Tuesday, August 21, 2007

HomeValley's Pop Culture Picks!

This past weekend was filled with much hosting, driving, movie-watching, cleaning, and reading. And also - much tambourine playing. Behold! HV's Pop Culture Picks of the Moment:

OK, I realize this movie is about three years old; I didn't realize I owned it (read: borrowed from someone years ago and never returned) until Ry, my sixteen year-old brother, came to stay with J and me for a few days. I rented 300 for the occasion, but no one was in a particularly Spartan-esque kind of mood on Friday after returning from the Brew Pub, where we feasted on cocktails, sushi, and chicken parm. (Why don't teens understand the joy of raw fish and avocado? Kids these days.)

We wanted funny, so I charged Ry with going through my DVD collection and choosing a film. And sadly, Harold and Kumar was the best he could do.

Admittedly, the dirty martini made me a bit sleepy, and I dozed off during some of the movie. I was awake for a hilarious dream sequence in which Kumar courts a gigantic bag of weed; and also, a scene in which a young woman shows her boobies, which is always v. comfortable when viewing with younger male siblings. *Shudders.*

The verdict: Meh. Definitely had its moments, and no doubt would have been fucking gut-busting when I was sixteen, a time when I most certainly did not engage in any illegal activity. No sir. Overall, a worthy film for having just arrived home from a night of drinking, though certainly not any other illegal activity. (P.S. Ry? Don't do drugs. Please? Thank you.)

(And also, I think Kumar is pretty hot. No?)

Continuing HomeValley Family Fun Weekend, I trekked to Jersey on Saturday to pick up l'il sisters Cat and Meg for a girls' lunch and an afternoon showing of Hairspray. My adorable sisters where characteristically underwhelmed, but I - having seen the musical twice now - found more reasons to adore it. It's delightful; complete with a deliciously evil Michelle Pfeiffer looking gorgeous as ever and a terrifying yet lovable John Travolta prancing about in drag. And, it's fucking funny. So funny that thirteen year-old Cat gaped incredulously at me several times during the film when I guffawed.

The verdict: Two words: Christopher. Walken. Go.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini

There are certain books that have left an indelible mark on my soul; books that have remained with me for years, that have quite possibly concocted the person I am today. Judy Blume's Just As Long As We're Together tops my list, as does Go Ask Alice. As a young girl, I read and re-read these books countless times. I sought solace in them; they brought comfort when my adolescent world seemed out of control.

But in all my years, of all the books I've read, I can't now recount having been so moved by any one work of fiction. A Thousand Splendid Suns is Housseini's follow-up to The Kite Runner, a similarly harrowing tale set in modern day Afghanistan. The novel follows the lives of two women, Mariam and Laila, through the Soviet invasion until the devastating rise of the Taliban.

I can't do the prose justice here, nor the story of these two women who endure the incomprehensible. What I know is this: in my own life, I hadn't heard the world "Taliban" until Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I knew nothing about Afghanistan, and I suppose after the devastating attacks here, I assumed that the Taliban were Afghanistan. I knew nothing. The depiction of modern Afghani history through the fictional lives of Mariam and Laila was startling; I was stunned and overwhelmed by our shared humanity. Reading in bed each night, I felt outrage for what was happening there; and incredibly thankful for the privileged lives we enjoy here, the basic freedoms we take for granted each and every day (like traveling alone outside of our homes, without a male escort, or our entitlement to education).

I wept when I finished the book this weekend, and then I wiped my tears and asked J if we could have twin girls and name them Mariam and Laila? ("That would be a little weird.") And also, could we join the Peace Corps? ("Sure.") Help UN Refugees? ("Of course.")

The verdict: Please. Read.

At our tenth? Eleventh? trip here, the Panang Curry only gets better. This BYO is quaint and lovely and makes the best Thai food this side of the Schuylkill.
The verdict: Try it; you'll see.

And, finally:

J and I hadn't been to Flat Rock in years, so it was nice choice after dinner with friends Lauren and Eric. One martini into the evening, I suggested Jaegar bombs, which, I confirmed, are nasty.

The verdict: But then, a little cover band called Love Junk happened, and they handed yours truly a tambourine:

Which I played.

And played.

And also sang a little, through my playing.
I don't want to boast, but J called me the "best tambourine player ever."
I concurred.

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