Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mini-Reviews: Foodie Nonfiction

mini book reviews

Sometimes I have things to say about the books I finish, but not enough for a whole blog post. Enter mini-reviews! This time I focus on two recent non-fiction reads: Real Food/Fake Food by Larry Olmsted, and But First, Champagne by David White. I think both are valuable and worth reading, depending on your interests. Keep reading to find out more.

real food fake food
Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It by Larry Olmsted

I like torturing myself by watching documentaries and reading books about how terrible American food is. Everyone needs a hobby I suppose. Anyway, I learned a lot from this book, such as:


  • The difference between the US Department of Agriculture and the US Food & Drug Administration. The USDA is actually designed to serve companies and producers, while the FDA is supposed to protect consumers. However, the USDA is actually the more trustworthy of the two for consumers because the FDA is a useless trash fire that doesn't even bother to follow the bare minimum of its own internal policies, let alone regulate the shit other people do.
  • What kobe beef actually is–I'd been looking into this before the trip to Japan, so I was surprised by how everything I read, on the internet or otherwise, was WRONG. Kobe beef is actually a genetically pure strain of cow from a very specific part of Kobe, and the genetics are what gives it its marbling and flavor, not massages and classical music and a diet of beer, as you might have otherwise heard. Also, only 3 restaurants in the US serve actual kobe beef. Everything else is fake.
  • Speaking of restaurants, I had no idea restaurants could essentially call food anything they like, even if it's completely incorrect.
  • The term méthode champenoise is not synonymous with méthode traditionnelle or méthode classique and can only be used for champagne, not other kinds of sparkling wines. That's because the "méthode champenoise" begins long before the wine is ever bottled and involves what grapes are grown, where, when, how they're planted, how tall they get, when they're harvested, and everything else that's part of the regulations for the winemakers of Champagne.
  • I already knew that the olive oil industry was filled with completely fake products and that Italian extra virgin olive oil especially was to be avoided. But I didn't know that the best EVOO to buy is from Australia, which has the strictest regulations regarding olive oil on the planet.


Sometimes Olmsted takes the whole "fake food" thing a little far, like when he complains about Cook's labeling their wine champagne. I mean, it should really be obvious that Cook's isn't from Champagne, based on the price alone. But then maybe to some people it isn't so obvious, idk. Either way, I came away from this book with some great tips on how to read labels and what to look for to make sure I'm getting the most value for my money by buying "real" food.


but first champagne
But First, Champagne: A Modern Guide to the World's Favorite Wine by David White

I enjoyed the first few chapters of this book, which were engaging and well-written. When White got into the modern history of Champagne, however (namely the World War periods), it became sleep-inducing.

I also occasionally felt like White was either soft-pedaling certain facts to make the Champagne houses look good, or didn't bother to do his due diligence in his research. For example, take this passage from the beginning of Chapter Six:

Jay-Z and other celebrities abandoned Cristal after Louis Roederer's president, Frédéric Rouzaud, spoke dismissively of his new devotees.

This sentence makes it sound like Jay-Z and a few of his friends threw a fit because Rouzaud wasn't star struck. The truth is bit more complicated than that. In actuality there was an organized boycott of Cristal in the hip-hop community because they felt Rouzaud's comments were racist, or at least inspired by racism. (Fun fact: the sudden popularity of moscato in the late '00s and early '10s was thanks to this boycott. Jay-Z may have replaced Cristal with Ace of Spades, but most hip-hop artists decided to abandon champagne altogether and instead started drinking moscato.)

I certainly don't know even one tenth of what White does about Champagne, but in the small parts where I did know something, it seemed like White's information was either incomplete or not entirely accurate. That said, I did learn some stuff, the full-color illustrations were fantastic, and it's true that there isn't a book similar to this one on the market. If you're interested in Champagne, or if you're planning a wine tour of the region, this is a good place to start.




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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Snapshot is Sick of Winter Already

Raggedy dogs taking over a chair.

