Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 43

I read Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield about three weeks ago, while I was on vacation in California. And I read it really fast, because it didn't belong to the people I was borrowing it from and I didn't want to take it home with me. So I can't write a decent review because it didn't stick with me too much, and I didn't savor it, and it's been a while since I read it. So here goes: it was good, and it was sad, and I'm struck by how much just a couple years' difference in age makes when considering cultural references, particularly in regards to college radio. I hadn't heard of a lot of the bands Sheffield loved, which removed me a little from the story. But man, I got the sad parts. Rob, I hope you're doing OK.

Love is a Mix Tape - B

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 42

When the hubs ventured to our favorite used bookstore a couple days before our vacation, I asked him to pick up a Jodi Picoult book. I read My Sister's Keeper about a thousand years ago and remembered liking it OK, and thought I'd give her another shot.

Here's the back-of-the-book description:
"Fourteen-year-old Trixie Stone is in love for the first time. She's also the light of her father, Daniel's life - a straight-A student; a pretty, popular freshman in high school; a girl who's always seen her father as a hero. That is, until her world is turned upside down with a single act of violence. Suddenly everything Trixie has believed about family - and herself - seems to be a lie. Could the boyfriend who once made Trixie wild with happiness have been the one to end her childhood forver? She says that he is, and that is all it takes to make Daniel, a seemingly mild-mannered comic book artist with a secret tumultuous past he has hidden even from his family, venture to hell and back to protect his daughter."

Having read My Sister's Keeper and just having a feeling that Picoult is somewhat formulaic, I got pretty much what I was expecting in terms of character, plot, and significant event that changes the course of action near the end of the book. But I also got two things I wasn't expecting, one good, one bad. The nice surprise was the excerpts from Daniel's graphic novel (or was it a straight-up comic?) that closed most chapters. Yes, the father in the book is a comic book artist, but I didn't expect to actually see his drawings. It was kind of cool. I have to give major credit to Dustin Weaver, the artist who drew "Daniel's" drawings. Nice job, Dustin. I also wasn't expecting to get hammered over the head with symbolism of hell and references to Dante's Inferno. Please, Jodi, give me some credit as a reader.

The Tenth Circle - B-

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 41

I've been reading a lot, right? And I've been reading quite a few things that people have heard of - not every selection, but a lot of them. I look over the list so far and I see things that I'd heard about a long time ago and hadn't gotten around to reading, or things that someone else recommended to me that I thought I should take a look at.

But every now and then, I read a book that even I haven't heard of - and Walking in Circles Before Lying Down is one of those books. I found this on the shelf at my boss' house when we were having an off-site meeting, and the description on the back of the book made it seem like something I'd like:

"Dawn Tarnauer's life isn't exactly a success story. Already twice divorced, the young Californian is too busy job-hopping to start a career, her Life Coach sister provides perpetual interference, and her eccentric parents need parenting. Dawn's only source of comfort, it seems, is Chuck, a pit-bull mix from the pound. So when her boyfriend announces that he's leaving her for another woman, a despairing Dawn turns to Chuck for solace.
"'I should have said something sooner,' she hears Chuck say, consoling her. 'Couldn't you smell her on his pants?'
"Dawn is stunned. Suddenly she can hear not just Chuck talking, but all dogs - and man's best friend has a lot to say. Doubtful of her own sanity, Dawn nevertheless considers that in the ways of life and love, it might be better to trust Chuck's doggie instincts instead of her own." Talking dogs and parents that need parenting? Sign me up!

Unfortunately, WICBLD didn't live up to my expectations. I've determined that talking dogs are tricky things. You don't want to make them sound too stupid, because there's definitely something going on in there, but you can't make them sound too smart, either. When I put words in my dog's mouth, he sounds like a precocious, foul-mouthed toddler. Wash says things like "Put me down," "I'm hungry," and "NO!," but he also says "Fuck off, that's my bone." He speaks in complete sentences, but I wouldn't say they're complex sentences. Chuck, the doggie hero of WICBLD, is WAY too loquacious. Here's a portion of one of Chuck's lengthier passages, after he's returned from being missing for a few days:

"I figured I'd be safe as long as I followed my instincts. But the problem with instincts is they only really work in the absence of opportunity."

OK. If Wash ran off, the words in his head would be "Smells! News smells! I smell poop! There's some trash! Uhhh... where's Mom? Where the fuck am I?" None of this "absence of opportunity" business.

Long story short: you wanna see a good talking dog? Watch Up. WICBLD had a great concept, but tried too hard and ended up falling short.

Walking in Circles Before Lying Down - C

Monday, June 15, 2009

Vacay, Part One

I am back from part one of my two-part vacation, and I would like to share the highlights with you.

