Ten things I was into last month:
1. DAVID EZRA STEIN. Of course this wasn't the first time I'd heard of this picture book author and illustrator. But it was the first time I really took a serious look at his books. He has a real talent for qualities loose and expressive in his art. And his text is perfectly sparse and clever and ever so subtle in humor. I particularly like LEAVES and POUCH!.
2. THE SECRET LANGUAGE. I continue to work my way through the books of Ursula Nordstrom. This is the one and only novel she wrote herself. As I understand it, a sequel was all but finished, but she couldn't get comfortable with an ending and she burned the manuscript before she died. This book is innocent and sweet and reminds me of books I read when I was a kid. Took me back there. I can't believe my library had a copy of this in original hardcover. What a find!
3. GORILLAZ. I'm not much for contemporary pop music, and I never really gave Gorillaz much of a chance since their inception. But I heard some clips off their new album, Plastic Beach, and was quite impressed. Collabs with Snoop Dogg, Mark E Smith, and Lou Reed, to name a few. I dug a little deeper into the other albums and was not disappointed. I particularly like it when they seek out international talent, like "Latin Simone (Que Pasa Contiga) with the late, great Ibrahim Ferrer.
4. WOODY HARRELSON in ZOMBIELAND. This movie was funny and pretty, pretty well-executed. The absolute standout was Woody Harrelson. Very funny, very well-played. Good Wood.
5. PARENTHOOD. This new hour-long dramedy on NBC is a reincarnation of the 1989 movie. Apparently in 1990 there was a previous failed attempt to make the movie into a tv series. The 2010 take, I like it. I think it strikes a chord in me, a new dad. All the kids are older than mine, but I'm already thinking, "that's gonna be me and Julie". I'm a sap, I'm a sucker. And I like the cast. One of those big ensemble ones. Somebody from Gilmore Girls, somebody from Six Feet Under, Craig T. Nelson. Good all-arounds. I hope people are watching and it keeps it's momentum.
6. RUTH KRAUSS. More from the Ursula Nordstrom era. I love Ruth Krauss. Her stuff is very strange and very deep and intellectual, I think. But it also feels like it totally relates to kid minds. Wonderful, sharp, weird writing. I'm eating it up.
7. ABEL'S ISLAND. I don't know how I came on this. I was aware of it for years now, but didn't think a William Steig novel would be any good. I mean, it got a Newbery nod, but I still hesitated. Anyhow, I ended up reading it last month, and so glad I did. The drawings, of course, are stellar. But he takes a very simple premise--a mouse stranded on an island--and just Steigs the heck out of it. He uses big words in a funny way and really gets to the meat of the matter. Gets a good story out of it. And who else but Steig would write a line about how Abel goes behind a rock to "defecate".
8. MY LIBRARY. I love my local library. I use it for inspiration, work, books, music, and just for a general peaceful getaway sometimes. It kills me to hear funds are being openly slashed for libraries and librarians around the country. I think in a time where there's not much money, the library is more essential than ever. Long live books! Long live PRINT! Long live the library!
9. CELEBRITY FIT CLUB. I was toying with not including this in my list. Like, I'm too high brow for this sort of thing. But... yeah right. This season (the only one we've watched--honestly) was like a "reality" genre godsend. Sebastian Bach, Jay McCarroll, Bobby Brown, K-Fed AND Shar Jackson. Watch them try to shed pounds! Watch them work out their personal demons in front of a film crew! How could I not?
10. ROMY WALKS, v. 2. Romy is now walking independently. Not all day. She still likes the security of a hand hold from her Mom or Dad. But every day, for stretches at a time. It's crazy to see these milestones come along like this. Visually, this one is huge. Proud of ya, kiddo!