Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Music: Outer South by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band

We really like the band, Bright Eyes, and we've been listening to their music for several years now. We were quite surprised to hear that Conor Oberst, the singer of Bright Eyes, had struck off on his own, so we picked up his new album with the Mystic Valley Band. The band is labeled as alternative country, which seems a fair descriptor. The indie has gone so far, it's become country, fine by us.

"Pharoah woke from a bad dream,
Splashed some water on his face.
When it's a matter of nightmares you had better ask a slave.
And he may tell you a famine's coming,
Or he may look away.
If he's kind then return it,
Let him lick your plate."
--To All the Lights in the Windows

"Dementia, you better treat me good.
The human race is in its second childhood.
I never loved, but I understood.
Oh dementia, you better treat me good."
-- Slowly

Quick vote: This album is awesome. We thought we liked Bright Eyes, but that is nothing compared to

Monday, September 14, 2009

Books: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

We waited patiently for the second book in the Hunger Games to come out, and finally it was mailed to us last week from our friends at Amazon. We couldn't have been happier, and our expectations were blown out of the water.

Our favorite ingenue, Katniss, is back and nothing in her life has gotten more easier. She still has two men she's torn between, she still lives in the podunk outskirts of the oppressive dictatorship government, and she still narrowly escaped death in the Hunger Games. The story takes twist after turn as Katniss and Peeta travel the country on their victory tour. You can't predict what happens next!

Quick vote: This book was awesome. We loved it, and it was by far better than the first book, Hunger Games. Pick up the series today!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Books: Blindness by Jose Saramago

This book had been recommended to us several times, but for some reason, it took us quite a while to get around to reading it. Written originally in Portugese, Blindness is written in a stream-of-conscious style reminiscent of Faulkner or Joyce. With a Nobel Prize in Literature, we were certain that one of Saramago's most famous books would be interesting, but we didn't expect to enjoy it as much as we did.

Blindness is set in any city in any country in the world. Slowly, an epidemic spreads through the city, systematically striking everyone with 'white blindness' wherein the afflicted can see nothing but a blinding white light. It's an interesting story about human nature, pathos, disability, and the fragility of civilization. We have long thought that humans depend far too much on their sight, when smell is such a better sensory. Also, the 'dog of tears' made an excellent character.

Quick vote: This is such an excellent book, and a quick read as well. We're going to be picking up the sequel Seeing soon, so watch for our subsequent review of that!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Books: Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

This year marks the forty-year anniversary of the Manson murders. We realized that we didn't know a lot about the classic cult murders, so we picked up the book Helter Skelter, written by the head prosecutor about Charles Manson, his 'Family,' and the atrocities they commited.

This book was really well executed, and we appreciated that the funds went to the lead prosector, rather then a member of Manson's 'Family.' The subject matter was quite mature, but we felt the book approached the violence quite tastefully. We really liked reading about the strange mastermind, his 'Family' of followers, and the trial they underwent.

Quick vote: This book was really well written, and quite interesting. We recommend it to anyone who's interested in the subject, and who has the stomach for a bit of violence.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Music: The Hazards of Love by the Decemberists

We are big fans of the Decemberists. Their lyrics are smart and sophisticated, and their music is great to sing along and listen to. So we were quick to pick up The Hazards of Love. Though there were a couple of good songs, we were pretty disappointed in the collection.

"Gentle leaves, gentle leaves,
Please array a path for me.
The wood's all growing,
Thick and fast around.
Columbine, columbine,
Please alert this love of mine.
Let him know,
His Margaret comes around."
--Won't Want For Love

"All a gallop with Margaret,
Slung rude 'cross withers.
Having clamped,
Her innocent fingers in fetters.
This villian must calculate,
Crossing the wild river."
--The Abduction of Margaret

Quick vote: This is a good album, but not as good as we expected from the Decemberists. If you're looking for some music to buy by these guys, skip The Hazards of Love.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Books: Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen

Our grandfather has really gotten into beekeeping this year, so we decided to read a book talking about bees. Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of The Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis turned out to be the best possible book we could have picked up.

Fruitless Fall is a compelling book. It begins discussing the problems that are facing bees and beekeepers today, which includes Colony Collapse Disorder. The book then follows the life of a bee, including the different types of bees, bee dances, pollen collection, and most importantly, honey production.

Quick vote: This is an excellent non-fiction book about bees, nature, and the world behind your flowers and fruit. We highly recommend it to anyone interested in bees or honey.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Music: ReLoad by Metallica

Alright, this is a very different album for us to listen to, but let us explain. Our mother spent a month this summer driving out to Dugway, a base in western Utah with a bunch of boys who loved music like Metallica. While she was out there, this specific album got stuck in her head, so she brought it home for us to listen to.

