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 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.

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

“The Lager Queen of Minnesota” by J. Ryan Stradal

First finish of 2020 for me! This book was pretty fantastic. The majority of the book is about two people obsessed with making beer—one because she loves (LOVES) it from her very first taste of it and the other because she loves chemistry and she’s got to prove herself to be interesting—and the person they’re both related to that a lot of the plot revolves around. I will say that it was a good thing it was written with alternating perspectives though, because if it had all been from Edith’s POV (as the first chapter was), I probably wouldn’t have finished it. There was just a *wee* bit too much “hey this about Minnesotans, are Minnesotans so charming” setup in that first section for me… but perhaps that’s the curse of actually having lived a large part of your life AS a Minnesotan. HA. I loved Helen, I loved Diana (and her evolution). And man, I would still probably love to work in a brewery. Maybe that’s my next career. My beers, I will warn you, will be high on sweetness and low on hops. Cheers, y’all.

Favorite Tunes of a Decade

(As recollected in 2019, by a shaky 51-year-old, who stopped consistently updating her blog…a decade ago! HA!) It turns out my last annual post of favorite tunes was in…2008. It’s almost like I planned this. HA!

2009: (I posted monthly reviews of all the tunes I bought in 2009…finishing those posts in 2010 ha.)

Favorite albums: Looking over the albums I purchased in 2009, what stands out to me are Empty Orchestra “Here Lies Empty Orchestra” and the Avett Brothers “I and Love and You”. Also loved Pete Yorn “Back and Fourth” but less so in retrospect (I still listen to the other two). I was a big fan of Matt Hires “Take Us to the Start”, his voice is so unique, try “Honey, Let Me Sing You a Song” and “Perfect Day” and see what you think. I loved Great Lake Swimmers “Lost Channels” and Shwayze “Let It Beat” (I know, his songs are ridiculous but I love (LOVE) both the Shwayze albums I own). I listened to MGMT “Oracular Spectacular” all the time.

Favorite songs not on those albums: Frightened Rabbit “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”; I still constantly listen to two Greg Laswell songs from the EP he released that year (or that I bought that year, whichever) “This Woman’s Work” and “Ghost”. This was the winter I listened to “Jai-Ho!” incessantly (from the Slum-Dog Millionaire soundtrack).

Favorite albums: Band of Horses “Infinite Arms” had so many good songs on it, I just cannot turn off “Compliments” if it comes up on shuffle; I loved the soundtracks to Whip It! and Crazy Heart (both awesome movies!); and the self-titled Head and the Heart album was on heavy rotation.

Favorite songs not on those albums: I kept listening to an older song “Hurricane Glass” by Catherine Feeny; the clappy clap “I Hope This Gets to You” by the Daylights; I loved loved loved a LOT of the covers they did on Glee, particularly “One Of Us”, and “What It Feels Like for a Girl” (sung by the boys); “This Charming Life” by Joan Armatrading from the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack (I liked a lot of songs they featured on the show!); “Love the Way You Lie” Rihanna and Eminem, omg, swoontastic, love this song, love this video, have listened to it and/or watched it 9 bajillion times at least; “Airplanes” by B.o.B and Haley Williams; and it seems like I listened to a LOT of singles that year, so… I’ll leave it at that.

Favorite albums: Bon Iver! (self-titled) The first one, I think. Oh, wow. I was still really listening to a lot of French rap back then and I loved Disiz La Peste “Les Histoires Extraordinaire d’un Jeune de Banlieu” (technically a 2005 release but 2011 is when I got it); I loved Wiz Khalifa’s album “Rolling Papers (ridiculous) and Matt Kearny “Young Love” from which basically every song should be a single (“Sooner or Later” and “Down” are both 100% irresistible). My favorite band from junior high randomly released an album this year: The Cars “Move Like This” !!! How…cray.

Favorite songs not on those albums: “Pumped Up Kicks” Foster the People (!!! love this song still); “We Found Love” Rihanna and Calvin Harris; “I’m His Girl” Friends and “Hey Boy” Magic Kids are a fun combo ; the 2007 song “Weighty Ghost” by Wintersleep was in heavy, heavy rotation, also “Marcy’s Song” the 1964 original and then the cover by John Hawkes for that icky movie I can’t remember the name of.

