Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Music Mix Friday...Twas the Night Before Christmas "Even a Miracle Needs a Hand"

This is my favorite of the classic Christmas Specials. My sister the Medieval scholar and her boyfriend Albert Einstein joined me last night to watch our old tape of all the Christmas specials (Micky's Christmas Carol, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, etc.). To be honest, I am as equally excited to watch that tape for the old commercials as I am for the shows themselves. They had some excellent McDonald's and 7-Up commercials that year...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just a little bit more...

I know, I know. I've already said I'm going to end up driving myself bananas by the end of next year with all the challenges I'm not going to finish. But I just can't help myself. So here are two more...

First up will be the annual TBR Challenge. This is always one I like. There are basically no requirements for the books (other than being on your TBR list for at least a year), so I just use it as a way to plug through the next 12 books on my oh-so-many TBR lists. This year my books will be...

1. The Fourth Bear - Jasper Fforde (completed 3/23/2011)
2. An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro (completed 2/26/2011)
3. Slow Man - JM Coetzee (quit 4/30/2011)
4. Bombay Time - Thrity Umrigar (completed 8/14/2011)
5. Against Nature - Jori-Karl Huysmans
6. I Will Repay - Baroness Emmuska Orczy (completed 8/9/2011)
7. The Blue Star - Tony Early
8. Money - Martin Amis
9. The Sea - John Banville
10. Mystic River - Dennis Lehane
11. Agape Agape - William Gaddis
12. The Glass of Time - Michael Cox

And the second challenge, similar to TBR, is the Reading From My Shelves Challenge. This involves reading books that are languishing on your shelves. You're supposed to then give the books away, but I only ever give away books I don't like. I've always been a re-reader of books I like. This is a good challenge for me, too. I get books for Chirstmas or my birthday and I always push back reading them in favor of the books that are part of the challenges that I've joined. And even when the books on my shelf are part of the challenges, I often push them back in favor of library books because there's a time limit on those and ones I own can be read anytime. So, despite how much I want the books I own, it's often a year or two after I get them that I actually get around to reading them. Which is weird, I guess. Anyway, I currently have ten books on my shelf that are unread, so those are the ten that will be in the challenge. Sadly it's not twelve books. I like challenges that can be easily divided into months. But Christmas is coming, so maybe I'll be able to add a few more books to the shelf that need to be read. Anyway, my books are...

1. Full Dark House - Christopher Fowler
2. Against Nature - Jori-Karl Huysmans
3. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire
4. La Mort d'Arthur - Thomas Malory
5. Amsterdam - Ian McEwan
6. The Revolt of the Eaglets - Jean Plaidy
7. The Heart of the Lion - Jean Plaidy
8. The Maiden of the White Hands - Rosalind Miles
9. When Christ and His Saints Slept - Sharon Kay Penman
10. Dragonwyck - Anya Seton

ETA...I was right about Christmas. I'll add two more books to the challenge to have a nice round 12 books in 12 months...

11. The White Queen - Philippa Gregory
12. Enduring Love - Ian McEwan

I'll try to say this is the last of my 2011 challenges, but that's probably a lie...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas is coming...

Today is my day on the Virtual Advent Tour. Last year I decided to tell everyone about my family's tradition of going to see the Christmas Revels every December. Of course we're going again this year, and for anyone who's curious, this year's theme (at least for the Puget Sound Revels) is Victorian England which should be a lot of fun. However, the Revels is not what I wanted to share with you this year.