"Heavy rings hold cigarettes,
Up to lips that time forgets;
While the Hollywood sun sets behind your back.

And can't the band play on?
Just listen, they play my song.
Ash to ash.
Dust to dust.
Fade to black."
--The Memory Remains

"Hit dirt,
Shake tree.
Split sky,
Part sea."
--Carpe Diem Baby

Quick vote: This album is so hardcore it's around the bend and laughable again. We can't help but laughing while we sing along. Ironic music.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Books: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Our mother and our uncle's book club read this book recently, Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoe wrote this book in 1719, and it has been a classic ever since. It is considered the first novel written in the English language, and so it is a little thick. We hadn't read a good aged classic for a few months, so it felt good to sink our teeth into an oldie but a goodie.

Robinson Crusoe is a book about a young man of the same name who sails off into the horizon to meet his destiny, but instead meets hardship and difficulties, eventually being stranded on a deserted island for years. The book is a great adventure tale, but surprisingly has serious religious elements. We really liked it, though it was a bit dry.

Quick vote: Know that it's not a quick and easy read, but we really enjoyed it. Who doesn't like a book with talking birds, cannibals, and inventions?!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Music: Middle Cyclone by Neko Case

An artist we knew mostly from her work in The New Pornographers, we heard an interview by Neko Case on the radio, and it intrigued us enough to pick up an album she released earlier this year, Middle Cyclone. We would describe the album as an indie-rock-alternative-country hybrid. We really like it.

"Magpie comes a calling,
Drops a marble from the sky.
Tin roof sounds alarming,
'Wake up, child
Let this be a warning.'
Say the magpie to the morning,
Don't let this fading summer pass you by."
-Magpie to the Morning

"I have waited with a glacier's patience,
Smashed every transformer with every trailer,
Till nothing was stainding
Sixty-five miles wide.

But still you are nowhere,
Still you are nowhere,
Nowhere in sight.
Come out to meet me,
Run out to meet me,
Come into the light."
-This Tornado Loves You

Quick vote: This is a cool album, we like it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Books: Love's Executioner by Irvin D. Yalom

Following urgings from our father, we picked up the book, Love's Executioner & Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom. The book is a collection of ten stories written by a renown psyochotherapist about some of his most interesting patients. He discusses a variety of problems; grief, death, love, loss, sickness, violence; and the solutions that they search for within the therapist's office.

We found this book very interesting. Dr. Yalom related to each patient in a new and fascinating way, relating the patients problems back to his own life. He wrote about the struggles of man (and dog), describing them in such a plain and insightful way, it caused us to re-examine our own lives and relationships according to his therapist's perspective.

Quick vote: We loved this book. It was different than what we usually read, and we enjoyed the change.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Music: Duper Sessions by Sondre Lerche and The Faces Down Quartet

Picture this: A great indie/alt-rock musician, plus a talented jazz quartet. What do you get? A truly incredible and interesting musical experience. Sondre Lerche is most famous for recording the soundtrack from Dan in Real Life, and although we had never heard the Faces Down Quartet before this, we can attest to their talents. This is an awesome album, we heartily recommend it to anyone that likes any kind of music.

"Don't be ridiculous sweet darling,
It's so unlike you to be blue.
You had them the moment you walked in.
Oh, everyone's rooting just for you."
- Everyone's Rooting For You

"You can tell me everything,
I'm old enough to know where you have been.
I couldn't ever fall out of our love.
Fact and fiction look alike when such a lightning strikes,
But I believe that I can face the curse of being in love."
- The Curse of Being in Love

Quick vote: This is one of our all-time favorite cd's! Just when we thought it couldn't get better, and he included a Cole Porter song. Incredible!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Books: The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

Our mother's book club picked up a fairly dry, but quite applicable book to read for July, The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry. As a group of mad scientists, they were very interested in the story of the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 1918.

This book is not for the faint of heart. The author is long-winded and gets lost on random (and occasionally pointless) tangents that left us wondering what the point of the book was from the first place. However, during the description of the plague and its transmission, we were fascinated. It made us think twice about public health, and the trends of viral pandemics.

Quick vote: Fascinating in parts, incredibly boring in others. Pick up only if truly dedicated.

Aunt Annie's Two Cents: Did you ever notice how there is swine flu, avian flu, but never canine flu? I feel left out...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Music: Far by Regina Spektor

We are big fans of Regina Spektor and we were excited to hear that she had come out with a new album this summer. We were not disappointed. Far is the same fun music we expected from Regina Spektor's earlier albums.

