Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pre-Thanksgiving Sunday Snapshot

sunset
Fall sunsets are the best sunsets.

Has it really been nearly two months since I did a Sunday Snapshot?? Yikes! I didn't realize it'd been so long.

Currently reading:

The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand: Part of a reread with Kim and Kelly.

Back in Society by Marion Chesney: The final book in the Poor Relations series.

Posted:

An article on Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold-Bug and how he basically jump-started modern cryptography.

Movies:

murder on the orient express poster
Murder on the Orient Express, starring Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, a ton of other famous people

Based on the trailers, I was honestly expecting this movie to be a trainwreck (har har). But it actually was pretty good! I mean, it was too long, and I wish the filmmakers had spent more time developing the suspects' characters and less time showing Poirot mooning over "ma belle Katherina," or whatever her name was. But it looked freaking fantastic (65mm film, baby), and you could tell the whole cast was having a blast. Overall a pretty solid entry in TMOTOE adaptations. Better than the Alfred Molina one, that's for sure.

thor ragnarok poster
Thor Ragnarok, starring Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Hiddles McGriddles

The Thor movies are pretty much the only Marvel movies that don't put me to sleep, so I was super excited about Thor Ragnarok. And it tooooooootally lived up to the awesomesauce of the trailers. Super entertaining, funny, I got choked up with the whole Oden thing... Plus there are some CRAZY cameos in this movie. My favorite scene is still the play Loki put on about his "death," where Luke Hemsworth played Thor and Matt Damon played Loki. I approve of this franchise.

kraftidioten
Kraftidioten, starring Stellan SkarsgÄrd

After his son is killed by drug dealers, snowplow driver Nils goes on a mission of revenge! And it's definitely served cold. This movie is basically like a western, but set in Norway. It was a touch overly violent for my tastes, but the violence was balanced out with a lot of humor. My favorite part was when Nils kidnaps the drug kingpin's son and the little kid asks him, "Have you ever heard of Stockholm syndrome?" LOL

Just imagine Wallander crossed with a Quentin Tarantino movie. It was definitely worth the watch!


I know I've watched other movies than just these three in the last few weeks, but I'm having trouble remembering what they were. Maybe I should start taking notes or something.

These weeks in heidenkindom:

Sorry I've been off the radar for so long. I've basically been consumed with planning a trip to Paris in April. Which I know seeeems like a long ways away, but I like being prepared. I've also been writing more recently (not on here, obviously) and using my weekends to focus on that.

Are you all ready for Thanksgiving? I have all the sides planned, as well as a day-by-day plan for the next four days. I'm hoping I get a chance to write up a more detailed schedule for the day of. YES, I AM THAT PERSON. I'm planning to follow America's Test Kitchen recipe for Thanksgiving turkey and gravy. Plus we'll have green bean casserole–I've been craving it of late–stuffing, a carrot salad, and dumplings.

This is the first year I've taken the lead on Thanksgiving dinner so I want to make sure everything turns out edible. At the very least.



I hope you all have a lovely, cozy week! Let me know what you're excited about for Thanksgiving if you're celebrating it.



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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for the Second Week in a Row!

flower
The flower accurately represents my feelings about fall. 

Currently reading:

Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler: Entertaining so far! I started it today and have already highlighted a ton of on-point quotes.

Starfall by Melissa Landers: The pacing feels all off. Not sure where Landers is going with this, if anywhere.

Movies:

wonder woman
Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine

I loved the beginning of this movie where Diana is on the island with the other Amazons and fighting, and then when she leaves with Chris Pine and is confused by men and sexual politics. But the historical sections during WWI were just silly sometimes. FOR EXAMPLE, Pine's spy techniques appear to consist entirely of donning German uniforms and speaking with a truly terrible German accent. Like the worst. I still have no idea how or why a Native American got mixed up in this story (or what the hell was up with his costume), and is it weird that I'm hung up on the fact that modern-day Diana works at the Louvre? Anyway, it was okay, but I kinda wish there had been more women in it.

This week in heidenkindom:

I totally forgot Bloggiesta was this weekend! I was planning on moving my professional writing website from Blogger to Wordpress, but now that the actual time has come and I've recalled this task, I'm skerred. Supposedly it's easy to switch, but I've met Wordpress before, and I know what sadistic and difficult bitch she is. Wordpress can turn any simple task into something that will siphon your will to live. Why do I want to move over to Wordpress then, you're probably asking yourself. Mainly for the flexibility and more professional-looking themes. I also like how Wordpress handles images better than Blogger.

Anyway, I did look at two WP hosting plans earlier today, then decided to take a break to read a book about finance. Something's telling me this task is going to go on the back burner for the next Bloggiesta.

Has anyone migrated their blog from Blogger to Wordpress or vice versa? Is it really as "simple" as people say it is?

Have an excellent rest of the week!


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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for the Middle of September

A dog working at an archery shop 😂

Currently Reading:

A Kiss in Lavender by Laura Florand: New Laura Florand book! Pretty exciting.

Sir Philip's Folly by Marion Chesney: Still working my way through the Poor Relations series.

Movies:

guardians of the galaxy vol 2
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, starring Chris Pratt and a bunch of other people

The most oedipal movie I've seen recently, possibly ever.

