Sunday, 28 July 2013

A Mini Readathon in Three Parts

Part 1
"The time has come," the walrus said, "to talk of mini things."

This is it: the mini readathon! Hosted by the fabulous Tika, we're going to be reading and snacking and tweeting (mostly the last two) from 9-5. Minithonning like it's our job, yo.

We like a theme, this group, so we're sticking to reading and eating things that fall under the "mini" umbrella.
Mini umbrellas are the cutest umbrellas.

Me, I'll be reading these bad boys:

BAM. Book pile. Identification and reasoning from top to bottom: 
  • Night Shift by Stephen King, because short stories are mini, inherently; 
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry, because it's written for mini-people (children/teens) and because everyone ever has read it and loved it and I WILL NOT BE LEFT OUT; and 
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, because mini-people audience and mini-brainspace usage required for reading it. Also I hear it's funny.

To fuel these happy reading funtimes, I'm starting off with breakfast of mini frittatas (recipe found over at Food Riot) and toast, which is not mini, but egg by itself is gag-y, so.

Please be appeased by my mini glass of orange juice.

And that's the intro post! To Oz? To Oz!

Part 2

Mini pizza lunch!

It looked much nicer before I cut it. 


Books read from: Night Shift and The Giver
Pages read: 92
Blogs visited: Reading the Bricks, Estella's Revenge, Libereading, Devouring Texts, Capricious Reader, and A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. If you're minithonning and I've missed you, I'm sorry! Join us on twitter with the hashtag #minithon and link up on Miss Tika's blog.
How it's all going: SO GOOD. Well. So well. I read "Jerusalem's Lot" from King's Night Shift to get things started, and it was supah creepy (read: excellent). Now I'm getting into The Giver and it is truly great. I don't know why it's taken me so long to pick it up. Probably because there are so many books in the world.

I know that feel.

How's everyone doing? Have you been able to pull yourselves away from the internet and read? (It's just, the internet's so shiny.)

Part 3

That's it! It's over! GOOD JOB, EVERYBODY.

Books read from: Night Shift, The Giver, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Pages read: 269
Books finished: The Giver
Blogs visited: River City Reading, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall, Libereading, Devouring Texts, Capricious Reader, Estella's Revenge, and, of course, that of our fearless leader - Reading the Bricks! And what a glorious group of blogs they are. You guys rock.
How it went: Like gangbusters, is how.
Final gratuitous snack picture:

The bulk bin they were in said they were a Dragon Egg mix. Clearly, as far as dragon eggs go, these are mini. (They're like chip nuts, but with super delicious flavours like wasabi and I don't even know.)

Thank you, Tika, for a wonderful Sunday! 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Middlesteins - Jami Attenberg


What, that doesn't constitute a review? Maybe I've been yelling about Harry Potter for too long...

OK, so there's this:

"Little Edie Herzen, having a bad day, was making the slowest walk up a flight of stairs in the collective history of walking and stairs."

I mean, right?

The Middlesteins is the story of a Jewish family in Chicago going about the business of living and loving and not strangling each other even though FAMILY. It was excessively wonderful. Attenberg's characters were really well drawn, and even when they were being upsetting, they were sympathetic. She changes perspective between the family members throughout the story, allowing the reader to understand the characters more, to see that, when they're being insufferable, they generally know it and feel bad about it. This is redeeming. This is familiar.  

The main story follows Edie and Richard, their marriage and struggles, and Edie's fixation on food. It spans generations: we see Edie as a child, we see her children as adults. It follows Edie and Richard's children as they find themselves having to take control and be the responsible, adult ones in this new parent-child relationship. It touches on how grating it is to learn that your parents are just people. Sometimes, not even good people. So not a new story, but not tired, either. Not in the way Attenberg tells it.

And did I mention it's funny? Funny with tragic overtones, but funny all the same. I will be reading through Attenberg's back catalogue, for certain.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Living it Up (North): The War of the Smells

I'd like to start a running post series wherein I talk about what it's like to live in the North. Let's open it up on the small scale and start with something that has nothing to do with the "North" and everything to do with apartment living. (This is already going really well.)

Once a week or so, my hallway engages in the War of the Smells. In one suite, something olfactorily horrific happens: a cat dies, a crate of bean sprouts liquefies, the gluttony scene from Se7en plays out. The next suite over copes by sport smoking. 

And the suite next to that marinates their apartment in air freshener, trying to make up for the other two. Breathing through your mouth is no escape: this air is savoury. You can taste that piney-fresh, low-tar, week-dead cat. 

Through all of this, inside our apartment, we have a sneak-attack onion smell. It's strongest inside our storage closet and our cupboards, even the ones under the sink in the bathroom. 

It's a weird place, so far. Smell-wise.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Movie Enthusiast: The Sessions

The premise: "A man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest."

The genre boxes: Drama, Comedy, Romance

The reaction: I thought I'd be angrier.

The part where I say more things about it: We go into the movie knowing our protagonist, Mark O'Brien, has some serious health issues: He spends hours each day in an iron lung. And when we learn that the desire that drives the story here is the desire for human connection, the desire to experience intimacy, well, I think we'd all be bracing ourselves for some horribly manipulative sadness. But the thing, the wonderful thing, is that the movie doesn't go there. I'm telling you this because I would have watched it sooner if I was sure it wouldn't make me angry-sad.

John Hawkes is amazing as Mark. The movie is based on a true story, and Hawkes and Ben Lewin  who directed the movie and adapted O'Brien's original article, "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate," for the screen — make sure we know that Mark is a real guy. People have been shouting for months about how fantastic Helen Hunt is in this, and they are so right. But my favourite part about this movie was Mark's relationship with his priest, played by William H. Macy. 

The verdict: Watch it. It's sad, but in a things-are-really-kind-of-alright way; and the sad is balanced by humour and lightness. Also, it's like a minute and a half long (95 minutes). It's on Netflix in Canada, and if it's on Netflix in Canada, it's got to be on Netflix in everywhere. And William H. Macy. So watch it.