Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Salon: Random Musings

It's Oscar night tonight. I will watch it with a couple of friends while we snack on yummies and critique the red carpet fashion. I'm not a huge movie watcher so I haven't seen many of the nominated films but I predict that Birdman wins Best Picture. I have seen that one. And I will never get that 2+ hours of my life back. It is nothing more than The Emperor's New Clothes as far as I'm concerned. It was a self-referential, post-modern piece of shite. I don't like magical realism much in novels but apparently I hate it on the big screen. And for that reason alone, Hollywood will fall all over itself to reward it. They seem to love nothing more than celebrating themselves. Blergh. This will not be the first time that movie critics and I have disagreed so violently on a movie. I have often disagreed with book critics too but I am on firmer footing in my disagreement here since my education was all about good literature (although I still maintain that I am right about the movies too).

Speaking of literature (or not), Jonathan Franzen fired back at Jennifer Weiner. Not only has he not read her books so he has no leg to stand on in terms of quality, but he failed to see the irony in saying that he hasn't read her because people haven't told him he should. Ummm... What's she arguing? That books by women don't get the critical reviews (good or bad) that men's do. If no one that he respects (have to qualify that because I'm pretty sure that she gets a fair few reviews from book bloggers) is reviewing books by women, he sure isn't going to find voices telling him to read her. Duh. Hope he doesn't try to use irony successfully in his own works as it sure seems like he doesn't understand the concept. Basically this latest interview with him just made him sound like a bigger tool than he has already sounded like in the past. I buy books pretty damn indiscriminantly but I've never bought one of his. I know that my one person book boycott doesn't faze him in the slightest (although a couple of my friends have jumped on my bandwagon too so we're about 4 people strong now--look out successful grassroots organizers, I'm joining your ranks) but I am not interested in allowing even one penny of my money to support such egotism and snobbery. Do you find that an author's personality or beliefs will turn you away from their works or can you block out such unpleasantness and take the works on their own merit (or lack thereof)?

It's been pretty appallingly cold here this week so my usual schedule has been out the window. I got a lot of reading and reviewing done. I cleaned and tidied some of the disaster areas no one ever sees like the master bath drawers and cupboards, inside my oven, and the back storage area in the basement.  I didn't want to clean those things that are more visible because when the weather improves and I go back to my usual lackadaisical cleaning schedule, those would be obvious to everyone.  This way I can feel a sense of accomplishment and no pressure to maintain it.  I did not get outside to run because I no longer have the winter running gear I used to own and, well, any excuse to avoid exercise is gratefully latched onto here. My daughter had her dance debut show last weekend, kicking off the start of competition season for her. I will now spend many weekends traveling to fantastic, warm, beachy sounding places only to see the inside of auditoriums and hotel rooms and to eat at mediocre chain restaurants. I will accomplish no reading either because it is too dark to read with the house lights turned down. Tennis season was supposed to start but tryouts were postponed for my oldest son because of the extreme cold and my own league tennis has a delayed start for the same reason.  Hitting a tennis ball in the cold is like smacking a brick and having it reverberate all the way up your arm and shoulder.  You may not look like a cartoon, quivering all over, but you sure do feel like it.  So the divot on my couch just grows and grows. But my dogs are happy to have company while they nap the day away, even if Gatsby in particular resents the small amount of space on my lap that a book takes.

My reading travels this week have taken me all over. I started out stranded on Mars without enough supplies to last me until the next mission was due to arrive in 4 years. Then  I went to a Romance Convention with a woman in advertising who needed to learn to value her own gender. I spent several months in 1920s England watching as society started to change and one young woman learned about the fallibility of people she once revered. I revisited the Badlands looking for an outlaw brother and witnessing miracles. I went to a shabby B and B in Wales run by a retired actor and visited by a large cast of eccentric characters. I am currently in Paris just after Vincent Van Gogh's death and am heading to an island inside the Arctic Circle with a young artist. Where have your reading travels taken you this week?


  1. Any of the other nominated films that you have seen that you would recommend? Our local theater is showing all but one (Whiplash) of the Best Picture nominees this coming weekend but I'll probably only have time for one or two. Which do you think I should see? I'll be honest about Jonathan Franzen. I read The Corrections years ago and I liked it. However, I haven't been interested in reading anything else by him since, not because of anything he's said but just that I don't usually read books that long. Truth. :)

  2. I'm so glad to see your comments about Franzen. I read Freedom because of all the hype and grudgingly had to agree that there was brilliance in the way he worked the theme through the many odd character's lives. I also came away thinking Franzen must be a miserable person to be around given that he seems to be an author who doesn't like his own characters They are quirky people but quirky in an unappealing way. There is no warmth to his writing. Misanthropist. On another note I know a lot of old tennis players with back problems because of hitting the ball and having those whacks go right up the arm into shoulders into backs. So yes. It is good to wait until it warms up a little.

  3. Franzen makes me roll my eyes so hard they nearly pop out. Ugh. I just can't even.

  4. Franzen has always been hyped in a way that made me want to avoid him, and this latest interview seems like more of the same. So I've been on your boycott bandwagon.

  5. I'm kinda bored by the Franzen feud. He's an ironic character who I don't care to spend time thinking about, ha.

    This week I'm on the backlot for the filming of Gone With the Wind. I'm also traveling New England in a British double-decker bus gathering recipes and techniques for a cookbook. So much fun all the way around :)

  6. I guess I'm one of the sh*t lovers, since I liked Birdman. Call me nuts. Different strokes for different folks. I also liked The Imitation Game. I think author's personalities and beliefs can influence or turn me away from their works.

  7. I've heard so many good things about Franzen but have somehow never made the time for his work (save for starting The Corrections but then having to return it to the library). Though I haven't been keeping up with "the feud," your summary of it makes me even less inclined to seek out his stuff.

    Sorry the cold is wrecking everything for you—this sure has been one hell of a winter—but I'm glad the pups are happy!

    This weekend, I sailed around the world with a young wizard chasing his own shadow. This week, I might just pay a visit to a circus that only comes at night, but that's to be determined.


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

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