Archive for March, 2009

The Graveyard – Neil Gaiman

Mar 11th, 2009 Posted in Book Review | no comment »

Great reading for “all ages.” How many books can answer that claim?  I found one, The Graveyard, by Neil Gaiman. My voracious reader, Ben, read it and loved it. He actually thanked me for buying the book. I decided to read it as well. I loved the movie adaptation of Coraline (based on the novel by Gaiman) and have enjoyed several adult novels by Gaiman. And, then it was awarded the 2008 Newberry Award. I just couldn’t resist.  

The Graveyard is such an excellent story. Harrowing circumstances lead a child, Nobody “Bod” Owens, to be raised and protected by ghosts and a “guardian” in a graveyard. Bod’s parents and sibling were the victims of foul play and a “man named Jack” would like nothing more than to find Bod and finish what he started. The story follows Bod’s coming of age, his adventures and education, and his inevitable confrontation with his family’s legacy. It’s creative, creepy, suspenseful and I completely recommend this book to kids and adults. One exception to the recommendation: kids who go sleepless after movies like Coraline, should skip it or at least not read it before bed.

No Line on the Horizon – U2

Mar 10th, 2009 Posted in Health, Music Review | 3 comments »

So cool. The new U2 release, “No Line on the Horizon,” is fun listening. Really different in some ways and just good ol’ U2 in other ways.  “Get on Your Boots,” “No Line on the Horizon,” and “Stand Up Comedy” have all hit my work out playlist.  “Get on Your Boots” reminds me of the boost I’d get on the treadmill when “Vertigo” first came out.  From the mellow to the hyper tunes, U2 sounds like they’re having a blast with this CD and it’s contagious for the listener.

A Common Word

Mar 10th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized | one comment »

Today I read a very interesting article in the Oregonian regarding the common ground between Christians and Muslims. I’ve always felt that most religions seek to create good energy in the world and that the differences in details are not so important. The fighting based on religion is dangerous to all and completely out of tune with what faith should bring to our lives. So, the Oregonian’s article wasn’t swaying me to a new way of thinking, yet I know that it could be revealing something new to many people.  The article was about an open letter to Christian leaders that was signed and/or endorsed by over 300 Muslim leaders in 2007.  You can read the entire letter at  The letter successfully supports a common ground between Christianity and Muslims with what is written in both the Qur’an and the New Testament. The “Two Commandments of love” in both include the Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of thy neighbour.  I was particularly pleased to see even the historical overlap of the messengers of God.  It’s worthwhile reading.  Here’s the excerpt that got me started:

“Finding common ground between Muslims and Christians is not simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders.Christianity and Islam are the largest and second largest religions in the world and in history. Christians and Muslims reportedly make up over a third and over a fifth of humanity respectively. Together they make up more than 55% of the world’s population, making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world. If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world’s inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake. 

And to those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say that our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony.

So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works. Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill.”

Portland Limerick

Mar 9th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized | no comment »

Business Week trashed Portland as the most unhappy city in the U.S.   Whatever! The Edge column in the Oregonian is asking for rebuttals in the form of a limerick contest. Very appropriate with St. Patty’s Day coming up.  So here’s my attempt…I thought about changing the last line to “So Biz Week can go to hell.” But I don’t know if that is OK for the paper. It’s funnier though 🙂

Whine Country

True that Eeyore would acclimate well
To where damp and drippy sighs dwell,
But Portland’s gray skies do slight harm.
Whine country still keeps its charm,
Revealing fresh air and roses to smell.

Spoon at the Crystal Ballroom

Mar 7th, 2009 Posted in Fun Things to Do, Music Review | no comment »

Man, I love concerts!  Last night Brian and I caught Spoon’s fantastic show at the Crystal Ballroom. They really rocked the house. Spoon’s music just has the best rhythms and the whole sound is very fun. And, the lead singer, Britt Daniel, lives in Portland which raises the overall coolness factor by at least 10. You could tell the band was happy to be back on stage after a 4 month break from performing. The energy was contagious.

Brian and I have been Spoon fans for awhile. We own their last two CDs and the band played a lot of our favorites. After the show, we both looked at each other and said, “we need more. We need the ‘Fitted Shirt’ song,” from an earlier CD.  We’re just going to buy the whole CD 🙂  Spoon also tested out some great new songs on the crowd, so we’ll have to buy that as well when it come out.  I think we’ll also purchase some tunes from the opening band, Everest. They were goooood.

