18 December 2009

The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

I admit that I bought this book because I was intrigued: the author graduated from the University of Alabama and majored in English. Sound familiar?

But, I was not disappointed. The book tells the story of three women, one white and two black, during 1960s, small-town Mississippi. Although it would be very easy for the author to rely on the same old formula here, and although she does take some liberties with her historical timeline, Stockett does a wonderful job of narrating a compelling, moving story through various first-and third-person voices. It's not a fast-paced book, and I think it's one that would lend itself to either a quick read or a more slow, lingering one.

Having grown up in a small Southern town, I can attest to the accuracy of how the town is portrayed, along with its biases and attitudes. It's fair and respectful where it should be, but doesn't hesitate to draw a distinction between acknowledging the reason for prejudice and accepting it. No, no. Though Stockett may help explain to us where the various characters' prejudices lie, and their origins, she never seeks to justify them, nor does she expect her reader to adopt them.

I loved this book; I actually feel affection for it. Perhaps it's because it's been so long since I've been home. That will be remedied, come next Thursday!

06 December 2009

Young Hearts Crying

by Richard Yates

Some of you may recognize Mr Yates as the author of Revolutionary Road, which was recently made into a film starring Kate Winslet (love her) and Leonardo di Caprio (love him too now that Titanic and Gisele aren't the only topics that spring to mind whenever I think of him). I read RR ages ago and have now picked it up to reread; I saw the film back when it was still in theaters, and I was so impressed with the screenplay and the acting (and the set, and the clothes: wow, the 1950s were fabulous for fashion).

The setting of YHC is fairly similar to RR, and there's a similar theme in that it's basically a story of a young, hopeful couple who eventually come to face that reality isn't as romantic as they might have hoped. What Yates does very well is use the contrast of the city and the suburbs to make his points about people, and their nature, and their behavior.

This is not a page-turner. It's not a book that's meant to be read in a single sitting, I don't think, and I believe, actually, that it wouldn't be as good if you did read it quickly. The story develops over about 3 decades, so a slow reading allows you to know the characters and live with them for a while, and thus appreciate the book more. Even while you're reading, you know that this isn't going to be a book with a neat and tidy ending, but you know that it will be satisfying nonetheless.

I enjoyed reading YHC, and I'm enjoying rereading RR. Richard Yates is pretty amazing.

02 December 2009

Blood Orange Olive Oil Brownies

I've posted before about visiting the Queen Creek Olive Mill, and about their Blood Orange Olive Oil. When Mama was in town for Thanksgiving, we went again, and the one item I had decided I would not leave without was this orange oil. I was so excited that I tried out one of the Mill's recipes tonight!

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 c butter
2 c sugar
1 c walnuts, coarsely chopped (I used pecans.)
1/2 c blood orange olive oil (You can order this from the website.)

I love this recipe for two reasons: 1) I love the combination of chocolate and orange; and 2) I automatically am intrigued by any baker who wants me to use an entire tablespoon of vanilla. I love vanilla, and I almost always add more than a recipe calls for. With this one, I imagined that the recipe's creator and I were kindred spirits.

The batter looks like nothing so much as fudge. So here's what you do to make it:

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 x 12 baking pan with parchment paper (I skipped this and sprayed the pan with Baker's Joy instead). On low heat, melt chocolate in saucepan, stirring constantly (I used the microwave). Set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Melt butter, and add oil. Add one egg at a time. Add in vanilla. Add the chocolate. Fold in the dry ingredients and nuts. Do not overmix the batter. Pour into a pan, and smoothe off the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the brownies pull away from the sides of the pan.

30 November 2009

A Decidedly Un-belle Saturday Afternoon Activity

I spent a chunk of my weekend replacing my downstairs toilet's innards. Not as much fun as it sounds, and let's face it, it sounds fairly awful. But, being cursed with the world's worst landlord, and a job that requires me to work Monday through Friday, and quite often the better part of Saturday and Sunday, I was left with little choice other than to educate myself on the finer points of bathroom plumbing. Luckily, it didn't take that long, and even more luckily, the directions were very specific and helpful. I am, as it turns out, pleasantly surprised with my skills in the home improvement arena, a subject about which I heretofore remained willfully and blissfully ignorant. I'm reasonably certain that belles aren't meant for this type of labor.

