Friday, March 18, 2011

The Spy Who Loved Me

Our favorite saucy spy is back y'all.  That's right- Valerie Plame has been double-crossed, taken the high road with some decent memoirs (highly recommend Fair Game if you're curious about all things CIA), dipped her toe into Hollywood waters when her memoirs became a (pretty mediocre) movie, and now she's just signed a deal with Penguin Group USA to write a series of international suspense novels.

(Remember this hot little Vanity Fair number?)

Good for Val.  Given how she and 'ol Joe Wilson kept squeaking about how they didn't have a pot to piss in after and during the whole ordeal, hopefully this means she's banking beyond her wildest dreams and upgrading to granite countertops in her adobe abode.  She may be a little overexposed these days, but Val is a solid citizen and a fearless broad who actually keeps her roots done.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thawing out

Morning my sweets! Two days in a row of blogging from Miss ADD herself? What’s the special occasion?

None really. Just slowly emerging from winter hibernation. A very slight bit sad to say goodbye to some of the only things I enjoy about winter: straight hair, patterned tights, my space heater (which I regularly refer to as my boyfriend), and tons o' hot soup; but downright elated to say goodbye to everything else about Baltic daily life in the Mid-Atlantic. You know: bundling up for twenty minutes just to walk out the door, feeling like a crocodile to the touch, constant nail-breakage, gale force winds (Wind is my least favorite element! Good riddance arctic blasts!), my north face knee-length quilted parka that makes me look like a stuffed sausage, lack of regular running due to tundra-like conditions, and being stuck inside because even though there are no winter sports within reasonable range, I’m still bloody trapped in winter itself.

But our cold days are numbered. Time to blossom, young flowers (cue in interpretive dance from high school drama class), and throw on ballet flats, short skirts (hide your children), some SPF, and spend as little time indoors as possible!

In the spirit of curiosity, two quality discoveries of late:

1. Sylvia Plath. Feeling silly over here given I’m pushing 30 and just embracing Plath, but better late than never. Just watched “Sylvia,” a dark film documenting her life, in which she’s played by Gweneth Paltrow and her husband, Ted Hughes, is played by Daniel Craig.  Neither are hard on the eyes and it was a sad but lovely film.  Aren't sad ones usually the loveliest?  I wholly agree.  Inspired me to make two new book purchases:  Plath’s “The Bell Jar”, and Hughes’ “Birthday Letters.” There are so many juicy stories about these two, I don’t even know where to start. Sweet Sylvia was a serial suicide addict since the ripe age of 9, and it turns out she gassed herself to death in her own kitchen (which was later mimicked by Hughes’ second wife, with whom he was having an affair while married to Plath). Folks these are the types of people who make me realize how glad I am to have a BO-RING life sans love triangles.

Check out these minxes:  the real Sylvia on the left, and Gweneth playing Sylvia on the right (along real life and on screen mumsie).  How cute are these two?

2. Stuff You Should Know podcasts. A sister podcast to my normal choice of Stuff You Missed In History Class, SYSK is a refreshing twist on what had become an endless series on ancient, ancient, ancient history (With a new host whom I don’t care for.  "For whom I don't care," for the record, but sometimes following preposition rules sounds so pretentious to tell you the truth).  Turns out I’m a good American, and I like my history fresh and recent and at a maximum 700 or so years old.  My teenie, tiny little brain just can't fit more in.  So I temporarily switched camps and listened to a fabulous, random podcast this morning about synesthesia -- it's a disorder when someone's senses accidentally tie together, and your visuals spark the feeling of touch (like how we all feel that tackle when we're watching the Gators, but for real), or sounds tie to colors and you literally see a color projection (sort of like Fantasia, but for real) accompanying every note.  Our dear compatriot Vladimir Nabokov was apparently a "synesthese" -- perhaps symptoms are also being very, very naughty?
Toodles for now.  xo

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Happy Monday y'all!  Back to energy madness (not a great week for nuclear energy, eh?) and coming off a superlative weekend (wink, wink...).  Just wrapping up this little number and moving on to the next jewel on my reading list which, did I mention, is bursting at the seams?  My tiny apartment is so full of books I could probably be jailed for breaking some city fire ordinance!  But I will persevere and share my precious space with the hundreds of chatty little roommates, as they will one day line the walls of my sprawling dream estate's rooms of built-in bookshelves. 
One of my more recent addition's was Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants," a depression-era novel about the life of Jacob Janowski, an ivy league-trained veterinarian who fled to join the circus.  The story bounces between Jacob's present-day 93 year-old self, and his younger version working on the Benzini Brothers' Most Spectacular Show on Earth (swap "Benzini Brothers" with "Smith Sisters" and you'd have a great title for some of the drunken aerobics videos my sister and I made a few years ago- neither here nor there).  Jacob falls in love with Marlena, the beautiful horse trainer and wife of August, a sort of jekyll and hyde-type who is more evil than he is good.  And you quickly realize the story is just that: a story.  It goes by quickly and painlessly, even including a decent love triangle, but without real meaning or identifiable themes.  Not to mention the title is never really explained (it is elluded to in a nursing home conversation, but is immediately forgotten and turns out to be quite arbitrary).

Overall, a cheap 'n cheerful read for a rainy afternoon, which was a perfect chaser to Tom Wolfe's bantering manifesto.

Have a lovely week enjoying the longer days!  Sister and I are bussing up to NYC this weekend so I can run the New York Half Marathon and she can help me carb load at Mario Batali's newest Manhattan hot spot, "Lupa."  Can't wait for some sister time, running through the city to the cheers of the crowd, and most of all, the pasta.  xx

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review: A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe

Friends and lovers- how's things?  This has been a whirlwind month of working + work travel for me, and I have let my personal reading list slip by the wayside as I've ingested tons of clean energy lit.  Oh renewable portfolio standards and public utility commissions!  Hark our clean energy future!  (errr...or not.  As usual, thanks for nothing Congress.)

Not only that, but my reading list queue has been hogged by this beast, Tom Wolfe's "A Man in Full."  At almost 800 pages, the 'ol chap really outdid himself this time.  Looking back at a book it took me over a month to read, my only real comment, which is more a complaint, is that it was long.  Reading 800 pages of Tolstoy goes down like a glass of champagne; reading 800 pages of Tom is like my morning Jillian Michaels video:  watching the minutes pass on my clock but sticking through the pain because I know it's good for me (Love you Jillian darling!  Especially if I get my 6-week 6-pack!).  The man is just too verbose, the plot is just too predictable, and all of his characters are just too over the top.  Now I've never been one to practice moderation, but all of his antagonists are in a constant battle with themselves and you can cut the tension with a knife at any page in the book.  That's exhausting y'all! 

So if you're on the market to ingest 800 pages of racial and class tension in Atlanta during the boom 90s:  knock yourself out.  But if you're interested in a taste of Tom, you'd be well-served to munch on some Bonfire and take the next exit back to your bookshelf.