Saturday, October 31, 2009

Now Playing: Zombieland

In the spirit of things, I went to see Zombieland on Halloween. Fresh of the tenth anniversary viewing of Frenchie Fright Fest, I felt I had girded myself sufficiently to watch undead mayhem. Turns out, I shouldn't have bothered. Zombieland is more buddy movie than horror, more RomCom than suspense and definitely funnier than billed. I mean, does anyone see zombie-Bill-Murray coming? I know I didn't.

There's really not much to type about. I laughed, I got scared, I found the ending way too open-ended. Typical Zombie flick. I did enjoy some new stuff I hadn't seen before:
1) Interactive titles: what a far cry from the fifties and their entire credits rolling at the beginning of the film on a static screen. I also enjoyed the recurring (and interactive) "rules for survival" that pop up throughout the movie.
2) No over-the-top explanation for how the zombies happened: there were mad cows, then mad burgers and then mad humans. Nothing too sinister or creepy about that.
3) The most unlikely hero who never does get buff or mean or even confident. He totally illustrates that the human insitict for survival is in all of us, even the dweebs.

It was fun - a worthy addition to any Zomie Fest. 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

I have been nursing The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields for at least six weeks, reading it on trains and at physio, picking up (and finishing) three other books (see below). It is a good Canadian read, full of immigrant experiences and various landscapes. The characters are quite well-rounded as well, having unique voices that are distinctly discernable, even when conversations have no speakers identified. I don't know if it's a life-changing book - I much preferred Shields' Unless - but it is a meaty read… perfect for university discussion groups.

What I really enjoyed was the pseudo-biographic voice this was written in. It's clear that there are real people upon which these stoes are based, but the narrators are often unreliable, albeit in a benign fashion. Take Mercy's characterisation of being "obese" and "taller" than her husband Cuyler and compare it with her photo which shows her as no more than chubby and decidedly shorter. I don't think Daisy is trying to change the truth on purpose; she, like most of us, sometimes has trouble with "getting things straight." In many ways, I sympathise. When I think of my Nana, I always remember her as a big, imposing woman with a stern mouth and quick eyes. In reality, she three whole inches shorter than me and is about as average in size as it gets; she doesn't so much as have a stern mouth as she does a stern constitution and her eyes, even at 72, are still quick.

In many ways, TSD is a master class in genealogical fiction. You know, the kind of fiction that permeates all our families, with different members of that family passing down their version of the truth. I come back to my Nana: war-hero, housewife, entrepreneur, saint and sinner. If I had the guts (and talent) to write her biography, I can't imagine that I would end up anywhere near the truth; though, it would make for an interesting read.

At the end of it all, I'm glad I took so long to read through it. It's an excellent plane/train read and I hope you try it sometime


The other books I waded through at the same time:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith: thought it has a great cover, it's still VicLit. Snorefest.

Ubik by Philip K. Dick: I shouldn't say I've read this; I'm still reading it, but not being a big Sci-Fi reader, I do find it a bit hard to get through. The plot, however, is enough of an incentive.

The Shadow and the Wind: haven't finished yet. More on this later.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

senior's discount

Four days into my new "senior librarian" (read: manager of small branch) position and I'm still a little lost. Here are a few examples:

1) It's my second day and I'm sitting in my office ordering supplies for my (new-to-me) office. #3 knocks politely and asks if it's okay with me if she takes dinner fifteen minutes early and comes back fifteen minutes early. uhh, yes? Like what do I care? Instead I say: "Sure, just write it in the schedule we everyone knows where you are… or aren't :)"

2) Locking up after my first night shift, a tardy patron has kept us to 2106. I'm getting my coat on, when #1 comes in and says in hushed tones "is it okay if we all leave?" uhh, yes, definitely. It's past 9pm; you are no longer paid to be here. Go. "Absolutely; I'm right behind you" to which #1 replies that she'll wait for me but will let the pages and part-timers go.

3) Various circulation functions which I can't even reproduce here, because they're just that much of a blur. Add to this, I can't read their schedule at all - I mean, it's still done in pen! Have these people not heard of computers?! This will change. ASAP.

