What I Am: The Hype Edition

I am usually pretty cautious when it comes to certain things in the realm of pop culture (see: Twilight). But I’m willing to give anything a go, especially when it comes to books. Less so with movies, but I watched such a great movie, that I’m offering a wholly unsolicited review this week.

The Blind Side
I stayed up until nearly midnight to watch all of this movie on a recent Saturday night. I’m not slavishly devoted to watching Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning films. I tend to like my movies as entertainment, not vehicles that make me think a lot. While I am sure The Hurt Locker is an excellent examination of wartime psychology, it’s not going to be what I want to settle onto my couch to watch with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

I had my doubts, too, about The Blind Side. Based on a True Story, rich white folks, poor black boy, high school football, etc., etc.

But I found The Blind Side to be quietly moving, and utterly compelling. Sandra Bullock earned every molecule of gold in that statuette for her portrayal as a woman who reached out to a boy in need. It’s far less about black and white than I expected (although it does touch on racial tensions and class differences), and it was not a huge, moving tear-jerker, which I really appreciated.

The story is rife with quiet moments that are affecting. There are no bombastic moments that ensure You Are Going To Feel Something! It’s touching and funny and sweet. Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) is a no-nonsense suburban mom and wife (with her own design business). Aside from Kathy Bates as Miss Sue, Michael Oher’s tutor, there are no big-name movie stars in the rest of the cast, but everyone is just excellent. And Quinton Aaron is quite a find as Oher — he was such a natural that when the real Michael Oher appeared at the end of the film, I had forgotten that I was watching an actor portray him as a high school student. I was like, “He looks so different!” Der.

Aside from the way Bullock captures Tuohy’s emotional moments (she prefers to walk into another room rather than let people see her get teary-eyed), I loved the college recruitment scenes. Anyone who loves college ball should watch this movie for these alone. S.J. (the son) is going to crack you up.

++

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson

I checked this out of the library, started it, and had to take it back. I wasn’t encouraged by my first try. The book opens with the end of a libel trial in Sweden, and it didn’t seem that promising.

But then my mom left me her paperback copy, and I decided to try again.

And once I got past that opening scene, it’s a real page-turner, a locked-room mystery complete with sex, incest, murder, intrigue, and interesting characters (if not straight-forward hero-type protagonists). I was unsure about continuing after a rape scene (not graphically portrayed, but still unpleasant), but I’m glad I stuck it out, not only because of the karma boomerang, but because the suspense and mystery just keep ratcheting up.

I haven’t quite finished the book yet. It’s long and Larsson packs — er, excuse me, packed — a lot into its pages. I’m already looking forward to getting my hands on the other two in the series. Lisbeth Salander is fascinating, and I want to see what she gets up to next.

The More About Me Meme!

Allison at Allison Says was kind enough to hit me with a pretty flattering meme — two weeks ago. I’m finally getting around to it.

The Honest Scrap award is given by other bloggers who consider a blog’s content or design to be brilliant (geez, can you feel me blushing?). The awardee must then post ten honest things about him-/herself and pass the award on to other bloggers who fit the bill — in other words, whose blog is brilliant.

1. I have never, ever watched an episode of American Idol. I eschew “reality” television in general; I watched a season of The Apprentice (the original one with Omarosa on it), and I watched a couple of seasons of Last Comic Standing — I even voted for one of them once (John H… something). Otherwise: nada.

2. Actually, when it comes to television, I watch exactly one network show (“Lost”), Steelers football, and Penguins hockey. That may change now that we have cable. If I were to pick up one show (or maybe two), what would you suggest?

3. I still do not own an iPod. I would like to own an iPod, if for no other reason than because then I wouldn’t have to get the CD player in my car fixed. Although I suppose I should get those stuck CDs out of there, eh?

4. I am oddly intrigued by Lady Gaga. I blame this Slate article. Wanting to add a Lady Gaga station to my Pandora put me on a slippery slope. I did it anyway. As a result, I voluntarily listened to a whole Brittany Spears song — “Womanizer” — my first one ever (unless you count Fountain of Wayne’s version of “…Baby, One More Time”).

5. I am still smoking my daily cigarette. I’ve missed a day or two since quitting for 47 days at the beginning of this year. But haven’t really tried to give it up again. Yet.

6. Pursuant to the hair discussion: I had long, straight, auburn hair as a child. I wore it with bangs (occasionally feathered, of course) until 8th grade. Then, reading a YM (Young Miss, at the time) magazine, I stumbled across a photo of a girl with a very short hairstyle that I realized would look great on me. When I brought it to my mom and asked to cut all my hair off, I could see her heart break a little bit. But she let me do it. It was oddly liberating — that and getting contact lenses at the same time. I felt freed from the four-eyed, braces-wearing geek I had been until then. (Which doesn’t/didn’t make me less of a geek. Just less self-conscious about being one.)

7. I love sharing my bed with Bun (on occasion). I love to wake up and study her sleeping face. My Bun is never still — she runs, she jumps, she hops, she runs. In repose, her beauty — the smooth baby-cheeks, pink mouth, long lashes — is fascinating to me. (I love the way Monkey sleeps, but I don’t like bed-sharing so much with her — she steals the covers, and sleeps with her hair in her face. So, hard to study at rest.)

8. I don’t have anything to say about Michael Jackson. I was never a fan. I didn’t watch or listen to any coverage of his circus. I mean, funeral. This isn’t bragging — hell, I just admitted to being intrigued by someone who counts him as an influence. The two best things I did read about him — and the media coverage — are here and here. I feel both ways at the same time.

9. The mess in my house is starting to wear me out. And piss me off. And I don’t know what to do about it. It is too cluttered; we have too much stuff; mice keeping coming to visit, which means the stuff that usually lives in our bottom kitchen cupboards lives on our dining room table instead; DearDR suspects mold is lurking somewhere (basement or upstairs bathroom, in the wall); and the office… Don’t let’s start on the damn office. Short of taking time off work to clean and/or shipping my children out for a weekend, I’m not sure what my options are, really.

10. I am currently considering — seriously considering — going to see ABBA in Chatauqua in New York. It would be for the purpose of seeing my two best friends in the world, of course. But let’s face it: ABBA. And I would probably dance. And sing “Dancing Queen”.

Where do I turn in my punk rock card?

My nominees for Honest Scrap awards are:
Gina at My Very Last Nerve: Brilliantly funny. Gina already did these — twice! 10 Honest Things and 10 Horrible Secret Confessions.
Uncle Crappy: Brilliantly matter-of-fact.
Ethel at Mom’s Brain: A brilliant glimpse of being a caretaker for a parent. This is like a glimpse into my mother’s life with her mother.
Looky, Daddy!: Just brilliant.