June 2017 Update

Books, Movies, Reading

June was a fairly quiet month. One highlight was having dinner at Zahav. We had been a couple of times before for their Hanukkah dinner which we certainly enjoyed both times. But it had been a couple of years since the last experience, and we had long been interested in going back. We had received an Open Table gift certificate which helped motivate us to make a reservation.

We had their chef’s tasting menu which was a multi-course meal starting off with Salatim, followed by humus and mezze. For the mezze, we had the pastilla, grilled duck hearts, cobia crudo, and the kibbe naya. Some of this was a bit adventurous for me, but we went with recommendations from the kitchen. I’m glad I expanded my horizons since I wanted the best Zahav experience I could have. The main course was their famous pomegranate-braised lamb shank. We we pretty full after the first few courses and ended up bringing most of the lamb home. We also got the wine pairing which enhanced the experience. Everything was wonderful, including the service. It was a special night and worth the two month we had to wait for a reservation. The restaurant was a bit dark, and we were sitting between two other tables so we didn’t take any pictures.

The other big event of the month was a trip to New York City, which I wrote a separate post about.

Books Read

I’m still on a good reading pace this year and read six books in June. I’m already at 23 for the year. As I mentioned last month, my numbers are a bit padded because of the graphic novels I’ve been reading, but three of my June titles were “regular” books.

I’ve been enjoyed the Star Wars graphic novels. After reading the first two of the main series, I found out that it crosses paths with the Darth Vader series so I read the first book of that.

I also finished Martina Flor’s The Golden Secrets of Lettering which lived up to my high hopes. I’m not sure how I first came across Flor’s work, but I have been following her art on Instagram for a while and was excited when I heard she was coming out with a book. It’s an excellent guide for learning how to do hand lettering. I would say it’s not for beginners as it would be helpful to be somewhat familiar with drawing and drawing tools before diving in. It would also be helpful to have some background in calligraphy, which I do not. Knowing calligraphy isn’t essential for getting something out of the book, and Flor does provide a section on the basics of calligraphy.

I’ve still been enjoying my Kindle Paperwhite and read two Kindle books this month, both of which I came across on sale. I finally read Anaïs Nin’s Henry and June. I say “finally” because as a longtime Henry Miller fan, this is a book I should have gotten around to a long time ago. It is comprised of excerpts from Nin’s diary and reads as such. It was certainly instructive to read about Miller and his wife through Nin’s perspective.

The other Kindle book I read was James Hilton’s Lost Horizon which I had read in college and recalled liking. I still more or less enjoyed it, but it did not live up to my memory of it. The plot centers on four people are escaping a civil war in India. The plane they escape in is hijacked and they are taken to the remote Tibeten lamasery of Shangri-La. Written in 1933, the West meets East plotline often feels dated and is often distracting. That the main character gains access to the High Lama is never quite convincing.

Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad is another book I had previously read that I decided to re-read when I found out she has a new book coming out in October. I had previously read A Visit from the Goon Squad and Look at Me and loved them both so I was excited to hear that a new book is on its way.

Unlike Lost Horizon, A Visit from the Good Squad was as good, if not better, the second time around. This “novel” is really a collection of interrelated stories based around a record producer, his assistant, and a number of other characters they intersect with. Despite being a collection of stories, it feels like a cohesive whole. Egan is a fabulous writer, and I would rank Good Squad as one of my favorite books. I hope to soon give Look at Me another read and hope that is as good as I remember it as well.

Books Read in June

  • Henry and June
  • Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon
  • The Golden Secrets of Lettering
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vol. 1: Vader
  • Lost Horizon

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 (ebook)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • The Thrawn Trilogy (ebook)
  • Ploughshares Spring 2017
  • Every Day Is for the Thief (library book)
  • Star Wars, Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes (ebook)
  • Madame Bovary (library book)
  • Saga, Volume 7
  • Henry and June (ebook)
  • Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (ebook)
  • The Golden Secrets of Lettering
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vol. 1: Vader (ebook)
  • Lost Horizon (ebook)

Movies Watched

June featured another trip to the theater. This time to see Wonder Woman, which was quite enjoyable. I’m not a huge fan of super hero movies, but this one was definitely one of the better ones I have seen. The ending felt a bit bloated and pretty predictable, but it was overall very entertaining.

Didn’t watch a lot of movies at home in June. I blame baseball season and my stellar reading commitment. I did watch a couple more movies on Film Comment’s list of the best films of 2016: Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come and Kristen Johnson’s Cameraperson. I was disappointed last month in Elle so it was a relief to see Isabelle Huppert in a much better film, this time as a philosophy instructor trying to maintain her life after her husband leaves her for another woman.

Cameraperson is an interesting documentary in which Johnson compiles footage from other films she had worked on which ends up being a rather insightful and autobiographical film.

I also watched a couple of movies on FilmStruck: Federico Fellini’s I Vitteloni and The Most Dangerous Game. The former was an early, less Felliniesque movie about a group of five friends entering adulthood in a small town in Italy. The latter was a 1932 movie with Joel McCrea who is the only survivor who gets shipwrecked on an island where a crazy Count entertains himself by hunting and killing the people who end up on his island.


Finally, I watched Elia Kazan’s stellar A Face in the Crowd, which I had seen years ago. It’s a fabulous satire about a drifter who rises to TV stardom based on the power of his personality. Andy Griffith is impressive as the charismatic Lonesome Rhodes.

Movies Watched in June

  • Things to Come
  • Wonder Woman
  • The Most Dangerous Game
  • I Vitteloni
  • Cameraperson
  • A Face in the Crowd

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
  • Puzzle of a Downfall Child
  • Cemetery of Splendor
  • A Woman Under the Influence
  • Right Now Wrong Then
  • The Handmaiden
  • Good Neighbor Sam
  • Things to Come
  • Wonder Woman (in theater)
  • Most Dangerous Game
  • I Vitteloni
  • Cameraperson
  • A Face in the Crowd

Blog Posts

On Being and Formulating in June

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 2017