Big screen: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings

Things I liked about this movie in order of liking them the most:

  1. Katy.
  2. The soundtrack. (Mostly the rap.)
  3. Xialing.
  4. The floating lanterns scene.
  5. Auntie Nan, Mom, and eventually Shawn’s fighting style.
  6. The “animals” we’ll call them.
  7. The videotape dude on the bus.
  8. The grandma at the beginning.
  9. The almost complete lack of food scenes (they eat twice in the entire movie?).
  10. The archery instructor.

As you can see, this movie was very badly titled since that character is not even in the top 10 reasons to see it. It’s most definitely just as much Katy and Xialing’s movie / story / journey as it is his. So while Marvel is getting maybe a little less racist (I mean, a little, there’s miles yet to go), they’re really not getting any less sexist. (This really goes for all movies, right?)

ETA: I must also point you to this New York Times review and say while it was an enjoyable way to spend two hours with a headache on a Sunday afternoon, this movie did not greatly improve my general thoughts about Marvel movies, superhero movies, cultural appropriation in Hollywood movies, or anything else. Heh.

À la Super Eggplant, currently I am…

Watching: The O-G CSI. I started back at the very, very beginning. HA. It’s wild how many episodes I’ve randomly seen surrounded by others I don’t remember at all. The joy of rewatching an old show like this is the constant popping up in the extras–people who are NOW famous who often were no one then. Oh wait–Voodoo Tatum! OMG a young Blake Lively! Oh look it’s the grandpa from Everwood. I mean, you always know that person is going to be either the killer or the victim. Also I am SO EXCITED to be back in movie theaters and last week I saw the quite odd, definitely disturbing, yet oddly compelling The Card Collector.

Reading: I am really burning through books these days now that I’m back on the bus AND modeling 15 minutes of silent reading for my students in three different classes. I’m up to 104 for the year, already past my annual goal. Some recent hits (linking to my Goodreads reviews) are Ladyparts, The Second Rebel and The Women of Troy. I’m also WAY back into poetry right now.

Listening to: I was listening to tunes every morning on the bus, but my latest refurbished iPod decided to die so I’ve been bereft for about a week. However, until that point I was REALLY into the new Big Red Machine, an EP by a band called Pronoun, the latest Liz Phair, lots of singles/EP releases from Yoke Lore, and I am also currently, bizarrely obsessed with the song “If I drink this beer” by Will Chase (as Luke Wheeler on Nashville, which I rewatched all of in July/August).

Writing: Lesson plans. Wasting time spelling out the 97 steps I already know how to do to teach what I need to teach. What a waste of veteran teacher time. I will admit, I think they should be required of new teachers. Lesson plans were very helpful to me the first few years, especially if I needed ideas to fill extra time (paralyzing!), or really know what I was going to teach. And if you had a mentor teacher, they gave you a base to start from. You could use them for reflection: what worked, what didn’t, Now I already know how to do all of that and it’s so stupid to have to write them out, especially when it’s become very clear that NO ONE is actually reading them.etc.

Cooking / Eating: Mid-school year, the cooking gets to be such a drag. I do it every weekend so that I keep adding to the options for my lunches, rotating through the freezer, but it’s so much more drudgery than it feels during the summer! Here’s a couple yummy recipes I added to the rotation in 2021. Also I have become OBSESSED with Magic Spoon cereal. I have all the but the newest flavors. My favorites are: 1) Fruity; 2) Frosty; 3) Cinnamon; 4) a tie between Blueberry and Strawberry; 5) Cookies & Cream. I did not like the peanut butter which kinda bummed me out but OH WELL I will just eat peanut butter on toast. Heh.

Drinking: I’ve gotten really into V-8 over the past week. Huh.

Sewing: New masks. I have a few other things cut out but I haven’t gotten to them.

Quilting: Thinking about it, but not doing it.

Knitting: Ditto.

What’re YOU up to? 🙂

Stuff Ya Wanna Watch

Here are some shows you should watch!

