Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Play Ball?

It's hard not to think about baseball right now. In Chicago (more specifically, in my apartment & in an elementary school on the North Side, the two places I spend most of my time), water cooler talk is all about the Cubs. Almost everyone has an opinion on them, either highly positive (This is their year!) or historically negative (They're gonna choke!)...except me.

Would I like the Cubs to win the World Series? Sure, why not. Will I lose any sleep if they don't? Nope. I'm not a good baseball fan in general - I only start following it in October, and watch only the World Series itself, if that. On top of that, when I am a fan at all, I'm a fan of the White Sox (who were World Series Champs as recently as 2005, not that ESPN remembers). For me to enthusiastically cheer on the Cubs now feels like more than jumping on the bandwagon. It's inauthentic - traitorous, even.

Instead, I'll watch quietly from my couch, cheering on a good game in general. I'll ask Cubs fans how they're feeling about upcoming games 3 & 4 (and likely 5) here in Chicago. I'll enjoy the playing of "Go Cubs Go" over the PA system at school. And I'll most definitely stay far away from Wrigleyville this weekend, where a combo of Halloween weekend and the games that could decide the winner of the World Series will probably incite a drunk zombie riot.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Night in Sleepy Hollow 2016

Last year Jesus and I "discovered" the interactive Sleepy Hollow performance in Bourbonnais and this year we brought our families. The basics remained the same, with some additions (like an actual "White Horse Tavern" to drink cider in) and the chase through the Hollow still didn't disappoint.

Ah, the magic of small town Illinois. (And we all kept our heads!) :)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Little Prince

The Little PrinceThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A classic children's story that will delight adults as well. A great reminder to enjoy life and life's small pleasures.

First thoughts: Beautiful. Sweet, touching, perfect.

Favorite quote: "Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again." -p2

Recommended for: children and grown-ups who've forgotten what it's like to be a child.

Final thoughts: Reminds me of Life of Pi or Haroun and the Sea of Stories. The Netflix movie adaptation is great as well!

View all my reviews

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Night Links 35

A few fun things:

Three episodes in, Jesus and I are HOOKED on Westworld.

Are you a Bad Hombre or a Nasty Woman? (Either way....VOTE.)

What would you trade for a cubs ticket?

Nice sweater, Aaron.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Scary Movies 2016

We're deep in spooky season and it shows in my Netflix queue and Redbox rental history. Here are a few of my favorite scares from this season (some new releases, some just new to me!):

Spielberg's classic shark tale is a movie everyone should watch at some point in their lives. The understated humor, the subtle glances, and the modest effects allow the story and the suspense to take the lead. It's hard not to be amazed at 1975 movie magic. And this trailer - perfect!

Don't Look Under the Bed
This 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie is way ahead of its time, dealing with themes like childhood cancer, different ways of grieving, the use of logic versus emotions, and teen angst. Frances has to convince not only her parents, but also herself that not everything can be explained using reason - and that imaginary friends are lost to growing up too soon.

The Conjuring 2
There's nothing like banking on a successful horror franchise! Thanks to director/producer James Wan (director - Saw, Dead Silence, Death Sentence, Insidious, The Conjuring, Insidious: Chapter 2, Furious 7 (and upcoming Aquaman) and producer - the rest of the Saw franchise, Annabelle, Insidious: Chapter 3, Lights Out (and upcoming Annabelle 2 and Insidious: Chapter 4)), we now know what maybe happened with the case of the Enfield Poltergeist in 1977. Spoiler: it wasn't sunshine and rainbows.

The X-Files: Season 5 and Fight the Future
Jesus and I finally made it through Season 5 of The X-Files - a long one with strange dips into conspiracy and a lot of backstory, much of it leading up to the movie released between seasons 5 and 6 - The X-Files: Fight the Future. The movie was a treat, and felt like classic episodes from earlier seasons. It was part mystery/whodunit and part paranormal investigation. We're quite ready for Season 6 now.

American Horror Story: Seasons 1 & 2
We're pretty late to the party with this one, but since so many people seem to love AHS and it features new story lines each season (which means we can treat the show like 6 mini-shows), we're finally on board. We have noticed in these first two seasons a lot of build-up (episodes 1-5ish) and then a roller coaster ride to the finale. It seems as thought in each season there has been one episode that holds the key to all the mysteries laid out in previous episodes; if we can stay hooked until then, we're golden.

