In other news, here's what else I did this past week:
Creamy Polenta with Sausage and Parmesan: Having never had polenta for the first 32ish years of my life, and then making it for myself for the first time, I just assumed that I knew what the heck I was doing and was master of all things corn meal. Then this story in the NYTs was like "DON'T BE AFRAID TO MAKE POLENTA, I KNOW IT SEEMS SUPER HARD BUT IT'S NOT SO BAD!" Wha? It has never seemed hard to me. Two plus two equals maybe I was making it wrong.
Well, I was skipping some steps, and wasn't all fragile-goo-goo-baby-risotto, and it wasn't coming out the consistency of sour cream. I think it is worth the stirring to have it come out the consistency of risotto. Anyway, then I put some sausage and onions and red peppers on top of it. Awesome.
Fame: This is obviously a kin of the 1980 film, but not a 100 percent remake. Partly because in 1980, Hollywood took a National Geographic approach to topless nudity, whereas these days it is more of a Readers Digest approach to topless nudity.
I struggled to keep track of the characters, especially since they didn't align with the characters from the original.
All of those touchy 80s topics were glossed over: No illiteracy, no "painful coming to grips with one's homosexuality," no pill-popping comedian ruining his relationships, no abortion. The almost suicide attempt of a thwarted student is more dramatic, though.
There was a brief shout-out to body image issues where a dancer accuses her teacher of not appreciating her work because she isn't an emaciated Diet Coke drinker. The teacher -- Lillith Crane, actually -- defends herself and says something like "I talk about body image issues all the time! You know that! Besides, I want to keep you in my class. Forget about how I wanted to get rid of you before you accused me of encouraging anorexia."
It is clear to me that the audience of this film in 1980 didn't have a sense of humor; Nor did the target audience in 2009.
"Sherlock Holmes" directed by Rachel Goldenberg: (Oddly enough I cannot confirm that this film exists).
A Serious Man Coen Bros. investigate topics broached in "American Beauty" in a way that is that weird kind of funny where a real laugh doesn't ever break the surface, but you know deep down that it is good.
A Free Life (Vintage International) by Ha Jin: As I just clicked on Goodreads’ four-star rating for Ha Jin’s super long novel, I couldn’t help but wonder about the countless number of stars I would have awarded it if something had actually happened in the book. I mean, I already “really liked it” in the book review website’s parlance. With a little drama or conflict, I probably would have needed a solar system to convey my enthusiasm.
Full review here.