Thursday, February 01, 2007

January 2007

In honor of Nick Hornby, I'm going to try something different. This might be a one-time thing, it might turn into a regular feature. I don't know. Anyway. At the end of every month I'm going to list the books I read that month and the movies I saw for the first time. There will probably be some short comments as well. Hornby does this in a column for some magazine he writes for and he's gotten two books out of it so far. So, here's my January 2007.

Books Read:
Brainiac by Ken Jennings
Teacher Man
by Frank McCourt

January was a slow month for me, reading wise. The first two weeks I didn't read any books (not including the usual newspaper, magazine, blogs, etc.). The first book I finished was Brainiac. It's written by Ken Jennings, the guy who won 74 games on Jeopardy! The book does tells part of Jenning's Jeopardy! story, but it's really a book that explores the history of trivia. I really liked it.

The other book I read was Frank McCourt's Teacher Man. McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize about 8 years ago for his memoir Angela's Ashes. That book is amazing and I highly recommend it. McCourt had an incredibly bleak childhood, but his writing style is so humorous and witty. Teacher Man is his 3rd book and is written in the same style as his first two. It's also a memoir, but it deals more in-depth with his thirty-year teaching career. I love McCourt's writing (he's a beautiful storyteller), but I took even more away from the book because I, too, am an English teacher.

Movies Viewed for the First Time:
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Mothman Prophecies
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time
Children of Men
United 93

I didn't watch many movies in January 2007 either. Normally I see between 10-15 movies for the first time during a month. In January 2007 I only managed seeing five. I enjoyed The Pursuit of Happyness. It's basically an inspiring film about overcoming adversity. Will Smith and his son have a great relationship though and it is their bond that makes the movie so touching.

I watched The Mothman Prophecies because I thought it was going to be about the Silver Bridge accident in 1967 that killed 26 people. If you've ever heard about the Mothman stories, you might want to check the film out, but besides that I'd stay away. It wasn't that good and having Richard Gere involved made it even worse.

Cindrella III: A Twist in Time was sent to me to review. It's okay and better than many direct-to-DVD films I've seen. However, it still had no business being made.

Children of Men. Amazing. Go see this movie. The bleak and depressing tone jars one's soul, but the movie is full of hope. Finally, I watched United 93 for the first time this month. Since the end of April I had been hearing from all sorts of sources how good the film was. Unfortunately it never came out in a theatre close enough for me to get to so I had to wait and watch the copy I bought my mom for Christmas. United 93 has largely been ignored during the award season, but it is, in my opinion, the best film of 2006. No preaching. Just a realistic depiction of one story of millions that happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

And what did I learn this path month from my reading and movie watching endeavors? The biggest thing is a message that I have been seeing repeated over and over and over the past few months. I don't know if it's something that God is trying to drill into because of what is going on in my life or if it's a prophetic message for all of us because of some dark days that might be ahead. Whatever the case, the message is this: no matter how dark, bleak, and dreary things may get, never give up because no matter how horrible things are, hope remains.

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