Arts Wrap: July 2012


The July Arts Wrap is here, albeit a tad late. I'll also be finishing up Costa Rica posts this week. It's been a busy month, to say the least, so blogging has been spotty. Arts Wraps are especially daunting since they take me so long to do, but I love them nonetheless. Enjoy!

Book--Fiction: Girls of Riyadh

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Or, as I like to call it: Fifty Shades of Grey: Saudi Style.

Published in 2005, this book was immediately banned in Saudi Arabia for its salacious content. (Heaven forbid somebody--a woman, no less!--points of the hypocrisies and double standards of Saudi culture.)

On the surface, it seems like a kid in junior high wrote this book. However, I know enough about Arabic to recognize a poor English translation when I see one.  (The translator herself expressed dissatisfaction with the end result, claiming that both the publisher and author, Rajaa Alsanea, interfered with the initial translation. You can totally tell.)

From the LA Times: "I was informed that the author intended to rewrite it, and thereafter I was kept entirely out of the process. The resulting text, with its clich├ęd language, erasures of Arabic idioms I had translated, and unnecessary footnotes, does not reflect the care that I took to produce a lively, idiomatic translation."

Poor translator. I would not want to be dealing with a wealthy, know-it-all Saudi girl.

"Perhaps the larger scandal, though, is that for some publishers and writers, literary translators remain derivative servitors rather than creative artists, a notion fostered by a long tradition within Euro-American letters of the writer as solitary genius and translation as a mechanical exercise."

Sadly, this is true. I haven't read much foreign literature, but Brock has. I never understood why he was so picky about buying the "best" version of Madame Bovary, War and Peace, The Brothers Karamzov, Don Quixote, etc. A book is a book is a book, right?

Well, I get it now. Unfortunately, there is only one available translation for Girls of Riyadh. If you're interested in Arab culture, it's worth slugging through. For my single friends complaining about how complicating the dating scene is in America: Count your blessings!

Life for Saudi women is changing dramatically, so this book is timely. I hope Rajaa Alsanea is not alone in her views and convictions--yallah, Saudi feminists!


Book--Non-Fiction: Eat and Run

Growing up the daughter of an ultramarathoner, I was familiar with Jurek. He's arguably the best ultramarathoner of our time. And he's a vegan.

This book was a siren calling my name. Along with great storytelling (props to his ghostwriter, Steve Friedman), Jurek incorporates fantastic vegan recipes into this autobiography (ultrarunners are notorious for fueling up on junk food during races, and he completely bucks that tradition). Just as inspiring to me is his mental toughness. Setting a course record at Hardrock with torn ligaments in his ankle? Are you kidding me?

Eat and Run  is the Born to Run of 2012. For anyone interested in running, health, or pushing limits in general, I highly recommend it.

Television: Downton Abbey

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I won't do this show a disservice by trying to describe its brilliance.

Watch it. That is all.


Film: Bridesmaids

A few months ago Brock and I caught The Hangover on TBS. I don't think either of us have ever laughed that hard at a movie, but we still felt good about our Mormon selves because it was EDITED.

Well, I caught Bridesmaids on HBO. Unedited. 

It was worth the guilty conscience.


Music: KRCL Radio Station 90.9 FM

When you get sick of hearing a Gotye remix for the eleventy billionth time, tune your FM here.

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Photography: Tiffany Rebecca 

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One of my best friends in the entire world, Tiffany, is a very gifted photographer. For proof, check out this post. My favorite photo is the one above--a grandmother holding her new grandson.

Can you believe this is the first birth she's ever shot?

I'm so inspired by her work and so proud to call her my friend. Seeing a shoot like this makes me want to move to Chicago just  so I'll be in her neighborhood when it's time to deliver a little one! :)

Comedy: The Office

A few weeks ago, Brock and I decided to start re-watching The Office from the pilot episode. It's a sign of a well-made show that even though I know  what jokes are coming, I still laugh. And even though I know  what happens with Jim and Pam, I still tear up when I watch this:


Food: Talenti Caribbean Coconut Gelato

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Brock and I picked this up on a whim at Harmon's. Even though we've slashed our dairy intake, we're not above a buy-one-get-one-free deal on gelato--especially when it comes in such tempting flavors!

What I love about this gelato is its ingredients list: milk, sugar, cream, powdered milk, coconut, dextrose, guar gum, vanilla. Short, sweet, and (mostly) simple. That may explain why it TASTES SO FREAKING GOOD. Few things are more satisfying than cool, delicate coconut ice cream on a simmering summer's day.


Fashion: Kate Lanphear

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Black and white never looked so good. Lanphear is the style director of Elle. As much as I love bold colors and patterns, I'm so impressed by Kate's minimalist approach to those things. And even though I'm drawn to feminine pieces, I'm love  women who rock androgyny

I'm a firm believer in The Sartorialist's admonition that hair plays just as big a role as clothing in our personal style. Kate epitomizes this. Her black-and-white, edgy closet is complemented by white, edgy hair. Love it.


Journalism: Nate Silver

Which Records Get Shattered? by Nate Silver 

I am unabashed in my love for Nate Silver. He makes statistics sexy.
Consider the men’s long jump, for instance. The Olympic record in that discipline was set more than 40 years ago, in Mexico City, by the American Bob Beamon. About nine months before a man landed on the moon, Beamon made a giant leap — 29 feet two and a half inches — that has yet to be surpassed at the Olympic Games. (Mike Powell beat Beamon’s record at a non-Olympic meet in Tokyo in 1991, a record which itself is now more than 20 years old.) 
In another prestigious event, the women’s 100-meter dash, the world record of 10.49 seconds was set in 1988, at the Olympic trials in Indianapolis, by Florence Griffith-Joyner. She also set the Olympic record, 10.62 seconds, later that year in Seoul.
Those cases are not as exceptional as you might think. Only five track and field world records were broken at the Beijing games in 2008 out of 47 events. And it was actually a relatively productive Olympics by that standard: only seven world records had been established at the prior four games combined.
By contrast, 25 world records were set in the swimming competition in Beijing — out of just 34 events. The longest-standing world record in any swimming discipline is barely more than 10 years old. It was set by Grant Hackett in the 1,500-meter freestyle short course at the Australian Championships in 2001."

If you go on to finish the article, you'll read why  track records often stand for decades. It comes down to simplicity and accessibility. What Mr. Silver illuminates here factors heavily into my philosophy on exercise--namely, that I believe it should be free (or as close to it as possible). I know this sounds dumb, but I like knowing that people all around the world--rich, poor, rural, urban--could duplicate my workout regimen. In a small way, it helps me feel connected to both the earth and the people I share it with.


  1. yes!! Bridesmaids is probably one of my favorite movies. "I'll just snowball on top of that also Fight Club." I die.

    My heart stopped for a minute when I saw my name! it's a pretty big deal to make it onto your arts wrap blog post. made my day!!


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