Monday, December 31, 2012

Movie Stats for 2012

Total Movies Watched:  295

Foreign:   9
Classics (pre 1967):  29
Horror:  19
Documentary:  30
Theater: 30
Movies I watched Live (at home): 12

In 2011 I topped out at 301. Slacked off some this year, but I did more reading so I guess it evens out.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reading Stats for 2012

Books Read:    110

Non-Fiction:  56
Fiction:    54

So the ratio was closer than I had hoped.  It is nearly even!

My goal of 85 was reached the first week of November.

Paper books borrowed from Library:  50
E Books: 11 (pathetic)
Audio books:  44
Paper books I own:  1
Classics:  8
Borrowed from Friend who happens to be the author:  2
New Authors:  76
Longest book read:  800 Pages (The Passage)
Longest book listened to:  47 hours (The Count of Monte Cristo)

Favorite Fiction:  The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (audio)
                             May the Road Rise up to Meet You by Peter Troy (paper)

Least Favorite Fiction:  Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Carol for Another Christmas

:Carol for Another Christmas" is a TV movie that was filmed in 1964.  It was scripted by Rod Serliing.  It is the retelling of "A Christmas Carol" but made very modern (for 1964).

Here is a blurb from Wikipedia:

Presented without commercial interruptions, this "United Nations Special" was sponsored by the Xerox Corporation, the first of a series of Xerox specials promoting the UN. Director Joseph Mankiewicz's first work for television, the 90-minute ABC drama was publicized as having an all-star cast (which meant that names of some supporting cast members were not officially released). In Rod Serling's update of Charles Dickens, industrial tycoon Daniel Grudge (Sterling Hayden) has never recovered from the loss of his 22-year-old son Marley (Peter Fonda), killed in action during Christmas Eve of 1944. The embittered Grudge has only scorn for any American involvement in international affairs. But then the Ghost of Christmas Past (Steve Lawrence) takes him back through time to a World War I troopship. Grudge also is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present (Pat Hingle), and the Ghost of Christmas Future (Robert Shaw) gives him a tour across a desolate landscape where he sees the ruins of a once-great civilization. In the final weeks of post-production, Peter Fonda's scenes were deleted, but his image remained in the film, recognizable in a portrait on the wall.

This was aired by Turner Classic Movies on December 16th, 2012 after 42 years.

My thoughts on this film are mixed.  I am a traditional "A Christmas Carol" girl.  I like my ghost of Christmas future not to talk, I like my Tiny Tim and my Bah Humbugs.  This movie had none of that.  If it were not for the 'ghosts', I would not have thought this was a retelling.  However, the fact that Rod Serling wrote this script gives it a definite "Twilight Zone" feel.  This is very dark, and yes I know "A Christmas Carol" is dark, but this is dark even for today's standards.

As a stand alone film, it was thought provoking, I just didn't like having to fit the story I know into this format.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Final Christmas Book of the Season & One Christmas Movie

Christmas Stories: Heartwarming Classics of Angels, a Manger, and the Birth of Hope by Max Lucado 

This is a collection of short stories including:  The Christmas Candle.  Most of these stories take place during the time of Jesus, some take place in an earlier era.  All have heavy religious overtones.  Inspiring but not light reading.  3/5 stars.

This is the 6th Christmas book I've read for the season. I will not be reading any more.  I was not in the Christmas mood this year at all, I am surprised I read as many as I did.
The only Christmas movie I watched this week was "Arthur Christmas".  Arthur is Santa's youngest son.  He goes out one night with his grandfather (the former Santa Claus) but he doesn't start out to be the hero, he just wanted to make sure a little girl got her gift so her faith in Santa will not be shaken.

I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but of course, I did.  4/5 Stars 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

3 More Christmas books

Christmas After All by Kathryn Lasky is a book from the "Dear America" series of children's books. Minnie Swift is a pre-teen girl living in Depression Era America. Her family is not as bad off as a lot of people in America but they still see the times growing lean. They take in Minnie's cousin Willie Fay who was orphaned. Christmas is fast approaching and Minnie is not sure if this will be a Merry Christmas or not. I've never read a "Dear America" book before, honestly I never heard of it. I thought it was pretty good. I wish these were out when I was a kid. 4/5 stars.

The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall is the story of a young Amish woman named Mattie who loves to bake and owns her own shop.  She is dating one man but still has feelings for Gideon, the one who broke her heart.  Gideon is hiding a secret from her.  Will he ever be able to tell her and win her love again?

 I usually like Cindy Woodsmall books, but I thought this one was just OK.  It was slow, It was predictable.  Mattie's character got on my nerves.  What a whiny, bubble-head.  3/5 stars.

A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs was FANTASTIC. I loved this book.  Meg is a young woman who is in a train accident during a snowstorm.  She is unhurt but needs to get home.  Gordon Shaw, another passenger, offers to see her to safety.  Yeah, I know it sounds like a love story. But Oh My, this was some trip!  Not predictable at all. Loved every minute of this book. And to top it off, it was Christian.  4.5/5 stars.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holiday Movies - Week 2

Christmas on Chestnut Street:  A department store decides to have a 'Holiday Lights' contest.  The winner gets a shopping spree.  Neighbors try to outdo each other -- The Bigger The Better.  Sub plot of a romance developing.  In the end, people realize the true meaning of the holiday's (Hanukkah is not left out of this movie -- bravo).

