- Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katharine Boo ~ This was John Green’s favorite book of the year, and Anne Lamott said that it’s “so absolutely exquisite that it made me sort of sick. I will never write anything nearly that good and accomplished.” I definitely think this book is a Capital A Achievement, but it kind of dragged for me, and I think I just need lighter fare in December.
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple … Honestly, the most readable book I’d read in a while. At first, I thought it might be annoying, but I fell into its world quickly, and I ended up liking it A LOT. It’s just entertaining and surprising and funny and good.
- The Round House by Louise Erdrich … Very, very good. Heart-stoppingly so, sometimes. I still have 50 pages left, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to end up being great.
- Salmon Fishing in the Yemen ~ So, basically Emily Blunt has extreme chemistry with everyone and everything. That’s what we know to be fact now, right? Despite its preposterousness on many levels, I enjoyed this.
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting: I learned a few things watching this movie … (1) Elizabeth Banks is good in all things. Only she and Ben Falcone make this movie worth watching. (2) The only movie in which I’ll ever like Cameron Diaz is In Her Shoes, and I think maybe that’s just because the movie itself is so wonderful. (3) In my mind, Anna Kendrick & I are best friends.
- The Descendants ~ I liked it. I think having visited my friend twice in Hawaii and learning about her life there helped to enrich the viewing experience, but overall: pretty solid.
- Silver Linings Playbook ~ I’ve been fond of Bradley Cooper since watching him cry his way through his episode of Inside the Actors Studio. I don’t know what I expected from this movie, but it surprised me and went all sorts of places I didn’t see coming. Overall, it’s kind of a weird movie, but delightful. I loved the parents and the brother and the friends and the football stuff, and Jennifer Lawrence is something else.
- Les Miserables ~ Obviously this is the only movie that really mattered in December. There were things that I hated (the Thenardiers), things that baffled me (Russell Crowe), things that truly disappointed me (“Confrontation” in its entirety), and things that actually hurt my heart (Eponine’s absence at the end, the change of one of my favorite lines — “it’s the story of those who always loved you,” etc.) — but overall, the good far outweighed the bad, and it gave me everything I needed, which ultimately was (1) something that has been missing in every production I’ve ever seen: a Marius worthy of the love of two good women, the friendship of Enjolras, and being carried through the sewers on the back of Jean Valjean, (2) Hugh Jackman’s performance to utterly devastate me notwithstanding the fact that his voice is sometimes a wee bit questionable, (3) not to hate Anne Hathaway, and (4) to cry unceasingly from start to finish, so: Mission Accomplished. As for the Oscars, I’m Team Hugh, 100%, all the way, forever.
- Hart of Dixie ~ I have developed a weird affection for this show. And it is mostly because Wade makes me swoon a whole, whole lot. There you have it.
- Glee ~ We all know that Glee is the worst now, but there are a few standout moments of true feeling and excellence every now and then, and usually they involve Chris Colfer, and his performance of “Alive,” which, let’s face it, is one of the greatest showtunes of all time, was just so transcendently beautiful, as was his ice skating duet with Blaine, and if this show has given us nothing else, it has given us these two, and I’m just so proud of them both, and I accidentally learned of the Klaine rabbit hole and fell all the way down it, and I just need them to live happily ever after.
- Homeland ~ Beyond. I don’t think I even care about the plot holes. All I care about anymore is Saul, and I am grateful I have my dog to keep me company while I stress-watch.
Favorite things on Internet:
- The oral history of Freaks & Geeks.
- Colbert / Costello. I watch this a million times every Christmas, and it always makes me teary because of Colbert’s red turtleneck, the harmonies, Costello’s true commitment to the piece, & what I choose to believe is the true underlying sincerity of the whole thing.
- Every single one of Anne Lamott’s Facebook posts, particularly the ones about Advent and darkness and light, like this one.
Pets Still Alive:
Both. Marley is her typically strange combination of snuggly and weird.
Meanwhile, my dog has slowed down dramatically this month. Sometimes, he acts exactly like his spazzy self, but most of the time, he only wants to be in his dog house or his crate, lying on his posturepedic dog pillow.
It’s unlike him, and I’m not sure what is wrong, and he got a once-over at the vet but short of running lots of tests, what’s bothering him is basically indeterminable at the moment. He is still eating and drinking normally and exhibiting great bursts of energy at times, but mostly: Zzzzzzzz and he won’t even get up to greet me when I enter the house, which is downright absurd as any dog owner knows. Just in case it is achy joints, he is now getting dosed twice daily with a ridiculously pricey canine glucosamine supplement that I guess is made of diamonds and gold, and I hope it helps. My pets’ other illness have been so dramatic and obvious — Khaki’s jaw cancer, Daisy’s heart failure, Zuko’s near death experience — but sometimes I guess it’s not easy to figure out what’s wrong with an old dang dog. Maybe sometimes it’s just vague, un-specific “I feel bad”-ness. I just want him to feel good as long as he can & to let me know if he’s truly despondent or suffering.
Best food eaten:
Aside from everything my mom cooked the week of Christmas, which was all the best, I really enjoyed the gumbo at my friend’s house one Sunday afternoon. Also lots and lots of hot chocolate.
Misc. Holiday Merriment:
Having the whole family here during Christmas week was the best thing about December. My brother’s gig was a major highlight. He was awesome, as was witnessing the live painting of the event. The artist really captured him, and we were all pretty amazed.
In addition to fun family times, there was some other good holiday cheer happening. Among my favorites …
I attended a very festive old fashioned-making party on a dreamy patio…
Dreamt of a pink Christmas …
Had Sunday brunch with my sweet cousin on a sunny New Orleans front porch …
Experienced the difference between fantasy (left) and reality (right) when embarking on a holiday treat-making debacle …
… And enjoyed an old ceramic light-up Christmas tree of my grandmother’s, my only actual Christmas decoration. I feel like it’s the only one I need.
Flowers, Trees, & Plants:
December’s Best In Show was my mother’s camellia bush. It’s still warm outside here most days, but they still look like snow.