Sunday, December 25, 2011

The House of Christmas

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.



-G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Crash into me

Jules was in town this weekend. It was a quick trip, but long enough for our annual Nutcracker excursionWhite Christmas viewing whilst drinking large quantities of tea, and some Christmas shopping. We had a great weekend, save for one tragic occurence:

???

What's that, you ask?  Let's take a closer look.


WTF?

Monday, December 12, 2011

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks

I've been slow to get into the Christmas season this year, for some reason.  Maybe because it's been one of the warmest D.C. Decembers in recent memory, or because November was so busy, I feel like there should be an extra month left before Christmas. Whatever the reason, it's been a slower to hit me this year, though my tree is decorated, I've attended my annual Nutcracker performance with Jules, watched White Christmas (multiple times), and nearly finished my shopping.
  
Last night, I had left my office and was headed for the Metro station, my mind on the conversation I'd just had with my insurance agent and my grocery list and, oh yeah, must remember to reschedule that dentist appointment. As I trudged up 19th Street, I heard a brass quintet arrangement of "What Child Is This?" faintly wafting from near the station, but I didn't think much of it.  Hearing music isn't unusual in this area, considering the buskers (of varying levels of talent), some of whom play with recorded tracks, and, occasionally, music coming from a loudspeaker somewhere.
  
The closer I got, the more real it seemed. It sounded live, but it was too good, too in tune and in sync to be a group of street musicians. But I got to the station entrance and, lo and behold, there stood a brass quintet--inner city high school students, from what I could tell--playing carols for the commuters.  An instrument case was open in front of them ("TUITION," joked a hastily-scrawled sign), overflowing with bills and change, and numerous people paused to listen before hurrying on their ways.
  
I've never been stopped in my tracks by the music of a street musician before--and I rarely take the time to dig out my wallet for spare bills--but these five young men, cheerfully chit-chatting with interested commuters on a cold December evening and filling the air with the sweet sound of carols, yanked me straight out of my preoccupied haze and into the Christmas spirit.
  
'Tis the season. Finally.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Never too late


Proving that it's never too late in life to have new experiences, my great uncle, who is in his late 70s, attended his first rock concert last weekend. And today, I read this amusing anecdote in The New York Times' Metropolitan Diary section:
Recently, I was at the City Bakery enjoying a bowl of oatmeal. Soon two women of   my vintage (silver-haired, slowish of step, sensibly shod) sat down next to me.
I’m not sure what I expected of their conversation: perhaps an anecdote concerning a grandchild, or the results of a recent bridge game.
Instead, one said to the other, with great enthusiasm, “So how was the BeyoncĂ© concert?” [The New York Times]
I can only hope that when I'm "silver-haired" and "slowish of step" that I'm having conversations like this. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

So this happened...

My sister got married, ya'll.



It was awesome and beautiful and fun. The weather was perfect.

West Virginia State Capitol Building

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Life List: Memorize 25 poems (#1)

My first encounter with Emily Dickinson, at least that I remember, was in ninth grade English. Our old, strange, awesome teacher, Mr. Colonell, had us explicate a bunch of poems, including several by Dickinson, and in most cases, I only remember the first few lines.  But this one stuck with me.


1129
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —


*In the interest of full disclosure, I did have to look up capitalizations and the poem number. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Just sayin' hello

Happy Friday, everyone!  

What are your plans for the weekend?  I'm meeting a friend for dinner and The Ides of March tonight and planning to run errands, work on some of my capital-p Projects, and make a dent in this month's book club book while consuming more apple cider than is probably wise.  All while listening to this Laura Marling concert on repeat.

It's to be a beautiful weekend here in D.C. Hope yours is, too!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

UPDATE: The 50 Books Project

Hello! What's up, buttercups?  I tell ya what, it's just been a thrill a minute over here recently. For instance, at present I'm sitting on my couch, in pigtails, drinking orange juice out of a crystal goblet, and watching Friends onDemand. I mean, yes, I COULD be out seeing that Contagion movie, but--as I told my friend Angela--I am exactly the right combination of informed and paranoid for that to be a really bad idea.  And did I mention the Friends?