Currently Reading:

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer: I haven't had a lot of luck with Heyer's books in the past, but I'm enjoying this one so far.

Artistic License by Elle Pierson: The clothing descriptions are driving me legit nutso–I swear to god the author is obsessed with jackets–but the story is drawing me in nonetheless.

Posted:

10 movies for wine lovers on Netflix and Prime, plus an American abroad's guide to wine in Japan.

Movies:

dior and i
Dior and I, directed by Frédéric Tcheng

At first you might assume that the "I" of the title Dior and I is Raf Simons, who became the creative director of Christian Dior in 2012. In fact, however, the title refers to Dior himself and how he felt split between his life as a regular guy and the head of a fashion house.

One of the things I really love about this movie was how it doesn't present haute couture fashion design as the vision of one man, or woman. Instead, as one of the Dior seamstresses put it, the real heart of a fashion house lies in its atelier, the people who physically create the clothes that go down the runway or are sold to clients. Many of these women and men work at the same house for over forty years, and they're the ones who train the next the generation in how the clothes are made, the aesthetic and design philosophy of the house. It seems incorrect to call them mere tailors or seamstresses; instead, they're really incredibly skilled artisans without whom the house's designer–or creative director, in this case–would be completely dead in the water. As one of the women in the Dior atelier said, "He [Simons] might tell me to change something, but that's just an edit. This my work, my dress. I'm the one who made it."

Anyway, it's a pretty fascinating peek into the world of Paris fashion houses and how big runway shows are put together.

This week in heidenkindom:

January has been a total drag so far. First, I went to the dentist and he told me I have cavities. Admittedly, the last time I went to the dentist George W Bush was president, but it still came as a shock. Then I had an ingrown toenail that hurts like a MF. Not to mention it's cold as shit outside.

But on the plus side, I did finish a really good book, Act Like It. I also started watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix and I adore it. If you're the type of person who is annoyed by people who say "literally" when they actually mean figuratively, this is the TV series for you!



That's all for this week–the series finale of Sherlock is airing early. Have an excellent week, everyone!


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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sunday Snapshot Says Happy New Year!

Thor is facing the New Year head-on.

Happy 2017, everyone! Hope you're all enjoying a wonderful holiday season.

Currently reading:

But First, Champagne by David White: Idk, the World War chapters were SUPER boring.

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers: Could Lord Peter be more British?

I still haven't decided what my first read of 2017 will be; I finished The Chocolate Kiss last night.

Posted:

My year in books.

Movies:

passengers
Passengers, starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence

The starship Avalon is on a 120-year journey to another planet, where its 5,000 passengers and crew–currently in suspended animation–are scheduled to set up a new colony. Then the ship is damaged and one man wakes up, 90 years too early. And, like Adam in the Garden of Eden, he has everything he needs except companionship.

Hmmm. This movie was okay. I really liked the special effects and set design, and Michael Sheen as the bartender android Arthur was just fantastic. But the movie really falls apart when it comes to character development. There are only three human characters in this entire film, yet the screenwriters couldn't be bothered to really sit down and think about their motivations for leaving all their family and friends behind, forever. What kind of a person would do that? That's the real question, and we're never given a plausible explanation.

I mean, look at the people who colonized the New World and their motivations: they were either soldiers or criminals who didn't really have a choice in the matter; people who were completely desperate and had nothing to lose; or, religious nutjobs. And neither of the main characters in Passengers fits those descriptions. JLaw's character (supposedly a smart journalist, yet she can't put two and two together to figure out how she got into this sitch) is going to the colony to write about it for earthlings, and then she's going to return. After 240 years? What's she going back for? Makes no sense.

But JLaw has the backstory to end all backstories compared to Pratt (I can't even remember his character's name), whose single description of his life on earth was that it was "all right." Uh okay? Did have parents, siblings, a goldfish? No idea! And the whole, "In a new colony mechanics can build things," explanation is just lazy, as is repeating ad copy from the colonization brochure.