Pumpkin Poundcake

This is, quite possibly, the best thing I've ever made. I followed the recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook, except that I added vanilla (good vanilla, from Williams-Sonoma) even though it didn't call for it, and I played around with the spice quantities a little bit (a little more nutmeg and cinnamon than what was called for, a little less cloves). "Yum" is all I have to say. And judging from the emptiness of the plate when I left from work, my co-workers agree. I think the secret is the Granny Smith apples. Their tartness works perfectly with the warmth of all the spices, and they keep the cake really moist.

Oh, Anthropologie, I *heart* you.

But why must you be so expensive? I decided to take a few minutes out of my day to peruse the website, and now I NEED all of these shoes:

Bouquet-of-Roses Heels

Open Wing Heels
-Love, love, love. Designed by Chie Mihara.

Rippled Bow Booties

Until-We-Meet Again Booties
-These are my favorites. They are just gorgeous. I'm convinced that I could win any trial at all, if only I could wear these boots. Chie Mihara at her best, I tell you.

Mallard Heels
-Yes, I know those are little ducks. I love these shoes in spite of it. Chie Mihara again.

Carved Celadon Heels
-So, so pretty. I love a T-strap.

Wishing Well Flats

Blithe Ballerinas

Modern Matriarch Boots

Draping Orchid Spectators

Brimming Button Heels

Black Magic Heels
-I also love a d'Orsay pump. And Chie Mihara. Clearly.

24 November 2009

Barney's, New York (in Scottsdale...finally!)

Wonderful. Lovely. Heaven.

I don't have to say anything else.


My mom is visiting for Thanksgiving. Sunday, we went to church (briefly...we left after about 15 minutes because the service was so awful) and then decided to go to brunch. Best idea ever. We went to Rita's Kitchen at the Camelback Inn. Yeah, sure, it's expensive, but I don't think I've ever enjoyed an eating experience more. Live entertainment outside, a table that was inside but right at the edge of the inside/outside border, perfect weather, mimosas, and delicious food. I'm wondering whether the Camelback Inn needs an attorney-in-residence. Because if they do, I'm their girl. Can't wait to try out the spa.

26 September 2009

Dolce & Gabbana L'Imperatrice 3

aka: my new favorite perfume

I am a loyal devotee to Burberry perfume. I own about 5 of their scents, and really, they know what they're doing, those folks at Burberry. Burberry Classic is my everyday, and I love Touch nearly as much...but I'm just as fond of Brit Sheer, London, and The Beat. Today, though, I went to Sephora to return a lipgloss (I know, miraculous) and fell in love with this new D&G perfume!

I haven't been able to find a description that explains to me the smells I am smelling, so I and my novice nose will do our best to tell you how wonderful it smells. It's fruity and a little bit floral, but I don't get the feeling that I constantly need to sneeze, as is true with many florals (Marc Jacobs, I'm talking to you here). Also, I'm not worried that a swarm of bees will stalk and kill me because of an overpowering fruity smell (yep, DKNY, that's you). I can distinctly smell watermelon and a flower that I *think* is jasmine, but there's another fruit I can't quite identify (apples?) and something deeper (musk perhaps) that evens it out nicely, and frankly, makes me want to bathe in this stuff.

In case you're wondering, I LOVE the way I smell right now. ;-)

21 September 2009

Amanda, this is for you.

This was too long to post as a comment on your blog, so I put it here. Your post, and your memories of vanilla ice cream and graham crackers made me think of something that happened to me recently.

I was sitting in my living room the other day, praying about a trial that I have coming up that involves the death of two children. I pray a lot about work, just because it’s stressful, and oftentimes, I’m dealing with victims who aren’t cooperative, or defense advocates who seem to think it’s fun to be aggravating just for the sake of being aggravating. This case is a special one, though. It's been pending for over a year now, and I really want a conviction, not for myself, but because it will mean justice was served for those two babies. I haven't known how best to handle a few difficult issues that have arisen, and finding myself at an empasse, I did what you've done: give it to God.

