Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm apparently unable to let go of Harry Potter

Because I don't want The Summer of Potter to be over already, I'm stealing goofy online Harry Potter-related quizzes from other people's blogs.

Which Harry Potter Woman and Personality Type are You? (Updated)

You are the Logical Master. You may be a snotty insufferable know-it-all, but we know we need you. We know that when it comes down to it, you'll be there.

Take this

The Harry Potter Wand Test

12", Holly, Dragon

You scored 42 wisdom, 50 bravery, 15 emotional, and 5 martyrdom!

Holly is a powerful protective wood that good for use against evil, but it also represents dreams and fertility. Your dragon's heartstring core makes your wand very effective in hexes.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A word of fashion advice to the men of the city

Bike shorts are meant to be worn exclusively on bikes, people! Please, spare us all the image of you walking around the city in your teeny-tiny, tight-ass shorts. No one wants to see that.

In other fashion news, I've done a surprising (even to myself) u-turn on men wearing capris. Without warning, I suddenly don't hate them any more. What does everyone else think?

Friday, July 27, 2007

More closure for Harry Potter fans

Shannon stumbled upon this article, which I've promptly stolen. It's an article with JK Rowling offering additional details about the futures of some of our favorite HP characters. My biggest question remains unanswered, unfortunately.

The article is full of spoilers, so it's a dangerous read for anyone who hasn't finished the book yet.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

You can't stop the beat, and you wouldn't want to

The new musical adaptation of Hairspray is adorable! It's not as campy as John Waters' original, but it captures the energy the original Broadway cast brought to the stage, and its positive spirit is utterly infectious. Subtlety is not particularly present here, and characters fall squarely and comically into either the good or bad camp. The actors appear to embrace this one-dimensional approach, though, and really deliver. Nikki Blonsky, in her first major role, is excellent as Tracy. She has a great voice for the part and perfectly portrays Tracy's enthusiasm for life. And that girl can dance! Walking in to the theatre, I told my friend that I was a little sick of Christopher Walken doing comedy and was ready for him to be serious and creepy again. He's Christopher Walken, after all! That said, he was actually great as Wilbur. And John Travolta, despite so much latex that he looks a little like one of the Wayan brothers in White Chicks, actually embodies Edna quite well and imbues her with warmth and vulnerability. I spent more time adjusting to Travolta's Baltimore accent than I did to him playing a woman; can someone who has seen the movie and spent time in Baltimore please tell me if this is an accurate Baltimore accent? It sounded more than a little Dr. Evil to me. Self-referentially charming, the movie also features cameos by John Waters (as a flasher, no less!), Jerry Stiller, and Ricki Lake.

Most of the music will be familiar to anyone who has seen the Broadway version, and the added songs fit the style and scenes so well that they slide in seamlessly. I was impressed, too, that director Adam Shankman took advantage of his medium. No scenes are groundbreaking, and he doesn't reinvent cinematography. That said, this movie manages to avoid the trap of so many stage adaptations (like The Producers and Rent), where stage scenes are simply recreated in front of a camera.

The one misstep, really, is when the film attempts to be serious with its social commentary. The whole movie is about overcoming prejudices of all varieties, but when Tracy and Motormouth Maybelle lead an integration march, things slow down to the point of dragging. Throughout, the film's message is clear but wrapped in silliness and fun. This moment of solemnity feels out of place.

People who universally decry musicals and bitch and moan about the unrealistic nature of characters breaking out into song to express their emotions (which is so much less realistic than, say, Optimus Prime) won't necessarily be won over by Hairspray. Everyone else, though, will.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter and The End of an Era

Ok, after a few days of living with the knowledge of how Harry Potter's saga ends, I think I'm finally ready to review it. Laura thinks it's silly that I've given people only four days to finish the book, but I think most of you are, in fact, done. Just in case, though: Beware, THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW. Please, please note that I'm not kidding. I can't figure out how to do the cool thing other people do where they hide part of their blog post, so I'm begging you: if you don't want to know what happens, please don't read this post.

