Monday, February 4, 2013

What We're Watching: Cathy

A Cat in Paris (DVD)

A little girl, Zoe,  who hasn't spoken since her father was killed. The evil villain who killed him. The neighbor who takes her cat, Dino, with him when he burgles other peoples' homes at night. Zoe's mother is a police detective who is hunting both the villain and the burglar and is very surprised to find that her own household is involved in both problems. This is a wonderful family film with chases over the rooftops of Paris and a dramatic ending at the cathedral of Notre Dame. The animation and the colors are great. The film was made in France but this edition is totally in English with the voices of Anjelica Huston and Marcia Gay Harden. You can also view it in the original French if you like. Magnifique!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What We're Watching: Cathy

Bag It
This film starts out as a protest against the ubiquitous plastic bag and how these bags are found all over the earth on land and water. It becomes a more general inquiry into how plastic has invaded our lives. Narrator Jeb Berrier looks at plastic bags, then all single-use plastic, the actual recyclability of plastics (not much is really recycled), and finally how plastics have got into our bodies and - as they are hormone interrupters - may be responsible for some of the developmental problems in young children - problems like autism, allergies, thyroid problems - and fertility problems in adults. He uses lots of humor but he is also very serious. At the end of the film he gives us a list of things we can do:  bring our own cloth bags to the store, don't use single-use plastics (plastic knives, forks, plates, bottled water, disposable cameras, take-out cups, etc.), don't microwave your food in plastic containers, choose products with less packaging, buy used items when possible, buy less stuff. All great New Year's resolutions!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What We're Reading: Debbie

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
A gentle orchardist, known as Talmadge, tends his rows of apples and apricots in the turn of the twentieth century Pacific Northwest. His quiet, solitary life is interrupted when two pregnant, starving, teenage girls enter his orchard, and his life. He ends up risking everything, even his own freedom and life, to give them a chance at life that they had never been given. I loved reading this book. The writing is beautiful, and the story, though one relating unspeakable cruelty and misfortune, is one that really got into my heart. The many moral questions in the plot would make this a great selection for discussion in book clubs, and the beauty of the setting and the depth of the characters would make a great movie too. This novel is one of my all-time favorites.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What We're Reading: Cathy

The Burning House compiled by Foster Huntington
What would you save if your house was burning down? This question, posed first at a dinner party and then on the author's website is an interesting peek into other people's lives. Each person chosen for the book has a list of what they would take and a photo of the items. The range of things varies from "nothing" to "my baby." The number of laptops, smart phones, and hard drives is surprising until you realize that people really do "put their lives on their computers" these days. I was interested to see how many would save their childhood teddy bear (or equivalent). A lot of them included pets: cats, dogs, birds, rabbits. Other people went into survivalist mode and took food and guns. It makes you think about what you would take, what you have that is irreplaceable, what you couldn't live without.

Monday, July 9, 2012

What We're Reading: Jan

When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead
by Jerry Weintraub

Hollywood producer Jerry Weintraub recently released his documentary “41” about the life of his dear friend, President George H.W. Bush.  Just how did a Brooklyn-born and Bronx-raised “street kid” become friends with presidents, become a concert promoter for Elvis with no experience and produce movie hits like “Ocean’s Eleven” with George Clooney?  The answer is precisely the storyline of Weintraub’s autobiography.  In a candid, conversational tone he describes his father’s influence to work hard and dream big. He believes in never taking “no” for an answer.  From starting his own talent agency in the 1950’s to getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Weintraub has taken chances, taken advice and taken advantage of breaks that have come his way.  Now 74, there is still magic for him when he can produce a show or event and say “Jerry Weintraub Presents”. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

What We're Reading: Abby
Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor

Natalie Taylor was young, married to the love of her life and four months pregnant when her husband was killed in a freak skateboarding accident. Her life went from extremely happy and full to uncomprehensibly sad and very, very tragic. This memoir is based on journal entries she made during that first year or so after her husband's untimely death. The journal can be harsh at times but when you realize what Natalie is dealing with you appreciate her honesty and humor. She details how aggravating her in-laws can be without having the buffer of her husband. She has times when she can't hold it together but tries very hard to manage knowing that everyone around her is expecting her to collapse. When her son Kai is born she has to navigate through all of the difficult first months with a newborn alone while still grieving for the husband who was lost so young. Though she has a very tight group of close friends and family ultimately it is up to her to navigate through this difficult time and find the strength to endure. Natalie is from Michigan. She grew up and went to school in Birmingham and now teaches literature at Berkley High School.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What We're Reading: Edward

Archive 17: a novel of suspense

by Sam Eastland

     Stalin again needs the investigative skills of Pekkla, the Emerald Eye. Pekkla is sent back to the Gulag where he was imprisoned. He is to solve the murder of one of the four remaining Tsarist soldiers. They were part of a protection detail for the gold treasure of the Tsar. Pekkla slowly realizes that Stalin sent him not just to solve the murder but to find the gold. Stalin needs the gold to support the war effort. Pekkla tries to gain the trust of the remaining soldiers. When he gains their trust he realizes that there really is gold to be found. Will Pekkla be able to survive the murderous soldiers, the Gulag guards, the local tribe, and Stalin?

Sequel to The Eye of the Red Tsar

Great Read!