30 August 2009

Lawrence of Arabia

    Netflix dvd.

The Movie in one sentence.
    Depicts T.E. Lawrence's role in World War I.

The Good.
    An incredible story I'd never heard before.  I'm still not sure of the historical placement, but I intend to learn more.  This Peter O'Toole fellow is divine.

The Bad.
   I know the vast desertscapes were part of the point.  They were also beautiful shots.  However in a movie of over 3 hours in length, it was a bit more than I could take.  I totally fast forwarded through bits of it.  Oh.  And the torture scene.  Because watching someone be tortured when I can do nothing to help, drives me nuts.

Who would I recommend it to?
    Anyone with an interest in this piece of history, Lawrence, beautiful films, or excellent stories.

A quote from the movie.
"I'm different."

I'm not sure how I could have gone so long in my life without having seen this film.  I've added it to my re-watch in five years list.  I'll be curious to see what insights an older Liz will have.

22 August 2009

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

by Michael Chabon

   Audiobook on iAudio T2.

The Book in one Sentence.
    An unstable detective must race against time to solve a murder before his people are kicked out of Alaska.
The Good.
  Chabon's descriptions are priceless.  One of the characters, Bina Gelbfish, uses whatever is handy to tie her hair back, which is totally something I do.

The Bad.
    Occasionally a bit too gritty for me.
Who would I Recommend it to?
    Anyone with an interest in alternate history, gritty crime novels, hidden cows, or happy endings.
A quote from the Book.
"According to doctors, therapists, and his ex-wife, Landsman drinks to medicate himself, tuning the tubes and crystals of his moods with a crude hammer of hundred-proof plum brandy. But the truth is that Landsman has only two moods: working and dead."

   There is an awesome story here.  While it took me some effort to get past the grit and flashbacks to see that, I will definitely be reading it again.

16 August 2009

The Sex Lives of Cannibals:

Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific
by J. Maarten Troost

    Borrowed paperback recommended by Meredith.

The Book in one sentence.
   Troost goes with beguiling girlfriend to far away, isolated island where they experience a different culture, and come away changed for the better.
The Good.
    Troost tale is often entertaining and also informative on a piece of history, most would never come across

The Bad.
    For a book I thought would be pretty much fluff, possibly a bit to much reality.
Who would I recommend it to?
     Anyone with an interest in atolls in the equatorial pacific, island customs, how does one live without sewage treatment, gaining an appreciation for the US postal system.
A quote from the book.
    "Johnston Atoll in the vilest place on Earth.  In the 1960's the United States used the island for atmospheric nuclear tests, which is a definite no-no in most neighborhoods.  Not content to merely  nuke the atoll, the U.S. then decided to poison it.  This is where America stores and disposes of such wonders from the laboratory as the nerve gas Sarin and other clever agents for delivering disease and death.  There are two bleak processing plants and they sit at either end of the runway, steadily  burning canister after canister of poison.  Between the plants are military barracks with satellite dishes protruding from their roofs, receiving signals from a world that seems very far away.  There is nothing else on Johnston Atoll.  Now and then, there are little accidents, leakages, small oopsies, and the hapless soldiers assigned here don their gas masks.

    It is tempting to dash off a page or two and expound upon the philosophical implications of Johnston Atoll.  The physical manifestations of humanity's capacity for great evil reside here, and for writers more ambitious than I this would be like catnip.  However, sitting in an airplane watching one passenger, a civilian who had made a peculiar career choice, disembark, I was not struck by any profound ruminations.  My thoughts were more along the lines of  Could someone please close the fucking door before we all turn into mutants? Armed soldiers guarded the airplane and I just knew that they were sporting fish gills, and while I felt deeply sorry for them and their offspring, I just wished that someone would close the door and let us breathe airplane air again, which is only slightly less toxic, but still.  And then someone did just that, and we were back in the air, scanning the water closely, searching for signs of Godzilla."

    After everything, I think I will remember the historical information best.  It was like taking a vitamin pill with a sugar coating.  I'll remember the important bits well after the initial humour has faded.  A decent piece of infotainment.