Thursday, March 5, 2015

2015 Reading List: Part One

Today is another snow day and another opportunity for me to revive this here blog. For those who may not know, I’m an English teacher. Unfortunately that fact does not lead to my being a perfect writer (see this blog for proof) or to my constantly having my nose in a book. In the past two years, I have challenged myself to read more and more, and the website/app GoodReads has been a fun way for me to keep up with that goal. Last year I read about 35 books and rated them on my account, and this year I set a goal to read at least 40. Two months have passed, and I’ve read (or listened to) 8 books - woo hoo! 
  1. “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles - A classic where you actually don’t even like the main character… a favorite of high school classes (shout out to my students!) and an even more interesting story to read as an adult than as a teen. Give it a quick re-read if you didn’t love it in high school!
  2. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling - Speaking of re-reading classics from my youth… I am reading the Harry Potter series and watching the corresponding movie after each book. I think I will have to come back to this topic later and process my experience of reading the series as an adult after reading them through the formative years from age 12 to 19.
  3. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by J.K. Rowling - Okay one comment on the HP series… my love for the later, longer books blinded me to how great the early books are! I LOVED reading book two which for some reason I had never thought of as a favorite.
  4. “Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace” by Anne Lamott - Anne Lamott is an amazing woman. This book was not my favorite, but there are just so many good, thought-provoking sections throughout her work. I highly recommend her book “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.”
  5. “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler - I love this woman. This book was a great one to listen to (on my beloved overdrive account) because Amy herself read it. With the end of Parks and Rec recently, this book was a perfect way to get a little extra Amy Poehler in my life before I said goodbye to Leslie Knope. #voteknope 
  6. “Noggin” by John Corey Whaley - Yes. Noggin. I have been wanting to read this book since it came out. My book club (more on them later I’m sure - they rock!) was not 100% on board because the premise is a boy whose head was frozen for five years when his body died of cancer. When the head is transplanted onto a healthy body, Travis wakes up and has to start again as a 16-year-old whose loved ones have aged 5 years. I LOVED this book and can’t wait to talk about it with my book club gals soon. I even got a shout-out from the author on twitter! ‘Sup, John Corey Whaley?
  7. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling - The series keeps getting better. Novel three is my current favorite; I love the marauders and their map.
  8. “Countdown” by Deborah Wiles - This is a book I had stalled in a while ago, and I’m so glad I picked it back up (and listened to some chapters on overdrive). The main character is a junior high gal with her own problems living through the Cuban Missile Crisis while her dad works at an Air Force base near Washington, D.C. The author incorporates real images, articles, mini-history lessons, ads, and propaganda examples throughout her novel, and I really loved the combination of history and fiction told through a feisty little narrator.

I’m in the middle of a few more books right now, and I’ll keep you posted on my 2015 reads as I cross them off my list! 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

i'm back aka oscars 2015

well, ladies and gentlemen*... i'm back after a blogging hiatus. it may not surprise you that the stimulus for this blog renewal is... an awards show!!! that's right, i'm back with my signature** blog staple - an awards show recap.
**according to me

the 2015 academy awards!

here are some things i will not be commenting on:
"worst dressed"
neil patrick harris in his underwear
most of the awards

here are some things i will be commenting on:
"best dressed"
neil patrick harris telling corny jokes
probz some awards

let's start with the red carpet!

i was excited from the get-go because of reese witherspoon's online plea for reporters to #askhermore than just "who she's wearing." i love it. fashion is wonderful; the work by these women is wonderful. let's talk about it all! 
speaking of reese witherspoon on the red carpet... she nailed it. in her classic style.  as i posted on the 'gram, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it, girl." because in 2011 she rocked the inverse of this dress.

next on my best dressed list is a woman that i can't even begin to describe with words... because i have no idea who she is or what movies she is in. all i know is that she must be a wonderful actress and a fabulous dresser.

my final best dressed lady is not a movie star, unless you count her  groundbreaking role as the sister in "save the last dance." tv's finest fixer: kerry washington.

dang it! i have to include another sparkly-white-ish dress: lady gaga. pardon the gloves and enjoy the sparkles.

simply put - the best dressed man was marius.

now let's get into the actual award show. 
here are my personal highlights:
  • the much-anticipated-by-me opening song. i was pleasantly surprised that my girl anna kendrick and my man jack black joined doogie for the song and dance. 
  • j.k. simmons' acceptance speech urging us to: "and if i may, call your mom. everybody — i'm told there's like a billion people or so. call your mom, call your dad. If you are lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them. don't text, don't e-mail. call them on the phone. tell them you love them and thank them and will be to them for as long as they want to talk to you. thank you. thank you, mom and dad."
  • "everything is awesome" musical number. i agree. everything about that was awesome, especially andy samburg's pose at the end.
  • tim mcgraw's tribute to glen campbell and his family/documentary. it was very sweet, and my personal favorite part was the shot of faith applauding at the end. i love a good celebrity couple.
  • the tribute to those who have passed away this year. in the words of my dad referring to meryl street's touching introduction, "man, she's a good reader."
  • NPH's benedict cumberbatch / ben affleck / john travolta / idina menzel joke that everyone loved. (and the bit that followed) 
  • NPH's corny jokes that nobody loved. except me. at home. cackling alone. for example: "how to train your dragon 2 is basically admitting the first film did an insufficient job teaching people how to train their dragons.” [my approximate transcription. i was distracted by my lone laughing.]
  • patricia arquette's acceptance speech and call for equal pay for women. yes. even better... meryl streep's reaction:  
    • i wish i knew how to embed a .gif [2015 goals]
  • oscar commentary with my friends via text. since you can't read those. at least i don't think you can... not sure how all this cloud stuff works... i'll share with you a gem from the twitter feed of @jenhatmaker instead. she writes my favorite bible commentary, olympic commentary, and award show commentary. 
  • a tribute to "the sound of music!!!!!!!!" and since i love lady gaga when she's not wearing meat or scary masks, her performance was very enjoyable to me.

  • JULIE ANDREWS!!! can i age like her? she looks better at 79 than i do at 27.
  • one of the guys from "birdman" thanked his dog larry.
  • graham moore who adapted/wrote "the imitation game" screenplay had a strong message in his speech that brought a tear to my eye and a strong joke (thanking oprah) that brought a smile to my face. that's really the same thing his movie did, so i guess he deserved his award.
  •  cate blanchett's necklace.
  • in the end i was 7/9 on my predictions for my oscar party that got snowed (sleeted) out (for the second year running) and i had a blast watching all 17 hours of the show. until next year, i'd like to thank the academy. here's to the movies! and the return of the ptl blog!