The scripture that I was led to during my prayers was Jeremiah 29:11 (the Bible actually opened to this passage on its own). I thought it was odd when I read it initially: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I first found it utterly unhelpful, and I thought that there must be another scripture on that page that I was meant to read. After all, the reason that I have the case at all is because these children are dead; these children have had their futures taken from them.

As I often do when thinking about children, I then started thinking about Grandmamma, which initially made me sad all over again. But then, I got the most peaceful feeling; I just knew – in that moment – that God's Will will be done with that trial now, even if it's not the ending I foresee or would prefer. He has a plan. He knows better than I do. And no matter what happens, it will be for the best because it is His plan, not mine. He gave me the reassurance I needed with the trial, and He gave me some very sweet memories of my grandmother as a balm to heal some of the hurt of thinking about these two babies who never had anyone like her in their little lives.

I'm saying all that to say this: I know God gave me Grandmamma's spirit to help me through that moment. I know it because of how my dinner turned out that night. One of the saddest things for me, usually, about making scrambled eggs and grilled cheese is that I can’t make them taste like Grandmamma’s tasted. But on that night, both were perfect. I haven’t felt that peaceful in a long, long time.

13 August 2009

The Lace Reader

by Brunonia Barry

Perhaps some of you remember that I set out to read this book a few months back. What can I say? I lost track of time, and I forgot about it. Then, I was preparing for a child abuse trial, which took all of my time. And then I lost the trial on directed verdict, so I had to grieve for a while. And so finally, I picked it up again last week (which is interesting, since I’m again in the full throes of preparing for another child abuse trial).

About the book: all the reviews are right. The worst thing about this book is that I didn’t have time to read it all in one sitting. Now that I know how it ends, I’m anxious to reread it so that I can fully appreciate the author’s pacing and plot development. Speaking of the plot, you are perhaps wondering what a lace reader is. I’m not sure that they actually exist. At any rate, according to the author, lace reading is form of fortune-telling; the readers “read” Ipswich lace, or bobbin lace, and look for pictures or visions about a person’s future. The story is set in Salem, so the city’s history weighs heavily on the plot, but it’s not so overpowering that it becomes the same old witches-in-Salem story that we’ve all heard 100 times.

Towner Whitney, the main character, returns to Salem following her great-aunt’s death, which happened under somewhat suspicious circumstances. What follows is a series of strange events that awaken tragedies and mysteries from decades before. The pacing is perfect. The narrator begins the book by telling us her name, and then immediately tells us that she is a liar. So, from the get-go, we are wondering what is really happening. And, if something isn’t really happening, then is the narrator lying to us, or is there something affecting her perception?

After reading the book, I’m now really fascinated with the process of lace making, and I’m thinking of teaching myself how to do it. We’ll see how that goes. None of you better be rolling your eyes.

04 August 2009

The Dawn Patrol

by Don Winslow

Another book that I'm reading for a book club. The guy at the bookstore described it as "surfing crime noir." I commented that that was possibly the most specific genre I'd ever heard of. Is there actually more than one book that would fall into this category?

The book was okay. Fairly fast-paced, and definitely an easy, quick read. I bought it on a whim, based entirely on the bookstore guy's recommendation, and the fact that because I'd just been to San Diego the weekend before, and I thought it would be intriguing to read about a place I'd just visited.

My main problem with Mr. Winslow is that he jerks back and forth between plot development and backstory and information-sharing. I appreciate his chapter-long, scientific explanations of how waves work, and his description of this specific section of the 101 highway in California, and the fact that he inserts chapters here and there to explain something that happened years before. All of these things help me understand the characters and the setting. Nothing wrong with including them.

Here's the thing: For some reason, he decided to insert these soliloquys right in the middle of the action. Literally, something big is about to happen, then there's 8 or 10 pages of blah-blah-blah, and then the next chapter starts and that big something happens. Only, I have forgotten by that point that something exciting is about to happen, and I have to go back and read the lead-up again so that I remember. It makes for herky-jerky reading, and it makes for a lot of flipping back and forth, is all I'm saying.

This is probably the crime version of chick-lit. Not challenging to read, doesn't require a lot of thought. A good summertime read; would have been perfect if I'd been lying on the sand instead of contemplating my return to work the next day.