4) I set up "getting to know you" meeting with each staff member for next week. Thus far, I've been asked if this is an "appraisal", whether I'll be using the "interview" (which it most certainly is not) to determine tasks and duties, will this be a paid meeting, will HR be in attendance… people! Stop being so scared! I just want to know who the heck you are, what the heck you do and how the heck I'm going to help you do it. Yeesh.

At least I have an office that actually gets radio reception and I'm expected to basically hang out in it. Every time I even broach the circ desk with an offer to help clear holds or check in the four tranship boxes, I'm shooed away. I've yet to figure out if I should be insulted or not. So, the customers are happy I'm here, the staff hasn't mutinied and I still get an hour for lunch. So far, so good.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

a week in NYC

So, umm, I've been away. I was so busy getting ready for the trip to New York (amidst other insanities) that I didn't even have time to be excited in blog form. Sorry poppets. I'm a bad blogtress.

Yeah, I went to NYC (6 days, 5 nights) with AnCe, Nish and Kaylee. Here's the rundown: four shows (Il Barbiere di Sivilgia, Lion King, Giovanni Allevi, Chicago), three museums (Frick, AMNH, the Met, Guggenheim), $400 in shopping, several fabulous meals with some fabulous people (the Russian Tea Room being the spectacular cherry on top) and very little sleep. Throw in a couple visits with the family and one drunken debauchery and it seems I have done everything I've wanted to do in the Big Apple. We were right on top of the 57th/7av Subway station, so there was much subway action (in fact, I completely avoided the yellow cabs and made the most of my $27 weekly pass).

It was a whirlwind. It was fantastic. It was just what I needed.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Now Playing: Whip It!

I went to see Julie & Julia on Monday. After many weeks of successful procrastination by Jadek, he finally got his way: it was no longer playing. le SIGH. Instead, I saw the poster for Whip It, Drew Barrymore's directorial debut that was actually getting good TIFF reviews. I demanded (read: pouted until I got my way) to see this instead. I'll admit, there was no real arm-twisting. We went in.

First of all, I find it altogether disturbing that Ellen Page is a 22-year-old who can play 17 and look too young for the part. Seriously, will she ever be allowed to play anything but a teenager? Seriously.
So, the movie was pretty cute. It takes place (mostly) in (mythical?) Bodeen, Texas: where mother-daughter pageant brunches are real neighbourly with the Oink Joint, where there are short-bus expresses to the Big City Austin, where a girl named Bliss could never dream of becoming tattooed, hard-nosed, roller derby poster-child Babe Ruthless. Wait, strike that last part - that happens. And yes, you can see how this story will unfold a mile away, right down to the cliched "two big events on one day… which will she choose?" moment. But, you shouldn't watch this movie for its plot.

Acting was pretty solid, with Juliette Lewis and Kristen Wiig playing the most fun parts. Marcia Gay Harden is her usual awesome self - talk about underusing talent, though. Lots of people you recognise: Jimmy Fallon, Eve, and Zoe Bell among them. And while it does paint roller derby as a lot more princess-like than it really is, there's plenty of blood and broken noses too. This is a good, light, cotton-candy flick; perfect for girls night in or a Tuesday night. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, October 02, 2009

chicken shit

So, tomorrow I get back in the driver's seat for the first time since Quinn's demise. For those of you who know me, either via blog or in-person, I think it will come as a surprise that I'm a little nervous. Actually, a lot nervous. In all honesty, the thought just about fills me with dread. I keep thinking stupid questions: have I forgotten how to drive? will my reaction time be slower? am I going to become that person, the one that develops a tick or who can't drive over 40 kph?

Under advisement from my doctor, I actually contacted the EAP - you know, talk to a shrink about my hangups. I'm rolling my eyes even as I type this. Rationally, I know this is all pretty dumb. It's not like I was even permanently injured or something. I mean, post-traumatic stress syndrome? That's for war vets and rape victims, right? Not for car accidents! Certainly not for car accidents from which you walk away. And yet… there it is: little dagger-winged butterflies in the pit of my stomach, getting agitated every time I think about getting behind the wheel.

I hate that she ruined my long weekend, killed my car, scarred my left arm and permanently changed the way I sign my name; I hate that, on top of all this, she's shattered my self-confidence and robbed me of my independence. I hate this new weakness.

Wish me luck.