But anyway. Besides all the Friends-watching (there has been a lot of it), I've been working on various capital-P Projects (some wedding related, others in an attempt to rid my apartment of many ancient issues of Real Simple), making 'Countdown to "Downton Abbey"'s Season 2 Premiere in the U.S.' calendars, and searching for gold wedding-appropriate shoes online.  And spending too much time on Pinterest.

Also reading. The 50 Books Project continues apace, to the point where the adorable, rather dorky fellow at my neighborhood library doesn't even have to ask my name when I pop in to pick up the books I have on hold. It's my very own Cheers. Some people are known at their neighborhood bar. I am known at the library.

Anyway, I am ahead of pace with the reading, and I think I'm likely to exceed my goal for the year. I've been reading a lot of different types of stuff, including, randomly, a good bit of young adult fiction. There is some quality literature out there for youth, which is nice to know.  It's not all Twilight.

Anyway, I'm currently 43 books down. Here are a few of the highlights:

One Day: This book is the story of two people who meet on the evening of their graduation from college. It follows them through their lives, year by year, in the anniversary of the day they met. I loved it, except for a part about two chapters from the end, when I literally threw the book across the room. But it redeemed itself at the end. (A movie version of this came out recently starring Anne Hathaway, and while I don't really feel particularly strongly about her in general, I am MOST displeased with this casting decision.)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson (John Green/David Levithan): Hard to explain, but a great young adult novel.

Caleb's Crossing (Geraldine Brooks): Brooks, who I've mentioned before, is possibly my favorite contemporary author. This book, her most recent--it only came out in May-- is a fictionalized account of the first Native American student to graduate from Harvard in the 1600s. Brooks is a particular favorite of all of the members of my book club. We all went to hear her speak here in DC a few weeks before the book was released, and and was our pick a few months ago.

The Lacuna (Barbara Kingsolver): This was another book club pick. Most of us had read and loved The Poisonwood Bible, and no one tells  a story quite like Kingsolver, so we thought we'd give another if her novels a try. Dramatically different from Poisonwood, though no less dramatic, The Lacuna is about communism, identity, loyalty, Mexico, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. It's long, it's complex, and it's thoroughly engrossing.

The entire Hunger Games trilogy (Suzanne Collins): I was so enamored of both of the first two Hunger Games books that I forced myself to save the third one for the beach. I hate that they're over, but hey, at least a movie version is in the works!

The FitzOsbornes in Exile (Michelle Cooper): Early this year, I read A Brief History of Montmaray, the first book in the trilogy, and i've eagerly awaited the release of the second one. It has also contributed to my current obsession with early 20th-century England, though I mostly blame that on "Downton Abbey."

I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith): This book is pretty old, compared to most of what I've been reading. I think it came out in the 1940s.  Loved it for much of the same reason I loved FitzOsbornes in Exile. It's similar in theme, too.

So what have you all been reading? Any recommendations?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Recently, on Twitter (part deux)

When I haven't been here, I've been over on the Twitter. Turns out, my feed is basically a very brief recap of my summer.  

Lengthy dinner with my sister makes me wish she lived here so we could do this regularly.

Sadness is realizing you've run out of cheese.

Just experienced my Annual @KenCen Honors Announcement YouTube Black Hole, wherein I watch clips from years past & lose all track of time.

If I was the poor schmuck who had to play Roger Federer starting at MIDNIGHT, I'd just forfeit before the match even started. #USOpen

Engaged in standoff w giant cicada. Staring at crack under bedroom door, boot in hand. Bug is on other side of door. Could take a while.

I'm mildly horrified by the number of hours I've spent watching tennis in the past two days. #USOpen
[Ed. Note: TWENTY-ONE HOURS of tennis over the course of Labor Day weekend. I'm not proud of it.]

Aaand we just had an earthquake...I think.
[Ed. Note: We had. Perhaps you heard? It was a bit of A Thing on the east coast.]

I am having a religious experience with this cannoli. #Boston #MikesPastries

Brunch on VT farm, small-town coffee shop, road trip, dinner in Boston, Friends with Benefits, strawberries, catching up w/Jay, bed.

Do you use the word "buzzkill" when talking to your doctor? No? Just me?

OF COURSE I get the hot young senior resident the day I'm wearing old underwear. And of course I have to put on an exam gown. #bummer

Swimming world championships on tv! Where is my boyfriend Aaron Peirsol?
[Ed. Note: RETIRED!  He has retired. What is the point of the Summer Olympics if I don't have Aaron Peirsol to ogle cheer on?]

