April 2017 Update

Books, Movies, Reading

April was a lot less busy than March was. After traveling twice in April, we kept a fairly low profile in March. However, we did have one particularly nice outing in the middle of the month. I was off for Good Friday, and Holly took the day off so we could do something fun together. The weather was nice so we took a walk to the Academy of Natural Sciences specifically for their Frogs: A Chorus of Colors exhibit. I’m a big lover of frogs so this was a nice treat. I thoroughly enjoyed it and came away with some nice pictures. I only wish there had been more frogs!

After the exhibit, we continued walking north to go to SpOt Gourmet Burgers. SpOt Gourmet Burgers started out as a food truck near where Holly and I worked. Shortly after I switched jobs, SpOt opened a storefront in Brewerytown. This was our second visit to this location, and everything was as good as I remembered.

Rizzo Burger
Billy Burger

Once we finished our lunch, we hit a couple of bars on the way home, the highlight of which was a visit to our new favorite place, Friday Saturday Sunday. We had always intended going there since it is in our neighborhood. We thought we lost our chance when it closed, but it soon reopened under new management. We’ve been there several times since the end of 2016 and have loved everything about it: the service, the food, the drinks. A week or so later, my brother wanted to come into the city for dinner, and Friday Saturday Sunday was a clear first choice.

Books Read

Books Read in April

I ended the month a little ahead of the pace I need to be on to reach my reading goal, having read five books in April.

In Farleigh Field was a Kindle First choice. I finally figured out that it’s best to wait until the end of the month to select my Kindle First book of the month after more people post their reviews. In Farleigh Field was and enjoyable if predictable World War II story by Rhys Bowen. Although the mystery aspects of it were a little disappointing, the characters were interesting enough to make it a worthwhile read.

I jumped on The Handmaid’s Tale bandwagon and read that for the first time. It had long been on my to-read list but all the hype about the upcoming TV series finally compelled me to read it. I liked it well enough but thought the epilog was an odd and unnecessary addition that undid some of my enjoyment. I had read a couple of Margaret Atwood’s books (Alias Grace and The Blind Assassin) a few years ago and loved them. Need to read more of her books.

I continued on my Star Wars kick and read the graphic novel version of Timothy Zahn’s The Thrawn Trilogy. Since Disney purchased Lucasfilm, this story is no longer canon, but I have been curious about it for a while. It was good but not great and had some interesting ideas which I wonder if they’ll find their way into the new canon material.

I finished the most recent issue of Ploughshares, and I have to say it was one of the best issues in recent memory. I was edited by Jennifer Haigh who I am not familiar with but maybe need to be. There were several standout stories: J. Scott Farrin’s “The Weeds,” Kevin Fenton’s “Negative Space,” Smith Henderson’s “Muscles,” Kristen Iskandrian’s “The Taster,” E. K. Ota’s “Silk and Dust,” Matthue Roth’s “One Part Finger,” and Jess Walter’s “Fran’s Friend Has Cancer.” The issue was so good that I even liked a couple of the poems: Geffrey Davis’s “Self-Portrait as a Dead Black Boy” and Kimberly Kruge’s “If, Then.”

Finally, I read Teju Cole’s fabulous Every Day Is for the Thief. I had read his Open City and loved it. Every Day Is for the Thief is an interesting companion piece since both concern characters who leave Nigeria for the United States. Every Day Is for the Thief focuses on a character who has gone back to Nigeria whereas in Open City we see more of the character’s experiences abroad.

  • In Farleigh Field
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • The Thrawn Trilogy
  • Ploughshares Spring 2017
  • Every Day Is for the Thief

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)
  • In Farleigh Field
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • The Thrawn Trilogy
  • Ploughshares Spring 2017
  • Every Day Is for the Thief

Movies Watched

I mentioned last month that we had seen Stop Making Sense in the theater. That was part of a short film festival co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Film Festival and WXPN. It straddled March and April, so the second movie we saw, Singles, was during the first weekend of the month. I had seen Singles a couple times before but never on the big screen.

I continued watching or re-watching the top 20 films from Film Comments list of the best films of 2016. I re-watched Toni Erdmann which I had seen at the Philadelphia Film Festival, and Paterson, which I had seen in the theater. I watched Manchester by the Sea, The Fits, and Elle from the list. Toni Erdmann was my favorite film of the festival, and I liked it as much if not more on a second viewing. Paterson was completely charming both times. I wasn’t sold on Manchester by the Sea based on the previews, but it was much better than I expects.  I found The Fits interesting, but I’m not sure I would include it on a best of list. I thought Elle was awful. As of this writing, I have seen 11 of the 20 movies.

I ended the month by re-watched The Trip and The Trip to Italy because I heard that a new movie in the series, The Trip to Spain, is coming out soon. I love both The Trip and The Trip to Italy and hope that The Trip to Spain will be in the theaters here.

Movies Watched in April

  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Singles (in theater)
  • The Fits
  • Toni Erdmann
  • Paterson
  • Swingers
  • Elle
  • The Trip
  • The Trip to Italy

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)
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Singles (in theater)
  • The Fits
  • Toni Erdmann
  • Paterson
  • Swingers
  • Elle
  • The Trip
  • The Trip to Italy

Blog Posts

On Being and Formulating in April

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 April

Photos in the Wild in 2017