Category Archives: film and tv

Good Things #39

Spring. Spring. Spring!
It finally seems to be here after weeks of teasing. Proof? The bluebirds are back, we planted onion sets this past weekend, and I rode with the top down twice in the past week. Dad put the nucs (short for ‘nuclear’) in the hives we lost this winter. It was a tough one, and the bees felt it. But now the new bees are buzzing about, and I can’t wait for more honey.

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TV…
So, this isn’t something I usually put on my list (other than Sherlock of course), but my brother finally convinced me to watch House of Cards. I’m only two episodes in, and stylistically, I’m hooked. I love the direct address to the audience, I love Kevin Spacey’s voice, and Princess Buttercup is even more stunning thirty years later. I’ve heard through the grapevine, however, that things get a little racy. We’ll see if I can handle it. It always makes me wonder what kind of person I would be if I’d ended up in Washington or in some other political arena. I’d probably be some ruthless cutthroat with pork-filled bills.

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Celebrating poetry month…in Latin.
My students, while not in English class, are still not immune to National Poetry Month. For three weeks we’ll be memorizing Latin poetry together, and I tried to sell it by using my 105-year-old great-grandmother as an example:

“You know what? My great-grandmother is 105, and sometimes she doesn’t remember who I am. You know what she does remember? What she learned in third grade.”

That got their attention. Yes, Gramma can recite poems and songs she sang as a child. So I told them I was giving them the gift of poetry for when they’re old.

They laughed, because none of us is getting old, please.

One of the poems we’re memorizing is Ecce gratum (See, welcome). Written sometime between the 11th and 13th centuries, it is one of 245 poems in the Carmina Burana. Feel free to memorize it yourself in honor of spring and poetry month!

Ecce gratum
et optatum
Vēr reducit gaudia.
Pupuratum
floret pratum.
Sōl serenat omnia.
Iamiam cedant tristia!
Aestās redit,
nunc recedit
Hiemis saevitia.

 

Iam liquescit
et decrescit
grando, nix et cetera.
Bruma fugit,
et iam sugit
Ver Aestatis ubera.
Illi mens est misera,
quī nec vivit,
nec lascivit
sub Aestatis dextera.

 

Gloriantur
et laetantur
in melle dulcedinis
quī conantur,
ut utantur
praemio Cupidinis.
Simus iussu Cypridis
glorantes et
laetantes
pares esse Paridis.

 

See – welcome
and longed-for
Spring brings back joys.
Purple
flowers the field.
The sun clears everything.
Now let sadness recede.
Summer returns
and retreats
the savagery of Winter.

 

Already melts
and vanishes
hail, snow and the rest.
Winter flies,
and now rises
Spring, the heart of Summer.
His mind is miserable
Who neither lives
nor loves
under the right hand of Summer.

 

May they exult
and be joyous
in the honey of sweetness
who try
to make use of the gift of Cupid.
Let us be by the order of Cypris
exultant and
joyous
to be on par with Paris.

Good Things #5

Back home for a rainy, cold week. This morning, though, the sun is shining, the kitchen door is open (despite the chill), and it’s Memorial Day!

Music. I saw The Lone Bellow perform this past winter, and I’m a sucker for this folky-sound. They hail from Brooklyn (my good friend’s church, actually), and two of the band members’ last name is ‘Pipkin’. Seriously, that is in the top five of favorite last names.

Arrested Development. I’m sure some of you are ready to gouge your eyes out after all the hype about the upcoming season release on Netflix. I apologize. But Good Things #5 would not be complete without a shout-out to one of my favorite shows of all time. We spent the last few days re-watching our favorite episodes in preparation.

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I actually attended an AD viewing party last night. (I made fruit salad and felt like a grown-up). They served frozen bananas dipped in warm chocolate and walnuts, ala The Banana Stand. They also said there’d be hot ham water, but they didn’t deliver on that one…Hoping season four proves as hilarious as the first three.

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(And, a side note: Jason Bateman also starred on my little-girl-favorite-show, Little House on the Prairie. Hello, James Cooper Ingalls.)

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Long Weekend. I am so grateful for the sacrifices made to keep us safe. I have family members who have fought overseas, and I know how important it is to show our gratitude. Cookouts may not seem like the best way to do that (!), but they’d say that was one thing they were fighting for: family.

Happy Memorial Day! What things are you enjoying?

 

 

Good Things #3

You know those days when you think: I wish this day never ended?  That’s how I feel most Sundays this spring.

But, it ended and Monday dawned bright and sunny.

Here’s how I’m starting my 5th-to-last week of school:

Music. This song is getting me. Originally sketched by Bob Dylan, the song was completed by Old Crow Medicine Show (what a great band name!). Maybe it’s the New England part, maybe it’s the harmonies. The romance doesn’t hurt, either.

