Me time and A bit of a let down…

Well, as you know I finished Les Miserables last week, after a long, drawn out battle with the book. I have to honestly say that now that it’s over, I really enjoyed the story and in the end, it was worth it- all 1600 pages.  

So this weekend while The Runner is away cycling for the weekend–  (He’s doing the Scody Three Peaks Challenge- 235km and three mountains in one day…. Nuts) I’ve been having some Me time, watching whatever I want on TV and sneakily having a bowl of ice cream (yes, I know I’m supposed to be detoxing but it was only one bowl!)  So last night, I watched Les Mis, the movie.  I wanted to watch it while the book was still fresh and to be honest, I was disappointed.  

It was only ok and having read the book, I feel like they glossed over a lot and left a lot out.  Granted at two and a half hours, it wasn’t a short movie, but I kind of felt like they didn’t really do the characters justice.  Obviously, I’ve just spent 3 months of my life surround by Jean Valjean, Cosette, Marius, and Javert so maybe I’m just a bit too close to them now to be obejctive, but I kind of felt ripped off.  It wasn’t the best representation of the book and I wasn’t overly impressed by the movie.  The performances were ok, but after 1600 pages of getting to know characters and their ins and outs, the movie didn’t quite feel right.  

I know I’ll have to watch it again with The Runner- I had promised to watch it with him, (oops) and maybe I’ll feel differently the second time around.  Hugh Jackman was good and it was visually striking, but I can understand why it didn’t have a strong showing at the Oscars.  

So for day 2 of me time, what’s in store???  No more ice cream (obviously)  I might bake some treats to take into work tomorrow…. or I might not, it’s quite nice having a Me day!  I might just go to yoga, do some errands, read the paper, and read my new book- Gone Girl.by Gillian Flynn.  I started it yesterday and am already 20% through it….I already have a theory on whodunnit if you will, but I’ll keep that to myself for now!  

Mission accomplished!

Yay! I am triumphant this week!

Not only have I finished Les Miserables but I’ve also done yoga and exercised 6 days in a row!

I have to say Les Mis is what I imagine childbirth to be like, overly long, a bit boring and very painful but quite rewarding at the end. And like childbirth, I couldn’t (or didn’t) just stop in the middle and move on to something else. I’m quite pleased that it is done, huge sigh of relief! I can now watch the movie with the smug satisfaction of someone who has read the book, but I doubt I will notice if anything is really that different!

Phew! Very happy that’s over! Now then, does anyone have suggestions for my next read? Preferably something under 1000 pages and written in the last hundred years!

The goal for this week: Finish the Book and Do Yoga

So as we all know (if you read the blog), life is not the most exciting at the moment- I’m on a detox and reading a book that I hate.  Life is good otherwise, even in my ice cream-less, wine-less state, but reading a bad book is bringing me down.  That’s why, I have promised myself that I have to finish it this week.  Given that I’ve been thinking of any excuse not to read it, including developing a slightly worrying addictive to SongPop and Words with Friends on my phone, I’m a bit concerned that this goal might be a bit ambitious.

But, I’m drawing a line in the sand.  I have to, I’m tired of the book, I want to see the movie and I want to read something else.  I don’t know what it’s going to take, but I’m going to get it done.  And to spur myself on and kick off my week of reading, I made Chicken Marengo for dinner tonight…..  

Now before I get into Chicken Marengo and how it relates to Les Mis, I have to tell you that I’m a bit sad.  I’ve had to put Sunday night dinners are on hold for the next few weeks due to our yoga challenge– which actually I’m quite enjoying.  I think yoga could make me a better person- not sure how but it feels like something that has the potential to.  Anyway, we do a 5pm class on Sunday, which means it’s virtually impossible to have people over for dinner and go to yoga class.   It’s a bit of a shame, because I enjoy the class, but can’t do both, clearly something to figure out long term, but in the short term, Sunday Dinner is on hold.  They’ll be back on March 31st with a pre-birthday, post detox, Easter extravaganza…. or something.   I still cook on Sundays, but it’s too hectic to have people over, and do yoga, and cook.  Anyway, slight digression….

So tonight, I made Chicken Marengo, because I’m going to finish Les Mis this week, I hope.  I’m 85% of the way through, and fingers crossed, it will be done by this time next week.  Chicken Marengo is supposedly what Napoleon ate after the Battle of Marengo.  According to Wikipedia, (and tradition),  “Napoleon demanded a quick meal after the battle and his chef Dunand was forced to work with the meager results of a forage: a chicken (and some eggs), tomatoesonionsgarlic, herbs, olive oil, and crayfish. The chef cut up the chicken (reportedly with a sabre) and fried it in olive oil, made a sauce from the tomatoes, garlic and onions (plus a bit of cognac from Napoleon’s flask), cooked the crayfish, fried the eggs and served them as a garnish, with some of the soldier’s bread ration on the side. Napoleon reportedly liked the dish and (having won the battle) considered it lucky. He refused to have the ingredients altered on future occasions even when his chef tried to omit the crayfish.”  

