Books

Although I was usually interested during the reading of Bel Canto, there is really nothing about it to recommend. In my opinion, it has too much emphasis on opera, an unrealistic depiction of male/female interactions in the situation, and the epilogue should be cut.
(After reading six of her books, State of Wonder and Run are the only Anne Patchett that I endorse.)

 

I read The Age of Hope by David Bergen because it was the book that represented the prairies on Canada Reads.  I wanted to like this southern-MB-based story but it was a difficult task. The characters were dull and contrary, and the story wasn’t that interesting. Hope’s personality and life seem to be as colorless as my own, which isn’t a pleasant thought.

 

For the most part, I liked Doomsday Book. The British-ness of the part of the story set in the “present” was a bit much at times, and that whole storyline wasn’t as captivating as what was happening in the past. Having disease outbreaks in both timelines was an interesting choice and I wouldn’t have expected it to work as well as it did; Willis handled the two time periods very well. The characters were realistic, and mostly likable. The lack of mobile phones in the “present” was a constant irritant to me. I think the book could have been edited to be slightly shorter, removing some redundancies, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a try.

 

While the writing was strong at times, Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face never captured me and I really had to force myself to finish it. The medical parts were ghastly, and it was interesting to consider the difference between being ill and being healthy but deformed; she wondered whether she really belonged in a hospital after the cancer was gone. I can understand her two-dimensional understanding of people as a child, and the tale completely reflected that, causing me to wonder whether she still doesn’t connect with people or she just wrote it fully from that immature point of view.

 

The basics of this memoir are extreme: first pregnancy at 44 while on medications harmful to a fetus, and believing herself to be infertile Cohen’s pregnancy is not identified until the six month mark. Although this all sounds captivating, the writing voice didn’t connect with me. For me, the most interesting parts of What I Thought I Knew were the cultural contradictions around choices relating to abortion and adoption.

 

I did not like all the chapters of The Noonday Demon equally, but the first four and the last one would be recommended for anyone who would like to learn more about depression. The amount of support that Solomon got during some of his breakdowns was striking to me and I am jealous.

 

I liked Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed. Reminding me of Anne Lamott, Glennon seems authentic and open and okay with not being a cookie cutter copy of others. I plodded through the first chapters to get to the good stuff. I cannot start quoting the best parts here, because there are too many. I do want to buy this book so that I can underline in it! It was after I listened to her Ted Talk (see Links section below) that I got my hands on this book.

 

I admire Semple’s writing – to be able to keep up pace and interest in the chosen style is impressive. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is told by Bernadette’s daughter, Bee, but Bee’s actual contributions are rare; most of the content is emails, notes and letters, articles, reports, etc.  The characters are imperfect yet still likeable. Recommended.

 

Although initially caught by Khe‘s premise, I was disappointed by the end. I believe this story had more promise than it delivered, and wished for a better conflict and resolution than was presented. (author: Alexes Razevich; I read the kindle edition)

 

For an “important” book, Lisa Genova’s Still Alice is highly readable. You can feel Alice’s frustration and fear and confusion in a very real way. It wasn’t comfortable, but perhaps it will create more understanding and support for those with Alzheimer’s. Genova is a neuroscientist yet doesn’t talk down to or over the heads of her readers.

 

Movies

Star Trek Into Darkness was enjoyable. My biggest problem is with Quinto, but that’s just because in my mind his visage is hopelessly imprinted with Sylar.  The story didn’t truly feel big enough to warrant a movie (rather than a television episode, for instance), but it did keep my interest. There were a few good and funny lines, but perhaps not as many as in the first film. The lens flares were annoying.

 

Theme of Gothika: “You can’t trust somebody when they think you’re crazy.”
This movie got grusome.

 

Although perhaps not quite as funny as the original, Monsters University was still quite entertaining. I liked seeing the backstory of the characters, and it was just fun to watch Mike & Sully again.

 

Escape From Planet Earth works as brain-off entertainment, just don’t expect much more from it than that. The music seemed incongruous.

 

I wanted and expected to like Now You See Me, and the first part WAS enjoyable. Regrettably, I found the resolution (or ‘surprise twist ending’) to be a cheap cop-out.  To be clear, I like a good twist ending that makes sense – The Sixth Sense is a great example of that; this movie was not!
I like Mark Ruffalo; too bad he was scruffily bearded.

 

Links

Glennon Doyle Melton’s Tedx Talk

We all have our own superhero capes, don’t we?  Perfectionism and overworking, snarkiness and apathy – they’re all superhero capes. Our capes are what we put over our real selves so that our real, tender selves don’t have to be seen and can’t be hurt. Our superhero capes are what keeps us from having to feel much at all, because every good and bad thing is deflected off of them.

We try to pretend like we’re the people that we think we’re supposed to be. We numb, and we hide, and we pretend, and that pretending does eventually turn into a life of lies, but to be fair we thought we were supposed to be lying. They tell us since we’re little that when someone asks us how we’re doing, the only appropriate answer is, ‘Fine, and you?’

…people are truth-tellers… We will find somewhere to do it.  In private…we tell the truth. We say, ‘Actually, I’m not fine.’

All of us end up living in these little, teeny, controllable, predictable, dark worlds, instead of all together in the big, bright, messy one.

In there (the mental hospital), people wore their scars on the outside so you knew where they stood, and they told the truth so you knew why they stood there.

Now, instead of trying to make myself tougher, I… help create a world where sensitive people don’t need superhero capes, where we can all just come out into the big, bright, messy world and tell the truth and forgive each other for being human and admit together that YES, life is really hard, but also insist that together we can do hard things. Maybe it’s okay to say, ‘Actually, today I’m not fine.’ Maybe it’s okay to remember that we’re human beings.

Life is beautiful, and life is brutal. Life is brutiful.  I used to numb my feelings and hide, and now I feel my feelings and I share. At the end of the day (my feelings) are just guides to tell me what is the next right thing to do.

It’s braver to be Clark Kent than it is to be Superman.

 

Cara’s account of finding a friend

 

Being your own best friend

We need to be able to trouble shoot our own lives without the technical support of our friends. To be able to self soothe and become emotionally independent. I am not saying that we need to turn into closed off  guarded people who don’t share our issues or trust anyone. Simply that we understand  our greatest support system lies within ourselves. The only person who will without a doubt, always be there for you, is you.

 

 Jamie Arpin-Ricci on gender and spirituality

Some say there is a crisis of masculinity in the church.  I agree.  Godly masculinity is being threatened every time “effeminate” or “feminine” are used as criticism. 

 

In my ears

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra
Boardwalk Empire soundtrack (notably Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks and Kathy Brier)
Skeets Tolbert & His Gentlemen Of Swing
The Speakeasies’ Swing Band
Benedictines Of Mary, Queen Of Apostles

 

Quotes

Elsa Walsh:

…work hard on (your marriage).  It’s not only much easier than getting divorced, it’s more rewarding and more fun.

 

Andrew Solomon:

Like physical pain that becomes chronic, [depression] is miserable not so much because it is intolerable in the moment as because it is intolerable to have known it in the moments gone and to look forward only to knowing it in the moments to come.

I tried to make the practical arrangements: losing your mind, like losing your car keys, is a real hassle.

So many people have asked me what to do for depressed friends and relatives, and my answer is actually simple: blunt their isolation. Do it with cups of tea or with long talks or by sitting in a room nearby and staying silent or in whatever way suits the circumstances, but do that. And do it willingly.

 

Laura Anderson:

Before I ever had this illness myself, I had a dear friend who was depressive. I listened to everything he said as if we understood the same language, when what I’ve realized since is that depression speaks, or teaches you, an entirely different one.