Favorite albums: Oh yes, Chiddy-Bang “Breakfast” a great album!! I also was super into Kishi Bashi “151A”; Of Monsters and Men “My Head Is an Animal”; and Great Lake Swimmers “New Wild Everywhere”.

Favorite songs not on those albums: “For Your Glory” Hayden Panettiere from the Nashville soundtrack, from the episode where she sings in a church; “Same Love” (feat Mary Lambert) from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis was huge that year but I also loved “Thrift Shop”; I was really into Tyler Ramsey‘s 2010 song “A Long Dream”; a teenybopper single “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction, ha; “Steal Back” from Aunt Martha, a lovely jangly tune; and a country ballad “I’ve Got a Name” Jim Croce.

Favorite albums: When I look at the many albums I bought in 2013, there really isn’t one jumping out at me as OH I STILL LISTEN TO THIS ALL THE TIME the way there are in some years. I did like the self-titled Beyonce album; San Fermin put out a good (self-titled) album, featuring at the time I believe the voices of Lucius who then also put out their own album “Wildewoman”; I know I spent a lot of time listening to The Head and the Heart “Let’s Be Still” and Kasey Musgraves “Same Trailer Different Park” (aw man, “Follow Your Arrow” is just irresistible!!).

Favorite songs not on those albums: Phosphorescent “Song for Zula” was the soundtrack of 2013 for me; I also loved Ben Harper “Amen Omen” (forever and ever, not a song from 2013 but that’s when I was listening to it); “Wake Me Up” Avicci, which played at every single workout class Hannah Anderson and I went to that summer; this was also the summer of “Blurred Lines” (Robin Thicke yuck, NOT a fave, but definitely something that got stuck in your head b/c it was playing everystupidwhere), “Get Lucky” (Daft Punk) and “Lose Yourself to Dance” (also Daft Punk); “I’m a Girl” Hayden Panettiere from the Nashville soundtrack; “Never Let Me Go” an 2011 song from Florence and the Machine.

Favorite albums: My favorite 2014 album was the swoontastic Lo Fang “Blue Film”. Oh man, that album. Turn off the lights, turn up the volume, thank me later. I also loved Sturgill Simpson‘s (debut, I think?) “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music”; Sylvan Esso‘s self-titled debut; Taylor Swift “1989”, whatever you think of her, that is a solid collection of songs; and Bastille “Bad Blood” a moody beyatch of an album that’s just gorgeous. Similarly beautiful and moody was “Mirror” from Robots Don’t Sleep and those are about as close to techno as I’ll ever get! There was also something just smile-inducing about revisiting all the golden oldies on the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, although it will never stop pissing me off that the album isn’t in the order they were played in the movie (I obviously had to rearrange them on my own playlist).

Favorite songs not on those albums: A good ole jingly jangle “The Heart” by NEEDTOBREATHE (why is that the… never mind); all the songs Keira Knightley has on the Begin Again soundtrack, particularly “Like a Fool”; Sam Hunt “Break Up in a Small Town” ouch, so so so so much truth in these lyrics; and “It Ain’t Yours to Throw Away” Sam Palladio from the Nashville soundtrack. (I really love(d) a lot of the music from that show.)

Favorite albums: Oh man this was the year of Troye Sivan “Blue Neighborhood” which I listened to nonstop for months on end, I also went to see him live (by myself, near my birthday) and was the oldest person in the audience by probably 30 years. This was also the year the Hamilton Soundtrack entered my life, my other favorite album, and soon after the life of everyone who knows me as I passed it on to friend after friend after friend after friend… (I’m still passing Hamilton on to everyone I know; last year one of my classes read a biography of Hamilton while I simultaneously introduced them to the soundtrack and, of course, singing along!). I also loved Bon Iver “For Emma, Forever Ago” and Kate Tempest “Everybody Down” and Ryan Adams full-album cover of Tyler Swift’s “1989” made me pretty happy.

