Monday, May 31, 2010

The Day The Falls Stood Still

Three Stars out of Five Stars
I finished this book weeks ago. It was my first completed attempt at reading since ending my second semester of grad school. “The Day The Falls Stood Still” is not a great book. It has a beautiful cover and a great premise, but the story telling left something to be desired. Maybe it’s the English teacher in me, but I could not get past how often she jumped tenses. It disrupted the flow of the story, and the element of the supernatural was too much for me to grasp in a historical fiction novel.

That said, I did enjoy the details of this story. I could hear the pounding of Niagara Falls and feel the spray of the water against my face. I could see the green folds of fabric in Bess’ hands, and I was invested in Tom and Bess’ love story. There was just something missing for me in the overall story.

I am giving this book three stars instead of two because I had a nostalgic twinge through the whole book. Maybe the twinge came from the time period and location because some details felt reminiscent to “Anne of Green Gables.” Maybe the twinge came from memories of standing by the falls on a family trip years ago. I had and still have never seen anything like Niagara Falls – there was so much beauty and terror wrapped into seeing that much water pounding everything in its path into submission. I don’t know, but three stars just the same for “The Day The Falls Stood Still.”

The Poisonwood Bible

Five Stars out of Five Stars
I have unsuccessfully tried to capture my reaction to Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Poisonwood Bible” in half a dozen different opening lines. This is a book that demands more than “Read it. I know you’ll love it,” because it is not an easy read. This book tells the story of Africa, its politics, its beauty, and its power. It tells the story of people who live on next to nothing and the outsiders who took what little they had. It tells the story of a family – a mother, a father, and their four daughters who traveled from Bethlehem, Georgia to the Congo, to bring Christianity to the darkest corners of deepest Africa. Through the eyes of the Price family, Kingsolver’s epic unfolds, and the reader is left entranced and haunted by the whole experience.

“The Poisonwood Bible” is a subtlety-crafted masterpiece. “Poisonwood[’s]” story is woven in and out of Biblical contexts and jungle leaves. The historical lessons of the Congo are included as realities for our characters to the point that the Price family seems like they were really there when Belgium and the United States tried to take what was not theirs. The five distinct voices that tell our story are so unique that the reader could identify which Price woman is speaking even if her name was not included at the top of the page.

Including a message or moral is not new to the art of story telling, and yet most of the messages overrun the story being told. Kingsolver’s messages blend in like the lion waiting for Adah on her walk to the river. The reader does not realize what is being taught until we find ourselves completely knocked over and in awe of the horror and beauty of it all.

I am more than a decade behind in singing Barbara Kingsolver’s praises for this novel. It took me starting it and putting down the book a few times before I truly got into the story – but like the Prices, once Africa got a hold of me, I could never have gotten out. The book did not end the way I had hoped, but Kingsolver was not writing a morality tale. She was writing about life in the Congo. It is not meant to end with a Betty Crocker cake and smiles all around. Kingsolver’s narrators eloquently and haltingly tell us that, and like them, I will never be the same.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Follow the yellow brick road....

Forget Auntie Em or the Emerald City, follow the yellow brick road to pictures of Mae in Kansas. Jewels just posted new pictures of our favorite girl swimming. I especially love Mae's new swimsuit with it's old fashioned flair, stripes, and little ruffles. Definitely missing the Munson clan while they're on the wind-swept prarie of the Midwest. Thank goodness for iChat, Megan's upcoming wedding, and Jewels' new camera!

Monday, May 24, 2010

O say, can you GLEE?

When I first heard that there was going to be a Glee concert tour, I really wanted to go. But then practicality won, and I ignored my inner Gleek (I still think this term is bizarre, but whatever – I totally am one). However, by Friday morning, my inner Gleek would not be denied, and I called Anna to see if she wanted to go scream her lungs out for the McKinley High Glee Club. Like I even needed to ask!
The concert was amazing. Anna and I had perma-grins the whole show.

A few highlights—

The 11-year-old girls behind us were hysterical. When Mercedes was singing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”, one of the girls wholeheartedly agreed with the words “Damn straight.” I laughed the rest of the song.

Cliché as it sounds, Lea Michele’s voice gave me chills. Someday I want to see her as a lead on Broadway.

Kurt and Puck being in character the whole time.

Kurt walking in armadillo heels better than I walk barefoot.

The random humming, ooooing, etc. that leads in many Glee scenes also led some songs in and out. It was hilarious, awesome, and a dozen other things.

