Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Dog Ears

This week's Dog Ear's feature a psych-out from The Paris Review as well as an explanation for the mumbo jumbo blurbs on the back of books:
  • Hey, kid, want to have your poetry published by The Paris Review?  Well, today's your lucky day!  Oh, wait, no, it's not.
  • And for all you Kafka fans: "Box with Kafka manuscript to be opened to the public."  (By the way, the "manuscripts" are not unfinished novels, they're letters and and other equally non-novelly things. I think I must be one of the few people who isn't all that interested in reading things by famous people that were never intended for publication... oh, except for the poetry of Emily Dickinson, of course... oh, and Joyce's letters to his wife, obviously.  Anything to get me through the long cold Houston nights.  (I kid, I kid, but seriously: knowing more about an author's inner thoughts doesn't discount or increase the impact of his work.  I shall now step down from my virtual soapbox.)
  • Check out Robert McCrum's "Blubs Fail Me" from The Guardian to see what those blurbs on the back of the book really mean.  (And, yes, I know I'm about four years late to this one, but it's still worth reading.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Short Review: The Road (2009)

I originally had no intention of watching this movie, because after reading the book I was pretty sure watching a film version would be a lot like emotional self-flagellation.  I was therefore a bit surprised at myself when I did decide to watch it.

The film, directed by John Hilcoat, is everything an apocalyptic film should be in a cinematic sense--dark and barren landscapes emphasize the struggles of the characters.  Viggo Mortensen does a superb job of portraying a man whose sole concern is the well-being of his child in the face of a dying planet.  Kodi Smit-McPhee plays the man's son and is absolutely fantastic, especially considering he is an Australian performing with an American accent throughout the whole film.  In fact, the entire production is incredibly true to the novel in most respects, although the mother (Charlize Theron) plays a much more prominent role than she does in the book.

There are cannibals and calamites and Coca Cola.  I would highly recomend this film. 

Go Galt or Shut Up

Did anyone else see the article on Wired, "Man Scrawls World's Biggest Message With GPS 'Pen'"?  Nick Newcomen, the gentleman who created the GPS message, said, "The main reason I did it is because I am an Ayn Rand fan. [...] In my opinion if more people would read her books and take her ideas seriously, the country and world would be a better place — freer, more prosperous and we would have a more optimistic view of the future.”  Umm, okay, but if you're driving on publically-funded highways to scrawl your Objectivist message, isn't your point lost just a little bit?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Featured Comic: xkcd

So sad, and so true.

Posts from Last Night

... or, Why I Keep Coming Back to Facebook Even Though it is Generally Filled with Mindless Drivel and Status Updates that Include Geographical Location like "At Pottery Barn."  Thanks for the pick-me-up, Homero!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not-So-Gentle (Re)Viewer: Jane Campion's Bright Star (2009)

I have been wanting to see Jane Campion's Bright Star since I first heard it would be released, although I hesitated to pay movie theatre prices to go to it. Bright Star tells the story of John Keats' final months, and his relationship with Fanny Brawne, and manages to remain fairly historically accurate.

Now, for those of you who don't know, Keats is among my favorite of the Romantic poets, in part because of his tragic end, and I've read (some of) the letters between Brawne and Keats, and even reading a fairly dry biography of Fanny is enough to make me sigh out loud.  That being said, this movie was just painful to watch.  Part of this is due to the fact that Fanny is portrayed as incredibly silly and, perhaps, not as serious about Keats as he is about her, yet every single scene of the movie is imbued with the uber-sober indie film feel.  Every. Single. Scene.  Despite the fact that the movie is from her point of view and not Keats'.  How can a character be frivolous and shallow, while at the same time encouraging fraught moments of silence and sweeping cinematography?

I was also unconvinced by the on-screen relatinship between the actors playing Keats (Ben Wishaw) and Fanny (Abbie Cornish), and the dialogue was incredibly boring.  Incredibly.  I cannot in good conscience recommend this film.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Casual Conversations: Writing in Books on Planes

Flying from Houston to Denver for some meetings earlier this week, I made a single-serving friend based purely on the fact that he was reading a book.  Well, it was a bit more than that, actually--the first thing I noticed was not that this gentleman was reading a book so much as he was writing in a book, something I very rarely see in the world outside academia.  (In fact, I stopped writing in the books I read about six months ago, after I ran through the ink of two entire pens reading three-quarters of Middlemarch.  Damn that George Eliot.) 

As if that weren't enough, the gentleman (who was probably in his fifties or early sixties) was reading a book by David Foster Wallace, something I very rarely see in the world outside the literati online.  Reading David Foster Wallace and taking part in the rarely-used art of marginalia?  Awesome.

... actually, that's about as interesting as this story is going to get, I'm afraid, although the gentleman did tell me his daughter studied under Wallace before his suicide.  I guess this shows just how easily entertained I am.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Booze and Books: A Literary Drinking Game

I meant to write about this before, but pretending to be a grown up got in the way.  Now that that's over (thank goodness), I can post and snigger about Jezebel's piece, "Drink 'Til He's Witty: The Reader's Drinking Game."  (I will point out that I made up my own literary drinking game many moons ago, but I can't actually recommend anyone read that book.)

Anyway, this has inspired me to make up a few more of my own:
Ayn Rand: Drink anytime there's rough sex.
Cormac McCarthy: Drink anytime the characters would probably be better off dead.
Frank McCourt: Drink anytime anyone coughs up blood or has a baby.
Jack Kerouac: Drink anytime anyone drinks.
J.K. Rowling: Drink anytime Harry says no one understands how he feels.
Plato: Drink anytime Socrates makes a bunch of people see that he's right and they're wrong, he's a genius and they're all idiots. 
Stephenie Meyer: Drink anytime you see the words "beautiful" or "angry."
Thomas Hardy: Drink anytime one sentence makes up an entire paragraph.
(Interested in buying the shot glasses in the picture above? Here you go.)

Not-So-Gentle Viewer: Jane Austen's Fight Club (2010)

This. Is. AWESOME.

(I will say that the non-period costumes kind of bothered me, but that's my only complaint.  Anyway, watch it.)

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