I don't really know what I am musing on these days. It's more like an irregular stream of consciousness thing...it seems to be working.


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w December 24, 2003

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Bean is finally just old enough for our family to really start appreciating Christmas traditions (well, okay, Mom and Dad are doing most of the appreciating). It didn't hit me until Gene and I were sitting down to a very lowkey Christmas Eve dinner (goat cheese and mixed greens, Aidell's andouille sausages, mango chutney, and champagne) -- and watching "Blue Collar Comedy" on Comedy Central. I'm not expecting Blue Collar Comedy every Christmas, but I could probably duplicate the meal.

Bean didn't get to partake of our sparkly meal, but we did have our Christmas party with cider and Christmas crackers, decorated the tree, went to the family service at St Peter's (only an hour, whoo hoo!), put on brand new fuzzy pajamas, Dad read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and we sang the first verse to "Away in a Manger"...and assured her that Santa wouldn't come if she didn't go to sleep. Granted, at not even two, Santa is a pretty obscure concept, but we felt like good parents. I have even insisted on a new tradition...buying Italian torrone...nougat with hazelnuts. Ooohhhhhhhhhh....

I guess this is all pretty cliched, but it sure is a lot of fun. Happy Holidays, y'all.

by Heather Hoffman at 8:01 PM

w December 10, 2003

Wasting Time

Am feeling particularly self-indulgent today, as well as avoiding finishing my Christmas cards, so thought I would enumerate my favorite books and movies of all time. Mostly it's for my own flakiness; in case anyone asks me, I can refer them to this website. Ha.

-Anything by Robertson Davies. He was the grandfather of modern Canadian literature, in my opinion, and writes a mean story. Ease into with The Salterton Trilogy, and move to the last two, Murther & Walking Spirits and The Cunning Man. It does help if you have some familiarity with Toronto and southern Ontario, but quite honestly, if you're reading this, you probably know me, and can ask.

-Persuasion, by Jane Austen. I love everything by Austen, but somehow, Persuasion ranks number 1. I do think Emma is utterly fun, but nope, Persuasion edges it out.

- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. Is it great literature? Hell, no. But it is a wonderful portrayal of growing up in pre-WWI Brooklyn, and that's a time period and place that can be oddly fascinating.

- She Comes Undone, by Wally Lamb. I realize Oprah shilled this, but it's still a great book

- Fried Green Tomatoes, by Fannie Flagg. Again, hardly great literature, but it is endlessly appealing, especially if you have any Southern women in your past

- Sophie's World, by Jostein Gaarder. It's trippy, but worth it

-The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx. I know everyone and their dog has probably seen the movie, but trust me, read the book. You get a little depressed every time you read Proulx, but it's a good depressed, if that makes any sense

- The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos. Nah, it's not anywhere near good lit, but I have the attention span of a peanut now, and this remains a good quick read

- Winter of Magic's Return, Pamela Service. It's a kid's book, but one that I still love reading, particularly on blustery winter nights in front of the fire. Read it and you'll see why.

- Tamlin, Pamela Dean. This one was introduced by my friend Camille, and I think we've both read ninety thousand times. It runs that fine edge of self-absorbed pretence, but it's worth it if you have ever liked fantasy.

- The Kitchen God's Wife, Amy Tan. Although I know The Joy Luck Club is the more well known, I think this is actually a better novel, perhaps because it doesn't try to jump amongst eight different lives.

- Tender At The Bone, Ruth Reichl. The one non-fiction on this list. Reichl is either the editor of Gourmet or the food critic for the New York Times or some combination therein. Or she was. Anyway, the point is, this book is so engaging that I actually began rereading it immediately after finishing it for the first time. I do tend to reread books more than the average bear, but this was a record. Don't bother with her second book, though, Comfort Me With Apples. It's one long whinge about her relationships. And the recipes aren't as appealing as before.

- The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell. This another awfully trippy read, but if you've ever wondered about science and religion reconciling (or not), run to the bookstore to get this.

- Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. At 14, this blew my mind. At nearly 30, it's still magical. And hot.

Aw, hell, let's face it, pretty much everything I've ever read becomes my favorite book. As much as I love my family, if I couldn't read, I think I'd have to just bury myself in a hole in the backyard.


- Mystic Pizza. I don't know why I love this movie so much, but I do.
- Eat Drink Man Woman. If you love food and have ever gone through the growing pains of becoming an adult child, watch this.
- Shine. I love Geoffrey Rush, I love the piano, what's not to like?
- Fargo. It's oddly hilarious in the midst of complete and total madness. And Frances McDormand kicks tuchis.
- Steel Magnolias. I know, I know. Utterly maudlin, utterly saccharine, utterly ridiculous. But I grew up surrounded by Southern women, so this always gets me, every time. Plus, Shirley Maclaine's character is the one we should all aspire to as we age. Damn it, I'm pleasant!
- Lilo & Stitch. Stitch. That's all you need to know.
- Best in Show. Christopher Guest is a bloody genius, and while I love the other three mockumentaries, this one remains my all time fave
- Antonia's Line. This dates from my foreign film phase, but it is the most beautiful, sexy, loving, female empowerment movie EVER. If you don't mind reading subtitles.
- Once Were Warriors. Okay. This is not an easy movie to watch. But prepare yourself, and go get it. I'll warn you that there are some very very very ugly scenes of domestic violence, but there is this constant thread of personal redemption that just grabs you by the throat and keeps shaking.
- Strictly Ballroom. A very fun movie to watch, plus it was directed by Baz Luhrmann, so it's sort of zany.
- Shadowlands. Anthony Hopkins is CS Lewis. That's enough. Some very pretty shots of Oxford and the surrounding countryside too. Okay, and the line about cranberry sauce is kind of amusing.
- Monsoon Wedding. Brides and bhangra, baby! I defy you not to start dancing in your seat.
- Dancer, TX, Pop. 81. If you read the back of the DVD case for this one, you'd probably huck it back in the bin with a grimace...but GET IT. It's low budget, it doesn't have any action, it has a bunch of little to not known actors, including a friend of my parents' from their days in Alpine, Texas. Now, Alpine is the "big city" for the teens in this movie, and if you've heard any of my stories about Alpine, now is the time to start laughing. That's the kind of flick it is, but it's adorable and compelling and just makes you feel fantastic after you watch it. The grandfather is priceless, the scenery is beautiful, and the emotions are completely real. I promise you'll like it.
- Billy Elliott. If you can figure out what the characters are saying, you'll love it. With all the dancing, though, you don't necessarily need to even do that.

Well, that's my list. If anyone takes umbrage at any of these choices, post a comment, we'll start our own little Ebert & Roper online!

by Heather Hoffman at 12:31 PM