Friday, February 25, 2011

Don't Panic!

Greetings, gentle viewers!

Never fear, I'm still Cannonballing away, just had a few things come up (audition, casting, illness, espionage). You know, the usual.

I have an exciting Oscar weekend ahead, and all will be explained come Monday, along with the next Cannonball post!

Love and popcorn.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cannonball! Book #8 is V. Serious!

BOOK #8: Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

It was a strange and ironic jump to go from the laughable, calorie-counting escapades of Bridget Jones to the dark and cautionary memoir of Portia de Rossi's decades-long battle with eating disorders. Unbearable Lightness is, at times, both horrifying and inspiring--and if you've ever known anyone with an eating disorder, all too familiar.

While I flew through the book (de Rossi is a wonderful writer and storyteller), I couldn't help but be filled with a sense of frustration. Though having an eating disorder is no mark of one's intelligence, I kept thinking, "How stupid are you?! What moron behaves in this way??" The time and attention to detail that de Rossi spent on portioning her food and counting calories, and the ridiculous acts of extreme exercise and self-punishment are so unbelievable, you can't help but think that there is a lack of brains going on there. However (and this is extremely important to remember), anorexia and bulimia are diseases--it's not about not being smart enough, it's something you have to treat and cure.

de Rossi flashes back and forth (though it reads seamlessly) between her growing up in Australia-- attempting to be teenage model--and her career in L.A.--beginning with her landing the part of Nelle Porter on "Ally McBeal." I wasn't a big follower of the show (lawyer-talk bored me), but I do remember all the controversy surrounding the skeletal thinness of Calista Flockhart; I never seemed to hear anything about her costars. It seems, however, that de Rossi was going through an extraordinarily hard part of her life.

The book isn't completely sad, though: the epilogue is a reminder (both to the reader and de Rossi) that we can have happy endings. Hers took a lot of work on her part, but it also helped that she was able to come to terms with her sexuality (part of the reason behind her disorder and self-image) and find love.

That's the only tie I can really give you for posting this on Valentine's Day (happy heart day!), but regardless: it's an important book to read, whether you have or have not known someone with an eating disorder. It has a lot to say about how we treat ourselves and what we let happen to our bodies--we are worth so much more than we realize! We can treat ourselves better.

So, I urge you on this day of love, to remember to have love for yourself! If there's nothing else, it's all we've got.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cannonball! Book #7 is V.G. Read!

BOOK #7: Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding

It's going to sound cliche, but Bridget Jones' Diary is a book every woman should read. Unless, of course, you're a total stick insect who has never not been in a relationship and spends her weekends lunching in Europe with her perfect millionaire boyfriend. Bitches.

But, seriously! While Bridget has her over-the-top moments, she is an extremely relatable character: her constant battles with impossible weight loss, crappy boyfriends, and soul-sucking jobs are fights with which we are all familiar. Her boozy-but-always-there-for-her friends are also something that we can connect with--any woman in her 20's or 30's can't deny that there are some problems that can only be solved with the help of good wine and good pals.

Stereotypical? Yes. Based in truth? You bet your ass.

That could also be said about the book itself: Fielding's Diary is cliched and character-y and all sorts of fluffy nonsense, but it's also honest and heartwarming and a wonderful read.

Bloody brilliant, really.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cannonball! Book #5 and Book #6 Complete my Hungry Trilogy!

BOOK #5: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
BOOK #6: Mockingjay BY Suzanne Collins
Now, I know that I stipulated in my rules that I must post the review for one book before starting another; however, I took a 36 hour mini-trip to visit my sister for her birthday and figured I could knock out both books during the bus ride(s). Also, since these are the final two books of the Hunger Games Trilogy, they're closely related, review-wise.
Plus: my Cannonball, my rules.
Catching Fire picks up a few months after the events of the first book, and almost immediately begins to instill a sense of dread within both the reader and our protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. The Capitol and President of her nation of Panem have it out for her and it's clear, with every shocking twist and turn of the story, that things (which were far from good in the first book) are going to get a whole hell of a lot worse in the second.
The flaws I found in The Hunger Games have apparently been fixed in this, its following novel: Collins is much more careful in where she places her adjectives--while there are still scenes that have a touch of immature detailing, she's also placed reasoning behind it. Catching Fire is more mature, as Katniss is, after the events of the first book. Also, our characters grow more and more likeable (or despised, depending on their hero/villain state) and three-dimensional. We are allowed to see more layers and begin to understand motivations much more clearly.
I finished reading the second book while sitting next to my sister, who continued to laugh at my exclamations of shock throughout the final chapters of Fire. The last third of the book is truly stunning: alliances and secret plans and violent deaths abound, and I had to (once again) cover all of the page but the section I was reading, so my eyes wouldn't betray me and jump ahead.
With Catching Fire leaving us in an "Empire Strikes Back" level of separation and despair, I had no choice but to go ahead and start Mockingjay, the third and final book of the trilogy. I read all but a few chapters on my four-hour bus ride back to the city, with Honor Him from the "Gladiator" soundtrack repeatedly playing. I'm just saying: whoa.
The dread and doom that appears throughout the second book is put on the back burner at the beginning of third, but that doesn't mean all is well for our protagonist, Katniss. I hesitate to say too much, since the books really are quite fantastic, but I will say this much: Mockingjay is almost cruel in its ability to ease you in to a state of comfort and then blast it all away. Collins manages to introduce us to and graphically destroy characters within a few pages and do it without seeming trite or immature. I haven't cried while reading a book since Book 7 of the Harry Potter series, but Collins got me three times.
I'm actually still processing the ending of her final book: not every loose end is tied up (mayhap allowing other books?), not every action and character is paid their due. Initially, this bothered me, but I feel (upon a second reading) that I could better understand my own feelings regarding Mockingjay. I will say, especially in light of what's been happening in Egypt, the final book (which deals primarily with a revolution) makes one think quite a bit about what people are willing to do and to what they shouldn't ever even give thought. What we sacrifice and what we slaughter.
All these games we play.