Posts Tagged ‘Jim Henson’

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Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone, ed. Jenni Ferrari-Adler
I loved this collection of essays on solo dining and cooking, featuring writers ranging from Laurie Colwin to Ann Patchett to several folks I’d never heard of. Some folks cook gourmet meals for themselves; some folks cobble together leftovers; some folks make the same comfort food over and over. (I made Amanda Hesser’s “single cuisine” eggs recently.) Essay collections can be uneven, but every single piece here is delicious.

The Girl You Left Behind, Jojo Moyes
I loved Moyes’ previous novel, Me Before You, and also loved this story. Edouard Lefevre, a French artist, paints a portrait of his wife, Sophie, before leaving to fight in World War I. Sophie and her sister are forced to cook for the occupying German forces, whose Kommandant is fascinated by the painting. Decades later, the painting hangs in widow Liv Halston’s ultramodern London home, a gift from her husband. When the artist’s family brings a lawsuit, claiming the painting was stolen, Liv delves into Sophie’s history to prove it wasn’t. Page-turning, heart-tugging and rich with historical detail.

Have His Carcase, Dorothy Sayers
Harriet Vane, recovering from a murder trial (detailed in Strong Poison), escapes to a quiet coastal town, where she promptly finds a dead body abandoned on a rock. The body is soon washed away by the tide, but Harriet mounts an investigation. Lord Peter Wimsey, who never can keep his long nose out of a mystery, arrives shortly and the pair of them pursue the case up and down the coast. Engaging and fun, full of red herrings and witty exchanges between Harriet and Lord Peter.

Jim Henson: The Biography, Brian Jay Jones
It is difficult to overstate my love for the Muppets. I grew up on Sesame Street, and I love the Muppet movies and The Muppet Show – the whole Muppet world. I especially adore Kermit the Frog, who was in many ways Jim Henson’s alter ego. This brand-new biography of Henson – packed with quotes from Frank Oz, Henson’s wife and children, and many others who knew him well – was utterly fascinating. The last chapter, which detailed Jim’s memorial service, made me weep. Thoroughly researched and so much fun.

Heirs and Graces, Rhys Bowen
Lady Georgiana Rannoch (Her Royal Spyness) is invited to a stately home in Kent to help groom the duke’s new Australian heir for high society. But the duke soon ends up dead, stabbed by the heir’s hunting knife – and complicated family politics give several people motive for murder. The plot of this one fell rather flat, and I missed Georgie’s Cockney grandfather, who only made a cameo. Not my favorite of the series, though still fun.

Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy, Lacy Crawford
I picked up this novel after reading Lindsey’s glowing review. Anne works as an independent college admissions counselor, assisting wealthy high schoolers and their parents with applications and essays. But while she helps her students find their voices and take charge of their own lives, she’s stuck in a holding pattern, afraid to pursue a different career or find real love. Crawford’s writing is sharp, insightful and compassionate, and her characters come alive through their essays. Thought-provoking and wonderful.

Wonder, R.J. Palacio
August “Auggie” Pullman was born with a severe facial deformity, so he’s always been homeschooled. But now he’s starting fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and all he wants is to be treated like a normal kid. Narrated alternately by Auggie, his older sister Via and their friends, Wonder traces Auggie’s journey through the school year, from science projects and English class to the social politics of the lunchroom. Heartbreaking, funny and ultimately hopeful.

Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
I loved Rowell’s Attachments, and loved this book too. Cath Avery is a shy, confused college freshman, overwhelmed by the new world she finds herself in. She retreats into what she’s always loved: writing fanfiction about Simon Snow (a Harry Potter-esque magician). Her twin sister, Wren, is pulling away from her; her surly roommate’s ex-boyfriend is awfully cute; and she’s worried about her dad, left all alone in Omaha. A sweet, funny coming-of-age story and a fun look into the world of fanfiction.

Rose Under Fire, Elizabeth Wein
I loved Wein’s Code Name Verity – this novel is a companion to it. Rose Justice, American transport pilot and aspiring poet, gets captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbruck, where she and a tough, ragtag group of women work together to subvert the SS guards and stay alive. Heartbreaking (and told in horrifying detail), the story extends from the camps to the Nuremberg trials after the war. Sobering and yet stubbornly hopeful.

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Okay, I know tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day. But Christmas always starts for me on Christmas Eve – and besides, this clip from The Muppet Christmas Carol is too precious not to share.

Hope this brings a bit of joy into your day, friends. After all, there’s only one more sleep ’til Christmas Eve…

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Since toddlerhood, I’ve been a Sesame Street girl. According to both my mother and my own memories, I loved watching Bert and Ernie, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Mr. Hooper, Gordon, Maria and all the rest. (Grover remains my dad’s favorite, while Jeremiah has a soft spot for Cookie Monster.) We watched lots of Sesame Street at my house, and we still watch parts of the Christmas Eve special every year.

But I never watched The Muppet Show, which went off the air the year I was born, and wasn’t really a kids’ show, anyway. However, this fall, J and I have been checking out the DVDs from the library and howling with laughter over the antics of Kermit and friends. Kermit has always been my favorite, and it’s such fun to watch him trying to keep everything together (we have that in common) while his wacky friends seem intent, at times, on spoiling or at least sending the show careening wildly off-balance.

Apparently there’s a new Muppet movie in the works (we love the movies too, especially The Muppet Christmas Carol). But for now, we’re having fun watching Kermit dodging Miss Piggy and Fozzie telling terrible jokes and Statler and Waldorf heckling him, and Gonzo performing death-defying acts of, well, we’re not exactly sure what. We love Animal’s mad drumming and the Swedish Chef’s attempts at cooking and Beaker’s mishaps in Muppet Labs, and Rowlf’s piano solos and his jokes on Veterinarian’s Hospital.

This is vintage stuff, so I’m sure we’ve missed a few cultural references, and some of the guest stars are unknown to us – but it’s pure, happy hilarity from the time the curtain goes up till Zoot blows the last note on the saxophone. And after a long day or a hectic week, or just after a cozy dinner at home, it’s often exactly what we need.

Won’t you join us for the Muppet Show tonight?

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