Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Very good movie, but surprisingly sad. I had never read the book Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, so didn't know the story at all, and had only heard comparisons to Princess Diana - another Spencer - so didn't know what to expect.
I thought it was beautifully filmed, and the costumes were stunning, and the and suffocation of all those corsets was so well portrayed - as well of course as the suffocation of being essentially owned.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Forecast: The Consequences of Climate Change, from the Amazon to the Arctic, from Darfur to Napa Valley, by Stephen Faris
Oh god we're all doomed.
Excellent but wildly depressing book about drought, warfare, disease, melting permafrost, dying Amazon, Gulf Coast disasters, sea level rise, and bad wine.
I am very into the topic of our impending DOOM, but this was a downer even for me.
Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry , by Le
I love this so much. The title was too long for me to have room to put the author's name, so here it is- Leanne Shapton. Yes, it is a novel written in the form of an auction catalog.
She did something so amazing here, and did it so exquisitely well.
It might seem like a gimmick, but it is so well done, it's past gimmick and into art.
In fact, I ordered this book for the library, because of an article I read in the NYT about it, and it sounded like something kind of new and interesting and clever. Then about a week later, I realized that some of the books from that order had arrived, but I hadn't seen this one yet, so I mentioned it to a non-fiction friend at work who told me that our cataloging friend had asked her if it was hers, as it looked so much like an odd non-fiction auction catalog. When non-fiction friend denied any knowledge of the book, cataloging friend was going to send it back as a mistake! Well, I ran to tech services and saved the book. Then about half an hour later I read it has been optioned to become a movie with Natalie Portman and Brad Pitt.
It's material culture as all, it's the objects of life showing the feelings, it's the culmination of our consumer society that a love story, with tingles and kisses and tears can be told, perfectly, through a collection of toast racks and pajamas and that the debris of life can tell a story as haunting as a traditional narrative.
Hats off to Leanne Shapton for this one.
I loved it so much that I ordered my own copy, which I lent to a friend. Today she texted me and said "That may be my favorite book." I replied and said "Oh that is so great that you liked it!" She replied and said "I read it twice."
That says it all, I think.
Well, of course this was silly and funny and kind of dumb, but hey, it was quick!
No, really, this has been all very weird. Elian Gonzales. Jesus that was weird. It just kind of reminded me of all the strangeness and left me feeling kind of queasy.
Pretty blah but ok Carolyn Hart bookstore murder mystery. I don't know why I read this. I don't have time, and it wasn't even that great, but I just wish so much that there were more Agatha Christie books that even reading a book about people who read her books was close enough.
Pretty good spy-assassin-political thriller. Members of the Camel Club, along with hottie conwoman Annabelle work together to take down varied eeeevil politicians and casino owners. Plot holes you could drive a dumptruck through, but enough explosions and interesting assassinations (Andropov! Chernenko!) to keep it lively.
So OT- as a child, I had a hamster named Andropov, and I still have my stuffed polar bear Chernenko and my stuffed walrus Gorbachev. True, this. Might have influenced my liking of the book. As I read about the political mayhem, I glanced from time to time at Cherny and Gorby.
Short, quiet, and sad book. 3 men working on a useless project find that life is about the process, not the results. Wildly depressing but very beautifully written, if you like long and detailed segments about carpentry.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Without any pictures, how would one ever know if they wanted to make any of the stupid things?
Well, I don't. So I guess that's that.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
This one really went at it from many angles, following marketers trying to launch a new branded airline (Song), clinical psychologists turned corporate spies, renegade writers for Advertising Age (one of the most interesting magazines out there, for my money!), and it included interviews with some of the best cultural critics out there.
This was so good I can only say one thing- if you have ever dismissed advertising as background noise, if you have ever wondered how a 30 second ad might cost more than a movie to produce, if you have ever looked around and thought "WTF, mate?", watch this to get a concise, wonderfully articulate and thought-provoking look at what makes the sea we swim in.
Whole program available for viewing online here, at PBS.
He attacks the very nature of the consumer-driven society, and while yes, yes, yes, I didn't see him really offer an alternative.
It may be controversial to say 'capitalism is wrong', but it's also kind of useless as an argument unless you are able to point to a viable alternative. Still, some excellent use of advertising images and a coherent argument that we lack a common culture made it worth watching, for sure.
Sara Shepard has written an adult novel, which I'm really excited about. As much as I enjoy these as fluff, the writing is good- something much better kind of floats along in these, so I'll be looking forward to reading The Visibles when it comes out in May.
It seems like the last acceptable group to mock in public is... economically disadvantaged white people? Chavs? Trailer trash? Is there even an 'acceptable' word in America for who these people are who deserve no dignity ?
I'm not saying that parts weren't funny, or that there wasn't a fierce skewering of a culture in which a woman often has to choose between her career and having a child, but this *really* didn't seem like the best way to address it, and the ending was a total cop-out.
