February Favorites and Fluff

Groundhog found fog. New snows and blue toes. Fine and dandy for Valentine candy. Snow spittin’, if you’re not mitten-smitten, you’ll be frostbitten! By jing-y feels spring-y.
— Old Farmer's Almanac

-If you don’t already follow tonydetroit on Instagram you are missing some of the most gorgeous, disturbing, breathtaking photos of Detroit. I’m telling you the man is a poet with the camera. And follow his friend/girlfriend/or wife? _nazgul, whose photographs are equally as good.
-Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. A great discussion book for book clubs and high school English classes. What happens when 99.9% of the planet’s population is wiped out by a flu pandemic? The people who survive must live with the knowledge of all that was lost. Those born into the new world order know nothing but the stark reality of survival. It’s fascinating and sad at the same time. Gigantic themes abound like the role of religion, Shakespeare, the meaning of life, music, community, and what it means to survive.
-I’m in need of a new Nancy Meyers’ film. She’s the writer/director of The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give, and It’s Complicated (among others). I love her strong female characters with awesome careers and living in these fantastic homes. They’re usually hamstrung with relationship issues, but the set designs are to die for. Check out a few of them here http://www.domainehome.com/new-nancy-meyers-film-sets-2014. And a quick Google search indicates she is coming out with The Intern this year! Yeah.
-Speaking of films, I’ve seen a few of the Oscar contenders and loved if not whole then parts of all of them.
AMERICAN SNIPER: confirms what a horror war is and its effects on soldiers and their families. Period. Not a fan of the us against them reaction this film has stirred up. Once again, isn’t there a middle ground? A gray area where intelligent discourse can prevail? Snipers as inherently evil or cowards? Not unless you’re a top a bell tower at the University of Texas shooting down students. Or Lee Harvey Oswald with a rifle in the Texas Book Depository. Or some crazy lunatic shooting at cars from a freeway overpass. Otherwise, in a war zone, that’s part of someone’s job description. Shoot the bad guys before they shoot us. Most of us hate everything about war. But aim the harsh words toward the people in power who send American troops into battle under false pretenses and the same powerful who redeploy the same men and women over and over again much to the detriment of the soldier’s sanity and the upheaval it causes in families. Okay, I’ll stop.
BIRDMAN: I loved it for its weirdness and unique story telling. And it was written for Michael Keaton. It’s as if the camera is perched (like a bird, ha ha) on the character’s shoulder. And as dark as it seems to get in places, the movie surprises—especially the ending.
BOYHOOD: Again, unique and not overly sentimental. I thought the whole cast was perfect. It was shot over twelve years of a boy’s life. An article I read in The Wall Street Journal brought up an interesting aspect of the movie I didn’t think of. The movie, a look at one boy’s coming of age, also chronicles the life of girlhood, that being the boy’s sister. As Mason grows from a shy little kid into a high school graduate with his future ahead of him, his sister, Samantha starts out as a strong and gregarious young girl into a tentative young woman expected to help take care of her brother.
-I loved the book, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, and I loved the movie adaptation. Reese Witherspoon, nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, does a great job as a young woman grieving the death of her mother
while trying to figure out who and what she wants from life as she walks over a thousand miles on the Pacific Coast Trail in the mid-1990s.
-INTERSTELLAR: I felt kind of stupid throughout the astrophysics part (jeez, I wasn’t even remotely okay at algebra) so that leveled me down to size for most of the movie—but the scenery from space and the actual story was beautiful and frightening and believable for me. Lots of gravity and relativity conversations. And then also conversations on love and loneliness and survival and what it means to be a family. See it on the big screen.
-I miss The Affair. The Showtime series ended its first season, and I’m anxiously awaiting the second. I’m writing about an affair in my novel and the push pull of guilt and desire. Since I’ve never had one (an affair) I’m stealing a lot of ideas from this series.
-This is award season for movies and music. I usually don’t get revved up about winners and losers but Frances McDormand was robbed when she lost Best Actress in a Mini-Series. Her portrayal of Olive Kitteridge is classic.
-Speaking of music, who is over that spoiled brat, Kanye West? I wish Kanye and Kim would go away for a long while. I’m sick of his rants about who should get what award, and I’m more than sick of seeing or hearing about Kim’s larger than life rear end.
-Last month my kids and husband turned me on to Spotify. I’m hooked. Just this week I’ve listened to new artists (to me) Chet Faker and D’Angelo. It’s like working in the record store all over again with the ability to discover new artists and songs.
-Say what you will about Howard Stern’s radio show on Sirius, but the man knows how to conduct an interview and has landed several big ones recently—Bill Murray and Lady Gaga to name a couple. I turn it off during all the penis and boob jokes. They sound stupid coming from a 50 plus year old man. But when it comes to the interview part of the show Stern does his research and knows his subject before they sit down on the infamous couch.
-Because we can. An impromptu get together for dinner with the One Brainers (minus one). There’s no better way to spend a frigid February night than drinking wine and laughing with these ladies. And on a Tuesday! I’m so fortunate to have them in my life.
-When I’m lucky enough to get to New York City my favorite thing to do besides walk and walk and walk is to see something on Broadway or Off Broadway. I forget what wonderful plays occasionally come to Detroit’s Fisher Theatre. Thanks to an invite from a girlfriend with season tickets we’ll see Once tomorrow night.
-Talking on the phone with my oldest and listening to her passionately discuss planting a flower garden up at our lake house. Sigh! Spring and summer will come eventually. But please hurry up!
-Sitting on the beautiful lanai of our friends’ condo on the Gulf. My God, the colors of the water and the mesmerizing sound of the waves are meditative and awe-inspiring. The older I get the more I appreciate our natural world.
-What is up with the excellent short story collections being published these days? Just a few years ago story collections were the bane of writers and agents shopping manuscripts. Nobody wanted them because they “didn’t sell” and even the NY Times stated that story collections were “often the underappreciated literary cousins of novels.” I’ve got a pile of these little cousins ready to read in the month of March. They include Thunderstruck by Elizabeth McCracken, Honeydew by Edith Pearlman, Happy Are the Happy by Yasmina Resa, Redeployment by Phil Klay (reading this now), Almost Famous
Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman, and There’s Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter, one of my favorite authors.
-I was sorry to read that a favorite blog, Beyond the Margins, was ending. The posts by the Grub Street writers were inspiring, insightful, and informative. It will be missed.
-We’re 37 days out until spring. But who’s co