Book and Movie Updates

I am so lucky to live very close to a great movie theatre in Rochester and once a year they host an International Film Festival. It started last Friday and runs through Thursday. For the past few years I have tried to go to at least a few movies during the festival.  Memorably, I saw Mid-August Lunch a few years ago, which has inspired my Ferragosto vacation, and I saw a great Greek film, but I don’t remember the name.  It was laugh out loud funny, especially in a theatre filled with Greek descendents!  How fun.

This year I knew that the craziness of my work and family schedule wasn’t going to allow too much viewing, but I did get to see two movies that I wanted to see at 9:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday!  Saturday night I saw “A Separation,” which was the 2011 Oscar Winner of Best Foreign Film from Iran and Sunday night I saw “Sound of Noise,” a Swedish film.

“A Separation” was not what I expected.  It was a beautiful story about a woman who wanted to leave Iran in order to pursue a better life, but her husband refused because he was caring for his elderly father with Alzheimer’s. And their beautiful 11 year old daughter is caught in the middle.  A divorce is not granted to them, so they separate for a time as they try to figure things out. And then the story begins.  There is so much in the story without it being preachy or overt.  It’s hard to say that it has a sad ending, but it does. It doesn’t feel sad, but it feels like real life.  Anyway, I’m so glad I got to see it.

Sound of Noise
Sound of Noise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then last night – “Sound of Noise.”  What fun.  First of all, it is a Swedish film and the first five minutes we couldn’t see the subtitles!  Someone asked aloud if anyone in the theatre could translate!  They got the problem fixed and I don’t think we missed too much of the story.  Essentially, a son of musicians with total lack of a musical sense is an anti-terrorist police officer and starts to investigate a group of musical terrorists who are wreaking havoc on their city.  Musical terrorists.  How fun is that?  They are percussionists who are performing a piece entitled “Six Drummers and a City.”  They use bodies and medical equipment in a hospital, they use money and banking machines at a bank (“This is an exhibition!”), they use jack hammers and bull dozers at a classical concert, and finally they use electric wires and power at a power plant.  What fun.

I will not be able to see the Italian movie starring the same actor that was in Mid-August Lunch, but I put it in my Netflix queue.  And maybe I’ll check out the listings for Wednesday, after I’ve had some sleep!

On the book front, it’s pretty pathetic.  I finished reading The Hunger Games, Chasing Fire, and Mockingjay.  I ripped through the first two books and it took longer for me to read the third.  Maybe if I had taken a break I would have had more motivation to finish?  They were good.  It’s hard to recommend books like that, when the topic they are about is so distasteful, so I won’t recommend them, but I’m glad that I read them.

And then I was trying to help Beth figure out her nook library lending, so I went and checked out the first book that looked semi-interesting that was available on the RPL site – and it was a Harlequin romance from the 90s!  What a fun little break for the mind.  Ah.  🙂

So now, what to read?  The pile of books by my bed hasn’t gone down one bit and I’m still behind in my magazine reading.  I’ll see what inspires…

Off to read!

Starting a Commonplace Book

April 30.  How did it happen that we’re here already?  Very crazy.

I was trying to figure out a way to honor the last day of Poetry Month and was reading 30 things to do in Poetry Month.  One of the things to do was to start a ‘commonplace book.’ It sounds exactly like what we did in high school and that I have done every now and then ever since.

Commonplace book
Commonplace book (Photo credit: vlasta2)

I have owned many blank books over the years to collect words inside.  To-do lists or other kinds of lists (40 things to do before 40 or the Man o’ My Dreams list), favorite quotes or paragraphs from books, ideas of things to try or read or watch or do. Once I kept track of random overheard conversations of strangers.  What fun that was!

So I’m inspired to find a small book to write snippets in again.

Below is the information from  Visit the site for lots of inspirational ideas!

Start a Commonplace Book:

Since the Renaissance, devoted readers have been copying their favorite poems and quotations into notebooks to form their own personal anthologies called “commonplace books.” These collections can be a source of enjoyment and solace, reminding the keeper of favorite books and poems, and can even become family heirlooms. You may devote a corner of a regular journal to jotting down quotes or poems that strike your fancy or obtain a blank book just for this purpose.

As Max W. Thomas says in “Reading and Writing the Renaissance Commonplace Book: A Question of Authorship?”, “commonplace books are about memory, which takes both material and immaterial form; the commonplace book is like a record of what that memory might look like.” Or, in Jonathan Swift’s words:

“A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that ‘great wits have short memories:’ and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there.”
—from “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet”

Today, find a small notebook to record poems or fragments of poems that you come across in your reading. As you add to your own commonplace book, you will be drawing a map of your life as a reader and thinker, creating a valuable portrait of your memory and time.

World Book Night is here!

The books are ready to be in someone else’s hands!  World Book Night is here!  The date was chosen because it is the date of William Shakespeare’s birth, and what better way to celebrate by putting good books into the hands of light or non-readers.  I chose to give “The Book Thief,” because it is a novel written for young adult readers which tells a meaningful and important story.

In a few minutes I am going to venture out and approach strangers and ask them about their reading habits.  It’s such a great thing, putting great books into the hands of people who may not be drawn to books, but it is also feeling daunting right now.  I’m an extrovert but approaching strangers is a little out of my comfort zone.

Maybe it’ll be a life changing experience for me, the giver, as well as for the receiver.