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Life List: See Dolly Parton in concert.

On Sunday night, two petite blonde superstars performed in/near D.C. One of them was Britney Spears. The other was, in all ways, the anti-Britney.



See Dolly Parton in concert. Check.


As an Appalachian girl, I grew up with an appreciation for the force of nature that is Dolly Parton. I went to Dollywood. I sang "9 to 5" with my high-school girlfriends. I defended her to those who made fun of her hair and, um, unusual physique (not that I need to--she makes plenty of fun of herself). Because the truth is that behind the Botox and under the bleached bouffant is a funny, kind, generous, brilliant woman who has written and sung some amazing songs. Dolly IS east Tennessee, and when you're from there, it's second nature to defend her with everything you have.


I went with three friends, all fellow Appalachia natives, to see her last night at Wolf Trap. We took an old quilt and a picnic. The stars were out, a light breeze kept the hot summer night comfortable, and an incredibly diverse crowd filled every available seat and spot of grass in the 7,000+ capacity venue.


Dolly performed for 2.5 hours. "This sounds like home!" my friend Shelley cried, as the first bars of the first song started. Dolly played all her old favorites, songs from her new album, and some excellent covers. She, rather awesomely, rapped. She played nine, yes nine, instruments (fiddle, guitar, banjo, auto harp, dulcimer, recorder, piano, harmonica, and, to our great surprise, saxophone). She had every last person in the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand.


It was unforgettable. She is unforgettable.



If you can forgive the shakiness, this version of "Coat of Many Colors" was recorded at the show I saw. Song starts at about 0:30.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Recently, on Twitter

When I haven't been here, I've been over on the Twitter...and also apparently watching a lot of television, if my feed is to be believed.


So. We need to talk about Downton Abbey. #PBS #amazing #MaggieSmithIsAwesome

Ya'll! Melanie from So You Think You Can Dance is from Marietta, GA!

Okay, yes, fine, I TOO am glued to the Casey Anthony verdict.

I tell ya what, that Bjorn Borg is a silver fox. (@Wimbledon)

Last night I read literally all of #Bossypants cover to cover. Oh, Tina Fey.

So, uh, how can you tell if you've broken your toe? #justcurious #ouch

I don't know if purgatory exists, but if so, I bet it's a lot like the DC DMV Inspection Station.

Highlight of NJ wedding weekend was Shelley & Ed's rendition of Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers classic "A Christmas to Remember." 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Life List: Eat at Le Bernardin. Buy a hot dog from a street vendor.

Okay! So. New York. Pardon the delay. The thing about traveling with your friends is that you never know who ended up with which photos, until you get home and realize you have four hundred photos of seafood from the fish market....and very little else. Hence, I've been tracking down pictures from my traveling companions. So without further ado...


Last month's New York trip was a rousing success for many reasons, not the least of which was that, in the first 12 hours, I knocked two items off the Life List:  


Eat at Le Bernardin. Check.
Buy a hot dog from a street vendor. Check.
In fact, pretty much all we did in New York was eat and drink stuff:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Time is wastin', time is walkin'


The Locomotion (Kylie Minogue version) 
Kylie Minogue releases her cover of the old favorite the year I'm in kindergarten. Day after day, we build small "stages" with the wooden blocks in our classroom and use the short, round, dowel-like sticks as microphones. None of us know what "locomotion" is, but the song sure is catchy.

Baby Baby (Amy Grant) 
During our summer visits, my sister and cousins and I choreograph elaborate dances in their music room, and it is very hush-hush--NO GROWNUPS ALLOWED. One afternoon, as we're rocking out to Amy Grant, I spot a tiny red light at the top of the stairs leading into the room. Our aunt is lying on her stomach in the dark, secretly videotaping our antics. We shriek and yell, and she laughs and laughs. 

Time (Hootie and the Blowfish) 
The concept of "wingman" has not yet been introduced to us, but I find myself in that role at the seventh grade dance. My friend is dancing with Brad, on whom she has a tremendous crush, and I am forced to take one for the team to dance with his friend Chris. Both of us are less than thrilled at this development and we are the definition of awkwardness, hands on hips and shoulders, arms locked at the elbows, shuffling reluctantly from foot to foot. I think to myself that this is the worst song EVER for a slow dance. When the music mercifully ends, I am furious with my friend, not only because I had to dance with Chris, but because she has nearly ruined Hootie and the Blowfish for me.