Favorite songs not on those albums: Low “What Part of Me” remains one of my all-time favorite songs, I could put in on repeat and listen to nothing else for days; Aloe Blacc “The Man” so damn catchy; Rixton “Me and My Broken Heart”; a Furious 7 feature “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa (I can play this song on ukulele, I love it that much); “Beautiful Day” by Joshua Radio and Sheryl Crow.

Favorite albums: Obviously my favorite album of 2016 was Beyonce “Lemonade”, nothing else really held a candle to Queen Bey. I still haven’t stopped listening to A Tribe Called Quest “We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service”, which is also truly a masterpiece, maybe a little less fun but such a huge political statement. It’s also an album you have to be very careful about accidentally singing along with, isn’t it!?!?! (“We the People” is SO catchy and so…not a song you want to absentmindedly singing along to.) This is a much quieter selection but I also loved Passenger “Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea”.

Favorite songs not on those albums: Looking at my iTunes playlist, I feel like I listened to more singles in 2016 than albums. My very favorite single was “Starboy” from The Weeknd (swoontastic). Some other faves were “Me, Myself and I” by G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha; “Si Tu No Estas” by Nicky Jam (this seems to be the year my students started getting me into reggaeton, specifically, and Spanish language tunes, more generally); I listened to Maggie Rogers “Alaska” nonstop (which reappears in 2019 when her full album finally came out!); Margaret Glaspy “You and I”; Lizzo “Good as Hell” (another artist that would blow up 2019); “Sugar (feat Francesco Yates)” by Robin Shultz (that driving beat, yo); “One Call Away” Charlie Puth (yup, I’m still susceptible to totally cheesy teenybopper songs); the Ashanti/Ja Rule cover of “Helpless” from The Hamilton Mixtape; and some goofy students totally had me playing “Price Tag” by Jessie J, which was released in 2011.

Favorite albums: My very top album of 2017 was Kendrick Lamar “Damn” without a doubt. I had bought the Butterfly album previously but “Damn” was when I really fell under Lamar’s spell. Other faves were The National “Sleep Well Beast”; and I really liked Rostam “Half Light” even though it’s not something I would likely say was “my style” so to speak.

Favorite songs not on those albums: “Good Life” by G-Eazy and Kahlini (from the Fates of the Furious soundtrack, doh!); Shawn Mendes “Mercy” (the acoustic version); “Si Tu La Ves” by Nicky Jam; “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran; “Body Like a Back Road” Sam Hunt; and the ubiquitous “I Can’t Keep Quiet” from The Faithful Choir (made famous by the Women’s March).

Favorite albums: My very favorite album was the boygenius EP, which I liked better than any of those artists’ solo albums; I also liked Kylie Minogue “Golden” and Meg Myers “Take Me to the Disco”; the sappy, sweet and yet irresistible Matt Nathanson “Sings His Sad Heart”; and Rosalia “El Mal Querer”, which I didn’t even get until December, go watch the videos, they’re just wowza.

Favorite songs not on those albums: “Black Beatles” by The Mayries, a song from 2017 that I listened to in 2019!; Kasey Musgraves “Slow Burn” (there are others I like on that album, but I wasn’t as wowed by the overall project as most people).

If that’s not enough for you, in 2018, I actually posted a month-by-month review of the music I bought, something I probably hadn’t done…in a decade!

Favorite albums: Maggie Rogers “Heard It in a Past Life” was my favorite album this year, without question. Runners up were J.S. Ondara “Tales of America”, G-Flip “About Us”, and Lizzo “Cuz I Love You”.

Favorite songs not from those albums: “Fingers” by Zayn (something about the very first moments in that song really, really reminds me of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”); “Happier” by Bastille & Marshmello; “Here Right Now” by Joshua Radin, has that man ever made a song I don’t love?; and “Crowded Table” by The Highwomen.

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? 🙂

Words I Had to Look Up While Reading This Fabulous Novel.

