March 2017 Update

Books, Movies, Reading, Travel

March was a crazy busy month. We took two trips: one to California for a family wedding and one to Baltimore for a work conference. We had known about the Baltimore trip for a while, but the California trip was a relatively last minute decision.

The wedding was in Goleta near Santa Barbara. Certainly, there are places in Santa Barbara where we could have stayed, but I have a friend who once lived in nearby Carpinteria. Since we knew that area, we decided to stay in Carpenteria and were glad we did. After Holly and I moved east and my friend left Carpinteria, I figured we would never have a reason to go back there.

The wedding was on a Saturday, so we flew into Los Angeles on Friday and drove up to Carpinteria. We had a lovely dinner at Corktree Cellars which was new to us. The next day, we hit a couple of favorites from prior visits (Jack’s Bistro and Island Brewing Company) before heading to the wedding.

On Sunday, we went back to Jack’s Bistro before heading to wine country along with Holly’s brother. We went to Cambria Estate Vineyard & Winery and Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards. Despite spending a fair amount of time in California when I lived out west, I had never taken advantage of wine country, so it was a real treat especially since the weather was beautiful.

Sunday night, we stayed at the Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton. After the wineries and a quick visit to Solvang, we checked into our rooms and relaxed for a while before having a magnificent dinner at The Hitching Post II.

Our trip was not without drama since the east coast experience a blizzard on Monday, and our flight got canceled. We were able to reserve a flight on Tuesday and made the best of the situation and spent Monday in Holly’s hometown of Long Beach before being able to head home on Tuesday. We were hoping to try Berlin Bistro, which was on our list of places to try when we were in Long Beach last summer, but, alas, they are not open on Mondays. We went to Congregation Ale House to research a place to stay (and locate a place to do some laundry) and were lucky to find a place downtown. We went for a walk along the beach and then met Holly’s brother, who lives in Long Beach, for dinner at Padre.

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Although we were in Baltimore for a work conference for me, we managed to have plenty of fun. We have a friend who lives in Baltimore, and we met up with him a couple of times, as well as met up with some librarian friends we hadn’t seen in a while. We had some free time on our last day and went to the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Of course, we found some excellent places to eat. We went with our Baltimore friend to Blue Hill Tavern for dinner on our first night and to Gertrude’s for brunch before heading home. Thanks to his recommendation, we also went to Miss Shirley’s Cafe. We also found a few great places on our own: Metropolitan Coffeehouse & Wine Bar, 3 Bean Coffee, and Spoons Cafe.

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Books Read

Despite being busy, I was able to keep pace with my reading goals, mainly because our travel involved a long flight to the west coast and a train ride down to Baltimore.

The three books I finished in March were all ebooks I read on my new Kindle. One was an epub version that I had from back when Readmill was a thing. I was able to convert it and send it to my Kindle. The other two were Kindle books that Holly bought that I was able to read since we’re now able to share Kindle books. This is one of the big benefits of both of us having actual Kindles rather than just using the apps.

The Readmill title I read was Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier. I had read this a couple of times ages ago and remembered really liking it. My memory didn’t let me down. I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it and can claim this as one of my favorite books.

March turned out being a really good book month in that I also really enjoyed Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars and Nnedi Okorafor’s novella, Binti.

Holly and I have been on a bit of a Star Wars kick since we started watching Rebels followed up by seeing Rogue One a couple of times back during our winter break. Holly has been more into some of the new canon books than I have, but she specifically recommended Lost Stars to me. Lost Stars takes place over the timeline of the original movie trilogy, so it was entertaining to read a story that takes places along the periphery of those events. Gray does a great job of injecting some complexity into characters who are in training to become Imperial officers. The movies portray the Empire as being blindly evil, so it was instructive to read about characters struggling to make sense of the politics of that time span.

I didn’t know much about Binti going in other than having heard good things. Because it is short and covers a tight time frame, it felt very intense. Having read it in one sitting while on the place contributed to this impression as well.

Books Read in March

  • The Good Soldier (ebook)
  • Lost Stars (ebook)
  • Binti (ebook)

Books Read in 2017

  • A Gambler’s Anatomy (library book)
  • The Princess Diarist (library book)
  • The Best American Essays 2016
  • Moonglow (library book)
  • Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell (ebook)
  • Ploughshares Winter 2017-2018
  • The Good Soldier (ebook)
  • Lost Stars (ebook)
  • Binti (ebook)

Movies Watched

Movie watching didn’t fare as well during our busy month. We saw only five movies, two in the theaters. Luckily, they were all excellent.

I Am Not Your Negro played at the last Philadelphia Film Festival, but I was unable to fit it into my schedule. Luckily, it was released in March, so I still got to see it in the theater. It is an important, timely, and fascinating documentary based on the writings of James Baldwin.

I didn’t know much about Something Wild before seeing it. It was available on Filmstruck, and I was curious enough about it to put it on my watchlist. In the beginning of the month, I saw that it was soon to be rotating off of Filmstruck so I decided to watch it before it disappears. I was glad I did. It is a rather intense, low-budget film about the aftermath of a sexual assault, so it’s not an easy watch.

The highlight of the month, however, was finally seeing Stop Making Sense on the big screen. I have long been a Talking Heads fan and have seen Stop Making Sense several times at home but seeing it in the theater was a real treat. To add to the special evening, the film was introduced by David Dye shortly after his final broadcast on the World Cafe.

Movies Watched in March

  • I Am Not Your Negro (in theater)
  • Embrace of the Serpent
  • Arrival
  • Something Wild
  • Stop Making Sense (in theater)

Movies Watched in 2017

  • Hell or High Water
  • 13th
  • Mountains May Depart
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut
  • The Long Good Friday
  • The Witch
  • Patterson (in theater)
  • Swiss Army Man
  • The World of Jacques Demy
  • A Bigger Splash
  • Decline of Western Civilization
  • In the Mood for Love
  • La La Land (in theater)
  • Wayne’s World (in theater)
  • Hail, Caesar
  • Stranger than Paradise
  • Down by Law
  • Mystery Train
  • Night on Earth
  • The World of Henry Orient
  • The Heartbreak Kid
  • Hidden Figures (in theater)
  • Girlfriends
  • I Am Not Your Negro (in theater)
  • Embrace of the Serpent
  • Arrival
  • Something Wild
  • Stop Making Sense (in theater)

Blog Posts

On Being and Formulating in March

On Being and Formulating in 2017

On Educational Media Reviews Online in 2017

On SuperPlus Eats in 2017

Photos in the Wild

Photos in the Wild in March

Photos in the Wild in 2017