Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up below! One of these days I'm going to actually like push this on twitter and tweet about it and make it more legit. Mmmmmmhmmmmm.

1. The new Mac OS is called Yosemite. Ew. I like Macs, I like Yosemite, but do they need to be together? It's like combining Diet Coke and chocolate milk.

[Hey! I've hiked that thing! Twice! Source]

2. I finished Tana French's The Secret Place- hallelujah. I'm now reading an ARC of Reif Larsen's I Am Radar and am totally loving it so far.

3. The Giants are in the World Series! We don't have cable or satellite so we sucked it up and spent the $10 dollars so we could stream the World Series games on MLB Live (or something like that) on the PlayStation.


4. You should follow Los Feliz Daycare on Twitter. Ridiculously funny.

5. The Common Core Committee I am on is working on a unit on dystopias and we agreed to suggest Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, 1984, and A Brave New World in our work. I have to confess I've only read the first (I know. I know! Sci-fi-esque books aren't really my bag), so I've got some reading to do before we meet again. I'm a little excited, a little annoyed.

6. Tomorrow night is parent-teacher conferences, a night I tend to dread, and this year more so. It has nothing to do with interacting with the parents- that's usually pleasant and productive. The crappy part is that we're there from 4:30 to 8:00. We get to leave early the next day, but I have a lunch meeting so I'm not going to really reap those rewards. This time will be especially hard since I'll have to pick Sawyer up from daycare, feed him really fast, and then basically go back to work. And by the time I get home it will be time to feed him again and put him to sleep. Wah.

7. This weekend I have to finish/start Halloween projects. We need a pumpkin (really I just want to take pictures of Sawyer at a pumpkin patch) and I need to make the dogs their stupid costumes. Can you sense the enthusiasm?

8. Today the inevitable happened- I was walked in on while pumping at work. Despite the sign on my door. Despite it being my prep period and there not really being a reason to come in. It gets better- the intruders were an assistant principal and one of the big guys from the district office. Even better? I yelled at them. Twice. Luckily I was all covered up, but it was still traumatizing. 

9. This irritates me so much.

10. The UCLA "Friends of English" is starting a virtual book club, but I'm pretty sure you have to be a "friend" as in "I give you money" sort of friend. Until I'm done paying off my student loans I'm not giving that campus a dime.

Take a Walk

PSA for today: take a walk. Put on some shoes, lock up the door, and just go. It will make you feel ten times (or more) better about life. 

And will justify the PopTart you ate when you walked in the door from work. But mostly it will just make you feel happier. 

Good Morning/Sponsored Post

It's not even six-o-clock in the morning on a Monday, yet here I am sitting on the couch, in the dark, blogging. It's a meeting day. I'm usually not a proponent of publicly biting the hand that feeds you, but I'm on a big, "important" committee for work that I'm really struggling with. We're redesigning the curriculum to correlate to Common Core (another blog post, for another time) and it's just really frustrating and stressful (while I'm there, anyway). It's a lot to do and I'm often not sure if I've been equipped properly to do so. I'm not always the best at working with others... but here I am. Anyway, the one good thing (besides an hour lunch instead of the normal thirty minutes) is that I don't have to be there until 8:30, as opposed to our normal seven am contract time. So, here I am blogging in my jammies with a cup of coffee while Sawyer gets to sleep in. Lucky bastard. 

Wow. So that was a little out of context. Anyway. 

I'm really just quickly stopping by to report on Tana French's The Secret Place, which Penguin was generous to send me a copy of. Unfortunately, I wasn't a huge fan. Always in search of a solid, well-written, high-interest mystery, I had my hopes up, since I know some of her other books did well. This one was quite lengthy, at almost 400 pages, but that was fine. The premise was quite interesting, being about a cold case at a all-girl's school being resurrected by two detectives. The execution- not so much. 

The biggest flaw, for me, was the pacing. The book seriously dragged. The narration was split between the past, in the time leading up to the murder, and the present, during the rekindled investigation. This should have sped things along nicely, but it did not. I think one of the main problems was that the present section took place during one day and was mainly interviews between the detectives and the girls. This of course could have been done well, but was not.

