Top movies of February 2015

11 movies watched:

Hail Caesar!
All sorts of fun 50s movie studio stuff.

Beyond the Lights
How much of yourself do you have to trade for fame?

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Good movie, but you should turn down any invitation extended by George and Martha.

Inappropriate and hilarious.

The Two Faces of January
Mystery and intrigue in Greece.

Don’t believe the press.  Actually funny.

Song of the month, February 2016

This month’s song is also by Bleachers.  Will I end up buying this album song by song?  Time will tell.

I read somewhere that this album is inspired by 80s movies and this song really captures the feeling of some of those movies, like the ones John Hughes made.

I’ve just watched the video for the first time.  It was very 80-esque.  I found myself amused at the very WASP-y, classic ice queen beauty playing the object of Jack Antonoff’s affection.  Mostly because in real life he’s with incredibly normal looking Lena Dunham.  Anyway, I think the twist at the end is the “rollercoaster” part.  Also, I think you could do some sort of physics assignment to figure out how fast the van was going when they were playing on top of it.

Also in the running: Adele’s “When We Were Young”, which I like much more than “Hello”, but don’t hear as often. I’m buying that song too. I think I first heard this on regular reader Kathleen’s blog.

Of note:  for most of this month, the song on endless repeat in my head was Vance Joy’s “Riptide.”  I have no idea why as it has been out for a long time.  I don’t like or dislike that song, but I really didn’t need to be on endless loop in my head.

Books read in February 2016

The results are in from my first month working for the private sector:  11 books read.  That seems like a lower number than usual, but I’m not actually going to check.  This month I only read one book that was not for librarian book group.  And I read no “grownup” books at all.


Picture:  Swap!
Middle Grade:  Pax (and not just because it was the only one)
YA:  They were all really good in different ways.  If I have to choose one I’ll go with The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B.

picture books

Into the Snow
Read for Librarian Book Group
The illustrations felt like being in the middle of a snow storm.  This also meant that sometimes they weren’t very clear.

Be a Friend
Salina Yoon
Read for Librarian Book Group
I love mimes.  And so I loved this book.  One might take it as mime propaganda–get the kids while they are young!

Surf’s up!
Read for Librarian Book Group
Fun little tale of the terrible choice between surfing and reading.

Steve Light
Read for Librarian Book Group
Very fun story of swapping items for other items and eventually getting what you need.  The illustrations were grand and this book could possibly double as a coloring book for those with good fine motor skills.

middle grade

Sara Pennypacker
Read for Librarian Book Group
Really great middle reader about a boy and the fox he rescued.  For the first half of the book I kept trying to place the story in space and time.  War was coming, and I couldn’t really figure out how that fit into the map of the real world.  I eventually gave up on this quest and just slotted this into the kind-of-present-kind-of-future space.

young adult

Wonders of the Invisible World
Christopher Barzak
Read for librarian book group.
Manages to combine a solid love story with weird “seeing” elements.  Like us, the main character has no idea what is going on until the best friend he can’t remember moves back to town after five years.  Trying to puzzle things out kept me turning pages.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
Teresa Toten
Read for librarian book group
A story of a boy with OCD, and his first love, Robyn.  This story also includes the kids in his OCD therapy group, his counslor, his mother, father, stepmother and brother. There’s a lot to juggle here and Toten manages to keep track of everyone.

I particularly enjoyed the rich characterization.  The many players are memorable and well developed.  Unfortunately for me, reading about OCD was a slog–I spent the book tense and uncomfortable.  Which means I think Toten did a great job accurately capturing the super bummer it must be to live with OCD.  By the end I was glad I had read, but in the middle it was hard to keep going.  I recommend this, because it’s good, but that doesn’t also mean it is an easy read.

Salt to the Sea
Ruta Septys
Read for Librarian Book Group
People who read Between Shades of Gray will particularly enjoy this WWII-era novel.  Told from four different perspectives, it details the end-of-war fleeing of people toward the Baltic Sea.  It’s a thick book and a quick read.

We Are the Ants
Shaun David Hutchinson
Read for Librarian Book Group
In Dennis Lehane’s book The Given Day, there is a marvelous bit of writing where a character is pushed off the roof and falls to his death.  The author manages to play out this scene clearly and cleanly without once using the words “push” or “fall”.

So it is with this book about depression and bullying, which manages to weave an engaging tale for 455 pages, while rarely mentioning depression or bullying.

Open Road Summer
Emery Lord
Regan O’Neil–a rebel on the reform path–escapes her normal life for a summer on tour with her Taylor Swift-like best friend.  I was constantly confused by the fact that this rebel wore heels and makeup, but perhaps southern rebellion looks different than western rebellion.  Contains good stuff about friends, fame and finding out who you are when you aren’t a bad girl anymore.

Young nonficiton

I Hear a Pickle
Rachel Isadora
Read for Librarian Book Group
Oh good grief, this book seemed like it took forever to read.  The repetitive structure had me bored by the time we got to the examination of the second sense.  I was positively silently screaming by the fourth one.  Cute illustrations though.

Hollywood Theater Oscar Party

This year, Kelly and I spent our time with the Oscars at the Hollywood Theater.  Our $25.00 admission got us reserved seats, two drink coupons, and a voting ballot.  Doors opened at 3:30 and so we watched all the pre-shows before the ceremony began at 5:30.