Tbh I didn't want to watch this at all, because I thought the first Guardians was insaaaaaaanely boring. But my mom wanted to watch it, so I settled in for a long nap. The script of Vol. 2 is just as bad as Vol. 1, but is slightly elevated by the presence of several fantastic actors who manage to make the dialog sound much better than it actually is. It does feel like it goes on for about four hours, but I stayed awake through the whole thing, there was one really hilarious scene, and the music leaned more toward roots rock than insipid disco pop. So, while I doubt I'll ever be a fan of this franchise, Vol. 2 was an improvement over its predecessor.

the rundown
The Rundown, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Seann William Scott

I honestly don't remember The Rock ever looking as young as he does in this movie. Baby face! Anyway, you can tell the script was written by men because there are a ton of penis and peeing jokes. Like, SO MANY. What is it with guys and peeing? Despite that, it was actually a pretty decent, entertaining buddy comedy. You've got your MacGuffin, baddy bad guys on the trail, the Amazon jungle, an admirably tough token female character. I'm not going to run out and buy the DVD or anything, but it was fun while it lasted.

This month in heidenkindom:

September's been a real bitch so far. I would say I can't wait for the month to be over, but the next month is October, which is even worse. I hate fall.

So yeah. Not really feeling the positivity at the moment. A lot of my writing gigs have dried up and I haven't had the time to hustle for new ones, but maybe this is a sign I need to refocus on writing fiction again.

Bonus:

Lost in the Amazon

Last week, after watching The Lost City of Z, I tracked down Lost in the Amazon, an episode of Secrets of the Dead that tells the true story of Percy Fawcett. I particularly enjoyed it because it explained everything in the movie that didn't make sense. There was no city in the movie because Percy never found a lost city (well, he did, but didn't know... more on that later). And his motivations for looking for said city were paper-thin because the movie skipped over his true motivations entirely!

Percy WAS a famous and very skilled explorer, but he didn't set out to look for a lost city in the Amazon until his last trip, and it wasn't because he spotted a statue in the forest or heard stories about El Dorado from natives.

Percy was a theosophist and follower of Madame Blavatsky, who believed there were seven secret cities across the globe, inhabited by peoples with a higher consciousness and understanding of god/spiritual principles/what have you (picture Kamar-Taj from Doctor Strange). The discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911, as well as early Spanish colonial tales of a great city built by "pale-skinned natives," convinced Percy one of Blavatsky's lost spiritual cities could be found in the Amazon. Somewhere.

But why drag his son Jack and Jack's childhood BFF, Raleigh Rimell, along with him on this wild goose chase, when both 21-y-os were inexperienced and ill-prepared for jungle exploration? That story's even weirder. Before Jack was born, when Percy was stationed in Sri Lanka, two Buddhist monks came to him and predicted his first-born son would be a great spiritual leader. They gave him several signs so he would know they spoke the truth. I forget what the signs were, but suffice it to say Percy was convinced Jack was destined to be the next Nagarjuna.

Once he got the idea of a spiritual lost city of the Amazon into his head, Percy decided his purpose in life was to find this theoretical city for his son so that Jack could learn spiritual principles from the masters and fulfil his destiny. Of course, it's kind of hard to fulfil your destiny when you're dead.

As for Percy actually finding a lost city that's been recently rediscovered, that's strictly true, but much more complicated than the movie implied. Thanks to deforestation, a massive abandoned city has been uncovered in the Amazon, but it isn't the city of Percy's imagination. Since stone is hard to come by in the Amazon, the city was built out of earth and wood, which was quickly reclaimed by nature once deserted. Because map-maker Percy kept meticulous latitude and longitude notations of his journeys, archaeologists know for a fact that he camped smack-dab in the middle of one of the massive earthen mounds in the newly uncovered site. But as the area was covered by trees and vegetation at the time, there's no way Percy would have known he had, in fact, stumbled across a lost city.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me on this journey of discovery.

the more you wish you didn't know


Hope you all have a good week and enjoy the rest of the month!



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Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day Snapshot


Currently reading:

Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub: I thoroughly enjoyed this short-lived TV series, so naturally I had to give the book a try. Shocker: It's a lot better than the TV show.

The Dire King by William Ritter: Fourth Jackaby novel! Pretty exciting.

Posted:

The definitive guide to the best illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, and how to make rain gutter bookshelves.

Movies:

hitman's bodyguard
The Hitman's Bodyguard, starring Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds

My expectations going into this movie were lower than a subterranean diamond mine. The title does not inspire confidence. But it turned out to be fun and entertaining. I am not unhappy I saw it! Yes, it's formulaic, and Jackson and Reynolds are basically reprising roles from better movies. And it could stand to lose about 20 minutes. But Reynolds and Jackson are awesome together–their "buddy cop" vibe is spot-on–and Salma Hayek is obviously having a blast playing a super bitch. Actually, I liked all the female characters and the love stories (there are love stories!) and tongue-in-cheek humor. It's not going to win any awards, that's for certain, but I can see why this movie's been #1 at the box office for three weeks. You could do worse than to spend two hours of your weekend watching this.

girl on a train
The Girl on the Train, starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, and Haley Bennett

Meh. Very gothic, but not as suspenseful or twisty as I was expecting. It's no Gone Girl, that's for sure. Blunt did an excellent job, though.

wind river
Wind River, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner

Similar to an episode of Longmire, but much less cheerful (and you didn't even think that was possible). I have to say, Renner was a revelation in this one. Usually I find him imminently forgettable, but he really knocked the role of modern mountain man out of the park. Surprising! Olsen looked more like an overwhelmed second grade teacher than an FBI agent, but she did all right. The script was not predictable at all and the story was excellent, except for a few loose ends and things that didn't make sense, like: I thought the crack den was miles from the oil rig, so how did that guy's body get dumped in the woods near there? And how have these tracks lasted so long in the snow after a blizzard? And did everyone really die in front of the trailer? But overall I thought it was a very good movie. Worth watching, just be prepared to be depressed AF afterward.

the lost city of z
The Lost City of Z, starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, and a practically unrecognizable Robert Pattinson

A movie about discovering a hidden city in the Amazon rainforest. What could go wrong???

