Favorite Reads (Thus Far, 2011)

  • Sepharad, by Antonio Muñoz Molina (a novel in stories)
  • Body of Work:  Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab, by Christine Montrose (memoir/nonfiction)
  • The Indian Bride, by Karin Fossum (mystery)
  • Agent Zigzag, by Ben McIntyre (nonfiction)
  • Marco Polo:  From Venice to Xanadu, by Laurence Bergreen (biograph/ travel book)
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson (memoir/ nonfiction)
  • The White Nile, by Alan Moorehead (history)
  • Roughing It, by Mark Twain (travel book)
  • A Time of Gifts, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (memoir, travel book)
  • Fire in the Blood, by Irene Nemirovsky (novel)
  • On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan (novel)
  • The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton (novel)
  • The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink (novel)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Zeitgeist: Fourth Saturday of July 2011

The final “Harry Potter” movie was good, probably the best Harry Potter movie since “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”  The downside:  Hubby was so exhausted from the past week’s office travails that he fell asleep.  In fact, self is 90% sure that hubby slept through most of the movie.

Self loved Maggie Smith, and Alan Rickman made Severus Snape so moving.  The python was exceedingly creepy and she hated the one death scene.  She loved all the ancillary characters:  the teachers, the parents, the Hogwarts students.  She loved the opening scene, with the wraith-like figures hovering malevolently over Hogwarts.  Oh, she will miss this series, definitely.

Sometime during the day, self learned that Amy Winehouse had died.  Hearing the news (on her car radio),  self actually gasped.  She felt terrible.  Other famous people have died this year, self can’t explain why this particular one made self really sad.

Then self realized she was not being much help to Drew, who is in VCCA trying to put together music for our opera.  “I thought of beginning with church bells,” he told self yesterday.  Self hunted all over YouTube for some chants or spoken prayers, but though she found many many videos of Philippine religious processions, she did not encounter a single religious chant (though there were tons of shmaltzy songs addressed to the Santo Niño, including one by Sharon Cuneta)

In The New Yorker of 4 July, self reads an essay called “Endgame,” in The Talk of the Town section.  It’s by Dexter Filkins, and begins:  “In the ten years since American soldiers first landed in Afghanistan, their official purpose has oscillated between building and destroying.  The Americans initially went in to defeat Al Qaeda, whose soldiers had attacked the United States, and to disperse the Taliban clerics who had given the terrorist group a home.  Over time, the Pentagon’s focus shifted toward Afghanistan itself —  toward helping its people rebuild their society, which has been battered by war and upheaval since the late nineteen-seventies.  In strategic terms, the U.S. has swung between counter-insurgency and counterterrorism.”  When self thinks of the war in Afghanistan, she can’t support it, and especially not with this limping U.S. economy.  And she feels the U.S. allowed itself to be sucked into or distracted by the clear need to “do something” in that part of the world.  But the responsibility for that country should never have been ours.

And then, in the next essay in The Talk of the Town, she reads about “a folk opera about the adolescence of Bill Clinton” — !!  The opera, written by Bonnie Montgomery, is called “Billy Blythe,” and is making its debut in the Medicine Show Theatre on 52nd Street.

And, finally, the last Talk of the Town essay that self has time for, because she needs to finalize her lectures for her upcoming UCLA Extension class (beginning this Wednesday), is about Jeff Nunokawa, who teaches English literature at Princeton.  His first book “was about the uses of property in the novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot,” and when he was writing it, “he sequestered himself in a windowless basement room . . .  listened to Madonna sing Like a Prayer over and over again,” looked at a “picture of Tom Cruise from when he was still hot . . . ” and “wrote for sixteen hours a day.  Nowadays, the essay continues, “Nunokawa channels his literary production within a context no less formally circumscribed:  that of the Facebook note.”  HA.  HA.  HAAAA !!

As for movies currently showing, a movie that self thinks she would like to see is “Captain America.”  Not only did the trailer make hay out of this portentous line —  “A weak man knows the value of power!” — but she wonders how: (1) the director managed to make Chris Evans look so shrimp-y in the early scenes; and (2) Chris Evans got to create that chest.  Eric Snider gave the movie a “B.”  Here’s part of the reason why:

“I like films that have characters who can be described as having ‘moxie,’ and whose villains are played by Hugo Weaving, with help from Hugo Weaving’s eyebrows.  I like films with colorful characters like an eccentric German scientist played by Stanley Tucci and a Tommy Lee Jones-ish colonel played by Tommy Lee Jones.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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