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Summer Picks 2013

6 Jun

We are back! Thanks much for the patience, the Cinema Language seminar was such a success we are doing it yet again in November. In the meantime, I want to give you a few recommendations to get you through the summer. No food this time, as we have a lot of food upcoming, including a ‘Food on the 4th’ menu.

It’s been a great Spring for reading, at least for me. I’ve been blessed with one terrific novel after another. What better time to have a few good books to read than in the summer! Here are a few good reads to get you through:

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

 I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

                                                                                                                           Hazel Lancaster

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I am a little behind on this one. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green made a big splash last year and the film adaptation is in full swing. If you have not yet read it, Get. This. Book. It’s a stunner. Time Magazine’s #1 Fiction Pick for 2012, this book is frequently hilarious, wonderfully romantic and absolutely devastating, sometimes all at once. Yes, the novel is about a 17 year old girl, Hazel, who has cancer. But don’t let that deter you, it’s an easy, thoroughly enjoyable read. Easy as it is, the prose is beautiful and remarkably profound. The Fault In Our Stars was so good that when I finished it, I flipped back to page one and read it again. It’s that good.

A quick aside: this book makes me wonder who determines how books are classified. The Fault In Our Stars is marketed as a ‘young adult’ novel, yet it is one of the more adult and thematically mature books I’ve read in a long while. It’s not that teens shouldn’t be reading it! I’m thrilled they are reading it and that it was so popular. But the ‘young adult’ designation certainly deters some adult readers. It did me. Some people say the designation is because of the age of the main character. Hmph. Just because it’s about a 17 year old girl shouldn’t automatically make it a ‘teen novel’.  To Kill A Mockingbird isn’t a children’s novel just because Scout is a child. I’m curious about this, given so many ‘teen novels’ seem anything but. I said the same thing about the brilliant “Hunger Games” trilogy, a must read if you haven’t yet. That trilogy is one of the darkest and most morally complex stories in print. ‘Teen Novels’? No way. At any rate, do not let that designation cause you to stumble with Fault. Read this book!

NOS4A2

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NOS4A2, published in April, is also one of the most remarkable novels I’ve read in a long time. If I wasn’t so amazed at his talent, I would be green with envy over Joe Hill. This is his third novel: three novels in a row, each novel was one of the best of its year. Damn, can this guy write!

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My 2012 Review

31 Dec


Well, the year has come to an end, which is a time for many people to reflect. I personally ‘look back and reflect’ about as much as I abstain from food and film. So don’t worry, no emotive reflective ramblings here. 

I am, however, a list guy. I am such a list guy, in fact, I tend to be very grumpy this time of year because other year end lists get it wrong. I finally have a reason to do my own list! (Self created, sure, but whatever works, right?) Thus, without further ado and in no particular order, I present to you my own personal ‘best of’ food and film of 2012, with a few other best of items thrown in.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

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Until yesterday, I thought this would be my personal favorite of the year. And it still might be. I’ve seen it four times now and and will watch it again, a mini obsession apropos for a romantic comedy — of sorts — about two rather unhinged people. With The Fighter and now SLP David O. Russell, known for being slightly unhinged himself, has catapulted to being one of the best directors in Hollywood. His work in both films is outstanding: simple and straightforward, Click here for the remaining picks!!

Labor Day Food and Film

31 Aug

Another holiday weekend has arrived. Memorial Day weekend last, I drove through six national parks on the way from LA to Chicago with one of my best friends. This weekend? I’ll be marathoning… a Homeland marathon, a Sherlock Marathon and a Downton Abbey marathon. It’s couch potato city with what I am told are the three best TV shows currently available. I’ll keep you posted on the Facebook page.

I imagine many of you will be a little more active. Whatever the case, as with Memorial Day, I wanted to give you food and film and also some books to help you enjoy your weekend.

First, Food:

I’ve written once already about Suzanne Goin, an amazing chef and restaurateur who has created some of my favorite dishes in the world. The recipe below might be my top of the tops. No holiday weekend is complete without grilling and what could be better to grill but burgers? What also could be better than pork? Goin’s pork burgers are the best burgers I have ever had, bar none. And I’ve had, oh, one or two. These burgers take a little prep and work but trust me, the end result is worth a little extra effort. As Food Gal writes, (thank you to Food Gal for this link to the recipe) Goin’s pork burgers are “Heaven on A Bun”.

Click here for the recipe and the remaining choices!

Summer Reading 2012

21 Jun

Summer is upon us. For many this means an excuse to pick up some books. I pretty much throw books at anyone who breathes. There are few things better than discovering a book so good you find your own world disappearing as you lose yourself in the author’s world. As this happened to me just this week, I figured I would give you some choices: five (and a half) books I stand behind 100%, including one hot off the presses. I’ve tried to include something for everyone, there are a variety of genres represented here, but whatever your preferences, give any or all of them a chance. I lost myself in each of these novels and have read all but the new one more than once. (Click the underlined titles for links to the books)

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper

Click here for all the recommendations

You Must Read This! Vol. 1

18 May

While my earliest memory as a child was watching a movie, memories of holding a book occur almost immediately after.  I grew up surrounded by books, everywhere. Both my parents were huge bibliophiles. It was rare that either didn’t have a book in hand or at least close by. Additionally, Mom was a teacher and taught my brother and me to read by the age of three. She often told us, “I never want to hear you say I’m bored.” Pointing at one of our house’s numerous bookshelves, she’d continue, “There’s a wonderful world for you right there. You never have to be bored.” Her advice definitely took hold and we became a family that read together all the time.

My brother David went off into non-fiction land, at one point reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica straight through. Yes, he is that smart and no, you never ever ever want to play Trivial Pursuit with him. Talk about trivial pursuits (rim shot!) 

I loved fiction myself and was devouring books early. Yes, that was me carrying Gone With The Wind into elementary school at the age of 9 and no, the consequences were not pleasant. I’m a stubborn SOB, though and it did not deter me. Few things are better in life than a good book.

I believe a lot of people don’t like to read because they were handed long boring books at an early age, the desire to read being mutilated before it could begin. Not that we shouldn’t be challenged. But before being challenged, we need to fall in love. Show me someone who doesn’t love to read and I bet they were handed Beowulf or a Thomas Hardy novel way too young. Mom was pretty adept at handing me books that caused me to fall in love with reading. I daresay if most young boys, for instance, were handed something like The Black Stallion, most would turn into avid readers. The Black Stallion has it all: a shipwreck, a kid living alone on a deserted island, no adults to boss him around, while taming a wild stallion, eventually riding that stallion in an exciting race. What else could you want?? After a number of books like that (Danger, Dinosaurs! Wow!) I spent hours reading and never turned back. As a family, when we went on vacation, we often went somewhere where the four of us could just lay in the sun and read for a week. We’d each bring 5 or 6 books and life was good. It’s still my favorite way to spend a vacation.

Click here for the big reveal!