Rigged: The True Story of an Ivy League Kid Who Changed the World of Oil, from Wall Street to Dubai, by Ben Mezrich
The story of the start-up of the Dubai Merchantile exchange was as filled with fast cars, chases, hot girls and private planes as any James Bond, but also gave a lot of insight into the workings of NYMEX and the lofty goals of Dubai.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
For 310 pages, Williams moans with the dreadfully self-conscious tone of the plagued priviliged, and it is not a pretty sound.
The book is not, as implied, a look at the greater collapse of the American housing industry or what have you- it is a great whine about how she (freelance writer for publications such as Salon) and her husband Jeff (on-and-off employed copy editor) couldn't afford to buy in Brooklyn's Carrol Gardens during the housing boom.
Considering that they had lived there for years before prices skyrocketed, it seems rather sour grapes of her how much she bitches and squeaks about those friends of theirs who did buy early and made mad money from their foresight, and what she has to say about those dreadful new rich people who priced her out of what she clearly felt was rightfully her cool neighborhood- well, you can practically see her stamping her little feet.
She did have the grace to realize, close to the end of the book, that what she and Jeff were doing by buying and tarting up a place in way way uptown Manhattan (Inwood) was the same thing the wealthy were doing in Carroll Gardens- gentrification, lady. The rock stars priced you out of your neighborhood, now you're doing it to the residents of Inwood Park, the immigrants and the elderly.
I grow weary of these- The House on First Street, about the terrible agonies of restoring one's mansion in post-Katrina New Orleans, Not Buying It, (incidentally also set in smug-as-hell Brooklyn) about the fearsome self-denial it took not to recreationally shop for a year, Bitter is the New Black, whose loathsome author memorably carried a Prada bag to the unemployment office...
It's all nauseating. Seriously, none of the reviews I read of Gimme Shelter hinted at the self-pitying, bobo smug revolting nonsense that it was.
Follow up to Pushing Up Daisies, which I loved. This was definitely another fun mystery, but I didn't feel that it was as tightly plotted as the first- that might be me, though, as I didn't have time to read it steadily and kept having to leave it for days. I can't wait to find out Caroline Sturgis's plan in the third book, so I liked it enough to stay hooked to the series!
Friday, March 6, 2009
"The never ending shit-sprawl (I know it's crude, but really is there any other word?) of meaningless product, the movement of that product, and the ultimate disposal of the product for no good reason other than human failure is in itself what it means to live in a "consumer driven" economy.
Do people on antidepressants shop less?"
Wow, buddy! Do people on antipsychotics write less? This all gives me great hope for my own (fantasy) writing career. I really wonder what kind of edit job they're doing on this (I'm reading an ARC). If this is published as is, something is truly rotten in the state of Denmark.
(Up to page 58 and ) UNBELIEVABLY, this book has become even more WOW.
"While it's no secret that men's penises are responsible for lots of bad purchases, sometimes it's the need to avoid confrontation that feeds it as well."
Is that even a sentence? I would die if someone wanted me to diagram that. (Ps. It's about a local sandwich shop in his town, where the owner/operator is supposedly a hottie- although he disagrees- "she was not all that attractive, but she flirted with the factory workers".
I bet she didn't flirt with him, the jealous lout.
OMG. Page 61. I am going to make EVERYONE read this book. Dude is out of his mind.
"I don't have statistics on how many Cheesecake Factory hostesses end up working as prostitutes after their illustrious careers are cut short, but I have a feeling it's pretty high."
(page 68!!!) I might be obsessed, but this author certainly is. Damn, what did the hostess at the Cheesecake Factory do to him???
This was wildly inappropriate but ridiculously funny. Some biting social satire, and a lot of vulgar and almost breathtakingly tasteless moments. Funny as hell, though.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I listened to this book, and it was wonderful, but one warning- when she describes food, it makes you crazy with hunger!
Interesting look at the life of a NYT food critic- the lengths she had to go to to preserve anonymity were insane!
Bonus- recipes that sounded delish and very do-able!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Well, this was supposed to be one of the 10 funniest books of all time, based on a list I rather trusted, but I didn't find it that fantastic. A couple of laugh out loud bits, but it was no Three Men in a Boat.
Plagued professor Jim Dixon juggles academic responsibilities, social life, and lady friends, and drops every ball.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
This was a fantastic, fascinating read. Thomas really went into the history of many of the major luxury labels, and pinpointed how contemporary business models have changed their product lines to an amazing degree. From the history of Louis Vuitton's trunk making and packing business for the French aristocracy, to the point now where 44% of Japanese own at least one Vuitton item and it is the most counterfeited brand in the world, there has been a major shift in what the business was about.
From Prada using cheaper thread to the still artisan-quality work at Hermes, this book gave delicious tidbits while following a definite trend of diminishment of what it is that made these things the best.
Wonderful read, and fun to boot.
This read rather older than I had thought. Amber is upset that her mother is dating, and is falling behind in school, and needs to make up some missed assignments and wow her teacher with her How-To project, making AMBER BROWNies.
It was sweet, but I really am surprised at how much more complicated it was than I had thought these were.