Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Around the World in 22 Days

On my last trip, I ended up traveling around the world: Melbourne -> Singapore -> Helsinki -> Reykjavik -> Boston -> LA -> Sydney -> Melbourne

I spent a lot of time on airplanes, and probably took enough weird one-way flights to earn myself a spot on the TSA watch list. One effect of living in Australia is that I've become accustomed to long flights. Here are some tips:

1. Neck pillow and eye mask. I look like a huge dork, but at least I get some sleep.
2. On overnight flights, I try to stay up for the first 2 or 3 hours, during which time I consume 2 glasses of red wine. 1 is not enough, 3 causes too many trips to the bathroom. When I'm ready to sleep, I pop a couple of whatever mild sedative I was most recently able to legally acquire- lately codeine has been my airline drug of choice.
3. Be polite, but keep quiet. Don't run the risk of getting trapped in an awkward conversation with someone you're stuck next to for 10 hours.
4. Bring your own headphones.
5. Bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it up before you board.
6. Movies and books are your friends.

On this last trip, I watched the following:

1. Red Hill- a modern western set in Australia. Really good!
2. The Apartment- A young Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon in a Mad Men era comedy. Enjoyable but not as good as I was hoping.
3. Terms of Endearment- A much older Shirley McLaine stars in a movie about a mother-daughter relationship. Apparently I was on a Shirley McLaine kick. How did I not know until I just looked at IMDB that Warren Beatty is her brother? Anyways, the movie was pretty good, and Debra Winger was fantastic as the daughter.
4. Adam- Girl meets boy, boy has Asperger's. Meh- their relationship never seemed believable to me.
5. Win Win- Everyone's favorite loveable loser Paul Giammatti ends up taking on a troubled teen who turns out to be a star athelete. A bit predictable but highly enjoyable.
6. Just Go With It- A rom-com starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Just as bad as I expected it to be.

and I read the following:

2666, by Roberto Bolano. I've actually been reading this for the past few months and I finally finished. It is LONG and also a slow read- despite excellent writing and an interesting story (the backdrop of the book is the serial killing of women in a Mexican border city), the sheer length of the book made it feel more like a chore than a pleasure. The book is divided into sections with a variety of characters (a reclusive German novelist, a group of four literary scholars, a Mexican policeman, and American sportswriter) who all end up in Santa Theresa, a fictional city based upon Ciudad Juarez and its femicidos. Bolano died before the novel was finalized, and I can't help but think that it would have been better had he lived long enough to fully finish and edit it. The numerical title is never explained.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. I do love good Young Adult fiction and this one is a winner. Set in the future, the United States no longer exists and has been replaced by a number of territories ruled by a Capitol City. As punishment for a previous uprising, every year each territory must send one teenage boy and one girl to The Hunger Games- a fight to the death. Think Stephen King meets Harry Potter, with a female protagonist. I loved it! A creative premise, great characters, and fun and quick to read. It's a trilogy so now I need to hunt down the next two.


Tom said...

Speaking of young-adult fiction, have you read the Sabriel series? (by Garth Nix, an Aussie!) We may have already had this conversation.

But if not, definitely pick it up! It's amazing.

Ryan said...

agree 1000% on Hunger Games. Finished book 2 today and on to three tonite. I made it through the first book of 2666, but that was it. Is it worth dipping back in? Or should I stick with YA fiction?

KcM said...

I've been thinking about picking up Hunger Games, but it sounds like an egregious ripoff of Battle Royale. Is that the case?

eileen said...

I haven't read Sabriel nor Battle Royale- two more YA books for the list! And apparently there's a really good Aussie series called Tomorrow When The War Began.

As for 2666, skip it.

Eri said...

1 week until I can completely geek out about hunger games at comic con. it is on Eileen. It is on. I love those books.

The Kmac said...

LOVE Hunger Games! Can't wait for the movie!!