Showing posts from December, 2014

the cheryl awards: best books, best movies and best cheryl of 2014

Roll out the cat-clawed carpet and put on your fanciest pajamas: It’s time for the annual Cheryl Awards (which I will not call the Cheries, because I only went by Cherie for one year, in third grade, when I was determined to have a nickname—but in fourth grade, Sheri-Lynn Bellflower came to town and quickly established herself as the main Sheri). According to Goodreads, I read twenty-six books this year. Not bad for a year in which I started a new job, but choosing a top ten seems a little much. So, as in years past, I’m choosing the books and movies that, to me, form their own tier. I’m also—new feature!—including a quick “why you should read/see it” blurb. I recently stumbled across the (dormant-ish?) blog of writer Jefferson Beavers and was charmed by his end-of-2013 post , which he titled “10 Good Things That Happened to Me.” It’s such a simple way to express gratitude and give yourself a little love, rather than skipping straight to resolutions. In reading through his ten thin

a tale of two neighborhoods

1. boyle heights During one of our roughly eighteen trips to Orange County in the past week, Waze rerouted us to side streets to avoid a bottleneck on the 5. The freeway spit us out in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood I’m always excited to discover more of, because it’s Homeboy’s original home and the site of a still unfolding story about immigration, violence, community and “gentefication.” But what greeted us at the bottom of the exit on Christmas Eve was a giant square billboard encouraging us to take out a CareCredit account for a loved one’s funeral. “Welcome to Boyle Heights, time to plan a funeral you can’t afford,” I muttered. The assistant/map reader is right to be skeptical. “Where’s my next turn?” AK said, perhaps a bit bark-ily. (We saw Nightcrawler recently, which is a dark, brilliant and extremely funny movie. The scenes in which Jake Gyllenhaal’s psychopathic, ambulance-chasing “journalist” character lays into his assistant about proper navigation tech

cheryls on the trail

1. strayed A long time ago I interviewed the poet Eileen Myles , and she said something about how traditional narrative is structured like the male orgasm, where it’s all about building to a climax. I know that theory is probably a little cringe-inducing to some postmodern feminists, but is it inaccurate? I don’t know if Wild — the movie (I haven’t read the book! I know!)—is structured like a female orgasm, but it manages to take a long, weighty, satisfying journey without really having a climax. Or maybe it has a series of small climaxes. I would say that it is structured like the long hike that provides its frame. It was weird to see a '90s period piece, though. Weren't the '90s like five years ago? As Cheryl (yay for more Cheryl representation! I feel like, in pop culture, Cheryls are always someone’s off-screen bitch ex-girlfriend) embarks, largely unprepared, on the hike that will take her from the Mojave Desert to Ashland, Oregon along a multi-terrain

viva la resolution

The other day I bought the January issue of O, The Oprah Magazine because AK wasn’t feeling well and the cover featured Oprah posing in an emerald green dress next to a lion, and I thought it would make her laugh. It's all about me-ow. It’s fun to make fun of O because Oprah is powerful and ubiquitous and prone to let-them-eat-cake moments; because, like every other women’s magazine, it’s obsessed with self-improvement; and because, well, see lion cover above. But of all the magazines you can impulse-buy at the checkout counter, it’s one of the best. It takes books seriously. It features women of color regularly. And even though Oprah’s always on us to be our best selves, it turns out that the resolution-oriented articles in the January issue are pretty sensible. I have a complicated relationship with self-improvement. I think our (American? female?) obsession breaks us down and gets us to buy shit more often than it lifts us up. On my blog and in my life, I want

the babadook, and what i read in october and november

Over Thanksgiving weekend, AK and I saw an Australian horror movie called The Babadook , about a woman whose husband died in a car crash as he drove her to the hospital while she was in labor. Six years later, she’s a single mom struggling to raise a son who sees invisible monsters. She’s frazzled. She wishes he would just go the fuck to sleep . The movie has a great Tim Burton-ish aesthetic, but with more restraint. One day a spooky children’s book about a monster called the Babadook shows up in their house. The book promises a terrible fate for any who ignore it and, the text cautions, the monster never goes away. At first, only her son sees the Babadook in their house, and he seems like one of those classic creepy horror movie kids, crazed and possessed. Nothing like an old-timey rocking horse to make a kid seem creepy. Then the mother begins to see it. Her son promises to protect his mom, even as she swallows the amorphous monster like so much black ink, becoming a