Friday, July 31, 2009

June Round-Up - 2009

I know I say this at the end of every month, but it is especially true today: I just can't believe another month is over. July just flew by! Probably because I went on vacation for a week, but still, it seems to have ended pretty fast.

But we aren't talking about July; we're talking about June!

Movies Seen: Sixteen, with five in theaters. Four were part of film festivals, and I wrote reviews of each of them. So, go read my reviews of "Monsters From the Id;" "Someone's Knocking at the Door;" "Pig Hunt;" and "Little Joe," and then come back here.

The fifth was a second viewing of "Up." I took my parents for Father's Day. This time it wasn't in 3D, and it kind of affirmed my belief that you don't don't really miss anything by not seeing it in 3D. It also managed to make me cry even harder the second time around. Such a great movie.

Of the DVDs, there weren't any I was terribly impressed with. Of course "Megashark vs. Giant Octopus" was terrible, and only mildly amusing in the so-bad-its-good sense. I guess I was most surprised by "Zach and Miri Make a Porno," just because I didn't hate it. I tend to hate all of Kevin Smith's movies, and I didn't hate this one. I didn't love it either, but whatever.

Books Read: Four. I mentioned one of them in last month's Round-Up, and I finally finished it in June. That was Donna Tartt's "The Little Friend." It was an utter disappointment, especially because I loved her first book "The Secret History." The thing is, it starts off so good, with a really creepy and mysterious murder of a little boy in a southern town. Then it jumps ahead over ten years, and the main plot is how his sister, who is only 12, attempts to find out who killed her brother. Intriguing, yes? But then it gets entirely bogged down by way too many characters. When I tell you that one of girl's plans includes killing who she thinks is the murderer via the tossing of a deadly snake over an overpass into the alleged killer's car, you might think, "How could something like that be anything but awesome?" And indeed, therein lies the problem with the book: how could something like that not awesome? But it isn't. Moving on.

After I finally finished that book, I picked up Heather Armstrong's "It Sucked and Then I Cried" from the library and read it in one day. (I never know if that is an insult or a compliment when it comes to books...) I think I was so happy to be reading something that wasn't a chore that I just raced through it. After that I read "Revolutionary Road," which I mainly read because I finally saw the movie--it was one of the DVDs I watched in June that I wasn't impressed with--and I wanted to see if the book was any better than the movie. (It is.)

Lastly was "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. Now, I don't want to get all preachy about food and food choices here, but I loved the book, and it really made me stop and question what I spend my money on and what I choose to eat. For the most part, it is stuff I've known for a while, and in fact, I didn't eat read meat for almost ten years back in the 90s because of what factory farming does to the environment. But what I didn't really know before reading the book was how it all starts much lower on the food chain. Basically, it all comes down to corn. What the food industry has chosen to do with corn is pretty horrible, including force feeding it to cattle, an animal that isn't supposed to eat anything but grasses, which results in cattle that develop stomach ruptures and ulcers, which means having to shoot them up with more antibiotics, which is then in the meat you eat, and that meat in and of itself is just worse for you than grassfed meat is....but! I said I wasn't going to preach.

And I'm making the book sound like it's some kind of off-putting screed. It isn't. I found it really fascinating to learn about traditional versus factory farming, and how farms can be run without the need for synthetic fertilizers or animal antibiotics. An organic working farm is really a miraculous thing. If more people just put some informed thought into what they choose to eat and spend their money on, they, and everyone else, would be a lot healthier for it...

Fancy Dinners Out: Two. And this is where I reveal myself to be a total hypocrite who dined on factory farmed corn-fed beef. Yes. I ate at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse again. BUT! This was early in the month before I read "The Omnivore's Dilemma." (Also, let me add, I continue to live a vegan lifestyle during the week, and that's the only steak I ate all month.) The other dinner was at Town Hall for Chuck's birthday, and that was mmm-mmmm good. I can't even remember what entree I had, but I tasted some of the dishes the others in the party had, and they were all great, especially this egg and ham and toast and cream sauce thing that's an appetizer that was so good I went back with my parents last week and had that as my entree. But I'll talk about that next month.

Live Shows Seen: Two! Both were at the Warfield. The first was Neko Case, and while her new album isn't one of my faves, the show was still pretty great. It's always awesome to hear a voice like hers live, and she and her back-up singer/sidekick Kelly Hogan were very funny.

The other was PJ Harvey, and that show was a little disappointing just because the only songs she performed were from her two albums with John Parish. Which is fine. It was a PJ Harvery and John Parish concert, not just a PJ Harvey concert. But I don't really like their current record, and they didn't do my favorite song from their previous record. (That would be "That Was My Veil." Wanna hear it here it go.) Nonetheless, she's still entertaining to watch, and it wasn't like I was bored by it. Just not the ultimate PJ Harvey experience.

Shoes Bought: These white Chinese Laundry slingbacks that were insanely cheap (I think I got them for under 30 bucks) and primarily purchased for my trip to Palm Springs. But I will talk about that next month!


Jeff H. said...

Hmmm, I read Secret History a long time ago and really liked it...thanks for the warning about her follow-up.

John Rozum said...

I'm putting together the list of participants for this year's Halloween countdown. Please contact me and let me know if you'll be taking part. Thanks.