Perhaps a pair of really excellent character actors–like Sheen, for example–could have added depth to these two, but Hollywood decided to go with ye olde two attractive people who fall in love trick. YAWN. That wasn't the only predictable turn in this film, either. And I would like to add as a side note that I'm getting really sick of these movies where all JLaw does is scream and cry and throw emotive fits, or look pretty. It just really reminds me of high school drama club.

But hey, space!

pride and prejudice and zombies
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, starring Lily James and Sam Riley

Come one, come all, to see one of the classics of women's literature be transformed into a story for men. Because men don't have enough stories.

To be honest, I fell asleep during this one, but even before I fell asleep I decided it was dumb. As an adaption of the original, it's half-assed at best; and while you would think the addition of zombies would make it kooky and/or exciting, it really does neither. I can understand why no one went to see this movie.

jason bourne
Jason Bourne, starring Matt Damon and Alicia Vikander

There are certain things one expects from a Jason Bourne movie: first and foremost, Jason Bourne, obvs. Second of all, exotic locals and kick-ass car chases. And third of all, a menacing and seemingly all-powerful group of government spooks who want to bring Bourne in and make him do their bidding OR ELSE. Jason Bourne certainly had all of these elements, but they felt out of balance. There was hardly any Bourne in it all, 2 car chases, and way way way too many scenes of the spooks watching video of what Bourne's doing, followed by them telling us what he's doing. We can see the screen same as you can, people! As result, the movie as a whole just felt hopelessly muddled and Bourne seemed more of a plot device than a character. Vikander was a standout with her performance of the Agent With Unclear Motivations (I believe that was her title in the script, no?), but that's hardly enough to make me like the movie. Even a Bourne fan could stand to wait for this one to come out on cable.

manchester by the sea
Manchester by the Sea, starring Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges

Lee is an apartment complex janitor who has issues with emotions. Expressing them, recognizing them in other people, etc. When his brother dies he returns to his hometown of Manchester, where we discover what made Lee the man he is today. Spoiler alert: it involves tragedy.

What's this, a movie where I can actually remember the characters' names?!? This film sounds like it's going to be depressing AF but it's not. I wouldn't say it's hopeful necessarily, either, but it's definitely not cynical. There's a lot of humor to balance out the sad parts, and the filmmakers never stray into sentimentality or emotional manipulation, they just make you genuinely feel for the characters. Affleck's performance was completely on point and I loved the character of Patrick, his nephew, even though he is a fat jerk teenager. The gorgeous shots of the bay and the small town were just a bonus. I would be shocked if this movie didn't receive at least one Oscar.

New Year's Resolutions

I enjoy posting my New Year Resolutions even though I rarely make any attempt to follow through on them, and typically forget what they even were by summer. Last year my resolutions were to spruce up my professional writing site (which I did, though not to my complete satisfaction), get back to writing fiction (didn't happen, although I did write a non-fiction cocktail book), and get back into food and drink writing, which I was able to do!

This year I'd like to:

  • Practice my languages everyday. I'm already on a six-day streak with this, thanks to an app on my phone! Will it continue? Eh, probably not.
  • Get outside and exercise more. I'm aware that I need to exercise more, because the life of a writer is fairly sedentary. But recently I saw this video on how exercise is the #1 thing you can do in your life to prevent Alzheimer's. Since my grandmother died of Alzheimer's and my grandfather currently has dementia, this is relevant to my interests. Of course, I probably won't follow through on it because: 1. Winter. Brrrr. 2. Running/walking around my neighborhood is a nightmare since we don't have sidewalks; 3. I'm not going to drive somewhere for the sake of walking or exercising; 4. Imma definitely not going to go to a gym and I think stationary bikes/treadmills are nonsensical. Sooooo that's a lot of excuses. But hey, you never know!
  • Save more money, pay off credit cards. It's that time of the year again when you take a look at your credit card statement and gulp! But, aside from that, I need to make myself more financially secure in the long-term, which means reducing expenses and creating a more substantial parachute fund.
  • Finish The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I started Marie Kondo's tidying up project wayyyyy back in 2014, and got kind of bogged down on the miscellaneous category. But I'm almost done! I just have to do tabletop knick knacks/tchotchkes, stuffed animals and toys (not looking forward to that one), and photos, and then at last my life will be magically transformed /sarcasm.
What are your New Year Resolutions?