I Swear (All-4-One) 
In effort to hold our attention amidst the marches and waltzes, our sixth-grade band director programs All-4-One's current hit on our spring concert. It opens with a big trumpet solo, performed by JS, with whom I am in the midst of a tumultuous, on-again-off-again "relationship." (Though we are "going out," we rarely acknowledge each other in public and endure incessant teasing by his six-year-old-sister.) My 11-year-old heart finds it impossibly romantic, as if he is playing the song just for me. (Years later, I tell him this story, and he laughs so hard that he nearly sprays soda through his nose.)

Half Moon Rising (Yonder Mountain String Band) 
Sophomore year of college, I meet a guy who grew up an hour from my hometown--the closest of anyone I've met so far at school. Because I am, in his view, woefully ignorant of "good" bands, he makes me piles of mix CDs full of music from the sublime to the, um, less sublime. But between before-he-was-famous Jason Mraz and Kalai (and, randomly, some old-school George Michael), he slips in this anthem to the mountains where we grew up. It reminds me of home, and I listen to it over and over and over.

Livin' on a Prayer (Bon Jovi) 
The Bon Jovi concert is winding down, and G is on the edge of a righteous fit -- they have not played her song. But finally, as the unmistakable chords begin, the crowd -- and G -- figure out what's coming. Twenty-thousand people belt the chorus to Livin' on a Prayer at the tops of their lungs, and it is without question a religious experience of its own kind.


**Thanks to Alice for the post idea.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New York recap: a teaser

Ya'll, I have SO MUCH TO SAY about last weekend's fan-freakin'-tastic New York trip. But I am on deadline this week, so it'll have to wait until the weekend.  But for now, please enjoy the few rather random--and not very good--photos that I took with my Blackberry. They are not particularly representative of the trip as a whole, but they should lend some insight into the variety of shenanigans that we got ourselves into (...."into which we got ourselves"? Hm.)

During the cab ride to the hotel, a Dudamel sighting on the scaffolding
at Carnegie Hall: an auspicious start to the trip

Coffee and chocolate bouchons at Bouchon Bakery

Ashley, the Nutella Ambassador of the Midwest,
finds a lifetime supply of it at Chelsea Market
Trio with bison
(I thought we were doing "weird faces," but apparently not)


"Still Life with Bison"
(A display at West Elm. Bison sold separately.)
Anyway.  More to come!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Here comes trouble

Well, well.  Look who's decided to join Ashley and me in New York next weekend.


She's a little teapot (though is neither short nor stout).
We will probably take lots of nutty photographs like this one, though to my knowledge there is a shortage of Disney-themed shrubbery in New York City.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Life List

For a while now, I've been working on assembling my Life List -- things to do, experience, or achieve before I die.  At first it was a little daunting, but it ended up being rather enjoyable. 

The great thing about a project like this is that it's always active, and I can continually add and update things.  In my case, the list is also retroactive.  I've been fortunate enough to experience certain things in my relatively short life that--if they hadn't already happened--I would have included anyway.  They are listed as completed items. So without further ado.....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Anticipation, part 2

I would like to thank Jules for ruining the game for the rest of you, because she correctly guessed all of the photo locations. Either she is very good at Pictionary or she knows me really well.  Honorable mention goes to Aunt Jane, who thought that photo #2 was Russia. I wish.  But points for creativity, Aunt Jane! 

The answers, for those of you who are keeping score, are after the jump:

I like cheese = Gonzaga for the win

If this Facebook conversation is any indication, my old high school pal and I have different approaches to filling out our NCAA tournament brackets.


Jonathan: Printed out RPI, SOS, Pomerory rankings. Going to make the perfect bracket!
Me: Sounds complicated. I mostly just pick based on which mascots I like best and who has the prettiest school colors.
Me: Or which school names I like (i.e. Gonzaga reminds me of gorgonzola, which is delicious cheese). Which might explain why I rarely do well in my office pool.
Jonathan: Your bracket will probably be much better than mine.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Heard: Flying bears edition

Some of you may remember my good friend J, who made periodic blog appearances back in the day before he moved away and left me in D.C., bereft and weeping. (Not really.)  Yesterday we were discussing my upcoming trip to see Company with the New York Philharmonic (and Neil Patrick Harris).  His level of enthusiasm did not match mine, to say the least.


