Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nessie's BACK!

Check out the video from CNN (so you know it's TRUE ;) So....what do you think Nessie really is? A 50 foot long eel?

Friday, May 25, 2007

A review of "The Pale Blue Eye: A Novel"

by Louis Bayard

I am really in a slump here people. I am apparently plagued with the ability to pick out books with great premises that are never brought to fruition. This is what, the third book in a row that I made 3/4 of the way through and didn’t finish? I’m starting to think it’s not them, it’s me…nah, it’s them. The plot has a great set up in the beginning: cadet Edgar Allan Poe is brought in to help solve a twisted murder at the US naval academy crica 1830. Then for the rest of the book, nothing happens. There is no trail of clues to follow, and only one vilain to consider (well, maybe two). Instead we are punished by extended authorial excercises in character voice. Edgar Allan Poe as written couldn’t be more of a linguistically ostentatious twit. Less talky, more plotty, ok?

Monday, May 21, 2007

In The Navy

Sometimes I think I have shameful hidden addictions just so I can have the pleasure of disclosing them on this blog; I am more than a little bit knowledgable about TMZ, shall we say. I try really hard to keep my fascination with it on the down low, but Harvey Levin just has a way of surprising you with info that you didn't know you wanted to know. In this particular post, I am confessing that a) I read TMZ on an hourly basis, and for my efforts, look what I get blessed with. And b) the cat's out of the bag! I watched The Bachelor this season (the finale is tonight!) and I really don't want Bevin to win.

But does there really have to be a finale? Can't we just keep an hour and a half of prime time a week devoted to Lt. Dr. Andy Baldwin? Why does it have to end?

Would it interest you to know...

That I've only ever sung 5 karaoke songs in my life? For those of you that know me, I'm sure that's pretty hard to believe, but it's true. They are:

  1. I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor at Club Omni, Provo UT, 2001
  2. Amanda by Boston at Coyote Bar and Grill, Carlsbad, CA, 2004
  3. In Your Room by The Bangles at Palos Verdes Bowl, Torrance, CA, 2007
  4. Ready To Take A Chance Again by Barry Manilow (same)
  5. Diamonds Are Forever by Dame Shirley Bassey (same)

A review of "The Janissary Tree: A Novel"

by Jason Goodwin

This book started out promisingly. It’s abundantly clear that the author has a profound knowledge of Turkish history and culture and a light comic touch when it comes to characterization. Unfortunately, the plot, although interesting enough at first, was hampered by the choice (and I don’t know if it was authorial or editorial) of using very short chapters that always ended with a dramatic cliffhanger, but were followed by a new chapter that involved different settings and characters. A little of this is usually alright, but used with such consistency here it had the effect of confusing me and making me forget where the action had left off once returned to a scene. It reminded me of reading the Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, which was first serialized in a magazine before being published in book form. There Collins had to use cliffhangers so readers would buy the next issue. Here, the technique just made me feel manipulated. With with 80 pages to go, I realized that I really didn’t care whodunnit or why, which abruptly put an end to this visit to Istanbul.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!

This will take some effort, but the payoff is worth it. The funny part of this clip begins 4:56 in, so press play, let the buffer load, and zish to that point.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Are you talking?

So I pretty much think that Julie Christie is a goddess, OK? I loved her in Darling, Far From The Madding Crowd, Petulia and Dr. Zhivago (which I just saw for the first time like a week or two ago.) I also thought she was the best thing about McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Afterglow (shut up, I saw it back when I was in my crush on Jonny Lee Miller phase). She even brought some class to Troy, a flick I enjoyed for more prurient reasons having to do with biceps and the like.

I am even really stoked to see her new movie, Away From Her, which I just saw the trailer for. It looked particularly good, which is not something I ever thought I would say about a Canadian romance about Alzheimer's. That's why I was sadly brought back to earth by a short piece in the recent New Yorker in which she made a statement that shocked me:

Told that she should see “The Lives of Others,” the award-winning movie about East Germany, Christie paused, then re-plied, “I’m not sure I can bear to see a film they gave the Oscar to, that tells you what awful people Communists are.” And with that she laughed, unlocked her bike, and pedalled off into the sunshine.

I was just flabbergasted. As with most actors, from her generation especially, I naturally assume that they're left-wing, until proven otherwise. You don't get to be Warren Beatty's paramour for 7 years in the 60s and 70s if you're OK with the likes of Margaret Thatcher, one would assume. But I am astonished that she so ardently still admires Communism, after all we know know of all the millions murdered and and such rampant abuses of power, and the total failure of it as a political system.

If Ms. Christie could be bothered to watch The Lives of Others as I have, she would have seen a frightening portrayal of what it is to live in a Communist state where lover is pitted against lover for political gain, where neighbor spies upon neighbor and reports to the Stasi, where there is no freedom of press, and where you literally cannot tell a joke amongst friends at lunch without losing your job. That is the life that she apparently wants for all of us; that's her ideal.

Also I think it's telling that she tacitly implies that in the Julie Christieverse, Oscars would be given to films based primarily on their political message, with "artistic" achievement apparently a distant consideration. As an aside, this just makes one wonder who the Oscars are really for? If Middle America doesn't go see the five Best Picture nominees, as has been reported, and the Hollywood gliterati are disappointed in who gets the awards, then who IS, outside of the winners, pleased with the films that get honored?

When I watched Dr. Zhivago recently, I was most struck at the end, when Komarovski and Lara leave on the sleigh for China, leaving Zhivago behind, and Komarovski comments that Zhivago is foolish for not leaving with them, to which Lara replies something to the extent of, "Yuri will never leave Russia." I had to laugh. Surely, the thought life as an emigré in Paris with Lara and their child was more torture than could be borne by Dr. Zhivago. Why leave Russia when you could starve AND freeze to death or be killed for asserting the right to live in your own property?

I mention this experience because I am amazed that after filming that movie, in which the ravishes of Communism were put into such relief, that Julie Christie would continue to see Communism as an ideal worth pursuing. Of course movies are not life, but if I was confronted day in, day out over months of filming with the realities of that era and had to participate in the re-tellings of such horrors, they certainly would have made impressions on me that were obviously lost on Ms. Christie. I guess in that sense, she 's never going to leave Russia either.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Just when you thought I couldn't get any more obsessed...I go and discover Pâtisserie Chantilly. It's tucked away in a strip mall, you wouldn't ever know it was there. But I found out. Boy did I ever. My first trip there I sampled their signature piece, the choux aux sésames, , and I was floored. Sesame isn't exactly a flavor I think of when I think dessert. But I am hard pressed to think of a more delightful dessert than this. And the size of the choux makes it just right for that elusive dessert we all seek (well at least in my family): just a little sweet after dinner, substantial enough to sate the sweet tooth, but not enough to regret it.

Next I had
lemon madeleines. They were ok, not the best I've ever had. I ended on the caramel machiatto, a confection created to look like a cup of espresso, but made entirely of pastry. Next time around I'm going to try the tarte aux fruits...and maybe some of the items that were sold out (there were quite a few of those!)

In front of me in the line at the counter were two mothers and their children. What nice moms! My mom would have never taken me to a pastry shop "just because". She also would have never spent $74 on pastries like these moms did. It was worth it, I'm sure!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Certified Geekdom

I got a link to this video this morning and I admit I was drawn in. It's the Bayeux Tapestry, animated.