New Year’s Day Activities

I wrote my usual yearly letters to myself and took this photo to include with them. I had a cold, and I can tell by my expression in the photo.

On my week off from work, I went to soak at Common Ground and really liked this Turkish towel, so I bought it. First order of business: monogramming. My favorite chain stitch with a variegated embroidery floss.

Doesn’t it look great?

Books Read in December 2023

Picture Books

Ten-Word Tiny Tales: To Inspire and Unsettle
Joseph Coelho and many illustrators
RFLBG

I like the 10-word tiny tales themselves, but I thought many of the illustrations pushed the tale in darker directions than I was thinking. Includes instructions for writing and illustrating your own tiny tales, so perhaps I need to re-illustrate some of the tales.

Ah! I see the subtitle now. The unsettling was planned.

Young Adult

Gather
Kenneth M Cadow
RFLBG

Like a snowball tumbling down a slope, this book accumulated more of my interest and compassion as it went on.

Reign
Katharine McGee

For most of the book, I wasn’t sure if this was the final chapter of the American Royals series or not. It was. McGee sewed up everything nicely, provided some surprises, and managed to find the perfect conclusion for the sometimes hard-to-like Daphne.

Everyone Wants to Know
Kelly Loy Gilbert

I really got sucked into Honors’s story. As the youngest in family of seven former reality TV stars, things aren’t easy. File this under tough lives of a privileged kid who never asked to be famous.

Every Time you Go Away
Abagail Johnson

Yeesh, these two. Both are tremendously scarred and unable to communicate. But with an intertwined childhood that had me rooting for them.

Courage to Dream: Tales of Hope in the Holocaust
Neal Shusterman and Andrés Vera Martínez
Read for Librarian Book Group

As Shusterman says, the Holocaust needs to be examined from all angles. This angle imagines the Holocaust through folk tales and then connects the stories to real-life situations.

Grownup Fiction

Mad Honey
Pichoult and Boylan

An eminently readable mystery with good New England vibes. I thought it was a good portrayal of how domestic violence reverberates through the years, even after the abuse has ended.

Grownup Nonfiction

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters
Priya Parker

Chapter by chapter, Parker walks us through evaluating why one would plan a gathering, planning the gathering, important things during the gathering, and how to end a gathering. This is a handy book for those of us who are trying to remember how the heck we used to gather.

70 Millimeter Film at the Hollywood

Not on my list of movies to see in this post, but one I fit in anyway, was a 70mm showing of Napoleon at the Hollywood Theatre. It’s fun to see the super big format, though I overall don’t love war movies. I was hedging my bets that this movie will be nominated for several Academy Awards, thus it was good to cross it off the to-watch list now.

Hims Isn’t a Big Seller at Walgreens

Matt and I have been catching up with shows on Hulu. Because I opted for the Hulu with commercials, we’ve seen a lot of commercials for Hims. We’ve seen fewer for Hers.

Hims is a company that hooks you up with a professional to help with hair loss/erectile disfunction/depression, and Hers focuses on depression/anxiety/weight loss (though hair loss is also a thing for women, though less advertised.) I find the ads’ focus a depressing reflection on our gender roles.

So I was amused to see that the product they are selling in the store was on super sale.

Christmas Celebration 2024

It’s been a tough year with many traditions shifting. We gathered for a Christmas meal. The mission: bring your favorite frozen food item.

We had a good (though salty) meal and Linda smartly interpreted the mission to include Salt and Straw ice cream, which we had for dessert.

After that, Matt and I went home and paid $19.89 to watch the Eras Tour (with bonus songs).

It was a nice, if muted, holiday.

Christmas Eve Movie Selection

As is my annual tradition, I pick a movie to attend on Christmas Eve as it provides a stopping point for preparation. There was essentially no preparation this year, so it was fine to see a movie at 9:45 a.m.

It was just me in the Istanbul room today at Studio One. I sat in all the seats and took notes as to which might be the best to reserve next time. I also had Studio One popcorn for the first time. It was delicious. Even at 9:45 in the morning.

Exit the Advent Calendar

While I enjoy the same felt advent calendar from my childhood year after year, Matt isn’t interested in partaking, even if there is chocolate involved. He floated the idea of getting the advent calendar from Exit, the in-home escape room company. And so we did.

We started the calendar after December 1, and then Matt went to Michigan for a bit, so we had a spreadsheet to catch up and keep us on track. That meant that we often did two days in one setting.

Eric was over for Saturday gaming and he did the last three nights with us. You can see how we really pulled everything apart at the end. That was because one of the rooms early on didn’t work, and Matt wanted to find the tiny emoji thing we couldn’t make appear.

One of the thing I enjoy (while also hating) about the games is that the helping clues are sometimes very blunt. There was a doozy in this one, somewhat mocking us for not getting an element that we had earlier commented MUST be something.

In the end, we found the prize: this tiny button labeling us X-MAS HERO.

It was well worth it.

December Movies to See

Thanks to the holiday schedule and a contest at work, we got Monday through Thursday of the Christmas week off, plus I took off Friday. What does that mean? Much time to watch movies in theaters. And this is great timing as there are many movies to see. Here was my planning sheet. As you can see, I had moviegoing companions for many of these.

Of this list I didn’t make it to Fallen Leaves (which is supposed to be great) and Boys in the Boat (which I’m somewhat ambivalent about given how much I liked the book.)

Kelly asked if I wanted to see The Color Purple, so I ended up seeing four of five movies with people. That’s pretty rare.

My ranking: Iron Claw (recommended), the Color Purple (recommended), Anyone But You (good), Poor Things (I liked things about it, but kind of really hated it, Skip), Wonka (the fat jokes entirely ruined this somewhat okay film, Skip).