Art. I went to my first art show in nearly two years, and it was like I’d forgotten part of myself for awhile. I don’t know much (or, really, anything) about the visual arts, but part of me wants to keep it that way. To just sit back and marvel at the artistry without worrying about how they did it. I can’t do that with writing or music, so I think I’ll keep visual art in that beautiful, ignorant place.

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Movies. We went to see The Great Gatsby with two friends Saturday night. We’d heard It’s all glitter and one long music video. There was glitter. And there was certainly music. But the thing is, that was the point. The book was all about the corruption and debauchery of the 1920s, and that’s what this movie showed, just in more 21st-century terms. I’m sure LOADS of my English-friends will disagree with me, saying it destroyed the book. Well, I enjoyed the destruction.

Family. Yesterday afternoon, I brought books out to the lawn and read in the grass. My brothers and sister played cribbage, and their laughter and arguments over the score drifted out to me through the garden. When I looked over, I could only see pieces of them through the white birch tree.  You know how wonderful it is to listen to people you love? And it was even better because I was a little separate, reading and reveling in the sounds.

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[That is NOT a honey bee.]

[P.S. The chicken class went well! It was kinda funny – only two older women and me, but it was great. More like a coffee date than anything, and we probably spent more time on writing and other nonsense than the down-and-dirty-facts of chicken-rearing. People are so interesting.]

[P.P.S. The morning glories are from last summer – there’s no way they’d be that big already. Soon!]

What Good Things are you enjoying? Feel free to link-up a youtube video for music or movies!

Good Things #2

This past week was unusually beautiful: I drove with the top down, drank iced coffee instead of hot coffee, enjoyed a good Mexican dinner with my brothers and cousin, and felt a hankering for country music (this hits me in the summer – very strange phenomenon). Sunday ended with an hour-long talk on the phone and a reminder that we are all changing, just some are faster than others.

Here are some Good Things that are brightening my Monday:

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Teaching. I spent Sunday afternoon compiling material for a chicken class. It all happened last fall when I was teaching an adult ESL class – somehow it got out that I have chickens and the director of the program asked if I would be interested in teaching an “Introduction to Raising Chickens” class in the spring. Well, spring is here and the class is this Saturday and I find myself making lists of the hardiest breeds, best layers, local farm stores, and all the weird things you learn when you raise chickens [Wait, you’re telling me you have to check hens for mites?! Yes, that’s what I’m telling you.]. I can’t wait to show the girls off. I hope my Barred Rock gets her act together and grows some feathers back in time!

Music. Okay, so I know I posted a song from Ivan and Alyosha last week, but I’m still listening to them. This is one of my favorites, probably because it’s so upbeat. Oh, to be easy to love! [This is a live recording because they’re cool.]

I’m also really liking this guy lately. This was sent to me by my contemporary music guru [a.k.a., my city-friend]. I don’t know much about him except that his name is Joe Purdy and that he looks pretty much how you’d imagine him to look [judging from his music]. A little more melancholy than “East to Love,” but sometimes that’s what you’re in the mood for. [This one is not live because the camera on the live version was so shaky I felt nauseous.]

Iced Coffee. I think I’ll always drink hot coffee in the morning, but iced coffee really hits the spot in the afternoon. I’m wondering if these afternoon beverages aren’t what’s affecting my sleep patterns…?

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Movies. I finally saw Silver Linings Playbook after months of hearing about it, and I loved it. Which is weird, because usually when people praise things to me, whatever those things are, they’re never as wonderful as I’d imagined. But I loved the way this was filmed, the way the dialogue was lapped over itself, and the character development, especially. Good stuff. Should be nominated for an award or something.

Books. So this isn’t a particular book, but this past Saturday I went to my library’s annual book sale. Oh my gosh, I forgot how great these are! Only $1 for a paperback, $2 for a hardcover?! I’ll take twenty. We walked down and got old fashioned doughnuts and coffee at the little cafe [there’s actually a funny story that goes along with this, but that’s another post] and then headed over to canvass the tables for interesting finds. I found an old copy of Dostoyevsky’s Idiot [I’ve been meaning to read it for awhile – gotta add to my Russian literature, you know?], Bridget Jones’s Diary, a Margaret Atwood book, and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Prodigal Summer [a guy at my small group keeps recommending her, so I figure I should give it a shot]. My friend and I bought a good stack with plans to switch in a few weeks. I was thinking of having a book-swap, because I have all these books that I’ve loved and want others to love, too. Maybe this summer!

What good things are filling your Monday?

Confession #2

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I didn’t get the text until 6:13, two minutes before my alarm would’ve gone off.

SNOW DAY HAPPY FRIDAY

Sometimes I can’t believe my luck. I hopped out of bed with an energy that I never could’ve mustered if I’d had to get up for school. Ran into the hallway and rejoiced to my poor father who still had to go into the city because businessmen don’t get snow days. I felt bad for him, but that didn’t really cloud the delicious day that stretched before me.

