Books of Impact!

August 31, 2009

This is a response to something I did on Facebook. My friend Hume suggested that I (and many others) select fifteen books I’ve read that will always stick with you. Choose the first fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. In no particular order with further annotations:

  1. The Bible, edited by Jehovah – Okay, I don’t live by it, but I kind of agree with Northrop Frye that it is the template for most of Western Literature.
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis – Too Christian for me now, but I loved these stories at one time.
  3. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner – his crisp prose and mix of fiction and non-fiction showed me a different way of writing.
  4. Memory of Fire by Eduardo Galeano – this is what Pierre Berton could have done if he thought “continental.”
  5. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. leGuin – beautiful story about “making choices.”
  6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick – the basis for Blade Runner.
  7. Class by Paul Fussell – this book made me laugh at myself and secretly hope that I can return to my working-class ancestral roots.
  8. Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut – an ode to the art of illustration in a roundabout way.
  9. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – more prescient than 1984, assuming that both books are supposed to be prophecies.
  10. The Star Rover by Jack London – nice reincarnation story.
  11. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow – words to live by: “a educated man with a business is a king.”
  12. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – I can’t believe I did it!
  13. East of Eden by John Steinbeck – pretty Biblical in its plot and themes, but makes you want to move to California.
  14. Content by Cory Doctorow – opened my mind to different ways of viewing content “ownership.”
  15. Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman – his mass media criticsm may seem quaint now, but he still makes some good points.

One person listed a series of magazines as one their “influential books.” This is a good line of thought to pursue. Why shouldn’t periodicals have as much influence on us as a book?


Mid-August Movie Madness!

August 21, 2009

With some extra time on my hands, I’ve been watching more movies (not cinema) this week. Here’s some quick reviews if you are looking for some weekend watching:

  • The Children – S and I spent Tuesday night at this After Dark Film Festival showing at the Bloor Cinema. It’s a cautionary tale of the dangers of children. Apparently, contemporary super-flus can turn them into sociopathic killers. More mortifying than actually scary, it’s a good rental for couples that have not yet handed their lives over to the next generation.
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic – Oh, my God! Isla Fisher = hilarious! The rest of the movie – run like hell!
  • Kundun – this Scorcese film has been unjustly ignored. It might have something to do with the fact that the Chinese government hated it. While the acting and pace is a bit langorous, the cinematography and art direction is worth a look. Personally, I love the Philip Glass score.
  • Logan’s Run – Cheesy? Not at all! This study in Malthusian hedonism actually stands up as plausible. The auteur behind this piece had the foresight to predict GPS tracking and laser surgery, among other things. I love the “futuristic” 1970s architecture, too. The sets look like virtually any Canadian University that was built in the 1960s and 1970s (e.g. Carleton, Waterloo.)
  • Nights in Rodanthe –  Nicholas Sparks is tough enough to handle at the best of times. I think that I’ve got his “system” nailed after enduring a few of his opuses. Take an attractive mid-to-late life couple, have them solve their personal emotional problems through one hot weekend together and then kill one of them off in the final act. I don’t care if I’m spoiling, in this case. On the plus side, Diane Lane still looks gorgeous.

Some of these titles are on Rogers On Demand. For the hard-to-find items, S and I always head to Film Fest DVD Rentals on Duplex Avenue.

Geek Effusion after Sunday Brunch!

August 16, 2009

Susie and I went out to the Bedford Academy for brunch last Sunday and whom do we see there but Robert Wisdom (aka Major Howard “Bunny” Colvin of HBO’s The Wire.) At first, we let him enjoy his shrimp and pad thai in peace. As he went to leave, I guess that he decided to acknowledge my bashful smirking and girlish giggling. Mr. Wisdom came on over and just said, “Yeah, it’s me.”

He’s in town for the upcoming ABC series, “Happy Town.” He shook our hands (twice!) and thanked us for our effusive praise of his work in the most Dickensian of TV series. Another bystander told him that she fully supported his work in the Western District (look it up.) If you see him around town, here’s a tip – he does photos but demurs at autographs.

Anyway, that’s how we spend our Sunday afternoons…with the greatest actors of contemporary television.

P.S. Please also go see “District 9.” Truly, it’s one of the better sci-fi films I’ve seen in recent memory. Like the best of the genre, it provides sharp commentary on human failings and current issues (in this case, racism, militarism and treatment of refugees.) If you’re not cheering for Christopher Johnson and son by the end, then you’re on the wrong side. Here’s hoping that “District 10” is already in pre-production!