31 December 2012

Stuff I've Been Consuming 12

  • Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon
  • In the Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson
  • The Go-for-Gold Gymnasts: Balancing Act, Dominique Moceanu & Alicia Thompson
  • Tokyo Heist, Diana Renn
  • Ender in Exile, Orson Scott Card
  • Unemployment, Aaron Lake Smith
  • Miss Fortune Cookie, Lauren Bjorkman
  • Prophecy, Ellen Oh
  • The Central Park Five, Ken Burns & Sarah Burns & David McMahon
  • Killing Them Softly, Andrew Dominik
  • Rust and Bone, Jacques Audiard
  • Anna Karenina, Joe Wright
  • Pitch Perfect, Jason Moore
  • Les Miserables, Tom Hooper
  • Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino

Made it Ma, top of the world! If this was a race, I would have stumbled across the finish line at the last second, timing it so that I crossed just as the alarm went off. (There are some inept analogies in there. I am not a runner.) The point being, I successfully finished the fiftyfifty.me challenge, with 50 books and 81 movies knocked out in 2012. Anything is poooosssssible!

Moving into December, it really looked like we might not finish. I was eight books short and Lilly had a few more of each to go. As co-founders of fiftyfifty.me, I felt like we had to finish. We had a moral obligation to get through it all. I mean, we can't fail our own challenge right? That would just be embarrassing.

Some travel woes really helped me out, as I got through three books in record time. Mid-December I was stuck in Baltimore due to heavy fog and then had to reschedule my flight back to San Diego. Let's just say that there's nothing better for uninterrupted reading time than delayed flights -- and also long train rides.

During the last week of December, Lilly was jamming through both movies and books while entombed on her couch, while I selected a few short items to rip through myself. I mean, Unemployment by Aaron Lake Smith is a smallish zine. Are zines books? Existential fiftyfifty.me questions like this came up often the past few weeks. In this case, the answer is a resounding "yes." I do feel slightly guilty though, as anything that short really shouldn't count. At least by my personal standards.

However, in my defense, there were some books I read this year that I didn't count on my total because they were for writing research and I didn't want to put them on my list for fear that someone would read those same books and then steal my idea and make it better. A very real possibility since the idea is only so-so. Taking those research books into account, I can honestly say I read fifty books this year. Scout's honor. Here's a chart showing my reading/watching for the year.

Yes, I watched thirteen movies in June. Clearly I must have had summer mumps or something. On the reading front, I totally collapsed in August-September, so that resulted in my year end cram session slash panic. Currently we're working on getting fiftyfifty.me ready for 2013 so I'll post about that when the new site's good to go. I also want to take more time to reflect on what reading fifty books did for me this past year. I mean, besides making me ultra-smart.

Some notes and recommendations from December stuff. While locked out of my apartment one sad morning, I sat in the bookstore and read through Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist. It's real short but there are some great graphics in it and the book was pretty inspiring. Camped out at the lone chair in Greenlight Bookstore, I felt a surge of creative power flow through me. I itched to do something wildly productive and thuddingly artistic. Unfortunately, I was keyless, phoneless, and wearing no socks. C'est la vie. By the time I got back into my house, it was nap time.

Reading through Ender in Exile, I got mad at how lazy it was. Of course I had to read it but I wasn't happy about it. There were literally chapters of just talking heads and exposition. Having been recently admonished that my own writing suffered from the same problem, I was frustrated/jealous that Mr. Card was getting away with it. "Look, he can do it, why can't I?!" Oh right, he's a bestselling author who can do what he wants. Ah, power. How I lust for it. Mainly I was just upset that I didn't know about Ender in Exile, published in 2008, until now. And I call myself an Ender fan, for shame!

As for movies, it was a good run to end the year. I thought Anna Karenina was beautiful, and now I think I should probably read the book. Going movie to book probably saved me a lot of hand wringing over inaccuracies, although I can't imagine how even the biggest Anna Karenina fan couldn't appreciate Joe Wright's clever adaptation and much discussed staging. It was brilliant. And even though I saw Kick-Ass twice, I couldn't place Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Vronsky. This ridiculously handsome guy is the same actor? Seriously?

We were going to double down on Les Miserables and Django Unchained on Christmas but nobody else wanted to sit through five hours of movies so we split it up between Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Les Miserables got mixed reviews from our group but I loved it all -- even with some of the spotty singing. Django was, well, Django. Not as good as Inglourious Basterds but close enough.

And if you're looking for a light watch, Pitch Perfect is the way to go. It's not like Glee on the big screen (thankfully), and it's also not "this generation's Clueless," but it's got plenty of hilarious lines and now I have a problem resisting the urge to prefix "aca-" to everything. Aca-bitches, stand up! Sidenote: If I could sing I would be so obnoxious with my talent. I would harmonize to all your sentences and statements. A goal for 2013 is to get invited to a riff off. Also, I have begun casting for my Les Mis wedding flash mob already, just in case I ever stumble into a relationship, an engagement, or an acoustically perfect venue. Remember, love is nothing compared to "One More Day."

Lastly, I think I want to recommend Rust and Bone, but I'm not sure who to recommend it to. The movie features killer whales, Katy Perry's "Fireworks," and Marion Cotillard, so it should be irresistible to all humans, but it wasn't exactly the film I was expecting. I'd hoped for Rust and Bone to stay with me longer, but it slipped away quietly. Rust and Bone did make me want to check out Jacques Audiard's other work though, starting with A Prophet.

So here it is, the end of 2012 and mission accomplished. I'll leave you with a photo of Shamu and friends that I took myself earlier this summer, from the first rows of the Splash Zone. We got completely drenched but it was worth it. The Shamu show is not nearly as good now that the trainers don't go into the water -- for good reason -- and I am torn between loving Sea World and reading too much about how orcas suffer in captivity. Is there really more we can learn from them? Set them all free, even if that means my season pass will purely be used to eat funnel cake.

Sea World's savvy secret: the funnel cake is killer. Another not so secret secret: alliteration and puns suck. Especially together.