"So we made our own computer,
Out of macaroni pieces;
And it did our thinking,
While we lived our lives.
It counted up our feelings,
And divided them up even,
And called that calculation perfect love."
-- Calculation

"They started off beneath the knowledge tree,
Then they chopped it down to make
White picket fences.
They marched along the railroad tracks,
And smiled real wide for the camera lenses.
They made it past the enemy lines,
Just to become enslaved in the assembly lines.

Blue lips,
Blue veins,
Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away."
-- Blue Lips

Quick vote: Good album. It was just what we had expected based on her previous work; nothing more and nothing less.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Books: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Un Lun Dun is a young adult fiction book by China Mieville about two girls who get thrown from their regular life in London to an alternative universe where all the refuse, oddities, and mistakes from London end up; Un Lun Dun. Deeba and Zanna are the only hope that Un Lun Dun has against the fiercest enemy it has ever seen.

The characters and the ideas behind this book are awesome. We loved the binja, the Un Sun, and the other city names (Bag Didn't, Parisn't, Lost Angeles, Sans Francisco). The plot and storyline however left something to be desired.

Quick vote: This was a fun book. Good, but not great.

Note: This is an Uncle Cushy Book Club Selection!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Blogs: Awkward Family Photos

We have really been enjoying the blog, Awkward Family Photos. What's a better way to enjoy your day then to look at pictures of families acting like big fat dweebs.

Quick vote: Seriously, check this blog out, it will make your day.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Movies: Hotel for Dogs


Two sad orphans, thrown from foster home to foster home struggle to hide a dog as their only constant. In the city, they find an abandoned hotel and hide their dog, as well as a couple of other strays. They find more and more dogs to keep, and create a host of inventions to care for the dogs. Evil strikes in the form of dog catchers (classic evil) and foster parents. And in the end, everyone is happy.

Quick vote: Alright, this is a crazy cheesy movie, but we did like it. No doggies were harmed during the making of this incredible cinematic experience!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

TV: Gilmore Girls

After finding out that our Aunt Jocie watched the Gilmore Girls, we checked it out to see if it was worth our while. We were very pleased to find out that it was a show we could enjoy. The cheesy, witty, and wholesome television show is everything you can expect from a single mother/daughter show on the WB. It is quite refreshing.

Lorelai Gilmore, a daughter of privilege, became pregnant at sixteen, where she named her daughter Lorelai after herself, whom she calls Rory. They live in the small town of Stars Hollow in Connecticut where smarty-pants Rory attends private school and aspires to an Ivy League education. Her mother, Lorelai, runs a local inn, has a hectic dating life, and is ridiculously addicted to coffee.

Quick vote: This show is cheesy aand loveable. We have grown quite fond of the Gilmore Girls and we're excited to watch the rest of the seasons and see what life has in store for them!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Music: Bird Wings in the Bleak by Libbie Linton

Libbie Linton is a Logan singing sensation. We got a hold of her debut full-length album, Bird Wings in the Bleak. We were anticipating good acoustic music, but nothing of this caliber. The album has great production quality with a full band. We love her soulful lyrics, sombre sound, and catchy instrumentation.

"Don’t tell me cancer,
It’s just a curse word.
All this pale light has gone to heaven with the dust,
But this would feel just more like having time to yourself."
--Edith Sings For Us

"shackleton, I’m solid,
Only bored out of my skull,
And these two big wandering eyes they lie.
I’ve no one here at all make me out to be the one I wanted,
To be strong and sturdy for you."
--Shackleton, I'm Solid

Quick vote: Great melancholy music, perfect for listening to while reading or on a long contemplative road trip. We try to take road trips to dog parts and PetSmart whenever possible.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Books: Anathem by Neal Stephenson

We are huge fans of Neal Stephenson's works, from Snow Crash to Cryptonomicon, he's one of the best science fiction writers we've ever come across, and we've read quite a bit of science fiction. We were obviously excited to hear about his highly anticipated huge new book, Anathem.

Anathem is about a world, different from our own, in which a portion of the society seperates themselves into monastaries, that study math, geometry, physics, and other hard sciences; instead of religion. These monastaries are known as Maths, and it's in one of these, that life on Arbe will change forever.

Quick vote: If you love Neal Stephenson, pick up this book. If you've never read anything of his, we recommend that you start on something a bit more smaller and more palatable before diving in.