Extras: Scary Movies 2015, 2014, and 2013 plus our Halloween activities so far this month.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Scary Books 2016

It's halfway through Spooky Month - how are you doing on haunts? If you need to catch up on your scares, here are a few books that can do the job.

The Haunting of Hill HouseThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A group of four lives in and investigates Hill House, looking for signs of the paranormal.

First thoughts: Creepy. A slow burn creep; each page feels ominous, like something is waiting and watching over the inhabitants of Hill House.

Favorite quote: "We never know where our courage is coming from." -Theodora, p50

Recommended for: horror fans, those who can handle suspense.

Final thoughts: Shirley Jackson is one of the most efficient writers I've read.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rosemary is pregnant and her neighbors are all too eager to help her out, until it becomes clear they have ulterior motives.

First thoughts: Another slow burn, but a fast read. This book starts out a little creepy, then lulls you into a false sense of normal. I'm curious to see how the movie interprets certain scenes.

Recommended for: not mothers-to-be.

Final thoughts: Casual racist stereotypes aside, Rosemary's Baby features a strong cast of characters - some to cheer for, others to be leery of right off the bat.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A teenager possessed by a demon, a mother turning to the church for help, a priest trying to keep the past behind him, and a police investigator trying to make sense of a senseless death.

First thoughts: I love that the book fleshes out the main characters so well - we get to see the inner thoughts of the major players, especially Father Karras. A lot of the book was about his internal struggle and the mind games Regan plays with him. His backstory (along with details about Fr. Merrin, Dennings, Kinderman, Karl, and Willie) makes the whole book richer. It's less scare your pants off, more philosophical. Some parts read like a mystery novel.

Recommended for: anyone who has seen the classic movie and enjoyed it, but wants to fill in a few gaps, horror fans, churchgoers and atheists, those with a love for the macabre.

Final thoughts: I wonder what has been said/written about all the emphasis on names and personalities. Knowing someone's name gives characters power. There's Regan and her demon, the demon's different personalities, and other characters have their moments of clarifying their names, changing their names, or discussing their names. Important themes seem to be centered around what we call ourselves and what we let others call us.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Say No to Pinktober (Again)

[Editor's Note: This post first appeared on ATRD on October 3, 2011. Five years later, it's still relevant.]

If you haven't noticed, it's October. Many great things happen in October. Baseball is finally worth watching, hockey and basketball seasons start, and football is in full swing. Scary movies play on TV. Apples, squash, and pumpkin are everywhere. A lot of pink things start showing up as well. I'm not a fan of the pink initiative. Before you hate me, let me include a disclaimer: I'm against cancer. I just don't know how strong the link between "awareness" and "cure" is. If October were National We Found a Cure for Breast Cancer month, I'd be supportive.

There's a great article here [2014 update: herehere, and here, 2016 update: here] that sums up my feelings on the month. What angers me most is how much of a lucrative business gimmick it's become. If I didn't already have issues with the gendered coloring of distinctly non-gendered items, I still wouldn't pay for a pink trinket to "raise awareness" - awareness doesn't equal action or results. I support finding a cure, providing treatment, and helping survivors and their families, but I think we're all well aware of breast cancer itself at this point.

Besides, can't we all just agree the "I (heart) boobies" bracelets (and their offshoots) are objectifying? Women are more than their chests. A woman who's had a mastectomy probably misses not just her boobs, and she's no less of a woman (or a person) without one or both of them. Plus there's the fact that breast cancer is still most common in women past the perky point in their boob life--I doubt they refer to their breasts as boobies. And let's not forget men, who can also get breast cancer but maybe don't care about "boobies," per se. [2016 update: All this to say, I do (heart) boobies. I think they are great. But breast cancer is not just about boobs, it's about a malicious disease that affects a whole person.]

What I'm saying is: wear pink if you want. Or don't. But let's not pretend that this color is doing the real work of preventing, treating, or curing breast cancer. And while we're at it, let's treat people with cancer like humans, not like body parts that happened to have people attached to them.