This year, I wanted to talk about The Nutcracker. I am big fan of ballet, having taken lessons from age 5 to 18. I stopped after I graduated high school, and while I don't do it anymore I still love watching. During my years of dancing, I performed in the Nutcracker 5 times, once when I was little and during all four years of high school. I've performed as a gumdrop, a flower, a snowflake (three times), a Russian, a Chinese, a Spanish, and even the Rat King. Of the four scenes in the show, the only one I never danced in was the party scene. The dance everyone seems to know and like the best is the Russian Dance, so here's a video (definitely not of me).
 One thing I've always loved about ballet is the tradition of it. By that, I mean, while you can go and see new pieces being performed all the time by professional companies, there are some things that are always the same. If you go see Swan Lake or Giselle, there are certain famous pieces where they choreography has remained practically unchanged from the original choreography. The Nutcracker is the same, there are certain traditions I really like. I like that Mother Ginger (or Marshmallow) is most of the time played by a man and she runs around stage trying to keep her little babies hidden under her skirts. I especially like the four "country dances" and seeing those countries represented in costume. Sadly...I live in Seattle. And while we have a wonderful ballet company with a world famous Nutcracker, partly due to the fact that the sets including a huge animatronic Rat King were designed by Maurice Sendak (of Where the Wild Things Are), it's not The Nutcracker I know and love. The music is out of order, the country dances are interpreted very weirdly, and they don't even have a Sugar Plum Fairy. But that is okay because other people love it and it's adding to their Christmases just like it added to mine.

 Last thing I want to mention. The Nutcracker will always make me think of Christmas. I love hearing the music, I love the story (even though my sister, the librarian, likes to tell me how wrong the ballet is when compared to the actual story by ETA Hoffmann), but it has a specail place in my heart for another reason. December 5, 1999 was closing night of my first year dancing the Nutcracker with the studio I danced with during 
high school. I was a freshman in high school and wasn't part of the company yet (those were the advanced dancers), but would be within the next year. I sort of knew this one girl (Betty) who was part of the company. We went to rival schools, and from the little we knew of each other we didn't like each other much. We had dressing areas that were next to each other backstage, so this last night of the Nutcracker we finally ended up talking to each other. Now here it is, December 5, 2010, and though she lives in Hollywood now and I'm in still in Seattle, I just got a text message from my best friend wishing me a happy 11 year anniversary. Here we are in the picture...apparently we're saving the environment.

Super freak...

I recognize that I'm probably setting myself up for an End of 2011 Freak-out, and I just don't care. I'm signing up for more challenges anyway.

Today's post is brought to you by way of South Asia! S. Krishna's Books is once again hosting the South Asian Challenge and I'm signing up this year. As I said, I realize I'm slowly making myself go bananas, so I'm choosing to take it slow and only be a South Asian Wanderer, which means reading three books. S. Krishna has a provided a list of countries that qualify as South Asian countries, but instead of choosing three different countries to visit I am just planning on focusing on India. My books will be...

1. One Amazing Thing - Chitra Banejee Devakaruni
2. Bombay Time - Thrity Umrigar
3. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People - Farahad Zama

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

By the end of December...

And now it's December. I definitely got some books completed in November (I really thought I was just going to plow through stuff after how quickly I went through the first two books of the month), but not as much as I needed to. I've had to make peace with the challenges I'm probably not going to finish. I know I'll get through the Wilkie Collins and French Revolution Mini Challenges (it would be embarrassing not to), and I might could eke out the Year of the Historical Challenge, but TBR and the Books to Read Before I Die are done for. Maybe next year...

But there's still a month left, and there are still books to go...

To be Read by the End of December
No Name - Wilkie Collins
The Heretic's Daughter - Kathleen Kent
Scaramouche - Rafael Sabatini
Dragonwyck - Anya Seton
When Christ and His Saints Slept - Sharon Kay Penman

And soon it will be 2011...

To be read...

Barney's Version - Mordecai Richler
Dance, Dance, Dance - Haruki Murakami
The Passionate Brood - Margaret Campbell Barnes
Life Sentences - Laura Lippman
All the Fishes Come Home to Roost - Rachel Manija Brown
Wishin and Hopin - Wally Lamb
The Hundred Foot Jouney - Richard C Morais
The Wedding Shroud - Elizabeth Storrs
The Greenlanders - Jane Smiley
Last Night in Montreal - Emily St. John Mandel
The Rinaldi Quartet - Paul Adam (first in a series)
The Emperor's Tomb - Steve Berry (first in a series)

10 new books and 2 new series.