- The Zero by Jess Walter ~ My march through Mr. Walter’s bibliography continues. I couldn’t put this book down and it’s very well-written, don’t get me wrong, but it left me with an extremely heavy heart and it’s not one I would choose to read ever again.
- Ali in Wonderland: And Other Tall Tales by Ali Wentworth ~ Light library read that was much needed after The Zero.
- The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer ~ I could not love him more on Glee, and I’m excited to see the movie he wrote, but I did not get into this one.
- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys ~ Beautifully written and important but relentlessly dark. Understandable given the subject matter, but still: dark.
- Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk by Ben Fountain ~ Enjoyed this one a lot. It made my heart squeeze a lot, particularly the relationship between Billy and his older sister. I thought about how it would feel to send my little brother to war and then send him back again and it really got to me. This is a really good book.
My favorite music in November was the music recorded by my brother in a Nashville barn. It sounds like love, longing, life, and dreams.
- Goon ~ My brother told me I would love this movie and he was correct. I did not know that Seann William Scott had this kind of performance in him, and it was great to see Allison Pill in fine form again. So funny and sweet and enjoyable.
- Breaking Dawn 2: Fun and entertaining in a very ridiculous way.
- Lincoln ~ I did not know what to expect from this. I had been feeling kind of emotional about Lincoln in general after realizing earlier in the week that it was the 149th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, and since I’d read it about 10 times in the few days before, when the young soldiers started reciting it at the beginning, I immediately started crying and basically cried through most of the movie. It’s exactly all that is best about Spielberg. And plus it’s got Boyd Crowder and Ned the Pie Maker. And I don’t even know what to say about Daniel Day-Lewis except I love him forever and I’m already having lots of generalized Oscars anxiety re: Daniel Day-Lewis and Hugh Jackman.
Trips & Fun Times:
Flew North for Thanksgiving. Spent two nights with my wonderful sister and her wonderful family, mostly relaxing in our pajamas, eating leftover Thanksgiving food, watching football, and singing and playing in piles of leaves with the babies, in other words total bliss and how God intended that Thanksgiving be spent …
… and two nights in NYC, where my friend and I tried and failed to get into two noodle restaurants — apparently lines form around the block at like 3 pm? Who knew? — and also froze our Southern faces off, soaked in the festive holiday cheer, saw three Broadway shows, and fell in love with our beloved city all over again.
Insane yet surprisingly wondrous holiday light show on the side of Saks:
NYC … the shadows at sundown … the roofs that scrape the sky …
- Giant ~ I saw this because of Brian d’Arcy James, full stop, whom I’ve loved since he stole my heart more than 15 years ago. This was back when I taped the Rosie show on the VCR every day and watched it after class. I remember my sister and I watching this on tape over and over, seeing Titanic a few weeks later on Broadway solely because of him. (Let’s also watch him sing one of the most gorgeous songs in Next to Normal, just because.) Giant is very ambitious and includes some very beautiful songs and excellent performances (Katie Thompson, who plays Vashti, is a standout) — and also one performer so horrible I can’t even mention this person by name but who is basically a scene ruiner. It’s not a perfect show, but Brian d’Arcy James is perfect in it, just like he is in everything, and you just have to forget Smash and the sweaters he wore thereon and accept that he is a bright shining star.
- Forbidden Broadway ~ I’ve seen this in New Orleans and heard many songs from it over the years, but this was my first time seeing it New York. Parts were terrible but parts were brilliant and hilarious.
- The Mystery of Edwin Drood ~ I knew nothing of this going in other than that the original starred my beloved Betty Buckley. Turns out I loved it. It was a first-class production across the board, and every cast member was fantastic, and it was amazing to see Chita Rivera raising up her dress and kicking her legs at nearly 80 years old, and while the show is mostly just an extremely entertaining romp, by the finale song, I was accidentally bursting into tears, moved beyond belief. I am a complete sucker for songs which are sung in the world of the show but also sung to the audience, like we are part of that world, like “Will you join in our crusade,” and when Drood (played by the fantastic Stephanie J. Block) sang …
What I’ve learned is that life is bits of time, and you fight for every tiny speck when you’re held by the neck …
Scratch and claw for every day you’re worth! Make them drag you screaming from life, keep dreaming, you’ll live forever here on earth.
I have read the writing on the wall,
And it’s clearly spelled out
For those who’ve held out
That holding on to life is all.
Is it clear?
If you hear my voice, then you’re alive.
What a bloody marvel we survive,
When you think of every risk we face
In our mad human race …
… and so forth, I just really could not contain the need to cry and cry. But it was in a good way, the way where you’re clapping and crying and so thrillingly happy and sad, the way I want to feel at the end every Broadway show: alive, alive, alive.
Our team played four games in November, all of which we won but one. And oh, it was a heartbreaker. But nothing can change the fact that many moments of that game, laughing and hoping and believing with my brother and a dear friend in fits of hysterical joy, were among the happiest in a lifetime of Saturday Nights in Death Valley.
Favorite things on Internet:
- Wonderful interview with Mae Whitman, who is basically my favorite actress these days. She is so good on Parenthood (which is so, SO GOOD). She is obsessed with Friday Night Lights, so we also know that she’s smart.
- More on the above link. God Bless Les.
- The great Rembert Brown’s wonderful take on the Boy Meets World sequel.
- As usual, when Wil Wheaton writes about Stand By Me, which for many important years of my youth was the most important movie in my life, it makes me (a) teary and (b) deeply happy that he grew up to be writer.
Pets Still Alive:
Both. I don’t even know how half the time.
Worst/Best food eaten:
The worst thing I ate in November, this year, or maybe in my life was the chocolate tobacco gelato at Esca. I have wiped it from my mind. Other than that, I enjoyed my sister’s broccoli casserole & lots of tasty food in New York, including a hearty brunch at Josie’s West. But it was hard to top this strong, hot cappuccino at Irving Farm with Molly on a cold Sunday morning.
Flowers, Trees, & Plants:
My mom’s purple and gold flowers always make me very happy.