Generally, I'm happy with the way it turned out. I don't actually think this is the best of the bunch (Prisoner of Azkaban is still my favorite, I think), but I was definitely satisfied. I do think the Harry/Hermione/Ron hiding in the forest section went on a bit too long. I wasn't bored, but I can imagine being antsy to get through this chunk upon subsequent readings. That said, Rowling introduced some very nice back story here that really fleshes out some of the characters. I was particularly impressed with Dumbledore's history, which made him more of a three-dimensional character than he's ever been before. Harry's recognition that his mentor isn't perfect is a very realistic step in his coming of age, and I love that Harry finally trusted Dumbledore completely. I also really liked Snape's back story. Harry's foray into the pensieve offered some of the best scenes in the book and Snape's history made his feelings toward Harry and his actions/attempt at redemption complex in a good way. And how great/creepy/moving was Snape wanting to look into Harry's eyes as he dies because (as we've been told at least once in each book), Harry has Lily's eyes. So good! And in both Snape and Voldemort's histories, there is a nice shade of gray to everything. Snape wasn't wholly evil and James wasn't a prince, for instance; finally, Harry seems to see these ambiguities, too.

There was a sense of inevitability about this final book that took some of the dramatic tension out of it for me. I remember being terrified through the entire Hall of Prophecies section of The Order of the Phoenix that Neville was going to bite it. Here the deaths didn't have as much dramatic tension as they could have and lacked emotional heft. Fred's death was covered in just a few lines and we didn't even see how Lupin and Tonks fell. I could make an argument that we were shown things as abruptly as the characters and had to move on just as quickly because of the ongoing fight, but it's a weak argument at best. I loved those characters, and it felt like they were cheated a little.

A few things I did like, though: For the first time, a house elf story didn't annoy me. I actually really enjoyed it when they started biting and stabbing the ankles of all the Death Eaters, and I liked that Dobby died a hero's death. And, I love, love, love that Neville got all bad ass while nobody was looking. I've grown to love him and am very pleased that he played an important role in the climax.

The showdown: we all knew this part was coming, and for the most part, I think it was well done. Though it was wildly over simplified, I did like that Harry's personal sacrifice for the whole wizarding world passes on the same protection that his mother's sacrifice gave him. Though it's silly in the sense that surely other people threw themselves into harm's way to save their loved ones during Voldemort's first reign, it makes good use of the story we've heard so many times about Lily's attempt to save Harry.

A few notes on the epilogue: normally this type of thing would drive me bonkers, but I kind of liked a little glimpse into the future here. It was nice to know that our three main heroes turn out ok and spend their lives as family. Part of what worked well about it, for me, is that Rowling didn't try to tie up every loose end. Though there was more I wanted to know (see below), I accept that she had limitations, and I'm glad she chose to update us on the characters we were with over the course of the seven books (Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville, and Draco). That said, here are a few things I wish she could have included:

What do Harry, Hermione, and Ron do with the rest of his life (besides starting families, that is)? Speculation has forever been that Harry either teach Defense Against the Dark Arts or become an Auror. We know none of them are at Hogwarts from this epilogue, and it's unclear whether there is a need for Aurors in this brave new Voldemort-free world. Do they go back to Hogwarts the next year to take their N.E.W.T.s? Is there some kind of wizarding GED? What do they do?

What happens to Luna? Does she take over the Quibbler? Go on fact finding missions to prove that all her father's theories are really true?

Fred and George were really two halves of a whole; what does George do without Fred? How does he cope without his twin? His loss is the greatest in the book (aside, perhaps, from baby Ted who we don't care about who lost his mom, dad, and grandfather in the course of a few hundred pages. Did it feel to anyone else like Lupin and Tonks were killed off just so Harry could become the godfather to an orphan?). I really mourn Fred's death, and I wasn't his identical twin, best friend, and business partner. I really wish we could know what George does.

All in all, I'm happy. It's very bittersweet, but I'm satisfied.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

First vegan in The White House?

Did anyone else watch the CNN/You Tube debate last night? Though the format was, of course, novel, much of what the candidates said was politics as usual. They have their messages, and regardless of the questions asked, they find ways to hit their standard talking points. Also unsurprisingly, Hillary and Barack got more air time than anyone else. One of the things that is so frustrating about the media coverage of this very long campaign is that they focus only on the candidates who are already well known. That constant publicity, of course, only serves to reinforce their name recognition which translates into good numbers in the polls which equals more publicity. It's such a self-fulfilling prophecy. I hate to say it, but most Americans aren't seeking out the information needed to understand the distinctions between Chris Dodd's, Bill Richardson's, and Dennis Kucinich's platforms.

To that end, here is a bit about Kucinich, who impressed me last night. He'll never win. I know that, and I believe he knows it, too. But he seems to best represent where I want this country to go in many ways. Since CNN will certainly not get his stances out there, I'm doing my part (the fact that I have a grand total of seven readers does not discourage me!).