13 July 2009

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

by David Wroblewski

I started this book last Wednesday night, and ever since then, I’ve been telling everyone I can think of – even casual acquaintances – to read it immediately. I finished it yesterday, and already I’m seriously thinking about starting over. I don’t know how to describe it, really, because it doesn’t fit neatly into one specific genre. It’s kind of a “boy and his dog” coming-of-age story, but also part adventure, part mystery, part ghost story.

The title character, Edgar, is a young boy whose family lives on a farm in Wisconsin during the mid-1950s. They breed Sawtelle Dogs, so named because they were rather much invented by Edgar’s grandfather to be perfect companion dogs. Instead of breeding for purity of bloodline, the Sawtelles breed for intelligence, and for some “je ne sais quoi” quality that will make the dogs choice makers, able to understand and respond to training and commands, but also develop a form of free will. Sort of. It’s hard to describe, really. The important part is that the dogs are a huge part of this book. The narrator is third-person omniscient, and usually he (she?) describes the action from Edgar’s point of view. But there are a few chapters that speak from a dog’s perspective, and they are some of the best parts of the book.

Interestingly, just like the dogs he cares for, Edgar is mute; he can hear, but he can’t speak. Very clever, also, then, that Edgar's surname is Sawtelle. Saw. Tell. Get it? ;-)

The plot has been billed as “Hamlet”…with dogs. I’m not sure about that. “Hamlet” was never my favorite Shakespeare tragedy (“Othello” is, in case you’re wondering). Actually, I never liked “Hamlet” much at all, so I tried to pay as little attention to it as possible while still making an A in my Shakespeare class in college. Still, though, perhaps you can rest assured, knowing that there is no moment where Edgar cradles a skull…human or canine.

I will not do you the disservice of telling you the tragic plot turn that happens about a third of the way through the book. Unfortunately, the writers of the book flap are not as kind as I, so if you don’t want to have your reading ruined, throw the flap into the garbage as soon as you buy it. I was disgusted at having read it, actually, because I’m convinced that I would have somehow enjoyed the book even more if I hadn’t known what was coming.

Honestly, I usually hate books that wander too heavily into detail or description. I had to stop reading “Les Miserables” for a while, and then skip 100 pages or so, because I was so tired of hearing about what Victor Hugo thought about the guillotine or the Battle of Waterloo. But, Wroblewski’s best writing shows itself in his descriptions of the dogs’ training, or the family farm, or the town itself and the people who inhabit it. He paints a childhood that is undoubtedly ideal and idyllic (at least in the beginning…not so much at the end), but I can’t even tell you how much I loved reading about it.

07 July 2009

Love Stories in This Town

By Amanda Eyre Ward

I don’t normally like short stories, so I will admit to being a little disappointed when, after buying this book, I realized that it was, alas, a book of short stories. I shouldn’t have been. I read the whole thing in one sitting.

Faithful (or even semi-faithful) readers of my blog know my love for Amanda Eyre Ward. If possible, I think I love her more now. My problem with short stories is that just about the time I get to know the character and care what happens to him/her (in Eyre Ward, it’s almost always “her,” by the way), the story is over and I’m left wanting more. This author, though, is very good with endings that are both satisfying in the sense that they don’t feel forced or contrived, and open enough to allow me some leeway in figuring out just how these women spend the rest of their lives.

As you may anticipate, the stories center around the central characters’ love lives, but not in a stereotypical sense. The little towns and big cities where the women live and work, or where they’ve moved or traveled to, are more than backdrops; they influence the mood and the movement of the plot. For instance, the title comes from a quote at the end of one of the stories. A bartender says, “There are no love stories in this town.” In the reader’s guide at the end of the book, Eyre Ward admits that when she wrote that line, she was a sad graduate student, and it was the first of several stories she would eventually write about “Lola.” Initially, it was a statement about how the character had somehow resigned herself to a loveless life, because of where she lived. As the author wrote more stories about her, though, she realized that the actual commentary was that Lola would eventually leave that town, which she does, and find a better life elsewhere.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this book. Inhaled it, practically. I can’t wait for her next one.

