9.0 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

Black Like Me

OK this one is weird. What right does a white guy have to write about the plight of a black person?

Well… it goes a little deeper than that. Like, shaving your head, taking pigmentation pills, tanning sessions and following up with skin dye. In the 50s and 60s. In the deep south. This man left behind his comfort to really try to understand what was going on in his two-world country. He had more guts than anyone else I know, willfully stepping into a world of persecution.

Maybe not the greatest literature per se… but it’s a great read for any white person who thinks that they “understand”. A pretty good shakeup, humbling. And hard to describe.

9.0 The Scarlet Pimpernel

Andrea and I, and her book club, read this short classic recently, and I told them I was sending a copy to Guy Ritchie, it was so tight. If you can get past the anti-semitic language… I excuse it only because it ends up being the fatal flaw that… well, I’ll leave that for you to discover.

The Bedridden Critic

So during my recovery time I’ve managed to pile up a bit of good old entertainment consumption. Feeling like crap while I consumed, however, may have lead to harsher-than-usual reviews. Suck it up!

Books

  • City of Thieves by David Benioff: Holy smokes this was good. This guy wrote the screenplay for the Wolverine movie and his Hollywood sensibility comes through like a razor blade. You’ll encounter the most horrific scenes imaginable, and you’ll laugh as you cheer on some amazingly charismatic characters, too. A full-spectrum adventure.
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: I can’t imagine a more in-depth look at the intimate details of a person’s life. The rich tapestry covers three generations of colorful characters, but the main story revolves around the special situation of the protagonist. Definitely engaging and interesting.
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: Didn’t make it through this one. On any other day I may have enjoyed the snarky smart-assed jabbing at India’s privileged class from the trenches, but there was just too much negativity to wade through. I may revisit this, it may be the ultimate study in sarcasm.

Movies

  • The Whale Rider: I was in the perfect mindset for this elegant study of the challenges to a small girl as she finds her place of leadership in her New Zealand tribe, even as the tribe adapts to the modern world. If you can slow down and feel the flowing currents of spirituality and beauty, this will move you.
  • The Wrestler: Looking at Mickey Rourke is painful, let’s not pull punches. In the same way, this movie is painful and sorrowful. He can’t break from his hard lifestyle even as it grinds him up. Well worth it. I felt like we were suffering together. :>
  • A Quantum of Solace: Why the hell can’t James Bond talk any more? How can you be suave if you never speak? He’s even often a vengeful jerk. Fine if you want meatheaded action; I say meh.
  • The Day The Earth Stood Still: Finally got around to watching this sci-fi classic that Mark Welch gave me. I love the polish and style of Cary Grant’s movies, and this reminded me of them. With a pretty resilient sci-fi theme, I found this very old movie to still have a lot of value.
  • Doubt: A nice study of different approaches to finding true divinity. The three central characters all contribute very different views and yet you can relate to each one at different times.
  • Star Trek: Good times all around, my favorite action movie of 2009 by a landslide. Thank you J. J. Abrams, Karl Urban, and the rest of you geniuses. Make sure you see it at an IMAX theater!
  • Taken: Steaming pile of hateful vengeance thriller refuse. Watching Liam Neeson go from Shindler’s List to this was harder than watching Harrison Ford’s fall from grace. *sigh*
  • Australia: I loved this movie because the beautiful cinematography was displayed for me in 1080p. I enjoyed the epic story as well. But there was definitely some souring when my wife pointed out how wrecked Nicole Kidman’s lips are. Sorry Nicole – it was a good effort.
  • The Man Who Wasn’t There: Coen brothers, so it’s a win. One of Scarlett Johansson’s earlier movies. It’s a slow character study, and the man who wasn’t there is also a man of few words. Be in a Jim Jarmusch mood and you’ll love it.
  • Yes Man: Good to know Jim Carey is still willing to do some slapstick gags. Zooey Deschanel is in this so a thumbs up is automatic. Gosh golly she’s great…

Games

  • Force Unleashed: Played through it on the Wii, stick with the controls and soon you’ll be slashing and punching through the air like a Sith Lord. Sweet fun.
  • Age of Mythology: The girls and I dig this one out on occasion because it’s jammed full of so many fun bells and whistles. With Bailey visiting, I scrapped together a fourth PC, but it couldn’t keep up with the other nicer rigs. So I watched as the girls destroyed moderate opponents, then played a suicide game against computer opponents on the hardest AI setting with a 100% handicap. They are crazy. And they actually lasted a while, running to every nook and cranny of the map. Ha!
  • The World Ends With You: This little DS game packs a lot into the mix. The fighting is fun, as you have to scratch and slash and tap while punching out combo moves on the pad, crazy. Not sure if I’m a fan of RPG shopping, though… :> Interesting, anyway.
  • Carcassonne with the Catapult Expansion: Wren, Reiley, Andrea, Bailey and I played a massive game with at least half a dozen expansions, including a new catapult expansion. We filled the kitchen table with tiles. It turned out that the catapult thingee was pure goofiness – you fire onto the board and make a mess of things – and the catapult was so slipshod that you couldn’t even hit the board. Still, we had lots of fun. Bailey swept the game!

Wow, that’s a lot of slacking… I feel really tired now… :P

We have liftoff – The Boxcar Kid is released!

My pop’s been working his tail off on his first novel, The Boxcar Kid, for a few years now, and yesterday it hit the stores! It’s on the front page of his publisher’s site right now. This is BIG NEWS, we’re all so excited and proud of ya, pop! :>

There’s full info at the publisher’s page, and I’ve been hosting a website for it for a while now, too. I’ll try to update this as more news rolls in…

UPDATE: Andrea is a librarian at goodreads (my lovely nerdy girl! I’m married to a librarian, how sexy is THAT?! :P). She added the book there, so you can rate and discuss it!

9.5 What Is Your Dangerous Idea?

I wasn’t far from throwing this book in the trash at times. Essay after essay from scientists condemning “God” as the dangerous idea that stands as the blockade to mankind and her progress. Blah blah blah. Be devoted to science, and the scientific method of discovery, but don’t be one-dimensional, dogmatic and closed-minded. There will always be more to life than what we can reverse-engineer. Read More

9.0 Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

My good friend Mr. Stephen Wolfe has brought me daily oranges to nurture me, stayed by my side after finding me (embarrassingly) curled up in a ball of pain on the carpet at work – following me home an hour later to make sure I arrived home safely, and, during a recent trip to the bookstore, decided to buy me a favorite book of his. It was quite a good fantasy book, creating an alternate reality that was visually vivid while avoiding cliches. Pretty good character development, too. Thanks again Stephen, gentleman and scholar.