According to Wikipedia, Kucinich's platform for 2008 includes:

Creating a single-payer system of universal health care that provides full coverage for all Americans by passage of the United States National Health Insurance Act.

The immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq; replacing them with an international security force.

Guaranteed quality education for all; including free pre-kindergarten and college for all who want it.

Repealing the USA PATRIOT Act.

Fostering a world of international cooperation.

Abolishing the death penalty.

Environmental renewal and clean energy.

Preventing the privatization of social security.

Providing full social security benefits at age 65.

Creating a cabinet-level "Department of Peace"

Protecting a woman's right to choose while decreasing the number of abortions performed in the U.S.

Ending the war on drugs.

Legalizing same-sex marriage.

Creating a balance between workers and corporations.

Restoring rural communities and family farms.

Strengthening gun control.

He's the only candidate who voted against the war and war funding at every turn. He's the only one who unequivocally supports gay marriage; he doesn't pussy foot around the issue and try to make some B.S. about civil unions sound like equality. He hates the patriot act. And he wants to impeach Dick Cheney! Again from Wikipedia: "He charges Cheney with manipulating the evidence of Iraq's weapons program, deceiving the nation about Iraq's connection to al-Qaeda, and threatening aggression against Iran in violation of the United Nations charter."

Ultimately, I know I'll have to throw my weight behind one of the big three, but for now I'm enjoying that someone in the race is actually saying what I'm thinking. And as a final note, did anyone else notice the lovefest between Hillary and John Edwards? Neither one wanted to disparage the other at all; maybe they're already laying the groundwork to be running mates?

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows about an hour ago. No review yet for a few reasons: I want to digest it and really decide how I feel about how it all played out before committing anything to writing, and (more importantly, really) I'd hate to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't finished reading it yet. I would have been mad if I'd heard any spoilers, and I don't want to be responsible for doing that to someone else.

That said, if anyone else has already finished it, I'm definitely up for discussion, so please email me.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Saving the planet one joke at a time

One of the great things about living in New York is the ability to choose among many, many fun ways to spend an evening on a moment’s notice. I was invited to spend last night with some of my favorite former colleagues who are in town for a few days. Though I really wanted to catch up with them, I would have had to do it at an MH-sponsored cocktail party populated with many of my former nemeses. Even with my friends’ presence, it sounded like a mild form of torture, so I had to wriggle free.

Instead, Jen and I took advantage of this opportunity to see our favorite Daily Show correspondent, John Oliver, performing at Comix. It was actually a Greenpeace event, so we got to pat ourselves on the back for our philanthropy while also being entertained. I take public transportation or walk everywhere I go, and now this: I’m practically Al Gore’s right-hand woman in saving the planet. Fuck the fact that I love my air conditioner and leave my cell phone charger plugged in all the time, letting it do its vampiric energy sucking thing day in and day out.

We actually saw five comedians for the price of one (that math works because we were really there for J.O. and would have paid the twenty-five smackers just for him). One brought me right back to my Xanadu: On Broadway experience, not because he roller skated or channeled Electric Light Orchestra, but because the rest of the audience found him very, very funny, while Jen and I sat there trying to figure out what exactly was tickling everyone so much. In fairness, thanks to our suck-tastic waitress, the rest of the crowd was two drinks ahead of us at that point. John Oliver was definitely the highlight of the night, but one other comedian, Aziz Ansari, was actually just as funny in a very mock-the-hand-that-feeds-you sort of way. He riffed on the gift bag we all received at the event, Greenpeace itself, and MTV, which hosts his show, The Human Giant. I can’t remember the last time I watched MTV and won’t go searching for this show; if I happen to stumble across it while channel flipping, though, I’ll give it a try. And, of course, I’ll continue to love every time The Daily Show is smart enough to have John Oliver on instead of Jason Jones or Samantha Bee.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter movie review: Redux

Ok, I’m feeling a little bad about my vitriolic review of Harry Potter this morning. I failed to say some of the things I really liked about the movie, which include some very good scenes between Harry and Sirius and the addition of a very well cast Luna Lovegood. I also thought Yates provided a nice sense of place with the early flying scene right past Parliament.

I also admit that having recently reread the book may have affected my opinion on the movie. I'm curious to hear how it works for people who have not read the book.

I also want to add another excellent Harry Potter title to the mix, courtesy of Laura:

Harry Potter and the Virgin Suicides

Harry Potter movie review--beware of spoilers

Rena and I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night—at 3D IMAX viewing, that is. The experience of seeing it not only larger than life, but practically wrapped around my head and larger than life...and in 3D no less...it made for a very fun viewing experience. That’s definitely for the best, too, because, I’m sad to report, the movie was a bit of a bust.