06 July 2009

I love my family...

...they're great for entertainment. In fact, I could base the plotline of an entire sitcom on my Aunt Enone. So, because my family will celebrate her 80th birthday on Sunday, and because I sadly will not be there, I offer the following story as an example of why I miss her as much as I do:

My mama called me a few days back to tell me that Aunt Enone had been having some trouble with her eyes and that I should call and talk to her when I had a few minutes. Obediently, I called the next day to check on her, and she filled me in on the whole story. She had gone to her weekly beauty shop appointment, just as she has every single week ever since I can remember. This trip was notable, though, because when she put her eyeglasses back on as she was getting reay to leave, she noticed hat suddenly, she couldn't see. She called my aunt to come take her home, since obviously, she couldn't drive.

I asked if her vision had improved any, and she said that she thought it had. Well, that was a relief. Here I am, thousands of miles away, thinking that she's had a stroke, or that she's got an aneurysm or something. I was really worried!

Apparently, so was everyone else because everyone said a special prayer at church on Sunday morning that God would heal her eyes. As my Uncle Bob would say, God still answers prayer! And we know this because after church, one of Aunt Enone's friends, who had coincidentally been at the beauty shop at the very same time as Aunt Enone, came to visit her. Also coincidentally, she had been experiencing some vision problems of her own. After hearing the specialprayer request at church, it occurred to her what both their problems might be.

Lo and behold, they swapped glasses and had been wandering around for three days wearing the wrong ones, both of them too blind to realize that they had taken the wrong glasses from the beauty shop. Amen! Both are cured!


Why is this number important?

Is it the number of days left 'til Christmas? Nope...it's only July!

Is it the number of files in my office that need my immediate attention? No, but it's probably fairly close.

Could it be, you wonder, the number of petals on a chrysanthemum? No.

It is, ladies and gentlemen, the projected temperature - in degrees Fahrenheit - in Phoenix on Friday. Gees.

28 June 2009

Michael Jackson

Isn't it funny what a difference just a few years can make?

I've been watching various retrospectives on the life of Michael Jackson this weekend, mostly because I promised myself that I would do nothing more strenuous than sleeping and breathing all weekend (had a bad week; lost a child abuse trial).

Michael unveiled the moonwalk in 1982, the year after I was born. People just a few years older than I am remember the Michael of the Jackson 5, and the Michael of "Billie Jean" and "Thriller." I was only three years old in 1984, when Michael's hair caught on fire while he was filming a Pepsi commercial. It was after this, apparently, when his obsession with plastic surgery began, and when he idiosyncracies started to appear.

What do I remember about Michael Jackson? Of course, I remember the first time I saw the moonwalk. And like everyone else, I was awed by it. But, by the time I was aware enough to choose the music I listened to, and to choose what I watched on television, Michael Jackson was this weirdo who sang that one song from "Free Willy" that everyone knew the words to.

Years went on and he married Lisa Marie Presley, and there was that weird kiss at the VMAs. And then he was accused of child molestation. He caked on more and more makeup, and his nose got smaller and smaller until it seemed it would just fall off (and who knows...maybe it did). Michael became more and more reclusive, the result of which was that he just seemed weirder and weirder. And then he named his third child "Blanket" and hung him over a fourth-floor balcony railing so the paparazzi could see the baby...only not his face, because that was covered with...wait, what? A blanket.

Then, when I was in the middle of law school, he was again accused of child molestation, only this time, I was particularly interested because...well, because I was in law school. We would spend lunch hours watching trial coverage on Court TV. I was devastated when he was found not-guilty. What is it with California juries? I'm sure glad I don't prosecute there. Overwhelming evidence + a camera in the courtroom = acquittal every time.

What do I think about Michael Jackson's death? Well, maybe because I was too young to ever love him, or particularly love his music, I'm not particularly affected. Sure, the guy was talented - spectacularly so. And of course, he broke down barriers and invented new styles of music and dance. But to me, he's a pedophile who was never made to take responsibility for whatever damage he caused. And he was a man who looked increasingly feminine, and then just plain strange. He had too much plastic surgery, too much money, and too much control over the people around him, all of which resulted in too much medication, and likely, his death.