Go read this: “The Angel of History” by Rabih Alameddine. (Here’s a review if you want a synopsis.) My dad introduced me to this author last year (with his novel “An Unnecessary Woman”) and then I just happened across this new(er) novel in the library on Saturday. It was So!GOOD! And so literate and compelling.

  • caisson = a large watertight chamber; a chest or wagon
  • chelonian = basically turtle-esque
  • jellabiya = traditional Egyptian garment
  • dithyrambic = a frenzied impassioned hymn and dance; an irregular poetic expression; a wildly enthusiastic speech or piece of writing
  • rachitic = rickety; like having a inflammed spine
  • recrudescent = revival of material; recurrence of symptoms; renewal
  • inanition = exhaustion; lack of mental or spiritual vigor
  • cephalore = a saint who is generally depicted carrying their own head

Cephalore was my favorite. 🙂 Inanition I do feel like I should have already known, heh.

I was also really proud of myself for picking up on random literary/musical references:

  • “I couldn’t write, I couldn’t write, stop all the clocks, poetry has gone and left me…” (W.H. Auden reference, a poem I JUST taught my students!).
  • “Hope might be the thing with feathers but in the Middle East we hunt those birds for sport. (Dickinson)
  • “I sound like a Miles Davis trumpet, like a Bach partita, no, wait, a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet, whereas you’re a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop, but baby, if you’re the bottom, I’m the top.” (Cole Porter)
  • “Do you understand me now, Satan said, when things go wrong I seem to be bad, I”m just a soul whose intentions are good, oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” (Nina Simone, et al.)

(I’m sure there were more I didn’t notice!!)

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.

Final Rooster Update!

The Tournament goes live tomorrow with the Pre-Tournament Play-In Match which unfortunately is two books I LOVED and one book I liked and damn it, at least two books I liked are therefore getting knock out on the first day!!! The unfortunate luck of the brackets.

SO: I read 11 of the 18 books (15 in brackets + 3 play-in). I read the wrong book by one author, didn’t finish one book due to both boredom and its library due date (#12), and am in the middle of my 13th. So although I didn’t make my goal of reading ALL of them, I feel pretty thrilled with how close I came! 🙂

Here’s what I finished since my last post:

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner — it was a super easy, quick read. But I didn’t really like it. I think I just don’t jibe with this author since I didn’t like the last book of hers I tried to read either.

Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi — This was a long complicated read full of lots of philosophical ideas about heritage and literature and how we carry our world within us. And so much of it was really interesting and so much of it was whacked out weird. I finished it, but it did become a slog as the book went on. Neat ideas but I didn’t love it.

So Lucky by Nicolas Griffith — you may remember I am a huge (HUGE) fan of Griffith’s viking historical novel “Hild.” This is an entirely different thing: a contemporary novel with a bit of a mystery. I didn’t outright love it, and there was a sort of side- or sub-plot to the mystery that ultimately proves wrong and felt very distracting. But there was a lot to like here and a lot of things I’ve definitely never read in a novel before. Also so nicely coincidental to have just read this and learn of Selma Blair’s diagnosis. I do feel this book gives a strong picture of being inside a body being attacked by MS. Definitely worth reading.

I did not finish:

The Overstory by Richard Powers — a novel about people and, in some ways, a specific type of tree. Each chapter introduced a new character and some sort of family or disaster relationship to a tree. Presumably at some point the characters will interact? But some of the chapters were long and quite uneventful / not that interesting, and it’s due back at the library tomorrow, and I’m just not that bothered by not finishing it. It’s been NOT compelling enough that I didn’t even have it with me on my commutes this weekend, so… that says it all.

And I am currently reading:

There There by Tommy Orange — which is not at all what I expected and pretty good so far. Although it annoys the FRAK out of me that the GoodReads search engine is incapable of finding this book by searching for its title!!! (I thought maybe it was just a mobile / phone problem but I just tried on the desktop and nope!)

I’ve still got the three other books I didn’t get to on hold at the library so I’ll read them when they come in–although my stupid library branch by me is closing FOR A YEAR and it’s going to be SO NOT ON MY WAY ANYWHERE to go to these other branches to pick up and return books and I am Officially. Annoyed. OK, bye for now.