May 2010: In Brief (Part 2)

Highlights:
It’s A Christmas Miracle!  (But …uh… in May)  It was my healthiest May in 5 years. I’d still get really sleepy on days with high grass pollen or when I ate a food with hidden gluten, but I didn’t have any horrible sinus headaches and I even had several energetic days — a rare May occurrence for me.

Writer’s Retreat– I hung out with several writer friends in an adorable cabin in West Virginia for a few days.  We talked about writing and TV, critiqued each other’s work, did a few writing exercises, and ate tons of junk food.  What more could I ask for?

Sub Jobs:
1/2 day – Media center specialist at usual school
1/2 day- 1st grade reading teacher at another school

Fiction Books Finished:
Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh (****) – It’s been a while since I reread this classic. I love how honest this story is about the dark emotions of sixth grade.  [For ages 9 and up]

The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex (****) – Gratuity Tucci (her friends call her "Tip" for short) has an eventful year when an alien race called the Boov invades Earth on Christmas day.  This is one of those fun stories that every age can enjoy.  It would make an excellent family or classroom read aloud. [For ages 9 and up]

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead (****) – 1979 is an eventful year for 12-year old Miranda.   It’s the year the game show 20,000 Pyramid invited her mom to be a contestant, the year Miranda’s childhood friend stopped talking to her, and the year Miranda received notes from a mysterious stranger who knows things about Miranda’s life before she even lives them.  How can that be?  This lovely gem is a perfect mix of a slice-of-life New York City story with a sci-fi element that pulls everything together in a cool way. It would make a good family or classroom read aloud.  [For ages 9 and up]

May 2010: In Brief (Part 1)

Movies:
No Impact Man (****) – In this documentary a New York City family tries to have no impact on the environment for one year.  They eat only local foods, make no trash, and give up all motor-powered transportation. They even give up electricity for 6 months.

What made this film so interesting, for me, was the honest way Colin Beavan and Michelle Conlin discuss their experiment.  Colin comes across as a deeply sincere environmentalist who wants to find a way to live enjoyably without destroying the earth. But he’s also refreshingly honest about how far away his actual life is from his beliefs at times. 

     As a counter balance Michelle is a high-powered New Yorker who writes for Business Week, loves shopping, and is addicted to reality TV. The project isn’t her idea but she goes along with it willingly. Her reflections and changes in attitude are honest and insightful.  I especially enjoyed the respectful, honest way Colin and Michelle discussed their feelings about the experiment and how fairly they negotiated their relationship.  [Currently available on Netflix Instant Viewing]

TV- Top 6 Favorites of the Month (In A,B,C Order)
The Big Bang Theory  – Just when I thought some of the Sheldon stuff was getting stale the show pulled off a series of entertaining episodes that use Sheldon but remember that Raj, Howard, and Leonard are entertaining too. [CBS is repeating season three episodes Mondays at 9:30 Eastern Time]

Better Off Ted (season two) – I liked the first season so much I ended up watching the second season on itunes and Hulu.  Sadly, there won’t be a third season. Too many potential viewers — like me– found this show too late. But season two is solid, funny entertainment that holds up on its own. [Hulu currently has season two episodes 2, 8, 9, 10, 11, the entire second season is also available on itunes to buy as a season or as individual episodes]

Fringe– gets the Rowena Eureka best season finale award for the 2nd year in a row.  I loved the way the show arc was ever so slowly built up over two seasons with the clues subtly included in such a way that I didn’t even realize they were clues at first.  The second season finale paid off big both in entertainment value and in emotional satisfaction, plus they managed to set up a tense situation for season three.  [Season two is available on itunes. Season one is available on to rent on DVD from Netflix or to buy on itunes.]

The Good Wife –  For me, Alicia’s honest portrayal is what made this show outshine any other law series I’ve seen.  I love how complicated Alicia’s life is.  There are so many decisions for her to make about her cases, her career, her marriage, her kids, her love life, and none of the answers is straightforward.  It’s fascinating watching Alica navigate the murky moral waters of each decision while trying to figure out what’s right.  She’s refreshingly honest about how difficult life can be.  I loved her "I need a plan" speech to Will and can’t wait to see what happens next season.

Party Down – As a Veronica Mars fan,  Party Down is especially fun because the show was produced and written by Veronica Mars producer Rob Thomas with former writer John Embom and others. The season one cast has three former Veronica Mars actors: Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas), Ken Marino (Vinnie Van Lowe) and Adam Scott (Mr. Rooks the history teacher Veronca defends in one episode).  The cast also has Martin Starr (Bill from Freaks and Geeks all grown up), Lizzy Caplan (Amy from True Blood) and Jane Lynch (now on Glee). Even more fun, many former Veronica Mars actors show up as party guests–Enrico Colantoni, Jason Dohring, Alona Tal, and even Kristen Bell.

Like most workplace comedies it took me a few episodes to get to know and like the characters, but I enjoyed the show more and more as I got to know this group of wanna-be and burnt-out actors catering to pay the bills.  In season two Megan Mullally (Karen from Will and Grace) takes Jane Lynch’s place.  [The entire 10 episode first season is available on Netflix Instant.  The second season is available as it airs both on Netflix Instant and on the Starz website. You can also find the link to Starz on Hulu.]

Supernatural – While the finale showdown disappointed me, I did like the stark minimal way the show portrayed the fight between angels and demons.  The penultimate showdown between Dean and Death is an example of what I love about this show. Death and Dean eating pizza in Chicago– so normal and yet so tensely weird at the same time.   My least favorite part?  Being lectured to in the finale on how endings are hard to write. Ha!