Well, it turns out quite a lot. This movie was a slog from beginning to end for multiple reasons. For instance:

  1. The story has an unnecessary prologue that goes on and on and on. You see, Percy, our fearless protagonist, wants some bling for his army uniform, but sadly there aren't any wars going on, and therefore no chance to win medals. I feel so bad for him.
  2. When he does finally get to the jungle, it's not terribly interesting because he manages to encounter every Amazonian stereotype. Piranhas. Unfriendly natives with poison-tipped darts. Evil loggers. Shrunken heads. And tales of a lost city!
  3. Speaking of the eponymous lost city... THERE IS NO CITY. What Percy finds is a statue, before he's forced to retreat because of a large panther (see Amazon stereotypes, above). And hey, that's cool. But a solitary statue does not a city make.
  4. Actually, calling it a statue is generous, it's more of a carving in a large boulder next to a picturesque waterfall. It could be the result of tourism for all we know.
  5. To anyone else, this would be a footnote in their memoirs, but Percy decides it means Desperate Indian Bloke Just Trying to Get Away from White People was telling the truth about a lost city and he should therefore go BACK to the jungle to find it. What??? No wonder his wife is pissed at him.
  6. Further point of confusion: Instead of retracing his steps back to the statue, he decides to go a different route. Not sure why. Then, when they're "almost there," his men insist on quitting and going back because it's raining or they're hungry or something. "It's raining, Percy, give up." I think those were their exact words. You guys can't walk another 40 yards? *throws up hands*
  7. WWI break. Percy's son has some Daddy issues because he's spent 80% of the kid's childhood on another continent chasing a statue. So when he's injured in battle and they visit him in hospital, Jack's like, "I wish you had died, for all the good you do us." Ouch! Then he turns around and literally two minutes later, with nothing happening in between except his mom sobbing, he's all, "I love you, Father, and I want to explore the jungle and help you find the lost city." Is this a trap? Is Jack luring Percy out into the jungle to kill him? Questions mount.
  8. I'll admit I spent most of this movie shipping Percy and his second-in-command, Costin, because him going off into the jungle constantly to spend time with his luvahhh makes more sense than the lost city. It was especially obvious after the war where Costin's like, "I have a wife and child now, Percy, I have to quit all that." Alas, this was the only point of interest.
  9. Anyway! Back to the jungle! Again!
  10. So the ending of this movie is more or less made up because **100-year spoiler alert** no one knows what happened to Percy and Jack. They disappeared. My murder theory becomes more plausible by the moment, but I digress. The filmmakers could have done ANYTHING at this point. Shown us a lost city, perhaps??? That would have been exciting. BUT NO. Instead, Percy spits out some aphorisms about courage that are eye roll worthy, and then they're carried off into the jungle by natives. Okayyyy?
  11. Did Percy and Jack find the lost city? Imma gonna say no cuz I never saw any damned city. But according to the infobox that popped up before the end credits, someone did find Percy's city recently. WHAT?!? So there was a city all along? Why wouldn't you show us that?
I didn't mean to turn this post into a rant about The Lost City of Z, but uhg. Just imagine Jaws, but two and a half hours long with no shark, and you have a pretty good idea of what watching this movie is like.

This weeks in heidenkindom:

I can't believe summer is over already. It didn't feel like we had much of one: it was cool and rainy during the months it was supposed to be dry and hot, and now here comes fall. I'm not ready (I'm never ready for fall, TBH). I plan to spend this weekend enjoying as much blistering heat as possible while it lasts.

Anyway, for the last few weeks my parents have been on vacation to watch the eclipse and travel around, and while they were gone and I was alone pet sitting the Scottie terrorists, I decided to go vegetarian. And I feel fucking fantastic! I'm not going to be strict vegetarian or vegan from now on, but I really enjoyed sticking to a non-meat diet and munching on the late summer produce. Simple Green Suppers was a big help; I'd say nearly every recipe I tried was absolutely delish and relatively easy to make. A few favorites were portobello mushroom tacos, roasted green beans and radicchio pasta with pesto, and baked egg pizzioli. I'd recommend this cookbook if you're looking to incorporate more vegetables into your diet.

Before I go, I just want to mention my thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey. I know a few people and their families who live in the Houston area and will have a lot of rebuilding to do once the water recedes, and my heart goes out to them. Hopefully Hurricane Irma won't be as bad as predicted.

Have a great week, everyone!


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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for Mid-August

Pretty garden!

Currently reading:

House of Spies by Daniel Silva: I haven't enjoyed a Silva book so much since The English Girl!

Starflight by Melissa Landers: So far a pretty silly YA romance... IN SPACE!

Posted:

The discussion for Devils in Daylight over at Book Bloggers International. And hopefully at some point I'll have time to actually post responses.

Movies:

atomic blonde poster
Atomic Blonde, starring Charlize Theron

1989 Berlin. On the eve of the "end" of the Cold War, MI6 agent Lorraine must find a Very Important List before the Soviets do, and ferret out a MI6 mole while she's at it.

It wouldn't be quite correct to say this movie is an example of style over substance, but the costume and art departments definitely deserve an A+++++. Everything in Atomic Blonde looks absolutely fantastic, from the setting to the clothes to the way the shots are framed. Visually, it's to die for. The acting is also top-notch. Unfortunately, the other aspects of the film aren't as successful. It could lose about 20 minutes and be the better for it, and the script really needed a few moments of comic relief or SOMETHING to break up the unrelenting close-ups and face punching. Not sure I can entirely recommend this one, although it's not a bad movie by any means.

greenfingers poster
Greenfingers, starring Clive Owen, Natasha Little, and Helen Mirren

If you're into plants and gardening, you will adore this movie. It's about a man in prison who discovers a love of gardening and, through working on the prison's garden, he and the other gardeners become bffs and turn their lives around. Such a sweet, warm-hearted film, and I loved the romance between Colin and Primrose.



