Tuesday, January 20, 2009

8 Days Later...

First things first:

NIE is BACK! Five months after surviving a plane crash and serious burn recovery, Nie writes again! And I thought my morning was tough today.

Second things second:

I'm back! Not sure where the last 8 days have gone, but I've been too busy to blog. To share with you what I've been busy doing, I bring you...

The FIRST installment of Big City Pretty Reviews!
1) His Needs, Her Needs
This book was recommended by many newly-and-nearly-weds, and Ben read it before the wedding but I just got around to it. I would say it is helpful because it emphasizes the answer to one HUGE question: What makes marriages last? The answer is NOT good communication, or problem-solving, or any other skill. The answer is "being in love". After decades as a counselor, Dr. Harley is convinced that if you cultivate feelings of "being in love" in your marriage, you will stay together. The way to stay in love is to meet each other's needs. If you don't, your spouse's needs are so strong that he/she will go elsewhere to meet them, ie, have an affair. It's a pretty bleak prophecy. 2) The Road
This is the most horrifying book I've ever read. I stopped watching horror movies about five years ago because I determined they are bad for my soul, and unfortunately I forgot that written violence can sometimes be even more disturbing. I read this book because Cormac McCarthy wrote Blood Meridian, which my American Lit prof said was often rated the top novel of the 20th century, and All The Pretty Horses, which was a big movie, and so I figured he was worth reading. Plus I love disaster movies, and this is a post-apocalyptic book.

I guess I will concede it is probably worthy of the critical acclaim, and it is profound, and well-written, and moving. But it is also gruesome, with really graphic scenes of cannibalism and sexual slavery, and a pervading sense of dread. The plot takes place in a post-nuclear bombing future where there are literally only a handful of people left on earth, and a man and his son are walking down a road, always perilously close to being murdered or starving. They "are each other's entire", and the love they share, and the child's purity, are incredibly powerful. 3) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Very long, very slow, gorgeous, and incredibly acted. The special effects are dazzling- each time a new scene dawns I was excited to see how the characters had aged- in forward and reverse- and the settings are lovely. It is painful, however, to see your greatest fears on screen: that the one you love most will leave you, and that everyone you care about will die. 4) The Dutchess
Again, an extreme downer. I was thinking this would be Marie Antoinette part II- no, sir. Georgiana becomes Dutchess of Devonshire by marriage and is full of hope and apprehension and desire to be a happy, good wife. From the first moment of her marriage, her dreams are shattered by a cold, selfish husband. Plot spoiler ahead: The Dutchess' best friend, her only refuge from her husband' indifference and dismissal, becomes his mistress, and then moves into Devonshire House for the rest of Georgiana's life. She, like many women at the time, has one function: produce a male son. That is her only value. Her marriage is a business contract, and she has no control over the outcome yet is judged entirely responsible for its success. What makes the pain of this arrangement even sharper is the fact that tens of millions of women still live this way today, in 2009.
5) The House Bunny
Finally, after all the heartbreaking books and movies, a comedy! Ok, so let's get this out of the way: this movie is not exactly full of "good messages." It is vulgar. It is sexist on the surface, though by poking fun of Playboy sexuality it may actually be not-so-sexist. It is dumb, and it is good ol' fun. It is silly and funny and not to be taken seriously in the least, and probably not entirely harmless, forgettable but pleasant. And my husband has been quoting the red-head's mouse-dressing-up monologue for a week now.

And lastly, a little treat because I love interiors oh so very much:
A dining room, complete with 360 chalk board.

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