Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Five of Random

1. FOOD: Last week I had a whole pile of black bananas and no eggs for banana bread. With Deleilan's assistance, I made a vegan version that was delicious. (Email me if you want the recipe -- I don't think she'd mind.) Once I obtained some eggs, I made these banana muffins (thanks to Caerwyn) that pretty much knocked my socks off. YUM!

2. FILM: There's going to be a film of Susan Hill's THE WOMAN IN BLACK starring Daniel Radcliffe! I'm sure this will be deliciously gothic and creepy. (I've never seen any of the TV adaptations -- have you?)

3. BOOKS: after allowing myself an afternoon to celebrate/mourn the completion of the Hunger Games trilogy, I moved on to Kate Atkinson's fourth Jackson Brodie book, Started Early, Took My Dog. The UK edition has one of the most gorgeous covers I've ever seen! And it's thoroughly engrossing in its meandering, stream-of-consciousness way. I'm trying to make it last because I let Steve take my copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with him to Colorado. (What was I thinking?)

4. PETS: Yesterday was National Dog Day, and Jama Rattigan celebrated with children's authors here. Just so you know, National Cat Day is October 29. Cat lovers need to represent, so put it on your calendar!

5. MUSIC: Those of you who came of age in the 80s might find this interesting: a Then and Now montage of music artists. Some folks are holding up well, while some . . . not so much. Do you see any of your old crushes? :)

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weekend surprises

Pleasant surprise #1: Spaced. This is one of those shows where after the first episode I was thinking "well, that's cute enough," and then by episode 4, I was obsessed! The tragic thing is that when I added it to my Netflix queue, I noted the existence of three discs. So when I get to the end of season 2, my first thought was "thank goodness there's one more to go!" Little did I know the third disc was for EXTRAS, and there never was a third season. Sad Sonia! And yet, one of those extras was a very detailed featurette on the making of the show that included a wee little peek into what might have happened to the two main characters if the show had continued. Almost as satisfying as a third season! (Well, not really -- but I'll take it.) Anyway, I'm not sure how many of you have seen this show (it's 11 years old already), but the Star Wars references made me think of several friends. It's not sci-fi, but half the characters are living a scifi storyline in their heads, so it might as well be. Definitely a very geek-friendly show! If you're a fan of Simon Pegg, and liked Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I think you'd enjoy it. It's silly and vulgar at times, but at its heart it is incredibly, delightfully sweet. (And very clever, of course. And hilarious. And even a little romantic!)

Pleasant surprise #2: Nanny McPhee Returns (or Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang in the UK). Like the first one, this film was downright silly at times, and had an utterly predictable ending, but I found myself very entertained and had a lovely cry during the closing scene. It's a charming, heart-warming film -- If you'd like more details, this review from the San Francisco Chronicle seemed on target to me. The cast is amazing -- I was particularly impressed by young Eros Vlahos (what a name!) who out-acted all of the children and many of the adults. But the real surprise of this movie, for me, was the appearance of a certain (unbilled) Scottish actor as the dad who is off at war. When we first see him in a photograph, I nearly gasped. I'd know that smile anywhere!

BTW, a cute connection between Spaced and Nanny McPhee Returns -- each features Bill Bailey in a minor, but memorable, role (as Bilbo Bagshot and Farmer Macreadie).  Hee!

[cross-posted from Livejournal]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Anticipation

Three books are on their way to me from three different places. I'm dying to read each one and am in UTTER SUSPENSE over which will arrive first:

Mockingjay -- MUST read this one before I get spoiled on Twitter! :) (Team Peeta, baby!)

Started Early, Took My Dog -- I've been waiting SO LONG for the next Jackson Brodie book. Couldn't wait for the US release, so ordered it from the UK. (Atkinson took the title from one of my very favorite Dickinson poems, which seems a good omen.)

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- not a new book, but lots of buzz lately due to the casting of the Hollywood film adaptation. This one's on its way from my editor.

And this morning, Brontë Blog brought this book to my attention -- A Taste of Sorrow (or Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontës, as it is known in the States). I'm sure the blog has mentioned it before, but this was the first time I noticed Juliet Barker's endorsement. Eeeee! And this one's available at my local bookstore -- but do I dare start it when I'm waiting for the others?

What books are you dying to get your hands on?