This month in heidenkindom:


At the risk of sounding like an Old Person, I can't believe it's almost mid-August already. The last few weeks have been pretty busy, what with appointments, work, events, and so on. It's also been rainy and cool the past few weeks, which doesn't put me in the greatest mood, although it is helping weeds grow. So there's that.

A post shared by Tasha (@tashaheidenkind) on


One cool thing that happened recently is someone gave me an old Brownie Reflex camera they found in their basement. I cleaned it up and bought film so I can take pictures with it (I'm not sure where the film will be developed, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it). The film roll only has 12 photos, so I'm being picky about what I photograph with it. I'm thinking of maybe using it for the solar eclipse next week. Either way I'm pretty excited to see how the photos turn out and I'll share them on here once I finish and develop the roll!

There's still lunch to be eaten, laundry to be folded, and a book to finish, so I'm off for now. Have an excellent week, everyone!


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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Snapshot

Ragnarök, installation in progress

Currently reading:

Moon Over the Mediterranean by Sheri Cobb South: Supposed to be an homage to the romantic suspense novels of Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney. So far the only mystery I can find is why this woman is such a catty bitch.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: IDK, I love the characters but the romance occasionally sends me into a massive case of eye roll.

Posted:

This week's Inbox/Outbox over at Book Riot.

Movies:

queen
Queen, starring Kangana Ranaut

When her dbag fiancé calls off their wedding, Rani decides to take their honeymoon vacation to Paris and Amsterdam by her own damn self, tyvm. The first half of this movie was okay, but it doesn't really start to pick up until Rani gets to Amsterdam, where it turns out she's sharing a room with four strange men in a youth hostel. She freaks the hell out (I don't blame her, tbh). But it turns out all the guys are gentlemen and super woke, and pretty soon everyone's friends and they're having adventures all over Amsterdam. I LOVE STORIES WHERE PEOPLE MEET AND BECOME FRIENDS, have I mentioned this?? Anyway, it was a bit slow in parts but I liked that Rani didn't wind up with anyone at the end. Worth watching if you enjoy these kinds of movies!

baby driver
Baby Driver, starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James, and Kevin Spacey

Whenever I tell people I saw this movie, they ask two questions: What is it about, and why is the main character named Baby? So let me answer that upfront. Baby Driver is about a getaway driver who started driving at a very early age, hence why his nickname became, "Baby. B-A-B-Y, Baby." This movie's chock full of great actors, the soundtrack kicks ass, the chase scenes will make your heart pound, the love story was actually pretty sweet, and the whole thing has a very stylish, hip, Speed Racer vibe. The second half kind of devolved into an OTT shoot-em-out that seemed like it belonged in a different movie, but I liked that Baby's criminal career had some very real-world consequences and he didn't just drive into the sunset. I scrolled past a review of Baby Driver that described it as, "The thinking person's Fast & Furious," and that's a pretty decent elevator pitch. Definitely recommended!

What the Health, directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn

I'm not listening to anyone who tells me not to eat butter. DNF






Exciting news!

It's official: the 13th Doctor is going to be a woman. Jodie Whittaker, to be precise, who worked with Doctor Who's new head writer, Chris Chibnall (not to mention David Tennant), on Broadchurch. A show I stopped watching because it was so fucking depressing. But anyway. Hopefully Chibnall's Doctor will be a bit more upbeat.

And if you're searching for your daily dose of outrage, check out the comments by men on twitter who believe "the Doctor is primarily a male role," "Is the BBC going to recast Mary Poppins as a man now?" etc. etc. Fortunately a hero named @imteddybless has taken it upon herself to shut them all down.


Time for lunch! Hope you all have an awesome week.


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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for Independence Day


Currently Reading:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: Just started this one on audio.

Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton: I spotted this book while searching Amazon for something completely unrelated (I think it was either deodorant or bitters) and immediately ordered it. I'm only about a third of the way through and I've already gotten a few awesome ideas for make-ahead sauces and condiments.

Movies watched:

beauty and the beast
Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens

The 1991 Beauty and the Beast (hard to believe it was that long ago!) is arguably the greatest animated film of all time, so this live action version had a lot to live up to. Basically it made me wish I was watching the animated movie, although I didn't think it was a total waste of time like I did Cinderella. I enjoyed the musical theater vibe and I LOVED Josh Gad as LeFou. He nailed that role out of the park. But it didn't have the magical wow factor of the animated film, and the beast just came across as a rich asshole. I think this was more the fault of the script than of Dan Stevens, but it was still disappointing.

Anyway. Overall I thought it was okay. My mom rated it, "Pretty good actually."

These weeks in heidenkindom:

June is over. Finally. It seemed to drag on forever.

There are a few things bringing me joy at the moment: one, I ordered The American Epic Sessions on vinyl and it is AMAZING. If you haven't seen The American Epic Sessions, it's a documentary series that aired on PBS about the earliest recordings of American folk music in the 1920s. And for the soundtrack, they recorded modern-day artists singing the songs into an original 1920s recording lathe. It is VERY cool. T Bone Burnett produced it, if you care about that sort of thing.

I bought the soundtrack on vinyl because that just felt right, and it is the best music purchase of my life. The sound is incredible. Compared to the vinyl, the mp3 tracks sound tinny and soulless. I definitely recommend this album–and the documentary–if you're a fan of folk or traditional country music!