1 - I (via my SIL, Senora Fuerte, participated in Worldwide Knit In Public Day! And we kicked some ass in bar trivia, and I drank some big beers... which, to be frank, ended in Tears and Shame in Public Day, followed by Laundry in Private Day. I'll let you deduce what happened, and you'll probably be right. That's enough about that.

2 - I had a delicious cupcake from Sprinkles, the world's first cupcake bakery. Yum. Read more about that here.

3 - I had a couple bites of this muffin. I know, right? He's a total dreamboat.

4 - I read three books, bringing my Cannonball Read total up to 43. Reviews coming soon!

Good times, good food (particularly the beans-and-rice at Beach Mex), good family. And vacay's not even over yet! Keep tuning in for regular updates part two - fewer babies, more evening gowns.

vacay - A+

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 40

Let me start by saying: finally. SO happy to have finished another book.

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen was making the rounds as the It Book several years ago - isn't this the one that Oprah wanted to endorse but he said no, to uphold the book's integrity? I think it was a good choice - I think lots of excellent books have been exposed to the masses via Oprah, and I'm glad that more books are getting read, but maybe some things shouldn't belong to the masses.

I digress. The Corrections is yet another tale of a dysfunctional family from the Midwest, parents growing older, siblings growing apart, and one last family holiday. And it's intense, no doubt about it, but it was very hard to get into. Once it grabbed me, it grabbed tight, but it didn't have a good grip for at least the first fifty pages. But now that I think about it, maybe it's beacuse the characters are so unlikeable - I grew to care about what was happening to them, even as they stayed unlikeable, but it took a while to get there.

One other thing: a lot of stuff that happened seemed far-fetched (of course, I won't tell you what that stuff is, because you should read it for yourself and I don't want to ruin it for you), and I have a problem with that. But the problem comes from the mundane parts. The plot points that were so real were outstanding, but the ones that were extreme left me wanting more of the mundane, more of the "real" that pulls families together and pulls them apart.

The Corrections - B

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


There's a new blog in town, and it's going to knock your socks off - Cupcakes Are So Hot Right Now. Me and my buddies JJack and Big Bri will post commentary on our favorite cupcake flavors as we embark on a six-week taste test of all the offerings at Cupcake Station, just down the street from our place of employment. See, we discovered that they have this promotion every Wednesday, where it's buy two, get one free. AMAZING! So we're gonna take turns buying the cuppies, and try to work our way through the flavors... perhaps with an ultimate winner? Also, even though the name of the blog won't change, we may also right about other culinary delights that pass through the doors of our esteemed business establishment. Yee-hah!

Click here to read more.

Cupcakes Are So Hot Right Now - B+ (points off for being the new kid)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Tony Award Predictions

UPDATE: I kicked the Tonys' ass! Out of 27 categories, I got 21 totally right, and one half-right (who was expecting a tie in the Orchestrations category? not me!). So, with 21.5 out of 27, that's 79.6 percent - better than I've ever done at the Oscars. And my co-worker only got 35.2% (sorry, Brian, I can't give y ou credit for choosing Matthew Warchus, since you didn't pick which play you wanted him to win for... loopholes), so free lunch for me!

I bet not many of you are planning on watching the Tonys tonight. But, I'm in an office pool, and the loser buys lunch, so here it goes:
Best Play - God of Carnage
Best Musical - Billy Elliot
Book of a Musical - Billy Elliot
Score of a Musical - Billy Elliot
Play Revival - The Norman Conquests
Musical Revival - Hair
Special Theatrical Event - Liza's at the Palace
Actor (play) - Geoffrey Rush, Exit the King
Actress (play) - Marcia Gay Harden, God of Carnage
Actor (musical) - David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish, Billy Elliot
Actress (musical) - Alice Ripley, Next to Normal
Featured Actor (play) - Roger Robinson, Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Featured Actress (play) - Angela Lansbury, Blithe Spirit
Featured Actor (musical) - Gregory Jbara, Billy Elliot
Featured Actress (musical) - Karen Olivo, West Side Story
Scenic Design (play) - Derek McLane, 33 Variations
Scenic Design (musical) - Ian McNeil, Billy Elliot
Costume Design (play) - Anthony Ward, Mary Stuart
Costume Design (musical) - Nicky Gillibrand, Billy Elliot
Lighting Design (play) - David Lander, 33 Variations
Lighting Design (musical) - Rick Fisher, Billy Elliot
Sound Design (play) - Russell Goldsmith, Exit the King
Sound Design (musical) - Paul Arditti, Billy Elliot
Direction (play) - Matthew Warchus, The Norman Conquests
Direction (musical) - Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot
Choreography - Peter Darling, Billy Elliot
Orchestrations - Martin Koch, Billy Elliot

Thanks to Time Out New York for the help with my predictions. Stay tunes to see how I do.