Thursday, December 27, 2007

Got Some Books for Christmukkah

What do you do when you're stuffed full of pasta and bread, have already slept 15 hours, and your husband is spending ever waking moment playing World of Warcraft? How about reading three books in 2 days? (Full disclosure: two of the books had pictures.)

Book 1: Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine
I read about this "graphic novel" on, where it was hotly anticipated by the blogger-at-large. It deals with issues of Asian-American identity, especially as they relate to interracial romances. I wish it was a bit longer... like with chapters or something... because it was so true-to-life and engaging that it felt like I was watching a docu-drama on AZN; not reading a [comic] book. If you have ever had a romantic interest in an Asian or Asian-American dude (you know who you are), then you might appreciate some of the insight here. Also has some funny film festival in-jokes (for Carrie).

Book 2: No Reservations by Anthony Bourdain
When I first flipped through this glossy photo diary, I thought "oh, no; Tony's gone and made a coffee table book." But after reading it cover to cover, I can honestly say it has got to be one of the greatest coffee table books ever compiled. Even though I've seen every episode of the Travel network show of the same name, I was totally rapt by the photos and their accompanying anecdotes. I thought Gordon Ramsay had eclipsed Tony in my heart as favorite chef/TV personality, but after reliving some of his travails and precious moments abroad, Tony's stock went up a few points. Oh, and it desperately made me want to travel... waaah...

Book 3: Gordon Ramsay The Biography, by some bloke named Neil Simpson
Not to be confused with G-Rams's recently published auto-biography, this name-dropping rag reads more like an extended entry in the The Daily Mirror. Still, if you find the chef a compelling character (which I obviously do) it's worth looking past the gossipy portions to get a glimpse into what makes the man: from his "council estate" upbringing, to his unconventional but clearly successful family life, to what motivates his manic pursuit of perfection. And with my appetite whetted for more, I plan to check out his auto-biography as soon as I finish all the other books I got for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I've Seen Some Stuff Recently

2008 is fast approaching, and if you're neurotic like me (and I know YOU are, Maya) then you've probably been compiling your "Best of 2007" movie list in your mind (or on the palm of your hand while you wait for the bus.) My #1 spot is still unoccupied, but I have high hopes for Juno... so it better open here at the edge of the continent prior to Dec 31. My #2 spot will likely go to a sweet and charming film with an inauspicious ad promo...

Yes, yes, the publicity stills and plot synopses make this look and sound like a perv-fest. But it's not. Ryan Gosling is brilliant and disarming and I had a lot of empathy for his "disturbed" protagonist. This movie is funny and sweet and surprising. My only nitpicky nitpick is that it's set in small-town Wisconsin and not one actor even TRIES for a Midwestern accent. Nevermind that smarmy Paul Schneider (buddy of Carrie's ex- David Gordon Greene. Where are they from, North Carolina?) with his mid-Atlantic drawl that is just SO wrong. Even a Canadian accent would have been better.

I also saw these, and though I'm not sure whether ultimately they'll break the top 12, I thought I'd write a few words about each:

Acting, acting, acting. It's all about the acting here. Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones are pretty much guaranteed Oscar nods. (And a new category should be created for Javier's haircut... CREEPIEST COIF... maybe that belongs on the MTV Movie Awards though.) Well done, Coen Brothers, you're back in the saddle.

This movie gave me a toothache. And I wasn't even eating my usual jumbo bag of peanut M&Ms! It's just... so... sweeeet. There are certainly more than a few clever moments, but ultimately, it was just too much for my cynical, slightly-too-much testosterone-producing self. Highly recommended for girls under 12 and parents who have to take their kids to something G-rated.