Reading, watching, listening to …

Reading, watching, listening to … November 2, 2015

I’m reading …

When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris

cabbage cruz

Sedaris is the master of the short, comic, grotesque personal essay.  Are his rambling ideas connected, or is he just really good at making it seem like they are? I don’t know, but I die of envy. A little David Sedaris goes a long way, though, and the essays in this collection are not quite as tight and sharp as some of his other works — but still, very funny stuff, enough to make me snort while I’m reading in bed.  An excerpt from “What I Learned”:

It’s been interesting to walk around campus this afternoon, as when I went to Princeton, things were completely different. This chapel, for instance—I remember when it was just a clearing, cordoned off with sharp sticks. Prayer was compulsory back then, and you couldn’t just fake it by moving your lips; you had to know the words, and really mean them. I’m dating myself, but this was before Jesus Christ. We worshipped a God named Sashatiba, who had five eyes, including one right here, on the Adam’s apple. None of us ever met him, but word had it that he might appear at any moment, so we were always at the ready. Whatever you do, don’t look at his neck, I used to tell myself.

It gets a little more R-rated than that in other essays; caveat lector.


I’m watching …

Disney Animated Shorts on Netflix streaming.  An overall entertaining collection with good animation, including:

“John Henry,”
“The Little Matchgirl,”
“How To Hook Up Your Home Theater,”
“Tick Tock Tale,”
“Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa,”
“The Ballad Of Nessie,”
“Tangled Ever After,”
“Get A Horse!”
“Frozen Fever” which even the kids thought was kind of weird. Adorable animated snot monsters? Sure, why not.

“Feast,” which premiered before Big Hero 6, is just wonderful, especially if you have a dog. Very beautifully rendered, sweet, deft, and funny. Also, I appreciate the fact that Pixar consistently says, “Psst, babies don’t actually ruin everything!”  (It’s not about kids, it’s about a dog (well, really it’s about love, like all Pixar films); but it shows a happy family as the natural progress of love.)

We have a bunch of pukey kids at home, and these are keeping them happy, but they are skipping past the little introductions before each short.

For Halloween, the little kids watched Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which features actual Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr.  Benny, 3, was almost overcome with terror; the rest of us watched with one eyeball and let the other eyeball rest. This movie is a bit of a puzzle for us, as my husband and I are both convinced that we only show it to the kids because the other one desires it. I don’t even like Abbott and Costello, so I guess that settles that. Why would you watch Abbott and Costello instead of the Three Stooges? Other than Lon Chaney, Jr.?

The older kids were too worn out to deal with the scary DVD we rented, Diabolique, so we watched Army of Darkness again.  Still funny. But the next day we went to Mass and I told my son I was going to write the grandparents’ names in the Book of the Dead, “UM, I mean ‘Book of the Deceased.'”

This is the kind of thing that gets us quietly taken off the LifeTeen email tree.*

*Not really. They are very  nice.


I’m listening to …

a bunch o’ Sibelius, because it’s his birthday, and I’ve had just about enough. I do like singing hymns set to “Finlandia,” though, unless the words they choose are “This is my song.”

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

And God is like, “That’s your song, eh? That’s your song? Check yo’ Unitarian privilege, mah people!”

What, are you saying God is racist? That’s just weird.

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  • Listening to old time radio shows while working on my resume; amazing what you could do on the budgets they had.

    Watching “Young Black Jack” on the Crunchyroll website: It’s about a medical student in 1960s Japan–the most recent episodes have him traveling to Vietnam to look for a friend lost somewhere in the war zone. Warning: Lots of surgery, so not for the squeamish.

    Reading an anthology of Jewish noir stories, going to take a while. One of my old reviews that may be of interest is “Boxers & Saints” by Gene Luen Yang; a pair of graphic novels set in the Boxer Rebellion, one from the point of view of a rebel, and the other from the POV of a Catholic convert.

  • “Feast” is wonderful. Thanks so much for posting it.

  • MK

    Agh, that hymn. I think of it as the anti-patriotic hymn. It drives me crazy when they choose it for a patriotic holiday, when we should be practicing the virtues of patriotism and love of our country.

  • Emily Kimmel

    a book on greywater systems for watering plants…not too exciting.

    “The Flash” on Netflix. Kind of campy, but clean and fun.

    Listening to:
    Classic rock and roll songs on Pandora.

    • Eileen

      We’re watching “The Flash” too! We’re really enjoying it. We just watched all the episodes of “Blacklist” that Netflix had to offer us, but I have to admit it kind of lost us at the end. We’re hoping Flash doesn’t disappoint.

      One of our best Netflix finds was a series called “Life” starring that redheaded guy from Homeland. Very enjoyable. I think my husband has rewatched the entire series two or three times (or at least used it as background noise) while he’s holed away in our bedroom doing work some weekends.

      • Emily Kimmel

        I’ll have to check that out. 🙂

  • Maggie Goff

    I saw “Diabolique” in a small movie theatre in New York City many years ago. It was the original with Simone Signoret. I don’t remember much of it as I had my eyes closed and my fingers in my ears for practically the whole movie. I was in my early twenties at the time, and I have just hit age 70 and would probably do exactly the same thing again. I don’t do well with horror, thrillers.