Maybe the purpose for his death is so that the family and friends mourning Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon could do so in peace.

28 May 2009

Cake Wrecks

Oh my goodness, visit this blog immediately. I promise: much laughing will ensue!


25 May 2009

25 Random Things About Me

I was rereading some posts on Amanda's blog, and I was inspired to create a list of my own:

1. I have seen “Gone With the Wind” more times than I can count. My favorite time was at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham with Rebecca. I'm not sure if it's my favorite because the theater is so pretty, or because there were people dressed in antebellum clothes, or because Rebecca and I got lost trying to find the place and then got the giggles when she tried to parallel park.
2. I could listen to Nina Simone 24 hours a day and not get tired of hearing her sing “Wild is the Wind.”
3. I visit People Magazine’s website at least ten times a day.
4. I agree whole-heartedly with Sylvia Plath and Amanda: “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them.”
5. My favorite perfume is Burberry Classic.
6. My favorite part of a jury trial is closing arguments.
7. Lip gloss takes up most of the room in my makeup bag.
8. I am a graduate of the University of Alabama (not once, but twice), and though I know every word to “Yay, Alabama!” and will sing it at the top of my lungs whenever asked, I am, at heart, an LSU fan.
9. When I think about Alabama, the things I miss most (besides my family, of course) are oak trees, Southern accents, and people who open doors for me.
10. I am learning to crochet (well, re-learning).
11. I want to learn how to quilt…
12. …and speak Italian.
13. My guilty pleasure: Goop.com (Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website).
14. Even guiltier pleasure: The Real Housewives of New York City. It's like watching a train wreck, and I'm pretty sure it makes me dumber, but it's so ridiculous I can't stop.
15. I really hate it that one must have a subscription to The New York Times in order to receive The New York Times Magazine.
16. I regret that I never learned to make biscuits from my Grandmama.
17. I get nauseated when I smell the Sun-Ripened Raspberry products from Bath & Body Works. I associate that smell with HealthSouth, where Grandmama went for rehab after she had a stroke.
18. It *really* irritates me when people confuse their and there, it’s and its, and you’re and your. If I ever kill someone, this will probably be why.
19. I have a specific writing-instrument preference: blue ink, rollerball, micro tip. Our office manager orders them special for me.
20. I am addicted to philosophy’s Microdelivery Peel. I use it about 3 times a week.
21. I talk to my mom on the phone at least twice a day.
22. As much as I love being a prosecutor, I wish I owned a store. Preferably a gift store that is also a bakery. Although in this economy, it’s probably better that I don’t.
23. I don’t like ice cream all that much, unless I’m eating it at the store in Needham, with a little wooden spoon. Tastes different.
24. When I was little and complained of constant headaches, my parents thought I was lying and just trying to get attention. Turns out I was legally blind. They felt really bad.
25. I can’t wait to buy a house just so I can paint the walls. I’ve been surrounded by off-white walls since I was 16. I would also like a fireplace, although given that I live in the desert, that has more to do with wanting a mantle than with wanting a heat-producing object.

21 May 2009

It's raining!

Oh, the excitement! It's been unseasonably hot - like, 106 degrees - so I couldn't be happier to hear the plop, plop, plop of raindrops against my bedroom window. Here's hoping it cools things off and rinses away some pollen!


Specifically, Glossimer and Inimitable Mascara.

Yesterday was the start of the half-yearly sale at Nordstrom's, so I went by during lunch to look at the shoes. I didn't buy shoes, but the Chanel counter is just across the aisle, so I stopped there. The Glossimer feels yummy on your lips and doesn't get cakey or icky. And the mascara lengthens and separates, and doesn't flake or smudge all day!

09 May 2009

The Soloist

starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx

The Arizona Foundation for Women had a fundraiser on Thursday night. They raise money to fund lots of different projects that benefit women who have left domestic violence relationships.

Sure, it's a good cause, and sure, it's a great way to network with women in different careers, but the real reason I went is because the reception part of the event was held at Tiffany's, and there were door prizes. Sadly, I won none. I did, however, purchase a bracelet (well, my mom purchased a bracelet for me).