I hope you all have an awesome year in 2017! Be optimistic and kind to one another, and always remember to read plenty of books. <3



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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Year-End Wrap-Up

My most liked Instagram pics of 2016. From top left: A used bookstore in Jimbocho, Tokyo; a new keyboard; crackers and cheese for the Readathon; The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan; a Sherlock word poster; southwest sunset; moi at the Hollywood Roosevelt; Calypso wants a cookie; and geisha in Kyoto.

The end is nigh... The end of the year, anyway. I know a lot of my internet peeps are happy to see 2016 out, but personally I had a pretty good year. I got to go to Japan (!!!), which was amazing; I published my first cocktail book, The Introvert's Guide to Drinking Alone; and my friends and family are all healthy and happy (insofar as the existential horrors and toil of daily life allows, of course). All told, 2016's probably been one of the better years I've had in awhile.

hakone open air museum
My personal favorite photograph that I took in 2016.

But enough of that, let's talk about something we really care about: books! I did not read many books this year at all (according to Goodreads the count is currently up to 85), but on the plus side there were more high points than there were last year. Some books of note:

the hating game
Favorite Romance Novel: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

This is by far the best romance I read this year, maybe even in several years. I'm a sucker for books where the hero and heroine fight all the time, but Thorne takes it to another level by making Lucy and Joshua's "games" hilarious and ridiculously entertaining. These two had crazy-ass chemistry and their romance was so intense I never wanted to put the book down. Plus the entire world of Lucy and Joshua and their office is wonderfully realized and fleshed out. If you're wondering if the hype about this book is true, it is. Read it!!

a study in charlotte
Favorite Sherlock Adaptation: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

I read quite a few Sherlock adaptations this year (shocking, I know), but my favorite of all was A Study in Charlotte, a YA novel narrated by the modern-day descendant of John Watson, Jamie Watson, and featuring the misadventures of Sherlock Holmes' great-great-great granddaughter, Charlotte Holmes. There was some pretty dark stuff going on in this book, but it never turned dour, thanks to Jamie's self-deprecating humor. There were also a ton of fun easter eggs for fans of the original Conan Doyle stories. Can't wait for the next volume!

drops of god
Best Binge-Worthy Series: Drops of God by Tadashi Agi

I spent most of July mainlining this manga series, which follows the adventures of Shizuku, son of a famous wine critic, and Miyabi, his friend and a sommelier-in-training. The plot revolves around Shizuku trying to figure out what the "12 Apostles" of wine are before his rival, Issei Tomine, does. It sounds like a nutty basis for a manga, but it totally works. I love the multi-dimensional characters, the storyline feels like it moves organically, and the art is absolutely gorgeous. Even if I didn't enjoy learning about wine, I'd still be all about this series.

drops of god
Tasting DRC Richebourg, Drops of God, art by Shu Okimoto

and then there were none
Favorite Classic/Audiobook: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I'm not a huge fan of Agatha Christie, but after watching And Then There Were None on PBS, I was curious enough to give the audiobook a try. First of all, Dan freaking Stevens. It's so nice to hear his voice. I missed him so much! Second of all, even if you're completely familiar with the plot, the story is still a compulsive read. It's not about ten strangers stranded on an island so much as it is about moral ambiguity and facing personal demons. All of the characters deserve what they get, yet there's a sense of horror in their comeuppance nonetheless. While I would have preferred it if Christie had left the question of whodunnit unanswered, this is one of those deceptively simple novels that nearly anyone can get into.