A few of our favorite boys – Puck, Finn, and Kurt (plus one of the cute boys who never really speaks) walked in front of us (we’re talking ten feet—that’s it) during Rachel’s amazing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” number

Seeing Jane Lynch aka Sue Sylvester doing a completely different gig on Citywalk outside Universal Studios. So random, but of course, Glee is always with us.

This was solely a “New Directions” performance – no adults. No Mr. Shuster. No Miss Sylvester. That meant instead, hilarious clips to lead in certain points of the show. Brilliant one-liners. As Anna said, there’s just too many to pick from.

The much hated Jesse made a guest appearance (being in L.A. helps). As much as we don’t love Jesse, John Groff has an incredible voice.

The singing, the dancing....ALL OF IT basically.

Here are the songs they performed in no particular order with the exception of the opening and closing.

Don't Stop Believin'
Push It
Bust Your Windows
Sweet Caroline
Dancing With Myself
Defying Gravity
True Colors
Don't Rain On My Parade
My Life Would Suck Without You
Like A Prayer
Lady Is A Tramp
Bad Romance
That Boy Is Mine
Halo/Walking On Sunshine
Confession/It's My Life
Somebody To Love

I could go on forever about this, especially with the high we were all on after this week’s past episode that included the stirring rendition of “Dream On” and the mesmerizing “I Dreamed a Dream.” So good, so fun, so perfectly GLEEful.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So Many Things to Love

The sound of a work contact who is based in Toronto saying “Sorry” in an message and having the exactly same accent as Gilbert Blythe.

Getting a card from Karleen with a DAR magnet inside. Can’t wait to room with her in the fall.

Watching the latest Mae video that Jewels has sent. She laughs and sings all the time. She is an adorable mini version of her mom.

Adoring Baby Ruby. Hill’s latest wonder has finally arrived, and she is beautiful.

Savoring yogurt with Tracy and Rachel. It may only be for an hour, but every minute with those girls is restorative.

Listening to the waves pound against the sand on Ruby pier in Malibu after the sun has slipped beneath the horizon.

Driving over to Maria’s. Of course, being at her house or out with her is even better, but knowing that we live 2.4 miles away from each other is pretty amazing.

Spending the last two hours of “the block” at home with my dad. I’ve never known him to slip out which made those hours feel like stolen time.

This is just beginning, but moral of the story is that I live a very blessed life. Love you!

The Beginning of the End

Stars are falling out of the sky. Pigs are circling overhead. Hell has frozen over. The world, as we know it, is ending. Okay – that’s a bit dramatic, but my world as I know it may not be “ending” these times, they are a-changin’. How exactly? I’m giving up the wonder that is bubbly beverages and all that wonderful caffeine that goes into those beverages. I’m not saying that I’m never going to have a Diet Coke again, but it certainly is not going to be an every day or even every week occurrence.
Consider this your warning though that as I wean myself off of diet soda over the course of the next few weeks that snarkiness levels will skyrocket. Eye rolling will occur against my will, and hands may shake without my permission. See you on the flip side.


Blue has been my favorite color as long as I can remember. Sure – I’m love with the perfect shade of calla lily or hydrangea green or iced plum. Deep, deep pink is amazing too. But at the end of the day, it’s blue that I love most. And check it out – I finally gave in to my love of blue and bought a blue car to replace my totaled charcoal gray one. Isn’t she pretty? I love how the color sparkles in the sun. Can’t wait to show you in person.

My L.A.

I have already been in Los Angeles for over a month and still I’ve hardly said what I’ve been up to. This is mostly because I live my at-home life without the internet, and hello-I’ve been out enjoying Southern California.

My life here is relatively simple. I get up every morning to the sound of scratching paws on wood floors (why mention that detail? If you don’t know me by now, you’ll never know me. I love 80s music by the way.) I dress in that professional get-up that is supposed to inspire professional conduct. I drive on the 10 with thousands of my closest friends while listening to the latest podcast (“Stuff You Should Know” is my favorite) or audio book (loving “Poisonwood Bible” – I’m just a decade behind getting on that bandwagon). I arrive at the Staples Center and go in a back entrance that lets me wind through the arena. I work at a table surround on all sides by other people and answer my phone with, “L.A. Clippers, this is Jaclyn” as though I’ve always answered my phone that way. I leave work dreaming of the ocean and make my way down the 10 towards my house or towards Maria’s for Glee or for a random drive down the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway. Every day, I have to pinch myself to realize that I’m actually here. Who ever would have thought?