  • The Looming Tower — (Hulu) One season! I don’t 100% understand why all the salacious details of John O’Neill’s life were such a focus (and no one else?), but I really enjoyed this. All the acting was pretty great. Also, gee, I guess if we need to blame anyone for the breakdowns that led to 9/11, it’s pretty clear from this series which agency was at fault! (HINT: It’s not the FBI!)
  • Giri / Haji — (Netflix) Only one season, but I have my fingers crossed for more! Two Japanese brothers–one becomes a cop, one becomes a gangster. The cop is charged with going to London to apprehend his brother. There’s a sweet English lady detective (HA that cracked me up to write, so I will ignore the sexism for the sake of the laugh) that gets involved. It was so good. I loved it.
  • Episodes — (Netflix) Five seasons, but they’re only 7-9 episodes each (so basically one weekend, AM I RIGHT). This series is hilarious for any number of reasons, including the main theme which is Americans take everything British and then mess it up. Also: Matt LeBlanc is SUCH a better actor than a Friends’ fan (or a Friends’ hater) would ever know and it’s a DAMN SHAME that he has not been in really anything else of notice. He’s fantastic here.
  • The Unicorn — (Season 1 on Netflix; season 2 on Paramount Plus) Is there anything Walt Goggins can’t do? It’s a little sappy, a little predictable, and maybe a little annoying if you don’t give a shit about little kids, marriages, couples that are friends, etc. BUT WALT GOGGINS IS SO GOOD. Also his fellow-Justified alum Natalie Zea shows up in the second season and she’s just as fabulous and electric here as she was there.

ENJOY!

À la Super Eggplant, currently I am…

Watching: Every old episode of NCIS–ha! I started at season 1 at some point in December and now I’m up to season 11. I’ve got to say the post-Ziva episodes are…not great. But I had forgotten about Ellie Bishop and I really like her, so we’ll see.

Reading: I am in my usual “attempt to read every book that will be in the Tournament of Books in March” flurry of January reading. I had already read “Sharks in the Time of Saviors” by Kawaii Strong Washburn (LOVED IT! Mythic) and “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi (didn’t love it, recommend her previous book “Homegoing”!). I have now also read “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride (so good! lots of slapstick while still going super deep) and “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (fabulous). I started “We Ride Upon Sticks” by Quan Barry last night. It’s entertaining but a little uneven.

Listening to: I am re-listening to every single piece of music I bought in 2020 because I KNOW you are eagerly anticipating a report back on my favorite albums. I think I’m in March right now because I keep getting distracted. But it’s on my list to finish up this week!

Writing: Lesson plans. 2021 intentions poems. Not much really. 🙂 Heh.

Eating: I’m still cooking at TON from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbooks (Cravings and Cravings: Hungry for More). I like the second book better, partly because I got it first, and partly because of the font/layout (HA!, seriously). This weekend I made Jok Moo already and am whipping up some scalloped potatoes in a bit.

Drinking: Lots of bubbly water, which means…at least I am finally drinking water?* I still don’t love it but I probably drank 8x as much liquid in 2020 as in any year previously. Mostly I’m drinking mini-Cokes to help with my tummy which is in a bit of disarray. *For those who are unaware, I detest the taste of water. And yes, it has a taste.

Knitting: I just redove into a sweater that I started in January of 2018 (Lemongrass by Jojo Locatelli) using some Rowan Magpie yarn. Maybe 2021 will be the year I finish it! 🙂 The back and front are both done and it’s time to start the sleeves.

Quilting: I made a mini quilt for my mom’s bday, and I am finishing the binding on four mini-friendship log-cabin quilts for Secret Club. Feeling kinda productive quilt wise, frankly, since I also made six placemats (very mini quilts) for a friend in December!!

Sewing: I have the fabric ready to be cut out for three more Farrow dresses. But I want to finish up my quilts in progress first!

Focusing on: Trying not to freak out too much about how my job is planning to force us back to F2F teaching before we can get the virus… Trying not to focus on my impending death by coronavirus contraction via public transit as I have a 45-minute bus ride each way… TRYING.