I’ll keep you posted!

For more information on World Book Night you can visit

Follow me on Instagram for photos of the day!

Haiku for You!

Cover of "The Sound of One Thigh Clapping...
Cover via Amazon

Again, in honor of poetry month, another example of words that make me smile.


Haiku is traditionally written in the 5-7-5 syllable formation and is meant to evoke a feeling or sensation or to describe something.  It can be a powerful meditation or be silly fun.  There is a haiku category on craigslist, mixed in among the jobs and classifieds.


I own a book called “The Sound of One Thigh Clapping: Haiku for a Thinner You,” (Meredith Clark, 2003) which is a book of meditations on dieting.  Mostly very silly.


A few examples:


Lose inches with lard…!
Fight fat with peanut butter…!
The alarm clock sounds.


Mrs. Butterworth
beckons with syrupy smiles.
The evil temptress!


Training wheels, training
bras, and personal trainers.
The Cycle of Life.


Sad realization:
Fat-free foods never taste as
good as fat-filled ones.


The one thing that you
can eat with abandon while
still losing weight: Prunes.


Smiling Buddha of the Bao Jue temple
Smiling Buddha of the Bao Jue temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See smiling Buddha.
Popular, happy, and fat.
Pass the Krispy Kremes.


One grand Memorial Day Weekend, my cousin Emily and I sat on my deck, grilling burgers, laughing over this book, and writing page after page of haiku.  I have searched and searched, but I think it’s lost.  I’m sure it was all brilliant.  At least some of it, anyway.


It may seem like a simple thing to do, write five syllables, follow it with seven and then five again, but it is more complicated than that.  Japanese haiku differs from English haiku.  WikiHow has a page dedicated to it, and step 6 is PRACTICE.


I think I’ll practice a little and see if I can recreate some magic that I once felt I possessed! Feel free to practice in comments here! I’d love to see your haiku.


Off to read!


Poems of Love

Last night I was browsing the internet for unique wedding gifts, especially literary wedding gifts, and I was reminded of this great poem.  The poem was made famous to me by the book and movie “In Her Shoes,” and I found a tiny dish that has the final words stamped on it: “i carry your heart.”  The dish holds a ceramic heart and will be perfect for wedding rings by the sink or special mementos on the dresser.

Needless to say, the dish has been purchased and now a book of love poems will go along with it…

Here’s the inspiration:

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]


The photographer's wedding ring and its heart-...
The photographer's wedding ring and its heart-shaped shadow in a dictionary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you


here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart


i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

“[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” Copyright 1952, © 1980, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage.

Another poet I was introduced to through movies was Pablo Neruda.  I love the movie “Il Postino,” even more everytime I see it.  I remember in the early days of the internet that I found a great site dedicated to his poetry and translations and I loved it. (Do you remember those early days of discovering all you could on the internet? As a reader of the encyclopedia set we had at home, this internet exploring was nirvana!) 

I didn’t have a favorite poem at that time and I will have to spend some more time with his works before I can pick one, but here is one that I found today that is great. Enjoy.


I am not jealous
of what came before me.

Come with a man
on your shoulders,
come with a hundred men in your hair,
come with a thousand men between your breasts and your feet,
come like a river
full of drowned men
which flows down to the wild sea,
to the eternal surf, to Time!

Bring them all
to where I am waiting for you;
we shall always be alone,
we shall always be you and I
alone on earth,
to start our life!

Pablo Neruda
Do you have any favorite love poems? Inspirational wedding gifts?

Off to read!


Things that Made Me Smile…

I don’t know what it is about April, but I love it.  Maybe it’s because April 1st is six months from my October 1st birthday, so I feel a yin and yang or something. It’s a transition month, moving from winter into full-on spring. It’s poetry month, and I once wrote a poem about April (which I’ve probably shared here before, but I’m sure I’ll share it again before I’m through tonight!). April 1st is about pranks and jokes, and I love to laugh. I know some good people who were born in April.  It’s just all good.

Last year I posted about Things that Make Me Smile, so I thought I’d do round 2.  I’ll stick to the recent past…

Smile Español: Sonrisa
Smile Español: Sonrisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things That Made Me Smile Recently:

  • Hearing Rees read. Wow. So fun to have kindergartners around!  Can’t wait to be around two of them next weekend!
  • Intentionally letting my plant die. It’s not really funny, except that I’m not a plant person and I’ve had it for 3 1/2 years (today!) and I’m done taking care of it. It’s growing all wonky and needs more care than I’m willing to give it at this point. Maybe I’ll look for some potted African violets and a pretty little stand for my bedroom.
  • Reading the April Fool’s jokes on Facebook… many of them started by pregnant women!
  • Knowing I have a few days off work and then GET to work overnights three nights in a row!  The night owl in me is excited for the first time!  Talk to me next year to see how much I like three nights a month of staying up all night!
  • Feeling so mentally stimulated and exhausted by a great new job!
  • Book club last week with former colleagues and upcoming plans for get-togethers!

I know there’s more… I’ll reprise it another time.

I’ll leave you with my original poem about April, written circa 1984:

Umbrella (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The April skies
are much to despise
as they’re full of many surprises.

They look awful grey
as they start out the day,
and leave us to making surmises.

Some days it may shower,
some days with more power
its buckets of wet do explode,

and once in a while,
God looks with a smile,
and shovels of snow He unloads..