People were encouraged to come in costume, and there was a fashion show during one of the commercial breaks.  (They nicely turned the sound down during the commercials.)  Here is the initial round of contestants.


Here are the five finalists.  My vote was for the woman in the red dress, who really knew how to work her model walk.  I was also a fan of the Tidy Cat lady.IMG_5056

But here was the–admittedly stunning–winner, inspired by Cate Blanchett’s performance in Carol.IMG_5057

Aside from beer and wine, there were also specialty cocktails inspired by some of the nominees.  This is the Denizan, inspired by The Big Short.  It was delicious.IMG_5059

I usually enjoy the Oscars Ceremony.  It can be a little draggy and long, but so can football and other sporting games.  I thought Chris Rock was a great host. It was also fun to watch with a crowd.  A collective shriek of delight rose up when Mark Rylance won, beating out the presumed winner Sylvester Stallone.  And there was quite a big gasp when Spotlight was announced as the winner as probably most people had pickedThe Reverent.  But yay!  Spotlight won!IMG_5060

I thought I did a pretty good job with my picks, missing only nine.  (I forgot to read up on the short films, and missed all of those.)  No one in the theater got all correct, and the person who ended up winning the big prize missed five.

IMG_5061 IMG_5062

Overall, it was a fun night and a good way to see the Oscars.

Three sentence movie reviews: Paper Towns


A good second viewing, though I had to keep reminding myself that Margo Roth Spiegelman would soon exit stage left and leave me to enjoy the movie.*  I enjoy watching the boys hanging out in this movie, and how true the end-of-high school emotions are.  And wouldn’t the Fault in Our Stars have been a different (and much better movie) if Mr. Nat Wolff had gotten the part of Augustus Waters?

Cost: free from library.
Where watched: at home with Matt. Film 4 of 3 of today’s scheduled Movie Palooza. (Matt and I were supposed to go on a date, but there was car trouble and he had a copy of this movie, so we watched it.)

*Didn’t like the character in the book and her translation to the screen didn’t do anything for me, either.

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I think this was one of those Fathom Events promotions, but it looks cool, so I put it up.

Three sentence movie reviews: Ishtar


I’m going on record as saying that I remember my family watching this on VHS in 1987 and finding it hilarious.*  And while it wasn’t knee-slapping funny, I laughed throughout this viewing. If you are amused by two middle-aged men bumbling through the desert, you will quite possibly like this movie, especially if you ignore all the film-critic baggage that has attached itself to this picture.

Cost: $2.99 via Google Play
Where watched: at home on the tablet.  Film 3 of 3 of today’s scheduled Movie Palooza.

*So much so that I can still sing the “Tellin’ the Truth” song from the soundtrack.

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Three sentence movie reviews: White Bird in a Blizzard


Eh, it was a little bit too “dramatic novel” and there was a little too much scene chewing by Eva Green.  There were also two abrupt shifts in perspective–one of which explained a key plot point–that were confusing.*  Although this also has a female who is in charge of her sexuality with none of the usual consequences, so that was a plus.**

Cost:  free from library.
Where watched. At home. Film 2 of 3 of today’s scheduled Movie Palooza.

*If 98% of the movie is from the main character’s perspective, and two scenes aren’t, does that mean the main character doesn’t know those scenes have happened and thus doesn’t know that key plot reveal?
**Also, much like Jennifer Lawrence, Shailene Woodley is fun to watch.

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Three sentence movie reviews: The Two Faces of January


So my mild infatuation with Oscar Issac continues.*  I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of this movie, as it was quite good–tense in all the right places.  It’s based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, and follows the usual pattern.

Cost: Free from library.
Where watched: at home.  Film 1 of 3 of today’s scheduled Movie Palooza.**

*And who doesn’t like a side of Viggo Mortensen?
**Side note.  When I watched the movie Frank, I was intrigued by the preview for this movie and White Bird in a Blizzard, the next film in today’s Movie Palooza.  I was amused to notice the previews for this movie and the next all played a small game of rotating through each other.  This had Frank and White Bird.  While White Bird had this and Frank.  Magnolia Pictures was pushing all the same movies at the same time.

Three sentence movie reviews: The Heartbreak Kid (2007)

heartbreak_kid (1)

Unlike the original, this movie fleshed out the back story and pointed me in a direction, so I knew what was supposed to be funny.  There were the usual Farrelly Brothers gratuitous touches* and Ben Stiller did his uncomfortable Ben Stiller thing.**  Not the worst way to spend two hours, but not the best one either.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home.

*Older woman in hot tub with breasts the size of basketballs.
**However, it was enjoyable watching the scenes he did with his father.

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Three sentence movie reviews: Neighbors


I only got this movie because the preview for Neighbors 2 both attracted and repelled me in a way that was interesting.  And this movie is chock full of uncomfortable situations which beget uncomfortable laughter.  There was much flapping of hands, saying “oh-no!” and looking away, but goodness gracious did I laugh.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home with Matt.  After the second-worst work day of my life.*

*I accidentally installed ransom-ware which killed off my computer, took down the server and rendered everyone in the company unable to work for the afternoon.  Everyone was very nice about it and the backup server was restored the next day, but it was still pretty terrible.

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