marrying winterbourne
Biggest Disappointment: Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas

This was probably my most anticipated book of 2016. I loved Cold-Hearted Rake, Kleypas' previous novel in this series. But what I loved MOST about that book was the romance between Lady Helen and the department store magnate, Rhys Winterborne, which ended in a cliffhanger to TBC in this book. I was all set to be swept up in their romance, but it's hard to be swept into a story when NOTHING FREAKING HAPPENS. I swear to god I felt like I was watching paint dry. For the first half of the book, every other paragraph was exposition and backstory. DO. NOT. CARE. I nearly DNF'd it and I have never said that about a Kleypas book, not even the ones I thought were stupid. Total waste of time.

the black widow
Runner-Up: The Black Widow by Daniel Silva

I'm not even sure I should count this one, since I kind of abandoned it 50 pages in. Not in a firm DNF way, more of in a I-don't-really-want-to-read-this-right-now-and-oh-look-it's-due-at-library-shrug-oh-well kind of way. Usually Silva can pull me right into a story, but that didn't happen with this book, and I think part of the reason was the politics. Of course all of Silva's novels are political, but in this one it felt like the political aspect overshadowed everything else, including the plot and character development. I just wasn't in the mood to deal with it. This might be the book where Silva and I part ways.

a lady in the smoke
Favorite Mystery/Debut Author: A Lady in the Smoke by Karen Odden

Finally, I have to mention A Lady in the Smoke, a book that has pretty much everything I could ask for from a Victorian mystery: trains, romance, aristocratic ladies hiding their true identity, family secrets, crusading journalists, a scrappy pickpocket that could give Artful Dodger a run for his money. There were a few boring sections, but by the end I was an extremely satisfied reader. The romance subplot was really well-done, too. I hope Odden publishes more books in the future!

2016 By The Numbers:


  • 85 books total (a lot less than I wanted to read, tbh)
  • 17 of those books were romance (probably the first time since I started keeping track on Goodreads that romance hasn't accounted for at least half of my reading)
  • 19 books were mysteries
  • Only 3 were classics. Compare that to 2015, where I read 19 classics
  • 23 books were by male authors, 56 were by female authors, and 6 were either a male/female team or idk–pretty much the same percentages as last year
  • Of those 23 books by male authors, nearly half were nonfiction reads: 10
  • 22 books were published in 2016, less than last year


Tell me about your reading highlights this year!




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Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday Snapshot

Sophie is ready for winter.
I was planning to do this Sunday, then time got away from me. So instead of a Sunday Snapshot, this week we have a Monday Snapshot!

Currently Reading:

Black Ice by Anne Stuart: I thought I'd read this one before, but now I'm not sure. I remember literally nothing about it.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: Decided to finally give this book a try.

Posted:

A lot!



Movies:

rogue one
Rogue One, starring Felicity Jones and Diego Luna

I went into this movie only knowing that it was a "Star Wars story." In some ways it's everything you'd expect from a Star Wars movie: a ragtag group of unlikely companions, consisting of droids, Rebel Alliance soldiers, criminals, misfits, and reluctant heroes, join together to fight the big bad Empire. In other ways it deviates from the Star Wars franchise dramatically. The first hint that this isn't your typical Star Wars movie is the soundtrack: while Alexandre Desplat's score has hints of Star Wars' iconic orchestration, it's darker and more muted. There's also no scrolling summary of where we are in the story as there have been with all the previous Star Wars movies, so it took me a while to figure that out.

But the major difference between this movie and the other Star Wars films is that the Star Wars franchise specializes in campy adventure. Entertaining adventure, but campy nonetheless. Rogue One, on the other hand, is closer in tone to a WWII movie. There are few "good guys" and "bad guys": both the Rebels and Empire do terrible things that are morally ambiguous at best, and what victories they gain seem small considering the cost. One might be left wondering if it was at all worth it, if one hadn't seen episodes 3-6. It's like Star Wars for grown-ups, basically.