The Crystal Ballroom is a venue that buzzes your whole body. Serious. You can literally “feel” the music jolt through you from your toes to your tip of your nose. Of course, I always have a little panic that the bouncy floor is indeed going to give way and we’ll all be on the morning news as the “McMennamin’s Mishap.”  But that place has been standing for a long, long time and will continue to house some spectacular shows. If you haven’t been there, what’s wrong with you???  Go! And, grab dinner at Henry’s Tavern before hand. Heavenly gorgonzola fries, fantasy worthy pot stickers, over 100 beers on tap, etc.  I also tried the Black Butte Porter BBQ beef, caramelized onion and blue cheese pizza. Wow!  I think it would be fun to go with friends and just order a bunch of stuff so you could sample as much as possible without exploding.

Joe's Basketball Team Pics

Mar 5th, 2009 Posted in Fun Photos - Sports | no comment »

I’ve already gushed about my camera, so I’ll just share some of the fun shots I got of Joe’s basketball season. The pic of Joe with the big grin was taken right after he took a shot that got stuck between the rim and the backboard.  When the referee popped the ball out, the ball went straight up and  back down through the net.  Everyone got a kick out of that…especially Joe 🙂

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Lit Ladies Report – March 2009

Mar 5th, 2009 Posted in Book Review | no comment »

The first official meeting of the Lit Ladies Book Club kicked off last night at Julie’s house. I had no idea what to expect. Would we even talk about the book? Or was this just an excuse to drink some wine and chat. Well, we did talk about the book and everyone had interesting things to contribute and it was GREAT!  Our book to discuss was The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls. I’ve already blogged my “review” of the book, but it was so fun to hear other perspectives. Out of 12 members, we had the complete mix of “hated it,” “loved it” and everything in between.  I loved that Jami and Cara had done some follow up online and had more information to share about the writer through YouTube interviews and such. I plan to explore those myself, because it would be fun to see these “characters” come to life.

We all agreed to pick completely different genres for the next two months and decided that April will be The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield.  I heavily encouraged this ghost/mystery novel. I hope it’s good! For May we will read The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  

The Thirteen Tale has been compared to works by the Bronte sisters and has excellent reviews (with a few “hated its” thrown in).  Here’s what had to say:

“Settle down to enjoy a rousing good ghost story with Diane Setterfield’s debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale. Setterfield has rejuvenated the genre with this closely plotted, clever foray into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths. She never cheats by pulling a rabbit out of a hat; this atmospheric story hangs together perfectly.There are two heroines here: Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end, and Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father’s shop. Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving everybody a different version of her life, each time swearing it’s the truth. Because of a biography that Margaret has written about brothers, Vida chooses Margaret to tell her story, all of it, for the first time. At their initial meeting, the conversation begins:


“You have given nineteen different versions of your life story to journalists in the last two years alone.”


She [Vida] shrugged. “It’s my profession. I’m a storyteller.”


“I am a biographer, I work with facts.”

The game is afoot and Margaret must spend some time sorting out whether or not Vida is actually ready to tell the whole truth. There is more here of Margaret discovering than of Vida cooperating wholeheartedly, but that is part of Vida’s plan. The transformative power of truth informs the lives of both women by story’s end, and The Thirteenth Tale is finally and convincingly told.”


Mar 2nd, 2009 Posted in Movie Review | one comment »

Awesomely spooky. I loved Coraline. Of course, I kind of knew I would since it was based on a Neil Gaiman book.  Everything about this movie was great. The story of a girl ignored by her parents that discovers her “ideal” set of parents in an alternate (not imaginary) world is both surreal and moving. The other worldly animation is perfectly matched with the voice actors.  And, it’s in 3D!  I spent the extra dollars to see it in 3D at the Bridgeport Cinemas. I thought the effects were great, particularly the weaving sewing needly and the tunnel between worlds.  The boys actually weren’t that impressed. Go figure. I’m sure the movie loses very little if you see it in a regular theatre.

Warning: Coraline is scary, creepy, spooky.  Ben and Joe had no problem with that, but Sam (age 6) had to crawl into my lap for the second half of the movie.  And, he had a couple of nights of difficulty sleeping.  He’s usually pretty tough, but does give you the heebie jeebies. Let’s just say that what Faye Dunaway did for the term “Mommie Dearest” (aka Joan Crawford),  Teri Hatcher does for the term “Other  Mother.” I’ll know I’ve been truly insulted by my children if they ever use that one on me!

Go see Coraline!