The characters lacked depth. The ending wasn't anything special. The setting, an old all-girls school, could have added to the story, but it merely existed. The writing was generally a step or two above your standard mystery, although I couldn't figure out if she was going over-the-top with the unrealistic teenage dialogue on purpose sometimes or not.

This book had a lot of potential, but for me missed the mark. 

Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

[mad food photographer skills]
So, I was thinking that there might not be enough pumpkin recipes in the blog world. You know, a shortage of sorts. Kind of like the drought in California, but with pumpkin. So, in the interest of helping America, I bring you Pumpkin Molasses Cookies.

The molasses is subtle, so I'm sure you could add more if you compensate accordingly with the flour. Also, please note that the color of Nestle's Pumpkin Spice Morsels are absolutely offensive,  and the taste is a fairly strong (but reasonably so). I baked half the batch on one day and half the other; the cookies that had time to set in the fridge had a bit more of a stronger flavor, as to be expected. The end result is soft, pumpkin-y and delicious. 

Pumpkin Molasses Cookies
Yield: 3 dozen(ish)
Time: 15 minutes to prep

1 tsp molasses
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 bag of Nestle's Pumpkin Spice Morsels
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package of pudding (I used vanilla)
2 eggs
1 cup of unsalted butter, softened 

1. Preheat oven to 350 if you plan on baking immediately 

2. Combine butter, sugars, molasses, and eggs in mixer, combine as you always do when making cookies

3.  Mix in pudding and pumpkin pie spice

4. Slowly add flour and baking soda

5. When everything is all mixed up and ready to go, stir in the morsels 

6. Drop on cookie sheet and bake from 10-12 minutes, depending on your balls size and oven efficiency

Served best with Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbs.

Just kidding. I've never even had one. And did me saying "Starbs" make you cringe? Good. It was supposed to.

Base of recipe is adapted from this cookie recipe, which I adore.

Gone Girl: My Theory Supported

Last weekend marked my return to the movie theater after many, many months of absence. I say that like I regularly went before baby- truth is that I struggle to sit through movies, even more so when I’m stuck in the confines of one seat for hours at a time. Nonetheless, my husband and I both wanted to see Gone Girl (me because I was curious to see if this would back up my “bad books make good movies” theory, and my husband because he loves the director, David Fincher), so we abandoned the kid and went.
Several months ago I wrote about my lackluster feelings towards the novel by Gillian Flynn. I thought the writing was mediocre, the characters flat, and the entire premise (including the ending) downright ridiculous. Scratch that- not ridiculous, stupid. There were spots that were difficult to get interested in and others that I wished would hurry along- the pacing was poor. And I didn’t have a problem that the characters were despicable, as I don’t need to like the people I’m reading about (I know this is a common complaint in a sea full of accolades).
The movie, though, was great. I was a little apprehensive that it was over two-and-a-half hours (I prefer ninety minutes), but it didn’t feel like it all (until I had to pee, anyway). While the dialogue and plot events were basically identical to the novel, it was in many ways very different. The acting absolutely made the movie- Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were phenomenal, as were supporting actors Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris. They absolutely nailed it.
The movie’s tone is vitally different than the novel- it’s far more of a satire than the original. I often felt that it was almost making fun of the book, on some level- Affleck and Pike are deliberately overacting, producing this sort of hyper-aware, tongue-in-cheek, borderline campy feel at times feel (should I start a movie review blog, guys? Ha!).  Fincher is directly critiquing the role of the media in our lives, both their ways of spinning things and the public’s ways of believing them. He’s commenting on marriage and trust (although I will give the book credit for maybe doing this at least slightly). He’s showing us how scary boredom, childhood scars, and money woes are.
I find it fascinating that Flynn wrote the screenplay for this movie- if you look at the script alone you would simply see the book condensed. But yet with the acting and direction something much more emerges, something richer and more cerebral. It’s subtle,  but powerful.
Did you see it? Did you read it? Thoughts?