Aunt Kenya's Philosophy: Some complain that Stephenson is a tad too obtuse, and that he tends to obfuscate his reasoning in mundane and extemporaneous descriptions. I would juxtapose this with the position that he is one of the most intelligent and inventive authors of our time, and this book, with it's 960 pages, it worth your effort.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Books: Tweak by Nic Sheff

After finishing the book we reviewed yesterday, Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, we found out about the companion book, Tweak by Nic Sheff. While Beautiful Boy talks about a travel through meth addiction from the father's perspective, Tweak follows the same story from the son's perspective.

We have read a couple of other books from an addict's perspective, and they are all incredibly raw. At times we laughed, cringed, squirmed, and cried for the plight of a stranger, caught in addiction from an incredibly young age. We feel for him, we sympathize, we scorn, we judge; it's a book that consistently evokes an emotional response of some sort.

Quick vote: We liked Beautiful Boy better, but we still thought this was an interesting read, and compelling for its rawness.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Books: Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Our father recommended the memoir Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, and we always read the books that our father tells us to, because we are good dog-ters.

David Sheff records the details of his son's decline into meth addiction in heart-wrenching detail. The book starts with his son's birth, through a difficult divorce with complicated split custody, dating and remarriage, new children, and finally to the point where Nic starts to lose track of himself. He becomes addicted fast and early, struggling through rehab, relapse, and tragic addiction. It was fascinating to read.

Quick vote: This book was raw, wrenching, heartfelt, and touching. We loved it, but were relieved when we had finished it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Books: The Hunger Games

Our mother has been reading books with our Uncle Chichi in a sibling book club over the summer. They finished their first book recently, and we picked it up when our mother was done, and we loved it! The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a young adult fantasy genre of book, which can frighten off some people, but not us dogs!

The Hunger Games is an exciting, enthralling book about a futuristic dictatorship community where they send two children from every city every year to compete in a fight to the death. Katniss volunteers to go for her sister, and finds herself in a more complicated situation then she ever could have expected...

Quick vote: This book was a lot of fun, a well written science fiction/romance/action novel. Pick it up!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Books: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

We have been reading a lot of incredible books lately, and haven't been very good at posting. So to make up for it, we're going to post all week about awesome books that we have loved reading lately. Enjoy!

Our mother's book club picked up the novel The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield this month, and we picked it up out of solidarity. We thought it would be a slower book to get into, but we couldn't be more wrong.

The Thirteenth Tale is an intriguing mystery about a reclusive author's hidden past. It's a story about love, loss, reading, and most of all, sisters. The author wrote about people we knew and events we had experienced first hand, telling qualities of a great author.

Quick vote: We love this book, it's awesome. We recommend it to anyone interested in a good mystery, or is looking for a great book for a winter's night.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

TV: Mad Men

We have heard some interesting things about AMC's television show, Mad Men. The show follows Don Draper, and his life as an important man at a high-powered ad agency in downtown Manhattan in the 1960's.

We were intrigued by the idea of a period television show with authentic sets and costuming. The show is about nearly nothing, except that the people in the sixties were dirty drunks who knew nothing about health, and who treated the women in their lives like pretty slaves.

Quick vote: The idea of this show is intriguing, but the morals are tiring. We don't want to watch tv to be patronized.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Music: This is Blue by Trevor Hall

We stumbled across Trevor Hall in a bar a few years ago and we have been ardent fans ever since. We were excited to hear his single make it onto the most recent Shrek film, and were thrilled to hear that he was coming out with a new album, This is Blue. What we love most about Trevor Hall is his fervor, his raw emotion, and his captivating voice. We expected a lot of his newer works, and though the album is of excellent quality, it doesn't quite live up to his previous work, and we were disappointed. If you've never heard him before though, we think you'll like it.

"Well a couple of mystics have described your form,
Saying you can never die for you’ve never been born,
Telling me you’ve come to kill all superstition.
Put the needle upon the record,
Show me what I’ve been missing.
I need a love that’ll swallow me whole;
This ain’t the first time I’ve tried to save my soul."
- Jago Ma

"I guess you got to know the target before you aim
I guess you got to treat pleasure and pain the same
If you’re lonely darling sing my name
I shall follow your voice through the sun and rain."
- House of Cards

Quick vote: This is a great album, but not quite as good as we had expected.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Books: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

We have always loved the works of the author Jane Austen, so we were intrigued when we heard about the exploits of Seth Grahame-Smith. He took the immortal words of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and added gory zombie scenes.