I made a big pot of coffee, and some of you probably think I’m going to say: “And I grabbed a book.” I did not grab a book.

I put on Netflix and watched Sherlock.

There seems to be something wrong with me. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m an obsessive person, but when I like something, I REALLY LIKE IT. I read (and watched) Little House like it was my job when I was little. In high school and early college, it was all about LOST. In what I consider my “Confession #1”, I wrote that my movie obsession seemed to revolve around none other than Tom Cruise (I have no excuse. I plead for mercy.).

Sorry, Tom, I think I’ve found someone else.

The past three weeks have been all about Sherlock. I’m always a little late to the game; two seasons under their belts before I’d even really heard of the show. Netflix is probably one of my favorite inventions of the last twenty years. It’s like magic! All you do is push a few buttons and then voila! you have these amazing shows and movies right in your house. Oh my gosh.

I’ve been trying to put my finger on exactly why I can’t get enough of this show. Of course I love the mystery, the plot twists, the London-setting, but I’m afraid it has something to do with Sherlock himself. Benedict Cumberbatch is the actor’s name – no, I’m serious. When I first saw him, his face scared me. It’s sharp and his eyes are this piercing blue and he’s white-pale with dark hair, and I was like Oh gosh, he’s scary. And then he’s got this deep intense voice that makes me never want to get on his bad side.

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I mean, look at him. The guy’s scary.

Not to mention he’s smart.

I think that might be the thing: this guy’s a genius. And like a lot of geniuses, he most definitely suffers with some social issues. He’s constantly putting his foot in his mouth and hurting people around him. One of the female detectives not-so-endearingly calls him “Freak.” I get offended every time.

I’m watching this show and I can’t get enough of it. My heart races a little bit when he figures everything out from a tiny piece of footprint.

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Did I mention he composes on the violin when he’s thinking? Wait, a Consultant Detective AND a musician? I didn’t think it was possible. Also, there’s a scene where Sherlock makes a pot of loose leaf tea, and if anyone knows me, they know I love me a little loose leaf. Match made in Netflix heaven. [The ladies at the tea shop will remember our “Sherlock Blend” from last year – one-part Earl Grey to one-part Lapsang Souchong, if I recall.]

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Then there’s John Watson, with his sweet little dog-like demeanor. Everyone needs a buddy like Watson. Sweet, yes, but don’t forget he fought in Afghanistan – Watson’s the kinda guy you’d trust with your life.

sherlock8 Look at him! So cute. (Not to be confused with an equally endearing hobbit…)

Then there’s Mrs. Hudson, the landlady. She offers to serve them tea and food, but she’s always saying sweetly over her shoulder, “I’m not your housekeeper!” Come now, Mrs. Hudson, we all know you love getting them tea.

She puts up with some outlandish things. Thumbs in the fridge? Yes.

sherlock5And, for one of my favorite villains of all-time: Jim Moriarty. This guy is freaky. Every word out of his mouth makes me shrink a little bit in my seat. So evil. And so good.

sherlock4The writing is superb. Really. And whoever wrote the theme is amazing. It sounds just like you imagine Sherlock’s brain to work. Check it out.

I wish I could write more about what happens, but I don’t want to spoil it. It’s too good to destroy in one silly blogpost.

Now, I know that Sherlock and I would never really hit it off. It’s like when we watch Big Bang Theory. We love Sheldon, but my Dad’s right: “Can you imagine being with Sheldon in real life? We’d hate him!” And that’s probably true of Sherlock, too. Too uptight. Too out of touch with other people. Too quirky.

But that’s why he makes such a great character.

So if you don’t already watch it, you should give Sherlock a try. And if you know of any other good shows, send them my way; I’ve already finished both seasons and I’m waiting around for number three…

I’ll leave you with a direct quote from Sherlock himself:

“Think. It’s the new sexy.”

[I confessed to a friend while hiding in the stacks at Barnes and Noble that I’d written this post, but I was waiting to publish it. Am I embarrassed? A little. But clearly not enough.]

[I should probably read the books…]

Top Ten Discoveries of 2012

Okay, I admit, this will be a very subjective list. They are not in order of importance, and I only chose ten because it’s a pretty number.

1. Vanilla-rose tea. After leaving my beloved loose-leaf tea shop to teach Latin, I began drinking tea with even more abandon. I NEVER thought I would enjoy a floral tea, but there’s something addicting about this sweet/rosy black tea. A little milk and sugar, and it’s like I’m drinking dessert. (Rooibos is still my go-to tea for all my non-caffeinated needs.)

2. Joan Didion. 

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There are some authors who speak to you, and then there are other authors who keep speaking to you even after you’ve finished their books. Didion is one of the latter. When I think of a memoirist I want to emulate, she is high up on the list. Some quotes that stuck with me:

We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.

