I kind of blew it all on the dishes.

I knitted four whole rows last night on my sweater after not knitting at all for over a week. It's not because it's summer and it's too hot to knit, because it's not hot at all. Today's high is supposed to be's July, dammit!!! I want to be outside sitting in the sun!!! Perhaps napping. I think I have too much yarn now, because I'm overwhelmed with everything I have to knit, so I choose to do nothing. Hmmm, not good.

I'm very bummed re: le Tour de France as my favorite guy, Levi Leipheimer, broke his wrist on Thursday, which means he had to abandon le Tour. Bums me out, not that he really had a chance since Lance and Alberto are considered the true GC guys of Team Astana, so unless something drastic happened to either of them, Levi wasn't going to win, but hope springs eternal...or did.

Well, it's Saturday and that means Catblogging. I realised that the last five catbloggings (at least) have been of Boris. It's not that I don't love Igor, it's just that Boris is much more photogenic. Igor, being black, is much harder to photograph, but here he is.

Last weekend, I drove to Pittsburgh. HRH wanted to get the heck out of her town since the Icky Racing League were there and she hates them even more than I do (nominally). I also had to get some very cool Champ Car memorabilia to C&C and it was something that I couldn't mail or take on a plane as it would look fairly bombish. Turns out that Pittsburgh is about 4-4.5 hours drive for all of us. We all travel well together as we're easy-going about doing this, that or the other thing. HRH found vintage racing at BeaveRun race track. It wasn't a great day for racing as it was wet and a tad chilly, but we had fun nonetheless, once the rain stopped and the cars came back out on the track. Old race cars are cool and I love seeing them race. Heck, I got to root for a Pinto!!

Pittsburgh is a beautiful city built as it is at the confluence of three rivers and surrounded by high hills/small mountains covered in trees. They were having a street art festival. It wasn't overly large, but the first booth I saw was a woman who handspins and hand-dyes her own yarns. I supported her and picked up a very pretty hank of wool dyed in blues. I like to support independent artists and stores.

I hope everybody is having a good weekend. I want to go for sushi, but it probably won't happen. *sigh*

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Hodgepodge to annoy LL & the Good Doctor

Along with consistent catblogging to annoy LL to the nth degree (no, I haven't forgiven you for the whole Crosby thing yet), I've decided to tell you what I've been up friend Stephanie (from work) told me that I should occasionally knit for myself (I rarely do) and I was telling her about Beth and she said, You two need to pick a month when you knit only for yourselves. It was an idea that piqued my interest. So, I wrote to Beth and said that during the month of June we needed to knit something for us. And since we are who we are, we still knitted for others, but we had to work on something for ourselves more.

I had bought a number of knitting books in June and I chose this sweater (I liked the pattern, but even better, I had the necessary yarn) from them. In case that link doesn't work perfectly, it's on page 30 and it's pink - while mine is most definitely not.

I have finished the back and have started the front and I could have probably come close to finishing the knitting part of it this weekend, but I spent it re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in preparation of re-reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince prior to seeing the movie next week. It's going to be an exciting month of movie watching as I've already seen one in the movie theater, and with HP6 coming out, that'll be TWO movies in one month in the theatre. It's craziness...and it'll probably be it for the year, unless I can catch HP6 at the IMAX.

Is anybody watching le Tour de France? I love it and am excited about this season and hoping like hell there's no bloody stupid doping scandal(s) this year. I'll be happy with any number of winners - the only one I don't want to see win is Cadel Evans. Anybody but him and I'll be pleased as punch - unless he's improved on his personality since last year - which I doubt.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Happy Canada Day (plus One)

Sorry to abandon you all so abruptly (especially you, LL, I know how much you appreciate Catblogging), but Thursday was spent packing and downloading pictures to my computer (from the February Vegas trip) and then putting 2007 pictures on disk to save up room on the computer hard drive. I left early on Friday from work for Baltimore where I was until Tuesday. I was visiting my friend Rebecca and her family, and on Sunday I got to visit with my friend LT and his family, including my beloved Tyler.

Apparently, Boris doesn't just love boxes, but anything of a particular beige color. How can you not love catblogging, LL???

Wouldn't it be crazy if I listed June's books and movies early in July instead of waiting until August or September, as I seem to be doing of late?

I did really well book-wise.


21. Wicked Prey by John Sandford - 402 pages - John Sandford is one of those authors whose books I buy as soon as I see it's available (and then lend it to a friend, after I read it). His books can include some violence, but I find them enthralling and I read them pretty quickly. You don't really need to read the Prey books in order, so you can pick this one up w/o worrying about really missing anything, but I think you'll want to read them all once you start.

22. Fables: Legends in Exile #1 by Bill Willingham, et al - 125 pages - My friends Katie and Dan own Green Brain Comics and since I like to support my friends in their businesses, I asked Katie to recommend some comics/graphic novels that I would enjoy. I have never been much of a fan of short stories, which is kind of how I view comics, but I love fairy tales and I loved The Sandman series way back when, so I was willing to try something different. Fables' main theme is that the fairy tales characters were chased out of their own lands by something called The Nemesis (I think) and are now living in New York City. In this volume, someone seems to have killed Rose Red and Snow White puts the Wolf (who looks human for some reason - which is interesting since all the other animals are still animals) on the case to find out who did it. I thought it was quite well done, although I'm still in novel mode as I don't always remember that I'm supposed to look at the pictures. DUH.

23. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway - 213 pages - A friend from work bought me this book after she had told me about it and I thought it sounded really interesting, especially since I was reading Shakespeare and Company already (only at night, so while I started it before the Hemingway book, I finished it afterward). Both are about Paris in the 20s and about all the ex-pats, mostly writers, who lived there.

24. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - 312 pages - I love Neil Gaiman and this book is no exception. While it might sound gruesome, it was really a very sweet story about a boy whose entire family is killed one night (he was supposed to be as well), but he had crawled out of his crib and found himself in a graveyard where the "ghosts" of the inhabitants took him in and kept the assassin from getting to him.

25. Serenity: Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon - 87 pages - This is volume #2 in the Serenity graphic novel series. I'm enjoying these and I think the artists have done a great job in capturing everybody's likeness - some better than other, but still, enough to make me happy - old guy love and all.

26. Shakespeare & Company by Sylvia Beach - 220 pages - I liked this book better than the Hemingway book even though it was about the same period. I didn't know anything about the Paris bookstore when I bought this book, but it sounded quite interesting. Sylvia Beach owned the English-language bookstore in Paris until WWII. It was also a lending library for people who couldn't afford to buy books. She was also the first publisher of James Joyce's Ulysses which was banned in the U.S. and Great Britain. She also supported (it seems) Joyce, money-wise, but she didn't seem to mind, even though it seemed to me that he took advantage.

27. Fables: Animal Farm #2 by Bill Willingham, et al - 127 pages - The animals, save the Wolf as I've already mentioned, from fairy tales are stuck living on The Farm because, I guess, talking animals living in New York City would freak regular non-fable people out. Anyway, the animals revolt lead by two of the three pigs (a tad reminiscent of Orwell). It was quite good. I'm proud of myself for branching out into comic books, even if I am limiting it, so far, to Fables and Serenity.

28. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling - 111 pages - I think J.K. Rowling is awfully clever to write fairy tales for witches. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but these are the stories she mentioned in the Harry Potter books. And if you go to that link, you can even hear her read one of the tales.

29. The Sorcerer's Companion by Allan Zola Kronzek & Elizabeth Kronzek - 274 pages - This was written in an encyclopedic way, but I read it in order. It was interesting, and was well-researched, I thought. For example, it discussed dragons and how they were scary in Europe, but considered good luck in Asia - with a bit more information than that. ;-)

30. Things I Learned About Knitting...Whether I Wanted To or Not by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka The Yarn Harlot - 160 pages - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is an absolutely hysterical writer of knitting books. If you're not a knitter, you might not appreciate her writing fully, but omigod, I laughed out loud a lot while reading this book.

31. Facing the Extreme: One Woman's Story Of True Courage And Death-Defying Survival In The Eye Of Mt. McKinley's Worst Storm Ever by Ruth Anne Kocour with Michael Hodgson - 273 pages - I needed a book to take to Baltimore with me and this one won out because it was small enough to fit in my purse. I read it Tuesday and it proved to me that while I love reading mountaineering books, I have no desire ever to climb a mountain, especially one where it snows. It wasn't the best mountaineering book I've ever had, but it was pretty good.

Book of the Month - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


27. - 6/6 - The Paradine Case (TCM) - 1947 - This movie was unavailable for a while on DVD, so when it came up on TCM (last June 26 - yeah, it was on my DVR for damn near a year), I DVRd it. After watching it a second time, I realised that this is a Hitchcock film I don't need to own. It's not that it's bad. It's just not a very happy film and it makes me sad to see Gregory Peck so pathetic.

28. - 6/7 - Bell, Book and Candle (TCM) - 1958 - I remembered seeing this movie many many years ago and wanted to see it again as I remembered liking it. Tastes change as we get older, I've discovered. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't extraordinarily fabulous. I wasn't in love with Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart together in Vertigo, and it didn't work for me here either.

29. - 6/7 - The Last Metro (N) - 1980 - This is about a famous Jewish French play director during WWII who goes into hiding (supposedly left the country), while his wife, Catherine Deneuve, continues to run the theater with a very young Gerard Depardieu as leading man in the new play. It was told as a true clue if it is. It helped keep me in my WWI/Nazi theme of the past couple months. *sigh* So uplifting.

30. - 6/26 - Flushed Away (RR) - 2006 - When you visit friends with a 5-year-old you end up watching animated films - not that I'm complaining, because I love animated films, and I got to see two (see #32) new ones (okay, new to me). I love Aardman and this came from them. It was very cute. Premise: Roddy is a pet rat who gets flushed down the toilet by a pretty disgusting rat and he spends the movie trying to get back to his cushy life as a pet. He meets up with the usual cast of characters - bad guys with an evil plan, normal rats living their lives, love interest, etc. And, of course, learns what is actually important in life.

31. - 6/26 - After The Thin Man (K) - 1936 - I had sent my DVD excel spreadsheet to my friend Rebecca on Thursday to see if there were any movies she wanted me to bring and she asked for a Thin Man movie. The first one is lent to a friend from work, so I brought the 2nd one. I love the Nick and Nora movies and this one has a very young James Stewart. If you haven't ever seen one, please do yourself a favor and watch them. They are quite clever and what is funnier than a police detective getting all angry and swearing heartily by saying "Phooey."

32. - 6/27 - Robots (RR) - 2005 - This was my second children's movie of the weekend (and better than my other option of Madagascar 2 which I had seen and wasn't overly fond of). I quite liked this...I thought the main character robot was cute and it was a lovely story appealing to my socialist heart. ;-)

Movie of the Month - The Last Metro (although I'm more likely to watch Flushed Away again, as it was a tad happier)

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