No one can come close to the passion and feeling in Jane Austen's classic work, but Grahame-Smith does his best at turning it into a comical facade. He changes the way that Elizabeth Bennett thinks and behaves, turning her from a hard-headed woman to a cold-blooded zombie-killer.

Quick vote: This book was funny and surprising. The zombie scenes were fun, and we enjoyed it, but we wouldn't recommend this book as a critical read.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Books: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

We try to read most of the big award winning books, so when Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer prize for fiction, we ordered it without reading a single review. This can go wrong from time to time, but it worked out well for us this time, we really enjoyed Olive Kitteridge.

The book at first seems a disjointed series of stories that all implicate, though some very minutely, the woman Olive Kitteridge. As we read further though, we found the book was really a portrait of a complex woman, an attempt to convey the futility in writing one story about one woman with one lesson to learn. It was a beautiful book, one that touched us and made us think.

Quick vote: We loved this book. It was beautiful, deserved the Pulitzer, and we recommend it to you.

Aunt Izzie's Whiz-ord: Yo yo yo! Pulitz-what?!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blogs: Hospital Food

We're long time lovers of food, especially from humans, so we were excited to hear about the blog, Hospital Food, where people from all over the world take pictures of the food they received at the hospital. The pictures turned our stomachs, and we don't mind eating each others poo! It is some sort of justice though that people all over the world get disgusting food while already sick, but some of them look much better than others.

Quick vote: Seriously, the blog is gross.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

TV: Parks and Recreation

We were excited to hear that the makers of The Office, a show that we have watched and loved for years, were collaborating to create a new show, Parks and Recreation, based on local politics. It seemed like a funny idea for a show and we were pleased to see something new coming from a great team. The point is, we were giving it the benefit of the doubt. Imagine our disappointment when we got around to watching the pilot.

The show is exactly the same as The Office, but with less-developed characters and cheaper jokes. We really wanted this to be good, but it seems to be a poorly disguised knock-off of The Office. When this mockumentary style of television first came out, it was hilarious, raw, and different. It's surprising that a few years later it can feel so tired.

Quick vote: Don't bother.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

We picked up Steig Larsson's mystery/thriller novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on audiobook a while ago, and we've loved it! The book was originally written in Swedish, and takes place in Sweden, a fun and interesting location. The book is a murder mystery with serial killers, crazy techno-gadgets, intrigue and outrage. A great read.

A reporter who has just been convicted in a libel case which he believes he was framed for, has a mysterious call from a rich old man living in seclusion. His last wish before he dies is to find out what happened to his grand-neice. (Great-neice? We're not sure.) He hires the journalist to dig into the past and investigate a strange and reclusive family. The result is more than any of them bargained for!

Quick vote: This book was an interesting page turner. Well-written, great plot, fun characters; what more do you want from a mystery novel?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Music: Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack

A couple of weeks ago we watched the movie, Slumdog Millionaire. We loved this film, talked about it here, and couldn't seem to get the music out of our minds, so we bought the soundtrack and have been enjoying it ever since. It's not the kind of music that you would want to fall asleep to or read a book to, but it's a great soundtrack for running down the street, fantasizing about cat destruction, or tearing apart a pig ear.

Most of the music is by A. R. Rahman and there are a couple of songs by M.I.A. It's upbeat, has a crazy rhythm, and mostly makes no sense, but we've been loving it.

Quick vote: Buy this, put it on your iPod, put your iPod in your ears, go for a run with your dog. You will not regret it.

Aunt Annie's 2 Cents: This music hurts my delicate, curly-haired ears.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Books: The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf

Our mother's book club selection this month is The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf. A different sort of book then we've read for the club, a Western tale about family and farming. We liked the story, it was a quick read though not necessarily well written.

The Tie That Binds is a story about two families, the Goodnoughs and the Roscoes, living in close proximity in homesteaded Colorado. The story follows dreams lost, lives ended, sadness, and the things that keep a family together, no matter what. The narrator is engaging, the protagonist pitiful, and the struggles hard. Kent Haruf is a good storyteller.

Quick vote: We liked this book, but we probably wouldn't recommend it to you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Movie: Be Kind Rewind

We're usually not huge fans of Jack Black movies, but Be Kind Rewind sounded sort of interesting, so we rented it recently to check it out. We've heard people that hated the movie, and other people that thought it was pretty funny so there was no way to know for certain unless we watched it ourselves.

The movie is not incredible, it has the level of quality that you would expect from a Jack Black/Mos Def/Danny Glover movie, but it's actually pretty funny. Mos Def and Danny Glover run a VHS rental shop in New Jersey and when the all of the tapes are erased, they decide to tape their own version of the movies (Sweded!), which turns out to be highly hilarious and successful.