A Tyler Perry's Madea's Christmas:  Tyler Perry started out producing plays.  This was one of them.  A bourgeois black family plans for their Christmas celebration.  They 'require' their maid to work on Christmas day, so she is unable to spend it with her family.  The daughter of the bourgeois family thought it would be nice to invite the maid's family over to their house for Christmas. Little did they know that this includes Madea.  Lots of laughs and lots of soulful singing.  And as always, this makes you think, as Tyler Perry is so masterful at doing.

Crazy For Christmas:  A wealthy man is chauffeured around by his daughter who he never met. She doesn't know who he is and finds his behavior eccentric, however, she is a single mother and really needs the money.  Eventually she finds out that this man is her father and the story takes an interesting twist.

Christmas Unwrapped:  This was a non-fiction film that highlights how Christmas has changed over the years.  Interviewing older and younger people about what is special about Christmas for them.  It also gave ideas on how to make the holiday more memorable for your family while keeping it simple and to remind us what the holiday is truly about.

New Year's Eve:  An  all star cast.  The lives of several New Yorker's on New Years Eve.  The stress, the loneliness, the absurdity.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reading 2013

I’ve been going around in my head about what I will read for 2013.  I’ve done alphabetical lists, I’m really not interested in doing a geographical list, so what is left?
I’ve decided that I will read MOSTLY new authors for 2013.  I would say I would read only 100% new authors but the truth is, there are some books coming out next year by authors such as (Stephen King, etc.) that I will read, as well as finishing up some books I let lie around, not to mention the trilogies I’m in the middle of, and that J.K. Rowling book that I’ve yet to read.  HOWEVER, I will be reading a good portion of new authors. 
I was going to cut out the non-fiction reading all together, but there are so many interesting books I want to read, however, most, if not all of them are from authors I’ve never read. So it will work.
I have to set rules for myself or I will go astray.
  1. I can read two books by a new author (i.e. Marilynne Robinson’s “Home” and “Gilead”).
  2. Read a percentage of new authors based on anticipated total books read.  I will start with reading 60% new authors.  If I plan to read 85 books next year, then I will read 51 new authors.  This will not include 2 books by the same author, so Marilynne Robinson will be counted only once.
  3. I can books from a collection as long as I’ve never read the author. (i.e. “Star Trek: Children of the Storm” by Kirsten Beyer).  I’ve read many Star Trek books, but not one by this particular author.
  4. Don’t get stuck on a particular subject.  For instance, last year I found that I enjoyed books that were about the antebellum south.  So I read a lot of them one right after the other.  There is nothing wrong with reading books you enjoy, but I will try not to cluster them.  The only exceptions will be in October (Halloween/Horror) and December (Christmas).
Looking back on 2012, out of the 98 books I’ve read to date 70 of these books were by authors I’ve never read before, but this was purely accidental. I didn’t start out planning to do that, I just felt I needed to expand my reading scope.  However, far too many of these books were non-fiction, which is not hard to find a new author in that genre.  Out of the 70 new authors only 37 of those were new fiction authors.  So my goal is two fold, I need to read more new authors of fiction while reducing my reading new authors of non-fiction, thereby bringing my overall non-fiction reading number down considerably.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Movies

I've started watching Holiday films.  Here is what I've watched so far:

Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade - Technically a 'Thanksgiving' movie, but it is the start of the Holiday season.  Romantic movie about a woman whose boyfriend is reluctant to propose so she breaks it off.  She is forced to work with a guy who she thinks is a jerk.  Do I really have to spell it out?

Miracle At Sage Creek
- I finally watched this.  A pioneer family is about to lose there home because of a unhappy land owner who hates Native Americans.  Will this 'scrooge' have a change of heart?  Sometimes we get mercy even though we don't deserve it.

Holiday Spin - I have only two words RALPH MACCHIO.  Yes a 50+ year old Ralph (who still looks at least 10 years younger) is a dance instructor who gains custody of his estranged teenage son.  We get to see Ralph glide across the floor.  Another treat in this movie is Benji Schwimmer, who plays a real jerk (go figure).  Those of you who are "So You Think You Can Dance" fans know who that is.

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas - Not my favorite H&K movie.  It was silly but touching in parts.

Christmas Song - A Girl's High School merges with a Boy's High school. Jobs will be made redundant, and to determine which music director stays on one of them will have to win the Christmas Singing contest.  Will it be the boys or the girls music director?

The History of the Holiday's - A set of documentaries put out by the History Channel.  These four discs include One about the birth of Jesus, one about Christmas at Wartime, another about the origins of St. Nick and one on various Christmas origins. Very interesting and informative.

It's A Wonderful Life - This is my favorite Christmas movie in the whole wide world!!

No man is a failure who has friends