There’s a lot going on around here, despite not leaving the house for 11 months at this point and being very miserably alone for 99.9% of the pandemic. What’s up with you????

Favorite Movies of the Decade

Sadly, oh so sadly,my moviegoing has seriously declined in the past couple years. So exhausted from working at school all week AND then working Saturdays. Lost a couple of my main movie-going pals and yes, yes, I know, I DO and WILL go to the movies alone. But when you’re already doing EVERYTHING ELSE ALONE, sometimes also going to a movie alone is just too. much. OK?

2009:
2009 was the summer of Hurt Locker (here and here), a masterpiece, District 9 and Inglorious Bastards. I also really liked Whip It! and The Young Victoria, both have which I have rewatched a million times at this point. I also loved Up in the Air, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Crazy Heart.

2010:
Winter’s Bone = fabulous and heartbreaking. The Town = oh wow, I have watched this movie SO many times. Love it. Rare Exports = best xmas movie ever.

2011:
The Guard (!!), Tree of Life (surprisingly b/c usually I hate that kind of crap) and Red State. (Here is where I ranked all the stuff I saw that year.)

2012:
Dang, a lot of good movies that year! Scanning that list now, I’d say the ones I remember as the best were Silver Linings Playbook (and I detest Bradley Cooper!), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (masterfully cinematic), Anna Karenina (the staging was SO cool), and A Separation.

2013:
All the good movies this year were INtense: Zero Dark Thirty, Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, but probably my very favorite was the Joss Whedon black & white Much Ado About Nothing. Utterly charming. Oh and of course I can’t forget to mention Fast & Furious 6. Duh.

2014:
Hands down, the best two movies of 2014 were Only Lovers Left Alive and Words & Pictures. There are images from those two still utterly imprinted on my mind. Stunning. (But here’s a long list of what I liked that year.) I’m still a sucker for Begin Again as well.

2015:
I saw The Danish Girl on the last night of the year and looooved it. I love both those actors so much. Spotlight was also fantastic movie making. Iris!! Clouds of Sil Maria was surprisingly lovely. And OF COURSE FURIOUS 7. RIP Paul Walker.

2016:
This is when my record keeping started to get really shady. The Arrival. Stunning.

2017:
OMG Atomic Blonde. FANTASTIC. The clothes, the sets, the FIGHTS. It was sooo good. Also Get Out. Wow.

2018:
BlacKKKlansman should have won the Oscar. Don’t even try to argue, no other movie from 2018, let alone many others years, can hold a candle to that masterpiece. I also loved Puzzle.

2019:
My favorite movie of 2019 was, hands down, Booksmart. Funniest, smartest movie possibly ever. I’ve got nothing but love for you, Booksmart. Also If Beale Street Could Talk was heartbreakingly fabulous.

Hoping to get my butt back into movie theaters in 2020 in a big way.

À la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

Watching: I just finished a rewatch/watch of One Tree Hill (I had only seen some of the first few seasons) and now I’m rewatching Firefly, which as you may know will hardly take any time at all. 🙁 I can’t figure out what I’ll watch next!

Reading: I’m about a third of the way through “Theft” by Peter Carey, which is definitely fun so far. I read quite a bit of Peter Carey back (BACK) in the day.

Listening to: Completely bingeing on Maggie Rogers “Heard It in a Past Life”, but also really obsessed with J.S. Ondara‘s “Tales of America.” It’s so good!

Writing: Sexy daydream poems on the bus, in the duplex form created by Jericho Brown (whose poems I’m obsessed with!).

Eating: Suddenly finding myself in sammy mode, I’ve been making nice big fat ones with ham, turkey, provolone, pickle slabs, roasted red peppers, giardinera, tomato, spinach and a little mayo. Oh yum they’re so good.

Drinking: So much lemonade I think it might be giving me acid reflux. Ha!

Knitting: Ah, nope. 🙁

Quilting: Also nope.

Sewing: Just made another tunic! And two more cut out. Let’s keep that momentum going…

Focusing on: Not spending any unnecessary money. Not bringing work home. Not staying at work beyond the hours I get paid for.