Quick vote: The movie was actually pretty funny, although quite stupid. We liked it!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Books: Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

We have always been big fans of fantasy and science fiction books, but great works are few and far between. So we were quite excited when we heard about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell a little while ago. It had been critically acclaimed and though some dogs might have been daunted by its >1,000 pages; we dug into the challenge with a big bowl of water and a rawhide to sustain us. Mostly we read it while our parents were in Peru, without regular access to the internet we grew bored easily and got a lot of book-reading/tv-watching/remote-chewing done while we stayed with our cousin Echo.

The book is set in Napoleonic-era England and begins with a group of theoretical magicians; men that study magic but don't practice it because of its vulagarity, and because frankly, they have forgotten how. Enter Mr. Norrell, his eccentric ways, and his practical study of magic. This introverted, insecure man and his eventual pupil Jonathan Strange revolutionize England, reincarnating the regular use of magic and unburying other worlds and lost secrets that meant to stay buried.

Quick vote: Not many authors can hold a readers attention for a book of this length, especially one about magic, but Susanna Clarke does it. More in the Tolkein genre of fantasy than the Rowling genre, we loved the book; we thought it smart, sassy, and we loved the new world it opened up for us.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blogs: The Lawsons Did Dallas

We don't follow many "Mommy blogs" of people that we don't know, but we've been making an exception for the Lawsons Did Dallas, written by Amy Lawson. She talks about her life as a working mother of a four-year old and a crazy dog living on the east coast and her antics in life and living. She's pretty funny, and we enjoy reading it.

"Bonnie claims that I am a fire sign and Jared is a water sign. Bottom line is this...when you put the two of us together, he really knows how to steam me and I have dreams of sticking his skinny little backside right into our flaming toaster oven. I shouldn't be surprised if Jared ever breaks down and gives me a swirly in the guest toilet, and he might think about investing in some flame retardant pajamas."
--A Little Bit of Crazy

"I stepped out of the shower and heard James saying, "My mom is in da shower. I will go and get her for you." And just like that, James whipped open the bathroom door, exposing my condition to the entire neighborhood through two picture windows and the sidedoor. One false move and the trash man would see me in all of nature's glory, and unfortunately, closing the door fell into the "false move" category.
"James," I said, "get Mommy a towel and close the door." Being the obedient, well-mannered child that he is, James ran away, screaming like a banshee, ignoring my request.

--For the Love of a Towel

Quick vote: This is a pretty funny blog, for a mommy blog anyway. We read it regularly, and recommend that you follow it yourself, if it's your sort of thing. The lady is crazy, and it's fun and sort of voyeuristic to live about her life.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Movie: Slumdog Millionaire

We had tons of people recommend this movie to us before we finally got around to seeing it, but now that we have seen it, we're recommending it to anyone who will listen, this is an awesome film. We loved the music, the scenery, the story, and the romance.

Jamal Malik has lived a life of hardship in the slums of Mumbai, India but he has the potential of winning a fortune on the Indian television show 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' The movie follows his life, and leaves you feeling that no matter what life hands you, anyone can find their true love, anyone can have a happy destiny.

Quick vote: It's rare to see a critically-acclaimed film that ends feeling-good, but this one is beautiful, excellent, and ends well. We love this movie, take a look and you will too!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Books: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Our mother's book club selection this month was People of the Book by Pulitzer-prize winning author, Geraldine Brooks. We were excited to read this historical fiction-type book about the Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated, Jewish, religious text that accompanies the Sedar at Passover.

This book follows the work of Hannah Heath, a book conservatist responsible for restoring the Sarajevo Haggadah after it turns up in the midst of civil war in Bosnia. As she repairs the pages and finds clues about the book's past, the story goes back in time, explaining the journey that the book had gone through and the people who's lives it had changed along the way. It was really interesting and well-written.

Quick vote: There were a couple of things we didn't like with the plot-twists, but overall we really liked this book. It was fresh, it was well-written, and it was fascinating. An excellent read.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Politics: Finally, The First Dog!

President Obama has finally fulfilled one of our greatest hopes of the campaign, he has gotten a puppy for the White House! He may be destroying what's left of our country's economy, in which case anything else that he does will become lost in the fray, but he did get a dog, and we're happy about that. (See our original post on the first dog here, and the follow-up post here.)

Bo (né Charlie) is a Portuguese Water Dog given to the Obamas by the Keneddys. He was born on October 9, 2008 (making him a Libra, for those that care), and is reported to know a few basic commands already. He has met the family without incident (or potty accident!) and he is preparing to move in post-haste. Hurrah!