At any rate, following the reception, there was a private showing of The Soloist. I'll admit that I was tempted to leave before the movie (this was a Thursday night, after all, and work has been really hectic lately, and I was exhausted). But I decided to stick around, and I'm glad I did.

This is one of those based-on-a-true-story movies that is meant to be inspirational and uplifting -- and it is. Jamie Foxx's character, Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, Jr., was enrolled in Juilliard before his schizophrenia got the better of him, causing him to drop out, become homeless, and wander the streets of LA pushing a buggy full of various and sundry belongings. And a violin. And eventually a cello.

Robert Downey, Jr.'s character is a disillusioned journalist, looking for his next big story. He finds both a story and a friend in Nathaniel and quickly has to wrestle his own personal issues once he begins to feel responsible for helping him.

Yeah, sure, it's predictable, but I left feeling a little happier than when I'd gone in. And because I'm a softy, I'll admit that I cried a little bit. I laughed a lot, too, though...turns out that crazy people are hysterical.

05 May 2009

What the Dead Know

by Laura Lippman

I just finished reading this book for a book club I just joined (please don't make fun of me). Excellent read, except that it ends a little too quickly and cleanly for me.

Plot: a cop contacts the driver of a car that caused a wreck, and she claims to be one of two sisters who went missing more than 30 years before, and who had been presumed dead. A huge investigation ensues, and of course, there is much consternation because no one can decide whether to believe her or not. We learn the whole story via first- and third-person flashbacks, but everything remains hazy and confusing enough to be interesting up until the big reveal. Like I said, it wraps up just a little too neatly and happily to sound realistic, but hey, that's why it's called fiction, right?

I'll be sure to fill you in on what my book club thinks of it; we meet in June.


--a Russian film I recently went to see.

Yes, it's in Russian, and yes, there are subtitles...and yes, it's an excellent movie. Premise: basically, a updated (and Russian) version of 12 Angry Men, a classic play that was turned into an Academy Award-nominated movie starring Henry Fonda and a bunch of other guys who I'd recognize if I saw their pictures but whose names I can never remember. Suffice it to say that it's pret-ty much impossible to graduate from law school without seeing this film at least once.

So, I found myself a little bored on a random Thursday and took myself to the movies. Of course, as my readership may imagine, no one else on the planet (well, not in Scottsdale, anyway) wanted to spend their Thursday night viewing a foreign movie about a Chechen kid accused of murdering his adopted father, so I was alone in the theatre, save for a *really* strange fellow, dressed in plaid wool pants, who sat in front of me and talked at the screen for about 45 minutes, before muttering something about Russian accents and storming out.

Great film; I highly recommend that all of you see it. Don't worry: the subtitles stop being annoying after about 15 minutes.

19 January 2009

Clinique Blushwear Cream Stick

Thanks, Amanda!

This product, as you may have deduced from the name, is a tube of cream blush...looks sorta' like lipstick, but with a fatter tube. Amanda showed me hers over Christmas, and once I tried it, I was hooked. Super easy: just dab a few dots on your cheeks, and then use your fingers to blend it.

It wears longer and prettier than powder blush, and it's not as messy. Love it.

01 January 2009

A-Quiver with Significance: Marianne Moore, 1932-1936

edited by Heather Cass White (!)

I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of this book by its author/editor while I was home for Christmas. Perusing it has reminded me of how much I love Marianne Moore, and of how much I miss my English classes.


by Elaine Showalter

Non-fiction, which I almost never read, but this one's good. She discusses recent hysterical phenomena (such as chronic fatigue syndrome, recovered memories of childhood abuse, and alien abduction) and gives reasons for their rising popularity. She seems to conclude that repressed or unconscious feelings/fixations/psychoses/whatever tend to manifest themselves differently depending on what's happening socially, and that an increase in the diagnosis of these medical and psychological disorders is due, at least partially, to media coverage of new and interesting syndromes. A very good read, mostly because it's informative but not judgmental or flippant.

The Lace Reader

by Brunonia Barry

I heard a raving review of this book on NPR a while back, and every time I log onto Amazon, it's right at the top of my recommendations list. I bought it yesterday, and I'm about 15 pages in. We'll see if it's as great as everyone says.