First the good: many of the characters are cast with such perfection that I cannot imagine anyone else playing them. Outstanding are both Alan Rickman and Jason Isaacs who imbue each line with such scorn/menace/hatred, etc. that even the most mundane of lines hit home. Love them. And I was pleased with Imelda Staunton’s take on Umbridge. I didn’t hate her as much as I hated her in the book, but I thought Staunton channeled her evil obsession with power and order well. Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Gary Oldman—all wonderful. The problem is that I didn’t get enough of any of them. Tom Felton, who I idiosyncratically LOVE as Draco Malfoy (no on else seems to think this kid is as absolutely perfect for this part as I do, but I stand by my appreciation of him) didn’t even get a single scene of his own! The one big exception to this fine cast is Michael Gambon. I loved the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore; he was another example of casting perfection in my eyes. So, it would have been hard for anyone to fill his shoes without a bit of resistance on my part. But Gambon plays Dumbledore and a mean old man, which is not who he is in the books at all. It’s an absolutely awful portrayal of an integral character and really disappoints me.

Casting issues aside, there were other problems with the movie. I know it must be hard to compress 800 or so pages into the length of a feature film, but it must be possible to do better than this. There was no sense of fun to this movie, no character development, and, most problematically, a seriously misguided sense of urgency; I felt no urgency about He Who Must Not Be Named coming back, but I did sense director David Yates’s determination to race through the necessary plot points. The intensity I want to feel in these movies has nothing to do with adaptation challenges and directorial pacing problems and everything to do with the story itself.

I think the actors all did a fine job, but something was seriously lost in this adaptation. Even when good scenes from the book were included, they were extracted from their context in such a way as to make no sense. Take the Weasley twins’ fun but ultimately useless fireworks display during the O.W.L.’s: in the book, their departure caused a much needed distraction. Here, they simply got sick of Umbridge and school and decided to go out with fanfare. So much of what takes place in the Department of Mysteries felt similarly disjointed. This should be the climax of the movie, but, like the rest of the film, it felt like we were just being taken through the paces. Even Sirius's death makes no sense! Why have that archway if Bellatrix is going to use the Avada Kadavra curse? It's not like we then see Luna comforting Harry as she did in the book, telling him they could hear the voices just beyond the veil, blah, blah, blah. It's like Yates knew he had to include certain things but couldn't make any of them actually fit together.

My dream is that Alfonso CuarĂ³n (director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the best of the HP movies by far) will return for movies six and seven. Unfortunately, loser director David Yates has already been announced for the sixth movie. Still, a girl can dream.

And PS: What the fuck is up with this kid? Is he Yates’s son or something? Why did he get more screen time than Tom Felton, Jason Isaacs, and Maggie Smith combined? He’s all over the D.A. scenes, and it’s annoying.

Despite my negative review of the movie, I remain very excited about this Friday’s book release. To keep up Harry Potter spirits everywhere, I encourage you all to play the Harry Potter book name game that Anne taught me oh-so-many years ago. As always, the title of the book starts with “Harry Potter and...” but the subtitle now has to be another book title. A few of my favorites:

Harry Potter and the Time Traveler’s Wife (for the new, Equus-lovin’, naked-Harry Potter fans who might like a little adultery with their magic)
Harry Potter and the 100 Years of Solitude
Harry Potter and the Year of Magical Thinking
Harry Potter and the Witches of Eastwick
Harry Potter and the Human Stain

Monday, July 16, 2007

A literary and cinematic Evening

Rarely do I read books and watch their cinematic adaptations as closely together as I did with Evening. I saw the movie a few weeks ago with my mom and Caryn and followed up almost immediately by reading the novel, which has been sitting on my shelf since an impulse purchase at the Goddard Community Center book sale in November of 2005.

Neither the novel nor the film are perfect, and much of what fails in one fails in the other. Both follow the same basic storyline but differ significantly in almost every detail and subplot. In both, family members gather around a dying matriarch’s bedside. Their waiting is interspersed with her memories of one fateful weekend. Like every flashback-driven tale, one story is inevitably more compelling than the other; in this case, Ann Lord’s attendance at her friend Lila’s wedding, where she has a life altering but short-lived love affair, is, by far, the more interesting of the two stories, and it’s easy to get antsy wading through the the present day filler. In the book, this filler most often takes the form of Ann’s other recollections. Contrasting her memories about the weekend surrounding Lila’s wedding, which are crystalized, detailed, and acute, all other memories are hazy, half-forgotten, and run together. This impressionistic approach creates a useful juxtaposition and offers enough to outline the rest of her life. Unfortunately, it becomes increasingly irritating to read long stretches of only partially-articulated narrative, where sentences, like Ann’s memories, run together and amok. In truth, I started skimming these passages about half way through the book and skipping them all together by the last quarter.