I also discovered a new series to binge watch on Netflix: Girlboss! I never read the memoir by Sophia Amoruso, so maybe that's why I'm enjoying this show while everyone else hates it. The central complaint being, "Sophia isn't likable." And they're right, she's not: she's a legit crazy person with serious daddy issues and little to no regard for other people's feelings. But weirdly that's what I enjoy about the show? And is this the look of a woman who cares about being "likable"? No, it's the look of a woman who gets shit done.

Bonus:

Don't forget to join Tif in a readalong of The Hate U Give this month on Book Bloggers International.



Have a lovely week, everyone!




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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for Father's Day

sergio leone room at the dam

I hope you're all having a good Father's Day; or, if you don't live in the US, a pleasant Sunday!

Currently reading:

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett: Only just started this one.

Movies:

in the shadow of iris
In the Shadow of Iris, starring Charlotte le Bon and Romain Duris

If you liked Gone Girl, you'll probably enjoy this movie. I did, anyway! It's in the same wheelhouse of twisty-twist, neo-noir thrillers, with a few gratuitous sex scenes thrown in because France. I don't want to talk to talk about the plot in depth too much, but the basics are that a wealthy French banker's beautiful wife disappears, and an ex-con and down-on-his-luck mechanic becomes suspect numéro un.

the lego batman movie
The LEGO Batman Movie, starring Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes

Honestly, I thought this movie was EXHAUSTING. Way too much going on and at a frenetic pace. It also wasn't as funny as I thought it would be, considering Lego Batman was the best part of the Lego Movie. It just reminded me of why I don't like superhero comics or movies, and why I dislike Batman movies in particular (he's still not as pointless and boring as Superman, though, I'll give him that much). YMMV of course.

This week[s] in heidenkindom:

Howdy there, y'all! It's been awhile since I've done one of these. The beginning of June was a challenge for me. I had to do my quarterly taxes, which never puts me in a good mood, and there were a bunch of work-related fires to put out that led to even more stress and headaches.

I did do a few fun things these past weeks: I went to a wine tasting of really good French wines; and my mom and I checked out The Western: An Epic in Art and Film at the Denver Art Museum. It was one of those exhibits that looks super-cool (see gif above), but doesn't have a lot of information. I was also disappointed in the near-total lack of discussion on the role of Indians and Hispanics in westerns. But whatever. Here are some pics!

Remington Koerner and Russell
Paintings by Charlie Russell, WH Koerner, and Frederic Remington

high noon by frank zinnemann
Dramatic entrance to the High Noon room

ei couse the captive
EI Couse, The Captive

passport by sergio leone. You won't know where to go next!
Sergio Leone's passport!

Frederic Remington, A Dash for the Timber, 1889
Frederic Remington, A Dash for the Timber, 1889

giant clint eastwood face
"There are two kinds of people in this world: those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig."


Have a fantastic rest of the week, everyone!


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Friday, June 2, 2017

Around the World In Books

around the world in books

This week is Armchair Book Expo, and the discussion topic for today is on diversity in books. I thought this would be a perfect time to post about a personal challenge I've created for myself to read more diversely: Around the World in Books!

If you follow my Sunday Snapshots, you know that this year I spontaneously started keeping track of the nationality of the authors I read. Since I've been keeping it up, I decided: why not challenge myself to read at least one book written by someone from every country on earth? This is the masterpost for my Around the World in Books Challenge; feel free to join in if you like!

FAQs:


  • How many countries are there? Seems like a straightforward question, but like most straightforward questions, the answer isn't as simple as you'd expect. The UN recognizes 193 countries. There are two countries not represented in the UN, namely Vatican City and Palestine. There are also countries not universally recognized as self-governing, for example Taiwan, which is considered part of China by the US. For this challenge, I am including Palestine as a country but not Vatican City, since no one is "from" Vatican City, if that makes sense. So the total number of countries in my challenge will be 194. Sorry, Taiwan.
  • Do people with multiple citizenships or books with multiple authors count for multiple countries? I want to finish this sometime before I die, so yes.
  • What about someone from a place that's no longer a country or was a different country when they lived there? (E.g., countries formerly part of the Soviet Union) Hm, I'm not sure. This is getting into politically murky waters. I think for now I'll just approach that on a case-by-case basis.
  • What if new countries are created or countries disappear? If that happens before I finish this challenge, I will update the list.
  • What's the start date for the challenge? The start date is when I started tracking countries read: January 1st, 2017


And now for the list. 13 down, only 181 to go!


around the world in books



Read Countries (by number of books read):

United States of America (19)
United Kingdom (8)
Japan (5)
New Zealand (3)
Canada (1)
South Africa (1)
South Korea (1)
Australia (1)
Denmark (1)
India (1)
Malaysia (1)
Israel (1)
Palestine (1)

Unread Countries (alphabetically):
List of countries in the world provided by the US Department of State.