Quick vote: We're very disappointed that the First Dog is a male. When will we see a bitch in the White House?! But we're also relieved that we can count on our species being well represented in our nations governing.

Aunt Izzie's Whiz-ord: What happened to the Labradoodles? Those Obamas are foo's! I can't believe this. I've got to go chew on something...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Music: Mama Mia Soundtrack

After enjoying the movie, Mamma Mia!, we decided to pick up the soundtrack, which we haven't regretted. It's great to sing-a-long to, great to take a nap to, and great to run after cats to. If you liked the movie or if you enjoy ABBA music, this is a pretty fun album. It includes such classic ABBA songs as: Super Trouper, Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, SOS, etc...

Quick vote: This is pretty fun for that select musical/ABBA loving subset of people. So yeah.

Aunt Izzy's Wizz-ord: Yo Yo YO! I have no idea who this ABBA peep is, but she is WHACK! I had a giant dogpile party and played this the whole time, it was aweSOME!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Movie: Mamma Mia!

We had heard both good and bad things about the movie Mamma Mia, so we were excited to finally see the movie based on the Broadway musical based on the best of ABBA hits. Everyone we talked to was right; the movie was incredibly cheesy, and yet we really liked it. So we guess it's just dependent on your tolerance for lameness.

Sophie is about to get married on a little Greek island, and she wants her father to be there to give her away. So she invites the three men that could have been her father to her wedding without telling her mother. As the father candidates show up she realizes that each of them have their own great qualities, and maybe she doesn't want to have to choose between them. We would have chosen a few less songs and cut the time some, but it was still pretty great.

Quick vote: It's a love story, a musical, a great location, good cinematography... As long as you can stomach the cheesy plot and don't mind incessant singing, it's great!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Books: Boomsday by Christopher Buckley

Boomsday refers to the era in American history when the majority of the Baby Boomers begin retiring thus bankrupting the Social Security Program. This book is a witty satire from the author of Thank You For Smoking about this serious problem our nation is facing.

Cassandra Devine works for a PR firm and blogs on the side. One night, angered by the millions of Baby Boomers retiring and draining the Social Security fund, she wrote some inflammatory comments on her blog, inspiring young people to riot against retirement communities and golf courses all over the country. The situation devolves from there as she comes up with the idea of Voluntary Transitioning.

Quick vote: This is a great book, very caustic and funny. We enjoyed reading it and getting upset at our governmental system.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Books: 2009 Tournament of Books

We followed the Morning News' 2008 Tournament of Books last year, so we were really excited to hear that they were repeating the tournament this year.

The Tournament of Books is an annual tradition wherein books go up head to head, March Madness style. Ultimately, one book leads all the others as the best by whatever abstract criteria that the individual judges choose. Basically, it's a great place to find new and great books!

Quick vote: We love this tournament, and we'll be reading the best books on the list!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blogs: FAIL Blog

This blog shows daily events where people, products, etc. have failed in their jobs. It's pretty funny, showing people in their hypocrisy, stupidity, and overall lack of sense. The FAIL blog is classic, and we think it's a pretty funny one.

Quick vote: We love this blog, it's pretty funny. Check it out!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We're Still Around!

Hello loyal readers! We've had a crazy couple of weeks. Our parents went to Peru for a while and we were shuffled from Cousin Echo's to Aunt Annie's house and then we've been trying to get back into our regular routine.

Sorry for the unadvertised hiatus! Regular posting will restart tomorrow!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Blogs: This Is Why You're Fat

We were sent this blog by a loyal reader, Sarah, and we've been enjoying reading it ever since. This Is Why You're Fat has the tagline: Where dreams become heart attacks. Half of the time we look at the entries and become queasy with the meat, deep-fried mass of gross. The other half of the time we think, Holy crapola, that looks delicious! Of course, we frequently lick our own buts, so what do we really know?

"The bottom tier contains eight strips of bacon, six sausages and four burger paddies; followed by a second tier of black pudding; topped by a third tier comprised of two diced chicken breasts and six fried eggs."
--The Sandwich of Knowledge (See Picture)

Quick vote: This blog is fun, gross, and fascinating. Watch it!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Movies: Hancock

Will Smith has done a lot of crappy movies, which made us initially cringe when we saw the previews for this show, but we were told several times (Many of which were by our Uncle Chichi!) that we should invest the time in it, and so we did!

