Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The 'Hoff ...

Happy Birthday Week, everyone! And by "Everyone" I mean me!

Every day has brought a new treat. On Monday I got a review copy of Zadie Smith's new novel. Tuesday I had the best Tuna Sub ever (toasted). And today I got a review copy of the new biography about David Foster Wallace. (These books are courtesy of the Jodi, who solicits such things from publishers so that we can keep the fine readers of Minnesota Reads abreast of what's hot and not).

And this is all just ramping up toward more excitement this weekend.

So, here is how I've been spending my time.


Chickpea Leek Soup: This little soup was easy and yum. Chickpeas, leeks, garlic and miso.

Spicy Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps: THIS WAS SO SO SO GOOD! Fake chicken and stuff with a peanut sauce. I turned it into a salad instead of wraps. You know, I'm madly in love with this fake chicken junk called Chick'n Scallopini. Although, when you look for it on Amazon you get a bunch of dog treats instead. So.

"You'll Like My Mother": Good news, Duluthophiles. This movie shot at Glensheen mansion is now playing on a YouTube near you. It's terrifying. And hokey, in an inner-monologue kind of way. Patty Duke plays a pregnant war widow who goes to Northern Minnesota to visit her mother-in-law. But her mother-in-law turns out to be a lying jerk who drugs her and locks her in her bedroom. Meanwhile, there's a lot of weird stuff going on in the house and a snowstorm strikes. I think trapped movies are the scariest. My legs were numb during this one.

Carnage: This is just about the most uncomfortable thing to watch. It starts with two young boys who get into a fight on the playground, resulting in one losing a few teeth. The parents get together to discus it: A liberal bookstore employee and her husband, a salesman and a lawyer and his wife who works in finance. They discuss the situation to death and the latter couple struggles to leave the apartment and then they all get drunk and ouch. It feels a lot like a play, because it is adapted from one. But it's good and it's short.

"The Myth of Pruitt-Igoe": This is a documentary about the time St. Louis built a community of high rises in the downtown area that would become low-income housing. Pruitt-Igoe was good in theory. Like 15,000 people moved in and it was a big celebration and it was clean with nice views. Then the city stopped putting money and effort toward the community and it fell into disrepair. Then it became dangerous. Then the police stopped responding to calls. Just 20 years later, it was demolished. The telling is a little repetitious, but the story is interesting and will have you Googling "what ever happened to housing projects."

Martha Marcy May Marlene This movie is about a young girl who is absorbed into a cult, which is nice and garden-y at first, but then things get a little more violent. That story is told in flashbacks as she adapts to a fancy new life with her older sister and the sort of mainstream existence that requires a bathing suit and not crawling into bed with your sibling when she's banging her husband. It's a good story told in an interesting way, but at one point I did say: "I think I would like the resolution to happen to now."

Layover: We suddenly have some new channel that plays super awful movies, including this one starring -- as Chuck calls him -- The 'Hoff. Movies so bad they don't even have, like, Wikipedia pages. This one is about a super busy business man who bangs a woman in the lost luggage area at an airport, then finds out her husband is the dude he got all buddy-buddy with on the plane and then ends up hanging out with them for a totally terrible and uncomfortable night. It's a thrill ride. I mean, it's really bad. So bad you can't look away.

Yellow Curry Seafood Stew from Restaurant 301: All sorts of creatures of the sea sacrificed their lives to be expertly seared, cooked and dumped into this delicious stew. (These scallops were so freaking good). Also: It was just fun to eat here late Saturday night. Hotel guests were all chillaxing in the lobby,  kids with water wings kept wandering into the restaurant and a wedding party kept stopping traffic to get a certain photo of the newlyweds kissing in the middle of the street. We had the best window seat in the house.

Caramel Apple French Toast from Duluth Grill: You will order this. Your 5-year-old lunch date will get a little wide-eyed about it and lose interest in her chicken tenders. You won't tell her mom that you're sorry, but her daughter wanted whipped cream for lunch.