A

Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Andorra
Angola
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Armenia
Aruba
Austria
Azerbaijan


B

Bahamas, The
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belarus
Belgium
Belize
Benin
Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Botswana
Brazil
Brunei
Bulgaria
Burkina Faso
Burma
Burundi


C

Cambodia
Cameroon
Cabo Verde
Central African Republic
Chad
Chile
China
Colombia
Comoros
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Republic of the
Costa Rica
Cote d'Ivoire
Croatia
Cuba
Curacao
Cyprus
Czechia


D

Djibouti
Dominica
Dominican Republic


E

East Timor (see Timor-Leste)
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Estonia
Ethiopia


F

Fiji
Finland
France


G

Gabon
Gambia, The
Georgia
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Grenada
Guatemala
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana


H

Haiti
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary


I

Iceland
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Ireland
Italy


J

Jamaica
Jordan


K

Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kiribati
Korea, North
Kosovo
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan


L

Laos
Latvia
Lebanon
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg


M

Macau
Macedonia
Madagascar
Malawi
Maldives
Mali
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico
Micronesia
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Morocco
Mozambique


N

Namibia
Nauru
Nepal
Netherlands
Nicaragua
Niger
Nigeria
North Korea
Norway


O

Oman


P

Pakistan
Palau
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal


Q

Qatar


R

Romania
Russia
Rwanda


S

Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Serbia
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Sint Maarten
Slovakia
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Sudan
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Suriname
Swaziland
Sweden
Switzerland
Syria

T

Tajikistan
Tanzania
Thailand
Timor-Leste
Togo
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Tuvalu


U

Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
Uruguay
Uzbekistan


V

Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam


Y

Yemen


Z

Zambia
Zimbabwe




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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Armchair Book Expo: Introductions

armchair book expo

Today marks the start of Armchair Book Expo, the blogging party and get-together that coincides with Book Expo America in NYC.

I have to admit I kinda forgot it was starting *today*, but now I've remembered and I've pulled together three of the prompts to introduce myself! Hi, my name is Tasha, and...

Currently . . . In my pajamas avoiding all the stuff I should actually be doing.

I love . . . food and trying new recipes. One recipe we tried recently that was really good was veal-wrapped asparagus. Except we couldn't find veal cutlets, so I used chicken cutlets instead that I pounded thin. I wish the pesto had been better (Classico, do not recommend) and that it had some sauce to go with it, but otherwise it was a pretty awesome dish!

My current read . . . I'm finishing up Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner. There was a lot of walking in that book, let me tell ya. And I'm listening to The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles by GS Denning on audiobook.

My buddy . . . I have three little buddies whose names are Calypso, Thor, and Miss Sofielicious

Thor

Calypso

Sofie


Have an awesome BEA, everyone, whether you're in NYC or home at your computer!


Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for Memorial Day Weekend


Currently reading:

Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner: You've got to be really into journey books to get through this one.

The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles by GS Denning: Not as funny as the first Warlock Holmes book.

Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi: I don't intend to make any recipes from this book, but I am enjoying the pictures and learning about mid-East cooking.

Posted:

Learn about the super cool Colorado library that raised $140,000 on Kickstarter.

Movies:

moorise kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom, starring Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman

On a small mid-Atlantic island in the 1960s, two 12-year-olds decide to run away together, throwing their town into chaos.

Super charming and quirky, like most of Wes Anderson's movies. I loved the retro vibe and that all Suzy packs to run away is her kitten, kitten food, her favorite books, her brother's record player, her favorite record, a toothbrush, and extra batteries, because that is *exactly* what I would pack if I was leaving home at age 12. Edward Norton was also especially adorkable as Scout Master Ward. The only thing that was a bit of a letdown was the storm at the end, which I expected to be a bigger deal than it was due to the OTT foreshadowing. Otherwise, no complaints!

alien covenant
Alien: Covenant, starring Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, and Michael Fassbender

After an accident forces the crew of the colonizing spaceship Covenant out of animated suspension, they make a pit stop on an Earth-like planet. Bad mistake or worst mistake?

When I first walked out of the theater, I was pretty enthusiastic about this movie. It surprised me because it wasn't what I was expecting, and I enjoyed the ride. But after about twelve hours to think on it, I had to reassess. It does feel like it was directed by three different people who wanted to make three different types of movies, and it does seem like it was invented purely as a vehicle for Fassbender ("The Fassbender show," as Penny put it). But. I loved the Island of Dr Moreau vibe in the middle of the film, and I was actually really impressed with Fassbender, whom I still have not forgiven for that disaster of a Jane Eyre adaptation he was in. Of course, his character's a robot, so the role really plays to his "acting" strengths.

Overall, I'd say this movie's worth watching just for the Fassbender-on-Fassbender scenes, which are weird but well-done.

nocturnal animals
Nocturnal Animals, starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal

Rich ice queen Susan receives a manuscript out of the blue from her ex-husband, whom she hasn't talked to in 20 years. It's dedicated to her and the title references their relationship, so she can't not read it. But why did he send it and what does it have to do with their failed marriage?

Not a perfect film by any means. But: 1. It looks fucking fantastic (of course it does, it was directed by Tom Ford); 2. the scenes from Nocturnal Animals (the book inside the movie) were crazy suspenseful and just awesome filmmaking; and 3. it's a very literary movie and I loved how it portrayed the experience of becoming completely engrossed in a novel.

I will say that there were a lot of loose threads left hanging, and several scenes that seemed to serve no purpose other than as fashion plates, but by far the weakest part of the movie is the ending. Ford described it as a "sad" ending, but I wouldn't call it that. It was just anti-climatic. I wish he'd found a way to up the drama and emotional impact rather than taking what felt like a lazy way out.

Still, if you enjoy classic film noir, you definitely want to watch this movie. It's a surprisingly effective blend of cynicism and romanticism, a story about revenge and living in a world where everything, even people, are disposable.

hitchcock truffaut
Hitchcock/Truffaut, directed by Kent Jones

A documentary about Truffaut's book of the same name. As some of you might know, I am pretty familiar with Hitchcock's work, so for me there wasn't much new information to be had here. I did learn Truffaut died just four years after Hitchcock (!), and I liked listening to the recordings of their interview, even if they were frustratingly tantalizing. Example: Hitchcock would be like, "When [Jimmy Stewart] stands up and sees [Judy from Vertigo] emerge from the bathroom, he has an erection. And now I'm going to tell you a very disturbing story, turn off the recorder." And then all you hear is a click and I'm like, Nooooooo, he was just getting to the good part! Now we'll never know the story!