Hancock is a worthless superhero. He can fly, is invincible/immortal, and has super strength yet he spends most of his time drinking and messing around. Luckily, he helps a public relations expert (played by Jason Bateman) and in return, he is advised on how to be a better superhero and interface with the world in a better way.

Quick vote: We loved the beginning of this movie, but we didn't love the ending. We won't spoil it for you, but suffice it to say, we had a lot of questions that were left unresolved.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

TV: How I Met Your Mother

We usually don't spend our time watching the classic sit-coms, as they seemed to have hit their heyday in the nineties, but we have heard several people mention that they enjoyed the show How I Met Your Mother, so we thought we'd check it out. It's as cheesy a sit-com as you can get, complete with the laugh track and predictable 20 minute episodes, but it does have something else to it, and we like it.

Ted is a single guy living in New York City, who realizes that he is ready to drop the dating scene and settle down after his good friends Lily and Marshall finally seal the deal and get engaged. Meanwhile, his friend Barney (aka Doogie Houser) is constantly teaching him how to love 'em and leave 'em. Oh, and Robin's just around to provide emotional support.

Quick vote: Funny? Yes. Cheesy? Yes. Worth your while? Meh... If there's nothing else on.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Music: Gossip in the Grain by Ray LaMontagne

Our Aunt Didi passed us this album a few months ago and we've been chewing on it ever since. Luckily we had copied the songs onto our computer before we started to eat it, so we can listen to it on our DogiPods; you know you wish you had one too! Ray is an interesting singer, his music is folksy, alternative rock, very hard to classify. Some of his songs pass easily for Nick Drake, straight off the Way to Blue album, and some get going in a fun and exciting way. His lyrics are meaningful, his voice is rich and beautiful, and his melodies get your toes tapping! We really like this album, and we look forward to investigating more of his work.

"Callous is the old crow, he mocks even the sun;
Eyes as black as blood, bone crack in the craw.
He'd say, he'd say: always never mind,
Always never mind."
-- Gossip in the Grain

"When we first met we were kids, we were wild, we were insects.
And after awhile I grew coarse, I grew cold, I grew reckless.
I hold this memory, hold you, so close to me.
Whispered, we'll always be happy."

Quick vote: This is a great album. Pick it up!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Books: Maus by Art Spiegelman

We have to apologize for our sudden unexpected absence last week, we took off some time to hang out with our Uncle Carter, Aunt Annie, Aunt Heady, and the rest of the crew. A tiny vacation, but we're glad that it's over now, and we hope that Uncle Busty recovers quickly!

While we were waiting for someone to pay attention to us this weekend, we had many opportunities to read, so we picked up our Uncle Buster's copy of Maus, which had been recommended to us before, but which we had never had an opportunity to read. Maus is another graphic novel, but entirely different from Rabbi's Cat, and we loved it. Our accolades are nearly as prestigious as some of the other awards Art Spiegelman has received for it, like the Pulitzer Prize...

The book is a graphic novel memoir told from the perspective of the author as he interviews his father about life as a Jew in Poland during WWII, including a year spent at Auschwitz. The Jews are portrayed as mice, the Nazi's as cats, the Poles and pigs, the Americans as dogs, and so on. We loved the way the story was told, and it's realistic aspect, despite the comic strip format. Again, though it is a comic book, we wouldn't recommend it for younger readers because of the (fairly obvious) graphic scenes and heavy subject material.

Quick vote: This book was phenomenal, and we would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone!

Aunt Annie's 2 Cents: I like to eat mice.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Books: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

We have been working on The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski for a long while now. It's a story about dogs, so every time a dog got in trouble, we had to abandon the book for our own sanity until we were prepared to pick it up again. The book is about a family, the Sawtelle's, and the dogs they created through breeding and careful training.

Edgar is a young boy growing up with his mother and father in the midst of dozens of dogs designed by his grandfather for their intelligence, patience, and obedience. From his birth, Edgar is unable to speak, though he can hear perfectly; his disability teaches him to listen and watch, taking in his surroundings and communicating with his dogs on a different level. This book is a Hamlet-esque journey into a boy and his dogs, and the magic that exists in everyday life.

Quick vote: We loved the majority of this book, though the end was confusing and disappointing. It's a good book, but we don't really recommend it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Blogs: Superuseless Superpowers

We ran into this blog, Superuseless Superpowers recently, and we've been loving keeping up with it. Each post lists a ridiculous superpower that always makes us laugh.

"Superuseless Superpower: Eventual Kevlar Skin. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Boink."
-- 13th Bullet Bulletproof

Quick vote: This is a great blog. We love it!