Monday, July 29, 2013

Vicarious Summer

We had a relatively cool (for Texas in July) weekend, which meant we got to take advantage of a local amenity. The next town over from me does fireworks at the lake on Friday nights during the summer. It's sponsored by a lakeside resort that has viewing parties at its bar, but you can see the fireworks even better from the lakeside city parks. Friday night was the perfect weather for sitting out by the lake, watching the boats until it got dark and then watching the fireworks. The show's a little shorter and less elaborate than July 4, but it's fireworks without the huge crowds you get on July 4.

And that made me realize why I get a particular craving for British (and it must be British) chick lit during the summers. I like vicariously enjoying a summer where summer is the outdoor time of year, when you can do fun things like go to the lake, go hiking, have picnics, tour the country on canal boats, go to fairs and festivals, have garden parties, etc., because you can step outdoors during daylight without bursting into flames. Here, that's all stuff you do in October and November, or maybe March and April, but not too late in April. And yet we bravely try to have the traditional summer. They do the Shakespeare festival on summer nights, never mind that it's still 90 degrees at the beginning of the show. There are outdoor festivals in July, when typically it's about 101 in the afternoon. For the "Taste Dallas" festival in July, I don't think they even have to turn on a stove to cook the food.

And so, I like reading books about people having a "normal" summer. Actually, this July hasn't been too bad, but the normal weather for this time of year (100+ degree days) is coming back later this week.

My only HBO movie of the weekend was Moonrise Kingdom, which took a premise that could easily have been dark and gritty -- two disaffected outsider tweens run away together -- and made it fun and quirky. Part of that was that it was set in 1965, so it was a simpler, more innocent time, and part was that it was set on a coastal island away from any of the grittier elements of civilization, so you never got the feeling the kids were in any danger from the usual problems that affect runaway kids. The boy was a hyper-prepared scout, so they had elaborate campsites. The whole feel of the movie reminded me, oddly, of Pushing Daisies.

I'd seen this movie referenced in discussions about why Hollywood can't make decent romantic comedies anymore, with this being proof that there were good ones out there. But this didn't at all trigger any of my romantic comedy responses or scratch my romantic comedy itches. The kids thought they were having a romance, but to me it looked more like two outsiders finding each other as friends and thinking that because they were a boy and a girl they had to make it romantic, but their "romantic" moments were rather half-hearted. I saw it more as a pre-teen fantasy about freedom, independence, connection and finding a place to belong. It was a good movie in that respect, but I can't see it as any kind of proof that there are good romantic comedies being made.

I have high hopes for Austenland, which should be coming soon, and I hope it comes here (and preferably to a theater I don't have to take a train to get to). The book was cute, I like the casting for the film, and it's just different enough that maybe they can have fun with it without falling into all the usual Hollywood cliches (and, please, let nobody have to chase anyone through an airport).

Now I'm off to have a Get Things Done Day, Leaving the House edition. I need new batteries in every watch I own, there are some things I need to get at the Home Depot, and I need to take care of some things at the bank and post office.

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