As for whether or not I enjoyed it, at first the movie felt very episodic and pulpy, but once Jynna met with Saw Gerrera, the story sucked me in. The cinematography and acting are both top-notch. The script could have used a little (lot) more character development and the "inspiring speeches" were just like, whatevs. But I'm willing to forgive a lot in this movie because the last scene with Darth Vader was so awesome and badass.

If you like Star WarsRogue One is worth seeing. It's light years better than Lucas' wreck of a prequel, and more original than The Force Awakens.

This week in heidenkindom:

Less than a week till Christmas! Is anyone ready? If you are, you're leaps and bounds ahead of me. I have nothing wrapped, a mere scoach of presents and cards sent out, and I haven't even finished shopping yet. Awful. But I'm sure it will all get done. Eventually. Then I'll be bored. It's a never-ending cycle.

Anyway, if I don't post next Sunday, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas filled with hygge, cookies, friends, family, Netflixing, and reading. Happy holidays!

Boekenkerstboom









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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Virtual Advent 2016: Favorite Christmas Albums

virtual advent blog tour

The Virtual Advent is hosted by Sprite Writes. You can check out all the Advent stops on Sprite's blog. Thanks for hosting again this year, Sprite!



Usually for Virtual Advent, I share my favorite "not holiday" movies, but this year I decided to switch it up a bit and focus on something else I enjoy: music.

Back in the days before iTunes and listening to music on your computer, people listened to albums. While I'm A-okay with shuffling my 8,000-song library at any given time, when it comes to Christmas I still gravitate toward listening to one album at a time. Maybe it's because there's something nostalgic about it; maybe it's because holiday albums help set a mood where listening to a random selection of singles can't. Or maybe it feels like it slows life down just a bit to pick out an album and then pay attention to it instead of having a continuous loop of music playing.

Either way, I enjoy my Christmas albums, but of course I have some favorites that I thought I'd share to put you in the holiday spirit. Remember Christmas Day is only one week away!

the little drummer boy a christmas festival
The Little Drummer Boy: A Christmas Festival by the Harry Simeone Chorale

This was a record (an actual record; I still have it) that my grandparents owned and I was OBSESSED with when I was little. I would listen to it over and over and over. It basically tells the story of Christmas (the Jesus one, not like A Christmas Story) through traditional carols. It might seem strange that a young child would be that into a Christmas album like this, but what can I say. I was a strange kid. You can stream the entire album on YouTube.

john denver and the muppets christmas album
A Christmas Together by John Denver and the Muppets

This is another childhood favorite. As a kid growing up in the '80s, of course I loved the Muppets, and my mom was a huge John Denver fan, so that was win-win for the whole family right there. My favorite songs on this one are Miss Piggy's rendition of Christmas is Coming, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

You can also stream this one on YouTube!

peter paul and mary christmas album
A Holiday Celebration by Peter Paul and Mary

Another group my mom was really into was Peter Paul and Mary. This is probably why I love folk music today. Anyway, it's not Christmas without the PP&M Christmas album! I love the mix of unusual Christmas carols on this album, especially Light One Candle (which I guess isn't a Christmas song per se) and A Soalin'.

This is another album streamable on YouTube, you lucky ducks.

a colbert christmas
A Colbert Christmas, the Greatest Gift of All! by Stephen Colbert, et. al.

How do I love Stephen Colbert, let me count the ways. This album–and the Christmas special it comes from–is a pure, subversive delight from start to finish. A few of my favorite songs include Toby Keith's Have I Got a Present for You and John Legend's Nutmeg. Stephen and Elvis Costello singing There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In always makes me cry, because I am a sap.

weezer christmas album
Christmas with Weezer, by Weezer

If you're tired of caroling and want to put some electric guitar and drums into your holiday carols (and who doesn't), Christmas with Weezer is perfect! There appears to be several versions of this album available online, but it's short and fun no matter which you choose. I particularly adore their rendition of O Holy Night.

michael buble christmas album
Christmas by Michael Bublé

I feel like I spent my entire adult life waiting for Michael Bublé to put out a Christmas album. Is that weird? Anyway, he finally did, and of course his voice is like butter and he's basically the Frank Sinatra of our time, so. You can stream it on YouTube, or! stream any of his annual Christmas specials as well.







