Friday, January 31, 2014

January 2014 Round Up

From the 2011 Year of Memories Brag Book by Dani Mogstad

What books, magazines, and/or articles did I read this month?

I finished up the Evelina Cooper series I was reading. It is essentially a steampunk version of Sherlock Holmes, told from his niece's point of view. (Yes, I am aware that he does not have a niece, according to canon; this is the daughter of his sister, who I'm reasonably certain does not exist in the Conan-Doyle world.) Holmes does appear here and there, as done Watson, and there are brief brushes with the stories you know. An interesting series, to be sure, but it took some getting used to. It's hard to (convincingly) mix magic and Sherlock Holmes!

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: Mythbusters is back, and we are really enjoying Almost Human! It hasn't been picked up for more than 13 episodes, though, and I know it is an expensive show to make. The ratings aren't bad, but I'm not sure they're enough for Fox to keep the show going. Keep your fingers crossed.
* New Films: Quite a few this month.
- Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle - Relatively speaking, I thought the first one was much better. Neither is great, though.
- A Christmas Carol - Yes, I watched this in January. Just never got to it in December. And yes, it was the Alastair Sim version (in the original black and white). No, I had never seen it before! Yes, I see why people really like it, but I'm not sure it is my favorite version (that would be a very tough choice among several excellent ones). But I did like it very much!
- The Valley of Gwangi - The intro by Ben Mankowitz about this film on TCM included the following phrase: "While this is not the first movie to have cowboys fighting dinosaurs...." Wait, what?! I mainly watched this because the effects were by Ray Harryhausen, and for stop motion effects, they were very impressive. The rest of the movie? Eh.
- Prometheus - I was already a little irritated with this film before I even saw it. Dear Ridley Scott, if you're going to go there, then GO THERE! Don't do it half-way by saying it's not really a prequel but it does tie in. Either it does or it doesn't. An okay film, certainly interesting.
- Anastasia - It doesn't get much better than Ingrid Bergman and Yul Brynner!
- Hitchcock - We thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was quite delightful! Much more humor to it than I ever expected, though it is not a comedy. Brilliantly cast and acted. Highly recommended for any Hitchcock or Psycho fan.
- Go West - This was my first full length silent Buster Keaton film, and I quite enjoyed it. Much of the humor still plays very easily today, though I'm sure there are a few things lost on modern audiences. It did confirm something for me, though. I am more of a Buster Keaton fan than a Charlie Chaplin fan. Not that I don't like Chaplin, mind you, I just prefer Keaton's style and sense of humor.
- Oz the Great and Powerful - In spite of its stunning beauty, this movie was disappointing. The tone was uneven, and it had the problem of some of he actors not fully believing in what they were doing at times. It just didn't come together fully for me, certainly not with anything approaching the charm and magic of the original.
- By Your Leave - I mainly watched this because of the very early (and brief) appearance of Betty Grable, but the movie itself was fine. It also featured a pre-Wizard of Oz Frank Morgan (the wizard) and Margaret Hamilton (the witch). Fun to see them in different roles, though similar in general demeanor to their most famous characters. They are called character actors for a reason!
- The Magnificent Seven - Honestly, this may have been my first classic western. I've seen plenty of take-offs and spoofs of classic westerns, but other than A Fist Full of Dollars (which isn't quite the same thing, since it's a spaghetti western), I hadn't ever seen a "real" one. I know this was a little later in the Western lifespan, so I'm not sure if it was doing cliched things because they were expected, or if it is movies like this one that caused them to become cliche. Still, in context, they were wonderful to see and worked really well. And well, it had Yul Brynner in it, so there's only so bad it could be.
- The Bourne Legacy - Oh my goodness, what a HUGE disappointment! We liked the other movies fine, though we did prefer the earlier ones to the later ones. Some interesting information, sure, but the movie as a whole took a very long time to do not very much, and it wasn't that exciting in the process. Frenetic is not the same as exciting! Largely nonsensical in places, not a whole lot of chemistry between the two leads. It wasn't bad, but it was just there, which is a sin for an action movie. It should at least be exciting in its action-y parts! This one was just blah.
* Old Favorites: The only movies I noted that I watched this month that I had already seen were Ladyhawke and the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film.

What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?

This month's Cub Scout Pack Meeting featured a couple of raptors from the Chattahoochee Nature Center. They were absolutely beautiful, and the boys (mostly) did a very good job of sitting still and paying attention.

What gifts did I give and/or receive? What special or unusual purchases did I make?

This is going to sound completely crazy, but I am very exited that Toffee Nut Cookies are back at Panera, and we purchased, um, a few this month. I love those cookies, they are so yummy, and they pulled them off the regular menu almost a year ago. They are now only an occasional favorite, as I was told, and this is the first time (that I am aware of) they have been back on the menu since they were pulled. YUM!!

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
Stupid kidney stones! And multiple stones in each kidneys; not good. They will run some more tests in February (when they're sure all the stones I currently have have passed) to see if anything else can be done. I had a runny nose the last day or two of the month, but it never turned into anything (thank goodness).

What new things and Pinterest pins I try this month?
Tried a new recipe from Pinterest: Taco Meatloaf (recipe here, pin here). It was quite good. Needs a little tweaking, but definitely worth keeping.

We also tried yet another new Mexican restaurant near our house, and yet again, it fails to live up to our regular place where we've been eating for about 15 years now. We'd love to find a closer restaurant, but none can compare, and it is worth the drive. This one was the best of the three close ones, though, by far.

What were my accomplishments this month?

Click to biggify.

I didn't do what I was supposed to do and make notes as I went, so three weeks into February with a ton of things still on my to do list leftover from January, I don't feel like I accomplished much. Trying to get the cooking back on track after the holiday, but it's hard. I did tweet 29 out of 31 days, and the two days I missed I was on major pain meds, so I did fairly well there. Really need to increase the fluids, both just because I do and because of the kidney stonesSurviving the Snow-pocalypse was noteworthy, I suppose. Oh, and I did wear my new red shoes. I was afraid when I bought them that I wouldn't have anything to wear them with, but I've actually worn them twice. I'm stretching beyond my comfort zone; go me!

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Luke is studying for his whittling chip at Cub Scouts. He did have to miss one day of practice due to forgetting about an assignment until the night before it was due. No amount of insisting he write it down seems to be making a difference. "But she didn't tell us to write it down." I don't see how that is relevant. If you were told you have an assignment, write it down, whether or not you are expressly told to! ::headdesk:: He also learned to fold clothes this month; mainly because he lost a bet, but still. (And when did he start taking up so much room on the sofa?) He did earn extra points this month for asking if we could start watching Star Trek (TNG) again. There might be hope for him yet.

What were this month's disappointments or frustrations?
The return of the kidney stones was a huge disappointment and frustration, as is the new medical insurance. High deductibles are awful.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Can't think of anything.

Monthly Round Up concept courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady, tweaked by me.

Currently feeling: late but rounded

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