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend recap

I did not see Girl with the Dragon Tattoo this weekend -- decided to wait until after I've read the book -- but did watch two other films and finished a book:

The Eclipse -- at the end of this film, Steve growled "that's it?" He was expecting a mystery of some sort, and felt let down. I, on the other hand, was pretty satisfied. The film features gorgeous cinematography (I really want to watch again so I can study it), with a good balance of creepiness and pathos. (Plus a little romance for our dear Ciaran Hinds.) I hope I'm not spoiling or oversimplifying things by saying the story seems to be more about being haunted by the living than by the dead. There are some horror moments that may feel incongruous to viewers, but I was able to reconcile them with my interpretation of the film. Would love to discuss this one with others. (Lo, it is available from Netflix!)

Inception -- Another film that, at it's core, is about being haunted, about facing loss and moving on (or, as the case may be, not really). I thought the concept was absolutely brilliant, but couldn't quite emotionally invest in Leonardo DiCaprio as the protagonist. I left the movie thinking that if he could have brought to this what Guy Pearce brought to Memento, the film might actually have blown me away. As it stands, I really enjoyed it and want to see it again. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't even more satisfying after a second viewing. (BTW, the character I really connected with? Joseph Gordon-Leavitt's Arthur. LOVED him. More movies starring him, please! Also thought Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, and Cillian Murphy all did fine jobs. And Pete Postlethwaite's final scene? *sob*) I know everyone else saw this ages ago, but if you get a chance, please direct me to your commentary!

The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia -- I'm going to be lazy and just quote my Goodreads review: "This book celebrates so much of what I loved about the Chronicles, but at the same time provides context for many of the things that troubled me about the books and Lewis himself. Not a book to be read quickly -- best for those who enjoy a cozy and somewhat meandering combination of memoir and lit crit." I will add here that if you're a Lewis fan who values the Chronicles mainly for their Christian message, this book may not appeal to you. But gosh, it sure taught me a lot about how we evolve as readers, about the various literary (& personal) influences that shaped the books, about Lewis' friendship with Tolkien and their drastically different attitudes toward fantasy and world-building, and much more. Fascinating stuff!

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

England Top Five

We're home!

Got here Monday night, which meant yesterday was all about groceries and laundry. I was very happy to be reunited with my kitty-child, who seemed pleased to see us, but thankfully not in a desperate "WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME" sort of way. (I think he had a good time with our housesitter.)

Overall I really enjoyed our time in Oxford, but It's so wonderful to be in my own home, sleeping in my own bed, drinking my own tea, etc. And gee, I don't miss those drunk students yelling outside my window AT ALL. No siree. (They were lovely people, but unfortunately their voices really echoed around the quad.)

Over the summer I posted many links to photo sets, most of which included so many scenes of wooded paths and Norman churches that they probably all started to look alike after a while. Someday I'll learn to take more photos with actual people in them! Sorry about that.

And yet, I can't leave the photo thing alone. I still want to share! Can I, please? Don't worry -- to spare you the frustation of sifting through all my shots of paths and churches, I've chosen five of my favorite photos from the summer.

tea
Our first English tea of the summer, and probably the best. When in Bath, we had a "Wimbledon Tea" at the Pump Room, which included the usual sandwiches and scones, but started with a cocktail and ended with strawberries and cream instead of sugary pastries and sweets. Can you tell I am very excited to get started on this?

london
Our week in London was hot and sticky, but fortunately it cooled down at night. We stayed in a hotel on the south bank of the Thames, and I loved the view from that side. Here's St. Paul's Cathedral, taken from the Globe Theatre courtyard.

dartmoor
A view of the moor near Easdon Tor in Dartmoor. This was such a great day of hiking (15 miles in all) and I love this photo of tiny Sonia against the vastness of the moor, trying to stay upright in the powerful wind.

cotswolds
Steve taking a breather somewhere near Broad Campden in the Cotswolds. My favorite photo of him from this trip!

magdalen
Magdalen College is, in my opinion, the most beautiful college in Oxford. I admit I was very pleased with how this photo of the New Building turned out. In the center you'll see the three windows with flowerboxes underneath. Those were C.S. Lewis' rooms when he was a fellow at Magdalen.

And, just for kicks . . .

sheep
This Dartmoor sheep seemed quite keen to have a conversation with me. I thought she might be saying "How are you, dearie?" or something sweet and old ladyish like that, but later that evening, when I'd just finished my portion of lamb for supper, I realized that she must have been saying "Please don't eat my baby!"

Since then, I've really been considering going vegetarian. (If only chicken, turkey, and fish didn't count as meat! Argh.)

If you'd like to see more, here's the entire Oxford 2010 Flickr Collection.

Also, I just added a small set of photos related to Dorothy Sayers -- you'll find them here.

And now, I'm moving on with all the work I ignored this summer . . .

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]