Personally, I think this film is too "inside baseball" and self-indulgent. And hey, if you need even more evidence that Hollywood is a sausage fest, look no further. I seriously doubt the idea that maybe a woman or two should be included in this doc ever even crossed Jones' mind.

These weeks in heidenkindom:

Summer is still being a coy little bitch, I have to say. It's perilously close to June and we still have the heater on! Come on!

This past week was pretty stressful, work-wise. I've been trying to get in more exercise with spotty success. What else? Oh! Someone gave me duck eggs and they're reeeeeally good. Especially in scrambled eggs and omelettes, because the yolk-to-white ratio is higher than with chicken eggs. So they come out tasting super rich and creamy. Highly recommended if you can get your hands on some.

Bonus:

Speaking of food, I'm hosting a readalong next month of Livia Day's A Trifle Dead over at Book Bloggers International. I hope you'll join me, especially since I'm breaking the discussion format and just sharing recipes inspired by/included in the book. Yum!



Hopefully June will be better for all of us. Have an excellent week everyone!




Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sunday Snapshot for the First Sunday in May

Thor is happy

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, so...

Currently reading:

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett: If you love books and libraries, you need to read this novel.

Posted:

The Vegetarian discussion post. I also wrote a review of Trust Me by Laura Florand, but I didn't post it. I'm not sure if I will.

Movies:

la la land
La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling

Oooooooooomg. Love this film. Love love love love love love! It's like a love letter to classic Hollywood musicals. The first half, where there's a TON of singing and dancing and insanely awesome choreography, is especially enjoyable. The second half has almost no singing or dancing, which I did not like as much. But, I mean, I laughed, I cried, I didn't hate it too much for not having a happy ending. If seeing a CinemaScope logo at the very start of a movie gives you warm fuzzies, you need to watch this movie. It was made for you.

the fate of the furious
The Fate of the Furious, starring Charlize Theron and Vin Diesel

If you ever feel like your brain needs to be beaten into a porridge-like substance unable to produce anything resembling logical thought–and I have felt like that on occasion–may I recommend this movie. It's actually not that bad. I mean, yeah, some of the stuff defies the laws of physics, but that's what you want in a Fast and Furious movie, right? Plus you got your exotic locales, cars falling out of buildings, that British guy who always plays a sketchy spy, the guys exchanging humorously insulting quips, super shiny, fancy motorized vehicles arranged in ways suspiciously resembling a car commercial. What's not to like?

These weeks in heidenkindom:

Have you ever had periods of time where you try to plan or do something and absolutely nothing ever works out? I think I'm in one of those periods right now.

Bonus:

Want some books about art? The Guggenheim has over 200 free to read online.



Have a great week, everyone!





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Saturday, May 6, 2017

9 Reasons The Vegetarian Will Change the Way You Think About Everything

the vegetarian by han kang

(Note: As Chrisbookarama pointed out, The Vegetarian cries out for a clickbaity title. So I used a link bait title generator to come up with one.)

A few days late, but still here! As you might know, I hosted a readalong of The Vegetarian by Han Kang for Book Bloggers International last month. Here are the discussion questions and my responses. Feel free to participate in the discussion yourself if you've read the book!

Questions:


First of all! What did you think of the book in general?

Well, I wouldn't say I enjoyed it, but then I'm pretty sure that's not its purpose. It's kind of a South Korean version of The Yellow Wallpaper. It wasn't an easy read, but it did make me think.

We never get to hear directly from Yeong-hye except in brief snippets of dream and memory. Why do you think the author tells her story through the lens of other people? Do you think this is effective?

I think Kang wanted to avoid giving the reader any illusions about Yeong-hye's agency (she has none) or choice. The book as a whole really makes one question how much choice any of us have. Like you may think you have control over your own body, your decisions of what you eat every day, who you marry, and so on, but how much of that is free will and how much of it is an attempt to fit into the role and circumstances you were born into?

Yeong-hye says she stopped eating meat because she had a dream. What do you think the dream was actually about?

I think the dream was about how much she wanted to get rid of her Objectively Awful Person (TM) husband, and she realized she could either kill him or reject violence completely. Hence the veganism.

Vegetarianism and fasting has been used as a form of social protest in the past, particularly among women (see, for example, "The Awakened Instinct: Vegetarianism and the Women's Suffrage Movement in Britain" by Leah Leneman and The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J Adams). Do you think this is what Yeong-hye is doing? Is she refusing to eat meat in order to stick it to the goddamn patriarchy?

In a way, yes, although I don't think she sees it like that because her actions are driven by her subconscious, not logic. She just got so SICK OF IT, she had a mental break. And as my Anthropology 101 professor once said, "Our culture dictates how we break."

As the story goes on, Yeong-hye seems to be transforming into a plant herself (or at least wanting to). Is this an art-imitating-life situation?

Her hubby certainly treated her like a plant. Like, "I got this plant because it looked okay and I thought it wouldn't be high maintenance, and for a while it grew just fine as far as I could tell. Then it started withering up so I decided to get rid of it."

He's a prince, ladies.

Yeong-hye's brother-in-law may seem more sympathetic to her than her husband, but is he?

Uhg, what a perv. He obviously views himself as better than his brother-in-law, but I doubt he sees Yeong-hye or his wife as people any more than Yeong-hye's husband did. There's also a part where he says he just assumes her silence is consent. Um, no.

There's a surprising amount of violence, both psychological and physical, in this book. Why do you think that is?