What’s up with you? 🙂

À la Super Eggplant, currently in March, I amwas…

Hey, here’s a post I drafted March 31 and never finished… Enjoy! HA!

Watching: In February, I watched (some re-, some fresh) all of Revenge. I figured out that I had only seen about 2.5 seasons originally. It got a little ridiculous (as those kind of shows do, especially once they start killing off characters) but I’ve been an Emily Van Camp fan since Everwood so I still enjoyed it. Now I’m rewatching White Collar. I mean you’ve got to find something to watch when all the current season shows go on what seems like the world’s most extended holiday break. I’m still loving Brooklyn 99 but, about to share an unpopular opinion warning, I hate (HATE! HATE!) the Doug Judy episodes so every time I see one, I have to take a few weeks break from that show! Chicago Fire has been pretty intense the past few weeks.

Reading: Since I last updated you (and the tournament began), I read another Rooster book “My Sister, the Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite. It was a lot of fun… but it still really surprised me that it wound up winning the whole thing. It was definitely unique, but the characters were all a little flat–no one ever looked at things from more than one side, and the lack of true astonishment over the happenings within was a bit amazing. I guess for Korede this has been going on long enough since before the book started, that any feelings she may have had like that are already gone. I also read a really good middle-grade novel about the war in Iraq (“Sunrise Over Fallujah” by Walter Dean Myers), a good horror book for bookclub that I then forgot to go to (“Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson), a silly but sweet middle grades graphic novel (“Ghostopolis” by Doug TenNapel) and a stand-alone Laurie King novel “Lockdown” passed on by my mom. It had a LOT of interlocking threads but I thought it was really good and not as sick or nasty as some of her stand-alone books are (you may know her from her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series). I’m currently reading book 3 of Sabaa Tahir’s “Ember in the Ashes” series “A Reaper at the Gates”. It’s been out for a while so I’m not totally sure what’s taken me so long to get to it. I am not loving it as much as I loved books 1 and 2, though. I’m not sure if it’s due to distance in time, or Elias and Laia’s changed roles or what. It feels a tiny bit flat.

À la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

Watching: All I’ve watched in the past week or so are the latest episodes of Blackish and New Amsterdam, and some NUMB3RS episodes from beloved season 1. Oh, and Yoga with Adrienne, as I’m doing her annual January challenge. I’ve only missed 3 days!

Reading: I finished another Rooster book and a YA sci fi novel (scroll back to previous posts or click on the “reading” category to see some comments) and tomorrow I get to start a new book, woo hoo. I believe it will be “The Italian Teacher” by Tom Rachmann which was the next thing on the Rooster list that I could grab at my library branch this weekend.

Listening to: hmmmm, I really haven’t done that much listening over the past couple of weeks. But I am obsessed with Rosalia and her videos. A mix of hip-hop sensibility and operatic emotion–so intriguing!

Eating: I made an old-favorite chicken tikka masala in the slow cooker (added in okra that had been cooked with onions and some spices) and a caufilower-sausage casserole in the oven (a new recipe), and sour cream chili bake from Cinnamon’s cookbook, so basically anything hot and heavy with tomatoes. 😉

Drinking: So! Much! Water! Yup, I still hate it.

Knitting: Haven’t done any in at least a week. Boo, hiss.

Quilting: Still nothing.

Sewing: Keep meaning to cut out a few things. Keep not doing it. At least with the Monday holiday, I’ll actually have a two-day weekend. Big plans, people, big plans!!

Focusing on: Not spending any money (I’m seriously tracking my no-spend days!), coming home from work RIGHT AWAY, and doing actual random adult things when I get home. No schoolwork on unpaid hours in 2019! Of course that’ll never happen–even our weekly lesson planning is on unpaid hours since we do it after school–but I’m trying to come out a bit better on my life-work balance this year as us old ladies just can’t hang with the insane work weeks.