The movie, on the other hand, uses the present day segments as an opportunity for some predictable and cloying self-growth among Ann’s daughters, and, again, the flashbacks were far more affecting. Truth be told, the reviews for the movie have been pretty unkind, which surprised me a little. Admittedly, the film is slow moving, but not every movie needs to be Live Free or Die Hard action-packed. The movie has everything to do with waiting and anticipating and deserves to be meandering and lyrical.

The film has one of the finest ensemble casts ever assembled and my hat is off to whoever got all these amazing women in one film: even the small and somewhat thankless parts are filled with actresses of outstanding caliber (Eileen Atkins, Glenn Close). I also appreciated seeing Patrick Wilson in another film (and finally one having nothing to do with pedophilia!). On the way out are the days when only my theatre friends and I knew him, and it’s exciting to see someone who has only been known within a small community growing into a recognizable name, if not a bona fide star (yet). Really, I think he, Claire Danes, and Mamie Gummer have Meryl Streep to thank for their appearances in Evening. Wilson and Danes have both played Streep’s children before (Angels in America and The Hours) and Gummer is her real-life daughter. Nepotism (both real and fictional) is serving them all well. A shout out is also due to Hugh Dancy, who, in a part greatly changed from the novel, plays Lila’s brother with heart-breaking humanity.

I can’t give either the novel or the movie an unqualified recommendation, but I’m glad I read and watched each. I found the love story at the heart of both moving, even if the surrounding material hindered it from touching me as deeply as it should have.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Randomness in all its glory

You all have Laura to thank for today’s post. She’s tagged me for this 8-random-tidbits thing. Here are the rules:

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own post about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Here goes:

1. My bookshelf organization is partially autobiographical. For instance, Written on the Body and Stone Butch Blues have to be next to each other in the bookcase for the rest of time because I read them together in college.

2. I have a voyeuristic streak that compels me to look in the windows of every apartment I can when I’m walking around.

3. Ok, so this one isn’t really about me, but it’s about my day-to-day life at work. My boss wears a toupee and thinks no one knows; we ALL know. And we mock it. The other day I told my colleague (when said boss was being particularly wussy), “John needs to grow a pair.” My colleague responded with, “What did you say? John needs to grow some hair?” Good times.

4. That officially gross cheese food product that goes on nachos and pretzels at the mall? Sometimes it really hits the spot.

5. Alice in Wonderland = Creepy. How do kids watch that and not get scared? That freaky Cheshire Cat? No, thank you. The Queen of Hearts and her hideous, “Off with their heads!”? The drunk “A Very Merry Unbirthday” mouse? Ugh! I hate it all.

6. I like watching rats in the subway. I know they’re gross and disease-ridden and whatever, but down in the tracks they are far enough from me that I can watch them with an anthropological fascination. And when you’re waiting forever for the train to come, sometimes you need a little something to keep you entertained.

7. I really want to learn how to ride a motorcycle. And snowboard. And sky dive.

8. I’m terrified of having isolated Tourrette’s like attacks where I say all the inappropriate things that I’m usually thinking during meetings at work.

There you have it. You all know me a little bit better now. I don’t know eight other bloggers, but I’m tagging the few I do know: Shannon, Veronica, Anne, Josh, and Jen.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Battling the heat through inappropriate attire

I think the heat is going to people's heads. Seriously, it seems to be affecting people's fashion sense. Walking to work this morning, I saw not one but two women wearing skirts so thin and light-weight that I could see their undies through them. I'm all for beating the heat through summer-weight clothes but not at the cost of flashing the entire Upper West Side. On the other extreme, I also saw a woman wearing pantyhose under her skirt. Her brain must have really been fried when she was getting dressed this morning.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And the award for best performance in a totally disappointing show goes to...

Audra McDonald.