On Self-Respect

(I keep reminding myself that this one is only half-correct; we realize that perhaps we don’t like ourselves, but this is only helpful if we choose not to remain here, choose to reach for the truth.)

[Writing is] hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture…Quite often you want to tell somebody your dream, your nightmare. Well, nobody wants to hear about someone else’s dream, good or bad; nobody wants to walk around with it. The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to the dream.

The Paris Review

3. Teaching. Sometimes, I think surprises are funny. Sometimes, I think there are too many surprises going on in my life. Teaching is one of the biggest ones this year. While I don’t know (yet) what this will mean for me longterm, I do know that I am loving learning the language of children again, sharing my love of learning, sharing a language that will shape how they approach their own language from here on out. Decline puella? You got it. Explain how Latin uses the Dative Case? I can do that, too. I have a lot to learn, but that’s the exciting part.

4. Directing. I don’t know if I can count this as a discovery, per se, because it hasn’t officially started yet. But a week before Christmas, I went in for an interview to teach voice lessons at the YMCA, and left with a job directing the Y’s children’s musical. “Have you ever directed anything?” “No, no I haven’t.” “Are you interested?” “Yes, I guess I am.” I went home without giving an answer yet, afraid that I was – again – biting off more than I could chew. That night, we got Chinese for dinner. I read my fortune (which, let me tell you right now, I do not hold ANY store in), and was a little shocked to read: “If you understand everything you’re doing, you’re not learning anything.” Shoot. So I emailed her Yes, yes I would love to direct the musical and rehearsals start in a few weeks. More on that later, I’m sure.

5. Tom Cruise. 

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Okay, true confessions: I have a celebrity crush on Tom Cruise. On The Crazy. I’ve decided to afford myself this one, bizarre luxury. I don’t understand it, and I don’t expect anyone else to. The first movie I ever saw with him was “Far and Away.” I was so caught up in the story that I forgot for the moment that life was beyond the confines of this one world, and when Tom’s character falls, hitting his head and seems to die, I screamed. Literally. I ran up the stairs, angry at my brother and sister for not warning me. “Why didn’t you tell me?!?!” I shouted. Because, it wasn’t just that he died. He and the woman he loved were running for land in Oklahoma, striving for a dream together. That is my favorite image of love, and I know it’s romanticized and American and probably wrong. I can’t help it.

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Needless to say, Tom’s character isn’t dead, and the movie has since become one of my favorites. So far, I’ve watched “Top Gun,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Rain Man,” “Valkyrie,” and a handful of others. For some reason, I am able to forget the fact that Tom is a Scientologist, that he’s had some crazy bouts of weirdness, that he’s made some terrible life choices. That’s the point of movies, after all – to suspend your disbelief and get swept up in something.

I feel lighter after this confession. Thank you.

6. Blogging. Yes. Writing this blog has been fun. Digesting the experiences, the blessings and the harder times, through this blog, has been really rewarding. Reading other people’s blogs and learning about their lives and what they think has broadened my own thinking.

7. Parenthood. 

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I. love. this. show. Sometimes, I sit there, tears in my eyes, and I wonder, Why do I do this to myself? Why do I watch things that make me so incredibly sad? I’m not entirely sure, to be honest, but there’s something about it. The characters are annoying and lovable and funny, and even though they make some terrible choices, they love each other. The writing is strong, the characters are believable, and I love it. (Other shows I’ve been loving: “Mindy Project,” “Ben and Kate,” and “Raising Hope.” Tuesdays are good to me.)

8. Homemade granola. I wrote about this last spring. I have to make another batch; I’m going through withdrawal. There’s nothing more delicious than a little granola with Greek yogurt, homegrown (homemade? home-what?!?!) honey, and dried cranberries. Delicious.

9. Music. Fleet Foxes. Lumineers. Florence and the Machine. Ingrid Michaelson. Bob Dylan. (Some) Adele. Of Monsters and Men. Judy Collins. Joan Baez. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Ray LaMontagne.

10. Living at home can be exactly what you need. I never would have thought this. As graduation approached, I stared at the possibility of moving home, and I was scared. I thought I would hate it. I thought my family would start to hate ME. I thought I would never see my friends. I thought I would turn back into the girl I was before college, and that was not good at all.

But what I’ve discovered is that sometimes God gives you what you need, even if it isn’t what you want. I needed to be home this year. I needed to remember what it feels like to know your family has your back, no matter what. I needed to feel loved and safe, especially as I faced uncertain health issues (all is good, praise the Lord).

Above all, I needed to trust.

I discovered that trusting God looks different in different situations. For some, trusting God looks like moving far from home and going out on your own. For me, trusting God looked like moving home. It looked like allowing my picture of my future to change.

Trusting God is a constant discovery. It’s a pretty big one.

Bring on 2013. I’m ready.