Friday, March 27, 2009

Little Heathens

Book: Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
Author: Mildred Armstrong Kalish
Like/Don't Like: Hey, we're practically in a depression now. Who wants to move to a farm with me and raise sheep?

A few weeks ago my friend Lisa asked me to watch her dog, Yard Bird, for the weekend so I went over and picked up a key. And as I was leaving she handed me a mixed CD (which was awesome) and this book. Lisa has great taste.

This book is exactly what the title says it is. Which is just so Mid-Western, right? It's about the authors experience on her families Iowa farm during the Depression. It's filled with simple, straightforward stories about life on the farm and sprinkled with home remedies, recipes and tips for taming raccoons. There's a whole section on cooking that made me gain 10 pounds just reading it. I can't wait to make her apple cream pie. Their life was filled with hard work but it just seemed so rewarding.

It was a fascinating read but I had the same problem with it that I have with most memoirs, and really most non-fiction. If there's no story to draw me in then I have a hard time going back to it. I loved it while I was reading it, her writing is sparse but just dry enough to make you know she's sassy and would slap your hand if you tried to snatch a cookie before supper, but I was never dying to pick it back up. That's just me though. I'm sure you're a much more evolved reader than I am and can handle that sort of thing.


Movie: Wall-E
Like/Don't Like: It has magical memory-erasing powers.

Picture it: Dawn. I found myself lying on the bathroom floor praying for death. It wasn't even my bathroom floor. My family was staying in a condo in Utah for a family reunion. So, there I was, lying on an unfamiliar bathroom floor, contemplating whether or not I could muster the strength to crawl up the stairs and wish my beloved parents farewell. I opted instead to throw up. At that point I had been throwing up for 6 hours. I threw up more times that night than I had in my entire life combined. This is not an exaggeration. I am not much for throwing up. The fact that I was even lying on the bathroom floor should be a good indication to you of the fevered and feeble state I was in. What I'm trying to tell you was that this was a Very Bad Night. Quite possibly the worst night of my life. Even writing about it makes me want to cry a little. And would you like to know the soundtrack to that night? "Hello, Dolly!"

I had turned the TV on with the hopes that it would distract me from the possibility of throwing up my pancreas and "Hello, Dolly!" happened to be on and who doesn't love to see Barbra Streisand in a bustle? But now anytime I hear songs from "Hello, Dolly!" I start to get a little queasy and I can almost feel the cold linoleum of the bathroom floor on my cheek.

I'm telling you all of this to give you a good idea of the incredible power of the movie Wall-E. Because Wall-E, the little robot left on earth to pick up our trash, has a video of "Hello, Dolly!" that he plays occasionally throughout the movie and when it first happened I had a bit of a flashback to that night and thought, "Great, now this movie is ruined forever for me." But the movie just kept getting cuter and cuter and suddenly I found myself hoping that he would play the song again and then I found myself misting up over it and by the end I was wanting to put "Hello, Dolly!" on my Netflix queue. Wall-E cured me of my Streisand induced flashbacks to the Night I Prayed for Death on the Bathroom Floor!

It was a little slow in the beginning and I'm kind of tired of the whole Go Green thing, which this movie is thick with, but who cares. Cutey, cute, cute.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Dark Knight

Movie: The Dark Knight
Like/Don't Like: I fast forwarded through the last hour and a half. Don't Like.

On the plus side Christian Bale is cute, but minus points for his even more exaggerated gravelly voice. But plus points for replacing Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal. Good choice there.
But minus about a billion points for all the death and carnage and blowing things up and dead people ever where. Oy, my nerves.
I realize that I'm the last person on earth to see this movie and the world loved it. And yes, Heather Ledger was a very convincing sociopath. And it certainly did take a compelling look at the nature of good and evil.

But I still didn't like it.

Mostly because I don't like violence in movies. Well, violence anywhere, really. But since I don't often come into contact with violence in my own life, movies seem to be the only place I really see it. And I just can't handle it. I don't think it's fun to watch people die, even if it is fake. I know that people will argue that it's important to realistically portray evil and violence in films but let's be honest here, they didn't make that movie to teach us not to kill. They made that movie to make money. And I'm more afraid of people who revel in that kind of violence by depicting it on screen then I am of the prospect of a guy wreaking havoc on a city just for the fun of it. Halfway through I thought, "What kind of sicko would even think to write about this kind of violence?" And that's when I started fast-forwarding it. I wanted to see how they would resolve it all. And I guess it was an alright ending. The people didn't all kill each other. Hooray. But it wasn't worth it. It didn't leave me feeling uplifted or edified or educated or even entertained and it makes me kind of sad that I finished watching it.