I recently took in a performance of 110 in the Shade, which I'd been wanting to see mostly for its cast. I didn't know much about this revival, but I did know that leading lady Audra McDonald has never disappointed. To give credit where credit is due, she is an amazing actress and singer and did absolutely all that could be done with the material. Unfortunately, there are just some limitations that can't be overcome. Set in Texas in the 1930s, there are two main plot points in 110: McDonald's character, Lizzie, can't land a man, and the town folks are desperate for the drought to end. Lizzie is on the brink of officially becoming an old maid and, like the land around them, is drying up. Yes, that's the musical's big metaphor. Both Lizzie and the land need to get a little wet.

Lizzie is quite intelligent and unwilling to flirt and giggle like an idiot. Even worse: She's plain. A not-pretty smart girl? No wonder she's an old maid! Even if you can get past this premise (which is especially hard given how lovely Audra McDonald really is. Just look at that poster!), the show still disappoints. I'll forgive a lot if I'm entertained, but 110 in the Shade was just boring. It ran about 2 1/2 hours and only a few of the songs had emotional resonance; the rest, frankly, were vapid. I'm glad I got to see Audra McDonald's performance, and ever since Urinetown I've had a soft spot in my heart for John Cullum. I'll happily see either of these two in future performances—just not future performances of 110 in the Shade.

Random celebrity sighting: two rows ahead of us were Tony winner David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk, and Edward Hibbert from Curtains. I choose to believe that they weren't impressed either.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Yiddish Policeman's Union: Mixed Feelings

I wrapped up Michael Chabon's latest over the weekend, and I have to confess: It didn't live up to my very high expectations. I've loved so many of his previous outings that I really expected to be taken with The Yiddish Policeman's Union, too. Even after I started it and wasn't immediately pulled in, I took solace in the fact that two friends who had read it before me told me that it was a slow start for them, too, and that by the end they couldn't put it down.

Technically, the book is successful. The central mystery is both personal to the protagonist—giving it an emotional core—and global enough to capitalize on the author's alternate history concept. The writing style took me a while to adjust to; this is my first foray into hardboiled fiction, and I can't say that I loved it. That said, from what I do understand about the genre, it seems that Chabon has successfully adopted the tone, traits, and characteristics of the style. I admire his determination to break down the artificial segregation of genre fiction and literary fiction, but any author who dabbles in such a variety of writing styles will really please each of his readers only some of the time.

With some writers, you go in knowing exactly what you're going to get (Amy Tan, anyone?), and it takes courage to try something different with each book. I didn't love The Yiddish Policeman's Union, but I appreciated it. Chabon is an extremely talented writer, and I'm excited to see what he does next. My anticipation won't be for the guaranteed pleasure that comes from always ordering the vodka sauce at Nino's and knowing that it will fully satisfy; instead, it will be the anticipation of trying something new and hoping to discover a new and exhilarating flavor all together.

Side note: I do continue to be intrigued by the alternate history genre. I can imagine The Yiddish Policeman's Union and The Plot Against America as the foundation to a very interesting college course…

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Second Time Books

I just got back from a long weekend at Mom’s house over 4th of July. We had all sorts of grand adventures planned, which were partially thwarted by a torrential downpour on the 5th. Luckily we had driven by a previously undiscovered used book store on the way home from the train and decided to check it out. Given my book addiction, it was an absolutely perfect rainy day activity. The store, Second Time Books, has only been there for a few months, and is absolutely adorable. Mom and I, in our book-lovin’ way, were exclaiming over every great book we found on the shelves, and the owner started really loving us. It was a mutual admiration society, as we were impressed with his selection, prices, and the very good condition of all his books. I bought 8 books for only $28!

I want independent and used book stores to succeed, and in the age of Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, that’s no small feat. My favorite local small bookstore, Ivy’s Books, was shuttered last time I walked by, and it broke my heart a little. And though most of you have no reason to be in Mt. Laurel, NJ, I can’t stop myself from shilling for them a little: if you find yourself in that neighborhood, please check out Second Time Books!

Monday, July 2, 2007

A cheesy good time

Saturday night marked the belated celebration of Jen's recent birthday. Three of us took Jen out to Artisanal for a heart-stopping meal of cheese fondue, shared appetizers (including their signature cheese plate), and chocolate fondue. As good as all that cheese was--and believe me, it was good--just as fun was spending the evening with Jen and her friends. The four of us have hung out a bit together before, but this was the first time we all really spent an evening together. Not since the heyday of my publishing group right after college have I had a real circle of friends. I have wonderful, amazing individual friends, but too many of them don't know each other. I should try to do more joint activities, but it's always tricky trying to bring different groups together. I was pleased and surprised at how effortlessly we all clicked.