J: But it's a musical, and those are the third scariest things in the world behind flying and bears.
Me: ...
J: And don't get me started on flying bears.


Well.  Hmph.  I suppose we can't all be musical theater nerds.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Anticipation

In the last couple of days, spring and summer plans are starting to develop.  Is there anything better than the anticipation of a great getaway? 

I'm have a number of exciting trips in the works, of varying lengths. Some hints:

#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7

Any guesses?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Very important topic

Forget Qaddafi, Charlie Sheen, and the potential government shutdown.  I know you've all been waiting for my thoughts on the Most Important News Item of Our Time or At Least This Week, which is that Hines Ward--Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, Super Bowl MVP and two-time champion, and owner of one knee-weakening smile--is going to be on the new season of Dancing with the Stars.

I know, I can't believe it either.  This is worrisome, because it means that I am going to have to start watching the show again.  I gave it up a couple of seasons ago (in favor of So You Think You Can Dance, admittedly) because it was just too much of a time commitment.  It is, in fact, rather like American Idol in that way--multiple hours per week, a results show that is filled entirely with fluff until the last four minutes when they reveal who has been cut, and "very special performances" by artists of varying levels of talent and contemporary relevance (dancers from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, yes.  Michael Bolton?  I think not).

Anyway.  Athletes generally fare well in the competition--witness the three Olympic gold medalists who have won: Kristi Yamaguchi (gold medalist in figure skating), Apolo Anton Ohno (multiple medalist in short track speed skating), and Shawn Johnson (gold medalist in gymnastics)--and of course recent Olympic gold medal figure skater Evan Lysacek, who came in a very close second this last season.

Football players, current and retired, are nothing new on Dancing with the Stars, though their talent level has varied widely.  Emmitt Smith won Season 3 (controversial though it was), Jets linebacker Jason Taylor was runner up to Kristi Yamaguchi in Season 6, and legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice was runner up in Season 2.  They were all quite good.  Retired Raiders and Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp even made it to the top three in Season 7, though I maintain that he had no business making it as far as he did.  

So anyway, it could go either way. I will be watching, at least for the first few weeks, because I can't NOT cheer (and vote) for the delightful Hines Ward.

Hines "Twinkle Toes" Ward

Friday, February 25, 2011

Things That Are Awesome: NPR's First Listen

One of the great things about working for a performing arts company is that everyone, to a person, loves music.  And not just loves it, but has definite opinions about it, has their own preferences.  We're all reformed band and chorus nerds, vocal performance majors or conservatory graduates, who now work in arts administration.  Our executive assistant is an honest to goodness opera singer who also conducts her church gospel choir.  The production manager is a fan of classic rock, but has, since he began working here, been developing a deep appreciation for great classical music.  (A vocal recital by a famous mezzo-soprano last week utterly floored him.)  You're as likely to hear Strauss symphonies coming from the office of the director of classical programming as The Decemberists.

I spend my days alternating between Pandora, Grooveshark, and D.C.'s local classical station.  But recently, I've become obsessed with the music offerings on NPR's website, notably the Tiny Desk Concerts (best name ever) and First Listen. 

First Listen, for instance, is entirely responsible for my new obsession with Adele and her new album 21, which I listen to daily.  As I type this, I'm streaming the new album by a group called The Low Anthem, who I'd never heard of until this morning.  They played in DC last night and caused my Facebook feed to explode with rapturous posts. And, if you're a regular Tiny Desk Concert watcher/listener, you probably weren't at all surprised at jazz bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding's recent Best New Artist win at the Grammys. The music editors over there in the NPR music department clearly have their fingers on the pulse of music scene today--from soul to jazz to punk rock to classical. The program archives are brimming with amazing artists, some you've heard of, some you haven't yet but will soon.

So. Need to bring a little joy to your workday? Check out Tiny Desk Concerts and First Listen series.  There's something for everyone! 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Impulse buys

Picture it: it's late on a Saturday night, and two 20-something women are sitting at home, 900 miles away from each other, each peering anxiously at their respective computer screens and closely monitoring the text messages on their phones.