What are some of your favorite Christmas albums?




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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Snapshot – Of Beasties and Blinds

Graffiti in the "Golden Gai" section of Tokyo.


Currently Reading:

A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie: It seems like it took forever for Miss Marple to show up.

Posted:

Reviews of three books about or related to wine over at Book Riot.

Movies:

deadpool movie
Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin

I'll admit that when this movie first came out, I didn't want to see it because the previews made me think, "Hey, I have enough misogyny in my life; let's not introduce any more into it." Plus, I've been highly suspicious of comic book movies everyone loves ever since Guardians of the Galaxy put me to sleep TWICE.

However, I was wrong, and I apologize. I knew this movie would have my undying loyalty when the opening credits listed "Writers: the true heroes of this story." It was entertaining from start to finish and I loved the sarcastic humor of Wade/Deadpool. I also thought Morena Baccarin, whom I shall always think of as Inara, did an excellent job. Yes, it had dark humor, but it was the kind of dark humor where you tell someone they suck because you love them so much. Warm fuzzies all around. It wasn't even that misogynistic by Hollywood standards. Can't wait for the sequel!

fantastic beasts and where to find them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, starring Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston

Newt Scamander travels to New York City by ship (apparently wizards can't apparate across oceans; don't ask me why because I wouldn't be able to tell you) with a bagful of invasive, non-native magical species. Naturally, they get loose and wreak havoc, but that seems like the least of Newt's problems once the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA, rhymes with yakuza) gets involved, all worried the muggles will figure out magic exists.

This is an excellent film, from beginning to end and top to bottom. Everything is on point and wonderfully executed: the script, the art direction, the special effects, the acting. Redmayne does a fantastic job, not that I'd expect anything less from him; but the actor who stole the show for me was Alison Sudol, who plays Queenie. That's a difficult character to make likeable and give depth to, but she managed it perfectly. I knew as soon as I saw her I recognized her from somewhere, but IMDb was completely unhelpful. Then I realized she's the singer known as A Fine Frenzy! She also writes screenplays and movie soundtracks. A very talented woman; keep an out for her.

Anyway, there's absolutely no reason not to like this movie, and I did enjoy it. But at the same time it didn't pull at my emotions or suck me into the story the way the Harry Potter movies and books do. Idk, maybe if I'd read the book first I'd have been more engaged. Still, definitely a brilliant film. You won't be wasting your money if you go see it.

This Week In Heidenkindom:

Whelp, I haven't gotten any Christmas shopping done yet and I'm buried in work. But instead of taking care of any of that today, I decided to fix a blind in my bedroom that's been broken since the Bush administration. The online instructions said it wouldn't only take 20-30 minutes!

ha ha no

The project was beset with difficulties from the very beginning:


  • Couldn't get the end pieces off. Had to ask my dad for help.
  • Couldn't find a needle to thread the new strings through the blind. Jerry-rigged an ornament hook for the job instead.
  • Strings kept falling off the guides, so I had to ask my mom to hold them while I slid the end pieces back on.
  • Re-threading the cord lock was impossible. Had to ask my dad for help again. He said, "On a scale of difficulty this is an 11 out of 10."
  • FINALLY got the whole thing put back together. Stuck it back up on the blind brackets. Pulled the cord. Brackets broke and the whole thing crashed down on top of me.


cats in blinds

I am so done. Who needs blinds anyway.

Bonus:

holiday cocktails

Check out these winter cocktail recipes from Penny Watson over at Book Bloggers International.


Have an awesome week, everyone. Drink safely.





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