Fifty/Fifty for February

1. Diary of a Mad Fat Girl, by Stephanie McAfee. This is a fun and funny book, and so is the author, whom I met at the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriends’ Weekend. She first self-pubbed it as an e-book, where it landed on the NY Times Bestseller list! And now it’s at Costco and all the bookstores.

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera.

3. Moonface, by Angela Balcita

This is a memoir of a young woman whose kidneys fail in college. She gets a transplant from her brother, then her boyfriend, who later marries her.

4. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. Really enjoyed this one. Thanks for living up to the hype, Harbach!

5. Ivan and Misha, by Michael Alenyikov. Interconnected short stories about gay twin immigrant Russian brothers and the people around them.

6. The Angel Esmerelda, by Don DeLillo. A new collection of short stories.

7. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I thought this would be a ghost story, but it’s a time traveling fantasy, featuring some real-life creepy old photography.

8. A Guitar and a Pen, edited by Robert Hicks, John Bohlinger, and Justin Stelter. These are short stories by country music songwriters and singers. My favorite is, “How I Stayed a Boy,” by Tia Sellers. I also met Robert Hicks at Pulpwood and I must say, if you are ever bored at a party you should just go stand within earshot of him, because that man has a lot of stories. A lot.

9. I read a fair number of picture books every month, which I usually don’t count toward my book total; but I super love this book. It is fun to read aloud (so many are drags and you’re sick of them before the end of the first read-through!) and I teared up at the end. Basically, it’s about a tractor and a calf. I like the muted color palette of the illustrations and the strong black lines; it reminds me of an old old book, though this pubbed in 2009.


Somehow, the only movie I saw all month was this one, unless you count the kids’ movies I was technically in the room for (which I don’t).

Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part I

I plan to watch Rifftrax’s version next. They’re kind of like Mystery Science Theater 3000.

So that’s 9 books for this month, 1 movie.

Total for 2012 so far: 17 books, 5 movies.


Fiftyfifty: Reading 50 Books, Watching 50 Films

Over on you can sign up to be part of a challenge: read 50 books for 2012, watch 50 films for 2012.

Reading’s no problem. But do I watch 50 films?

Most of the time, there’s a kid movie playing on TV when there is a movie on. Most of the time, it’s an abysmal kid movie, like a Chipmunk or the Beverly Hills Chihuahuas (which Little Girl calls “Chicka-wa-wa”). The kids love these movies and I think they’re mostly harmless, but trying to pay attention to them is like slow drip water torture. I am serious. If I get captured by enemies they can play some annoying kid’s movie and I will crack like an old porcelain vase. Bad kid-movie-watching is probably banned under the Geneva Convention, though. So, I may be in the same room, but I am not usually watching the movie– I’m reading or cleaning or cooking or something.

Also, we unsubscribed from the DVD option at Netflix, which means to watch newer movies, we can either pay $5 for the cable on-demand movies, or drive to the Redbox. Because we never plan ahead, this might be difficult.

I mostly hate going to see movies in theaters because of people. I know this makes me sound Andy-Rooney-level misanthropic, but really. When I go to a movie, no matter what movie it is, there is someone from one of these groups here:

  • Kids. We went to Tropic Thunder in a theater, and some moron brought a little kid. I spent the whole movie worried about this little kid being exposed to the R-rated movie, imagining this kid bringing his ill-wrought interactions on my kids.  Also, if I don’t have or can’t afford a babysitter, I’d either stay home or go to a PG movie. Not bring my kid to a 10 o’clock showing of an R-rated comedy they won’t get anyway.
  • Old people. I cannot wait for the day I am old and I, too, can have no verbal filter and unabashedly disturb others during movies. The Descendants, daytime showing. Two elderly couples strolled in late and talked loudly in the aisles. “I can’t see! I told you to leave earlier, dammit.” “It’s not MY fault you wouldn’t park where I said.” They grasped my shoulder as they went by so they wouldn’t fall. The people in front of us: “What did he say? Who’s that? Is that George Clooney? He looks OLD. So old.”
  • Young People and their Stupid Smart Phones. They cannot live without checking that flashlight-bright screen every 10 minutes. It’s a beacon– my eyes are drawn away from the screen and to the kid a few aisles down.
  • Cologne. Perpetrated by all sorts of age ranges. It doesn’t matter if it’s cheap or if it’s expensive. It makes me sneeze and if I can smell you from a hundred yards away, you’re wearing too much.


I digress(this must be why it takes me so long to write a blog post!) but you get the idea. I don’t go to movies much and I don’t watch them much at home. TV shows, yes. I just started watching Downton Abbey (it’s Masterpiece Theater, can I count that as a film or two?).

Anyway, I will try to do this challenge and blog about it here. There you have it.

Also, I found a plan to watch movies regularly, a plan which, curiously enough, came from a BOOK. Barbara Kingsolver’s ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, in which she says she has a weekly movie night during which she makes pizza.