Some background: in perusing the theater and concert options for a possible trip to New York this spring, I stumbled across this.  I had heard that NPH was doing Company with the New York Philharmonic, but I had not yet seen the rest of the cast listing: Anika Noni Rose, Martha Plimpton, and... the amazing Patti LuPone.

I sent Ashley an email: "Ha ha, we should go to this! You're obsessed with Sondheim, I adore Neil Patrick Harris. Let's do it!" I was mostly kidding, as Ash lives in Missour-ah, and I live in D.C.  And really, who randomly buys concert tickets--to a nearly sold-out show in another part of the country--on a Saturday night with no advance planning?  That's just crazy talk.

Then I left to meet friends for dinner.  But little did I know, somewhere between the crusty bread and the tiramisu, Jason (Ash's husband) caught wind of my hairbrained idea, handed her a credit card, and said, "Go buy the tickets."  Because among Jason's many excellent qualities is that he is an enabler. 

But! Problem: what about Jules? Let's call Jules! No answer. Let's text Jules! No answer. Let's text Jules' HUSBAND, Michael, and have him tell her to call us.  Which is how, by 11pm East Coast time, we wound up staring at our computers, desperately hoping that the handful of remaining tickets remaining in our price category didn't disappear before we had a chance to buy them. Luckily, Jules got our frantic message and called, wondering why we were wigging out at nearly midnight on a weekend.

By midnight, we had the tickets and an inability to sleep due to the excitement. 

So. Yesterday I bought a pair of shoes I don't really need and ungodly expensive tickets to a show in New York. How was YOUR Saturday?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The 50 Books Project

My old high school friend Brian is in town, and last night he came over for chili and Spirited Conversation, which is our specialty. We spent high school firmly entrenched on the opposite ends of the political and theological spectrums and would argue for hours over everything from the 2000 presidential candidates to whether the sky is blue. He is one of my most loyal and awesome friends, and we can talk for hours.  Last night we covered:
  • Hockey (If you had to pick, who would you draft, Ovechkin or Crosby?)
  • The Harry Potter books (Which is the best and why?)
  • Public scandal by famous figures (specifically Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, and the Dixie Chicks)
  • The relevance of the British royal family (contemporary vs historical)
  • Gustavo Dudamel (What? I can work him in anywhere.)
  • Marriage, and regional attitudes toward it
  • Oscar-nominated films (Which is more deserving of Best Picture, The King's Speech or The Social Network? Neither of us have seen Black Swan.)
  • Books
Which brings me to the point of this post. I'm not much for new year's resolutions, as I generally abandon them two weeks into the year, but this year I set a goal for myself.  After a relatively lazy year of reading in 2010, I've commenced what I've dubbed The 50 Books Project. In 2011, I resolve to read at least 50 books--nearly one a week.  I feel that it's a realistic goal, notwithstanding the fact that one of the books on my to-read pile is--still--the 1,488-page A Suitable Boy. That alone will take me a month at the least.  So I've got work to do.

I'm keeping track of my reading through the very addictive Goodreads, with which I am obsessed, and so far I've read six books this year:

Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel)
Safe Passage (I. Cook)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (R. Skloot) -- Fascinating, thought-provoking study on medical ethics and race relations.
Eighteen Acres (N. Wallace)
One Day (D. Nicholls) -- Loved, until three chapters from the end, when I nearly threw it out the window.  But then I loved it again.
The Hunger Games (S. Collins) -- Ya'll.  This book.  I hadn't heard of the Hunger Games trilogy until the third one came out a few months ago and people were like "FINALLY! IT'S HERE!" Clearly I'd missed something.  But oh, this book. I read it in 24 hours.  So, so excellent.

So tell me, everyone, what have you read and loved recently?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Things that happened this weekend

I did my taxes.

I read the entirety of the first Hunger Games book, which was seriously excellent.

The Steelers won the AFC Championship and are going to the Super Bowl, HELL YEAH, leading to a flurry of text messages amongst the family and a discussion with my 18-year-old cousin about the extreme attractiveness of coach Mike Tomlin.
 
My sister got engaged!  That actually happened Friday night, but I wasn't allowed to talk about it. But it's Facebook-official now, so word is out.  No date is set yet, but--combined with the other two weddings already on my calendar--it's gearing up to be The Year of the Wedding: Redux. Stay tuned!