So- the connection is that Les Miserables is from 19th century France, and so is this dish.  Yes, it’s a tenuous connection at best but, hopefully it will be the inspiration I need to power through the last few hundred pages (sigh!).  One little known fact about Chicken Marengo, I made it at Summer Camp one year, don’t ask me what year, but it was when I went to a Summer Language Camp (because that’s the sort of thing that you do when you’re grow up in DC- slightly pretentious, but very educational!)  I think I was pretty young, and to be honest, I remember making Chicken Marengo more than anything else about the camp (sorry Mom!)  Well, enough procrastinating, I have Les Mis to finish… but just in case you’re wondering- Chicken Marengo is very tasty.  It’s basically Chicken with onion, mushrooms, tomato, and brandy, it’s gluten free-  unlike the homemade bagel I wolfed down this morning!  (shhhhhhh, it was a special occasion!)Image

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..how can you go wrong??  It was super tasty!

 

 

It’s Oscar Day (doesn’t quite sound right, does it?)

It’s Oscar day which if I were in the States I would care about a lot more than I do from Australia.   For starters, I’m at work, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to watching a 3 hour awards show or even the 2 hours of red carpet interviews leading up to.  We have a TV at work, but watching it all morning is generally frowned upon. 

The Oscars were much more fun in the US on a Sunday night with popcorn, drinks, or some other form of amusement while the show drags on.  Acceptance Speech drinking games anyone?  It’s much more fun to talk about celebrity gowns in pajama pants as you finish dinner than having to watch it on the internet later on.   I’d love to throw an Oscars party here, but sadly there’s not much point, the internet, TV and radio pretty much make it pointless to record the show and watch it later.   Even if you do manage to go a full day without finding out who’s won, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll overhear someone on the bus ride home that makes all of the avoidance during the day a waste of time and energy.  The one time, I’m jealous of all of my unemployed and stay at home mom friends!

Don’t get me wrong, I am excited, I’ve seen a record (for me!) number of nominated movies (5, I think) so I actually have some opinion on who should win…. I think it’s a travesty that Samuel L. Jackson wasn’t nominated for Django Unchained, he was hilarious in it! Out of the Best Picture Nominees, there are only two that I haven’t seen that I actually want to see—Zero Dark Thirty and Les Mis……oh Les Mis.  Stupid, horrible, miserable Les Mis.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the movie is fantastic, I’m sure it’s well acted, well sung, well directed and totally worthy of all the praise it’s gotten.  I saw the musical in London years ago and it was amazing.   However, my current feelings on Les Mis is that I loathe it.  Why?? 

Because I’m locked in an epic struggle with Victor Hugo at the moment, a bitter battle with him and his book.  I’m hating  every second of it but I won’t let myself quit.  See, back in December, I had a hair-brained idea that in order to be a better, more erudite, cultured person, I would read the book, Les Miserables, before I would let myself see the movie.  What a stupid idea that turned out to be.

There’s a reason why you don’t encounter many people reading Les Miserables or tucking the movie tie-in version into their back pocket.  The book is over 1600 pages long and written in mid 19th century in France (I’m reading it in English) and is, without a doubt, one of the worst books I’ve ever read.  I’m sorry all you fans of Epic 19th century French literature, but seriously, I’m 79% of the way through the book (according to my kindle) and since I was 4% in I’ve wanted to throw the stupid thing out of the window.  Victor Hugo rambles on, digresses for 70-80 pages at a time, and has loads of references to 19th century France that are a bit archaic now…  Plus, it’s not that interesting of a book, he’s too busy digressing about the Battle of Waterloo to move the story along.  I’m sure in 19th century France, people had nothing better to do than to read about blades of grass on a battlefield, but in 2013, we’ve progressed a bit.  Maybe it’s a sign of the dumbing down of human kind and shorter attention spans, and the end of Western Civilization, or maybe it’s just a book that works better as a musical or a movie.  Whatever it is, it’s now a test of wills, and the challenge of maybe not a lifetime but certainly of 2013.

Let me just say, I love to read, I devour books—mostly without pictures, and I enjoy reading.    I like reading proper, smart books, Booker Prize Winners, thinking books, books that you read in school, not just mindless chick lit or Mills&Boon novels.  I’ve actually never read a Mills & Boon novel, but I don’t imagine there’s a lot too them.  A couple of years ago, I set myself a challenge to read 20 books in one year, and I did it and then some…..I think like 23 or 24, but who’s counting.  No, I’m not an English Professor or a Literature aficionado but I am literate and I enjoy books.  Except for this one.   It’s miserable.. and it’s making me miserable reading it.   I really don’t think Victor Hugo had an editor when he wrote it, because any good editor would have suggested cutting out about 1000 pages that don’t progress the story at all. 

My goal was originally to read it, finish it and watch it before, well today.  I’ve clearly missed the deadline.  Now, I’m just hoping to finish it by the end of the month and really to persevere to finish it at all.  There are so many better books out there that I’m dying to read and I also really want to see the movie.  As much as I want it to win some awards today, secretly, I hope it doesn’t…  not because I don’t want it to be good, but I don’t want to hate the book any more than I already do for making me miss out on seeing the movie!  By my calculation, I have about 400 pages left in the book.  Wish me luck (and please don’t tell me how good the movie is!)