Monday, May 28, 2012

19th Birthday Haul

Though it's been a couple weeks since I turned 19, a couple of the gifts came in the mail so they took a little longer. I just wanted to take this post to highlight what I got.

I got these three books which I have been wanting for some time now. They are The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I've just finished Why We Broke up (review to come) but if you've read either of the other two, let me know what you thought! I'm especially excited to read Ransom Rigg's first novel because I think his photo-collecting habit is the coolest thing and the fact that he incorporated it into the story is so excellent.

I got these amazing sea foam crops from my mum. I've been wanting some pastel-coloured crops for a while and I love this colour.

Finally, I got this lovely necklace from family, and I just love it. I'm always a fan of simple jewelry so they definitely know my taste.

This summer-
Books read: 3
Hikes taken: 4
Films seen: 7

Song recommendation: Lie To Me by Sara Bareilles

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cinco de Mayo featuring Ingrid Michaelson

This past Saturday I turned 19 years old. Is that old? I feel like I should feel older, but then I came home from Atlanta yesterday and went over to my best friend's house to play Assassin's Creed. You can be the judge of my maturity growth I suppose.

When my mother asks me what I want for my birthday I usually have no idea but this year I knew months in advance. It just so happened that Ingrid Michaelson was playing in ATL on Cinco de Mayo (for only $20.00, what's that all about?!) so naturally I asked for tickets. Now, I could write a whole blog post about my love for Ingrid Michaelson and her lovely music but alas, I've already done that. Let me just say that she did not disappoint and she and her band put on a brilliant show. Her band mates were all lovely and talented (not surprisingly), as was the opening act, Scars on 45.

Aside from being a great musician she also doubles as a stand up comedian so that was great. She treated us to an anecdote about her experience having to lip-sync for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. She informed us that she was all dolled up (apparently with hair extensions: there was a long rant about how she felt somehow connected to the woman who's hair she was wearing) and stuck on a float that advertised Hamburger Helper. Additionally, there were some fans in the audience who made a poster that said "Do it Us Now" in reference to her song titled "Do It Now". She promptly pulled the sign up on stage and proceeded to reword the lyrics of her song to fit the sign.

We had great seats so I got a few good pictures.

My favourite tracks from her new album Human Again include "This is War", "Always You" and "Blood Brothers".

I'm going to make a separate post as a sort of "birthday haul" type thing, because as well as tickets for this concert I got a few books and a couple articles of clothing. I'm just waiting for one of the pieces of clothing to come in the mail. So look forward to that~

Books read: 1 
Films seen: 3 (and a half, I have to finish watching Naked Gun with my brother)
Hikes taken: 1
Song Recommendation: Say Goodbye by Norah Jones (Her new album Little Broken Hearts is quite a gem you should just listen to the whole thing) 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Belated Notes on Hiking Adventures

This past weekend I went on my first official hike of the summer. I live near the Appalachian Mountains so I like to take advantage of the trails in the brief time when I'm back from uni and before the Southern heat really sets in. I am a fan of adventuring but my desire to adventure decreases as the temperature increases. It's a problem (and it may or may not be connected to my Canadian roots). I'm not built for smoldering heat.

April, however, is a beautiful time to take to the trails. Here's photographic evidence.

It was quite a shock to be come from Atlantic Canada back to the South. Not because of the temperature, I expected that, but because it's so green! Plants hadn't even started thinking about blooming when I left school a couple weeks ago, but here it's already done.

Books read: 1
Films seen: 3
Hikes taken: 1
Song Recommendation: Hollywood by Marina & The Diamonds

Friday, May 4, 2012

Never Let Me Go: Book & Movie

My first read of the summer was Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I will admit that I had not heard of the book until I found out there was going to be a movie. However, I did hold out seeing the film until I read the book. I honestly didn't know much about the book before diving in and reading it, and I kind of liked it like that, because after reading it I still find it very hard to summarize the gist of the book in a few sentences. Essentially what you need to know is that it's a dystopian book (though not set in future years, but in the 1970s-90s)  that focuses on three characters and their lives from a seemingly normal English boarding school all the way to their late twenties where they find each other again. This novel is narrated by the protagonist, Kathy, who addresses in the first sentence of the novel that she is a carer (though the reader may not understand the complications of what it means to be such a thing at that point).

What is unique about Ishiguro's approach to story-telling is that he addresses facts in the story in a subtle way. He doesn't come out and say "Kathy is a carer and this is what a carer does". He builds this dystopian world around familiar things and then adds in the fictional elements seamlessly. The fictional world of Never Let Me Go is not too far off from our own but it is the eery differences that make the story so interesting. Ishiguro writes in a way that gives his readers some credit to their inferential ability. It is also very important that Kathy narrate the story I feel, because she is such an introverted character that when she explains her story she tacks on all her thoughts and what she was feeling at the time (as well as what she presumes others were feeling). Though Kathy is not necessarily an identifiable character she provides an excellent and unique lens into this world. As for the film Carey Mulligan does a perfect job at portraying Kathy on screen. Yes, I am a huge fan of Carey Mulligan's previous work, but I promise that I'm not biased just because of that.

The book is broken up into three parts and the film follows suit accordingly. What the film captures that was less apparent in the book is the personality of the characters. Because Kathy narrates the story she tends to list the emotions of her friends Tommy and Ruth rather than identifying with them. The changing relationships amongst the three of them in the film was a lot easier to grasp, but of course that's the nature of film.

Over all I enjoyed both the novel and it's film adaptation. With a cast of Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Keira Knightley you can't really go wrong. I'm considering reading Remains of the Day after getting used to and ultimately really enjoying Ishiguro's writing style.

this summer-
Books read: 1
Films seen: 3
Hikes taken: 1
Song recommendation: Anna- Charlotte Gainsbourg

Thursday, May 3, 2012

For Lovers Only: A Review

Recently I've been on a bit of a Castle binge, if you will. I started watching the show casually* last year and thought it was kind of cute and an easy watch compared to my other regular shows (see: Fringe and an emotional Lost rewatch). I  got my roommate into it this past season and she really loved it which ultimately got me more excited about watching it. Ultimately it made Mondays a lot more bearable. All this to say that along with my recent obsession with the show, I have taken a liking to the cast so with that I decided to watch Stana Katic's recent independent film by the Polish Brothers, For Lovers Only.

I'm always looking for new independent or lesser-known films to watch and so when I found out Stana Katic was in this I couldn't pass it up. The filmmakers took a very minimalist approach to production. The Polish brothers sort of split up the work where Mark Polish stars opposite Katic as the male lead, and his twin Michael wrote and directed. The two brothers collaboratively produced the film. To add to the simplicity of the production the film was in black and white, excluding one scene at the end, making for a very specific and nostalgic visual experience.

The basic storyline is a simple one. Two past lovers meet each other again in Paris after they have both moved on and married. For Lovers Only is the story of rekindling their love and what that means for each of them.

Where For Lovers Only may lack a complicated plot or copious dialogue it makes up for in exceptional story-telling. This story-telling would not have been possible without the variety of camera techniques that were essential to this film style. One of my favourite lines from this film is when Yves (Mark Polish), a photographer and journalist, is taking pictures of Sophia (Stana Katic) and he says "love me in focus". To me that really captured the essence of the film in one moment.

I highly recommend it if you're interested in independent film (or if you're looking to get into that world). Along with a beautiful story there is also the added treat of beautiful cinematography of French landscapes.

*Casual television watching for me is rare and usually results in either latching on to it full time, or never watching it again.

Books read: 1
Films seen: 2
Hikes taken: 1
(since April 20, 2012)

Song Recommendation: I Found You- Alabama Shakes