What’s up with you? 🙂

Big Screen: Mary Poppins Returns

If you like musicals, you will probably enjoy this. The songs were pretty, the sets / costumes / designery was lovely. Lin Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt did a fine job, the kids were good actors, it was easy to watch. It was all just fine.

STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT A SEMI-SPOILER AS I COMPLAIN.

SERIOUSLY. STOP.

OK, you were warned.

BUT, to me, this was basically a remake. Sure, sure, it’s Michael and Jane grown up, instead of as kids. It’s Jack the lamplighter instead of Bert the chimney sweep. Oh, OK. But ALL the big production numbers are basically following the same plot beats, and… they’re the same. One big production number that involves the park and carousel. One big production number that involves going to someone’s house that’s discombobulated. One big production number with the working men. One big scene at the bank… etc. It just really, really, REALLY follows basically the same plot line, the same beats, the same amount of space between things. Why not just call it a remake if that’s what it is?

So yes, I enjoyed it, to an extent. But it certainly wasn’t a better version of Mary Poppins, and it’s hard to say it was a different movie per se.

À la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

Watching: Right around Christmas, I saw someone post a list of all The Office (US) Christmas episodes and needed to watch them. But watching one of them made me want to watch the next (in that season) episode so eventually I just went back to the beginning and started an entire rewatch. But I got to mid-season 6 and all of a sudden there are a million things I’m not loving in this season. So I think I may be done with that. I did borrow the first two seasons of Game of Thrones from my dad so I’m going to start that tomorrow probably. (I watched some of the first season when it first happened. I had (ages ago) read the first four books.)

Reading: I’m reading A Terrible Country, by Keith Gessen (as I told you about in Rooster update #1) and tonight I started All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders for bookclub. It’s pretty charming so far! I’ve missed the last two meetings of the club, which sucks because it is one of the few things that consistently brought me joy in 2018, so I have GOT to get back there!!

Listening to: all the new albums I bought myself for Christmas! Loving the latest albums from Janelle Monae (it’s basically a Prince album), Kasey Musgraves (I didn’t like it for the first two listens, but then it stuck its little cheery claws in me), and boygenius which is just an EP so you can listen to it a million times in a row over and over and still only use up like an hour of your time! 🙂 I am also listening to a lot of podcasts since apparently me being home a lot = me doing the dishes a lot. I am still loving West Wing Weekly the most, with Armchair Expert probably a close second (although I like it a lot better when Dax isn’t super friends with the guest, those episodes aren’t as good). I tried Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend this week, but I don’t love it.

Eating: I am currently obsessed with this roasted carrot salad from the Chrissy Teigen Cravings 2: Hungry for More cookbook I can’t stop talking about. I used baby spinach instead of baby lettuce and left out the lime zest (but included the juice–because I never have limes although my fridge is never without RealLime, and RealLemon for that matter). It’s got avocado and sunflowers seeds and it’s just really, really good.

Drinking: my weight in hot drinks. Oregon Chai, hot chocolate, apple cider… I feel like I’m putting the teapot on every seven seconds trying to keep myself warmly hydrated over here. I am going to be one dehydrated mess when school starts again next week and I can’t drink anything because I have numerous hours between bathroom breaks.

Knitting: I started a Winston sweater, Jane Richmond’s latest, in on-50%-off-sale Wool-Ease thick and quick. I’m hoping that will be a zip zip quickity finish and then I can get back to the sweater I’ve been knitting, or rather thinking about knitting and mostly ignoring, for most of 2018.

Quilting: Nothing as of right now.

Sewing: I am planning to make another sweatshirt-y version of the Lou Box Dress 1 this weekend out of this awesome bubblegum fleece that Silvia bought me for my birthday last year. I need to make at least three or four more winter-specific dresses (I have plenty of fabric in the closet that should work for this!) as wearing the sleeve-less dresses I made for this summer with a cardigan over them isn’t really winter-level warmth!

Focusing on: Letting myself soak up this rest time (only three days left and I work on Saturday so really only two!). I have slept 11-12 hours multiple times over this break. I can tell I really needed it!

What’s up with you? 🙂