Yes. One would expect a book about a vegetarian to be violence-free, but nope! I think it's a response to the conformity of the society. People can't act out or express their emotions, so anger and fear and other negative feelings get pushed deeper and deeper inside until a person can't take it anymore and then it explodes out of them in unhealthy ways.

There's a part of the book where Yeong-hye says she felt like the dream that made her turn vegetarian came from her stomach. "The face is inside my stomach. It rose up from inside my stomach." I found that interesting because the gut is called the "second brain," and it responds to a lot of the stimuli in our brains that we don't want to deal with.

I also think part of it has to do with certain social contracts that accept violence as a way life, which exist in all cultures. Extreme examples would be slavery, or war. The killing of animals for meat is also an act of violence, one we accept because we're taught we have the right–maybe even the responsibility–to eat meat. But whether that's true or not doesn't make the members of a society any less complicit in the violence perpetuated by that act.

There are a lot of themes in the novel: obsession, dreams, conformity and acting "normal," choosing to act morally and choosing not to. Which of these themes stood out for you the most?

I would say each part of the book focuses on one theme more than the others. Part 1 was about conformity and Yeong-hye's rebellion against society and her husband's and family's expectations. Part 2 was more about obsession and allowing it to overtake your life to the point where right and wrong don't matter as long as you can make your fantasies a reality. Part 3... well, that one was a little muddy for me. I would say normality and how there's no such thing as "normal," but I don't think Part 3 was as well-realized as the previous two parts of the book.

Finally, what did you think of the ending? Does it negate the previous sections of the book?

To be honest, when I first read it I hated the ending. I thought the point of Yeong-hye's story was that she wasn't crazy, people just thought she was because she was rebelling against a false construct wherein she had to put up with raw deal she never agreed to. But the ending implied Yeong-hye was certifiably insane. So if that was the case, her family was right and choosing not to eat meat was the act of someone with "hints at hysteria, delusion, weak nerves and so on".

However, later I read this review of The Vegetarian, where the writer suggests that maybe Yeong-hye's gradual starvation is a form of sallekhana, a fast to the death practiced by Jains in order to "extricate... the devotee from the endless cycles of violence in which we are embedded." That sounds like it fits into the themes of the book better than just making Yeong-hye crazy. But it's hard to say for sure if that was Kang's intention.


Have you read The Vegetarian? What did you think?




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Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 2017 #Readathon

24 hour readathon

Another Readathon has come and gone, whomp-whomp. I did manage to complete my goal of reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang, so yay! That makes it the first and only book I've ever started and finished in a single Readathon. I wouldn't say I enjoyed reading it, but I'm pretty sure it's not meant to be an enjoyable read anyway. It was really dark and violent and weird and disturbing. But, if you can get past that, well worth the time to read I think.

If you read The Vegetarian too, be sure to check out my discussion post for it on BBI.

CLOSING SURVEY

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Honestly, there were a lot of daunting hours. The three hours it took to make dinner, which turned out to be a disaster, for example. Also around 2am I was just really tired and fed up with reading The Vegetarian.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?

No.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

Idk, I kind of miss the cheerleaders. Maybe people could commit to a length of time and platform?

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

Even though I got annoyed with it, reading one short book during the Readathon worked out better than I expected. I may do something similar next time.

5. How many books did you read?

One (and on a side note, how do people manage to read multiple books??? I know I got a late start, but I was also up until 4am, so it's not like I wasn't putting time into reading)

6. What were the names of the books you read?

Don't make me type it again.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

I didn't.

8. Which did you enjoy least?

All of them.

9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I will definitely participate if I am able!


STATS

Mini-challenges completed:

  • One Night Reads
  • Show Us the Weather
  • A few of the #IGReadathon challenges
  • Summer Road Trip
Consumed:
  • 2 glasses of water
  • 1 cup of coffee
  • A piece of breakfast casserole
  • Snacks: grapes, apple, hummus and pita chips
  • Roasted chicken, paprika-parmesan corn, yeast roll
  • Wine/martinis
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Hallo hallo. For those of you who don't know, today is the 24 Readathon, aka the bibliophile's Super Bowl. I'm getting a late start on the Readathon this time around, even by my standards, but I am awake at last a ready to read!

Let's get this party started with the opening survey. I'll be updating this post throughout the Readathon instead of creating new posts because laziness.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

"I believe I have seen hell and it's white, it's snow-white."

A snow-packed Colorado.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

My goal is only to read one book this time around, The Vegetarian by Han Kang, for a readalong I'm hosting over at Book Bloggers International. It's a live readalong!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I don't really do snacks. I am looking forward to the breakfast casserole I currently have in the oven, and maybe leftover enchiladas for lunch.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Okay! I have three dogs: two Scottie/schnauzers from the same litter and one miniature schnauzer who's a rescue dog. They enjoy watching Cesar Millan and Animal Planet.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Usually I just try to finish what I'm currently reading during the readathon, but this time I'm focused on getting through one book. Fortunately Andi said it was a fast read and she was right! I'm already 10% through it and I literally just woke up.

MID-EVENT SURVEY

It's the middle of the Readathon already??? Wow, time flies when you sleep in till 10. Here's the mid-event survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

The Vegetarian

2. How many books have you read so far?

Zero!

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

I'll probably pick up What Did You Eat Yesterday? Vol. 3 if I ever get through The Vegetarian (I'm actually more than halfway through already, I just know that after dinner when Doctor Who comes on and everyone piles into the living room it will be a challenge to focus on reading).

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Not really. I took a shower.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

It's been a pretty quiet Readathon. I wish it was warm so I could sit outside with a glass of rosé, but otherwise it's been what I imagine an ideal Readathon would be like.


Are you joining in the Readathon today? What are your plans?



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