Yellow Curry and Curry Puffs from Pak's Green Corner: This new restaurant opened in our neighborhood with a good mix of food. I had the curry, which had the best sauce I've ever known, and we had curry puffs, which were super great.

Birthday Cake Ice Cream with Superman Ice Cream Topper from Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Store: This new ice cream place in an old DQ spot on London Road is so freaking great.

"Stalked" First of all, let me say that stalking is awful and I'm totally against it. But there is something a little gooey and delicious about this show, streaming on Netflix, that takes stories of people who were stalked, provides context from a psychologist and interviews with people involved and also has actors dramatize the series of events. Like the time a stalker broke into a woman's home while she was gone and LICKED HER BATHROOM MIRROR.

It's also just a little irresponsible, journalistically. Like a woman living in DC who was stalked by another woman on the block. The latter is still out there. They flashed photos of her and her daughter on the screen. It doesn't sound like she was charged with anything. But there she is, Jane. Like, she might be sitting at home on a Sunday night and see this dramatization of the time she started dressing like her neighbor, walking past her house all the time and calling the school to tell the administrators that the stalkee was neglecting her young son.

"Friends": We've been watching "Friends" during dinner. Chuck has never seen it before. He believes that Matthew Perry is a great physical comedian. I believe that we can again start looking to the cast of this show for fashion advice. I might finally ask the guy who does my hair for The Rachel.

Interioraeby Gabrielle Giandelli: This graphic novel stars a shapeshifting rabbit that sneaks in and out of the apartments in an anonymous complex. He's collecting information to feed this thing that lives in the basement and thrives on dreams. It's on the better side of okay. I didn't review it.

What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Loveby Carole Radziwill: Carole Radziwill is Bravo TV bait, but only on paper: She’s a 40-something woman with a title, relatively few facial creases, a famous last name, and a limb-by-marriage on the Kennedy family tree. But the new addition to Season 5 of “The Real Housewives of New York” has little in common with her castmates. When it comes to manicured talons and wine screeches, Radziwill’s signature move is no move at all. A surprised blink, an incredulous “Is this really happening?” as a shitshow explodes around her and she ducks for safety behind one of the husbands.

Radziwill’s 2005 bestseller What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love is the heart-squeezing story of her life before Ramona Singer. She grew up in a small town and regularly visited hard-partying relatives and a grandmother who stuffed stolen groceries into various folds of her body. She saw her exit plan on TV news: Instead of being an observer to life events, she wanted to be at the life events. Radziwill went from an intern to an award-winning career at ABC News. She meets Polish prince Anthony Radziwill, nephew of John F. Kennedy, while working on pieces about the Menendez Brothers in Los Angeles and they eventually get married.
Then there is the cancer.

Full review is here.

What Happened to Sophie Wilderby Christopher Beha: Curses. Right now I’m sitting here wishing that I was in a book club that just finished reading What Happened to Sophie Wilder by Christopher R. Beha instead of not being in a book club and having just finished reading What Happened to Sophie Wilder by Christopher R. Beha. Alone. In a bathrobe. While my boyfriend is lying on the couch next to me, in the early chapters of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

There are so many things I want to talk about. I want to deconstruct characters, especially Sophie. I want to talk about the way Beha writes about religion. I want to talk about dramatic quotes. I want to spoil the ending. (I won’t). You know how some people associate numbers with color? When I think of this book I see a thick hearty sandwich with prettily layered ingredients where every flavor is distinct and fresh and really pops.

Full review here

When It Happens to You: A Novel in Storiesby Molly Ringwald. Ringwald has taken no risks with this story and created lifeless characters dealing with the most cliched problems of life in 2012 in a very surface-y way. If you overheard the dramatic moments of this story while standing in line at the grocery store you’d tune it out. It’s common vanilla woes; It’s white noise.

Full review is here.

Strangers In Paradise Pocket Book 1 (Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book Collection)by Terry Moore: This is a sassy little collection of comics starring an ass kicking woman who is always looking out for her best friend and sort of romantic interest Francine, especially in the case of her awful boyfriend Freddie. Meanwhile, the mob is hunting down Katchoo.

Full review will be here.

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