Showing posts from July, 2006

Down and Derby (2005)

Having participated in three Pinewood Derbies, the last one with two sons racing cars, and with many to come in the future, it was fun to watch this movie. It's nice to watch a comedy that isn't determined to be crude and inappropriate, too. I enjoyed it.

Better Life, whirligig mullet

Spam has gotten so obnoxious, intrusive, and time-consuming. Especially if you're the domain contact and postmaster at a large number of domains. And even with spam filtering.But then every once in a while, the infinite number of spam monkeys strikes paydirt, and I receive a spam with a subject like "Better Life, whirligig mullet", and I don't even have to open the email because my life is better already thanks to the deep beauty of their word-art.Ah, pink quivering meat product.

Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner

I read this over the weekend for a local book club, mostly motivated by a desire to refute someone's suggestion that it might be a "man's book." I'm not sure why I felt so compelled to argue about that particular issue, but whatever. It's a coming-of-age story about a white kid who grows up in an igloo in Northern Alaska, uncool with the local Eskimos, who live in a village, and later uncool in the city of Anchorage. (He does become cool later, though.) It was really an amazing book: the writing was very good (it reminded me of the great writing in Peace Like a River, another excellent first novel), and it's a good, though sometimes depressing story (depressing mostly because of how the government so easily ruins native communities, just like in the old days, but with money and alcohol and free houses instead of guns and alcohol and jes' killin'em). Anyway, it's amazing to read about life in the middle of nowhere in Alaska. And probably acc…

More on The Omnivore's Dilemma

I discovered an interesting exchange of letters between John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods Market, and Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. Mackey defends his company against Pollan's portrayal of it in the book, and Pollan almost apologizes, but not quite. Then Mackey replies again, but that's linked on Pollan's website. They're long but worth reading.

Cast Away (2000)

Watched this last night on DVD, causing Jon to stay up later than he wanted to. Probably one of the scariest airplane crash scenes I've ever seen. I really liked the part on the island, which had no music and very little talking (until the Tom Hanks character starts talking to a volleyball he calls Wilson). The end was less satisfying than I was expecting; I wanted people to show some interest in how he managed to survive for four years alone on a island. I'd want to know all the details! What are we supposed to learn from a Robinson Crusoe-like story, though? To appreciate what we have, I guess. And maybe to marvel at the survival instincts of humans? I'd like to learn to tie more knots.

Nacho Libre

Or as our drive-in has it, Nacho LEBRA. I don't know if they ran out of letters or if they're creative or what. We laughed. Jack Black using a Mexican accent is funny, it turns out. Professional wrestling is always weird, even when it's funny. I liked it.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

What a great book! Targeted at young adults, it's about a young boy in a utopian society. This is, I think, the third time I've read it (for a book club this time), and it was still good. Some of the surprises were still chilling and horrific, even when I knew what was coming, or maybe partly because I did know what was coming. There are apparently a couple of companion books to this one, not exactly sequels but somehow associated. They are Messenger and Gathering Blue. I'm looking forward to reading them, especially after an article in Reason magazine recently, which was about children's literature with libertarian themes.

Brazilian Lounge

Putumayo is a recording label that specializes in world music. All of their CDs guarantee "to make you feel good." So far I have found this to be true.A couple of weeks ago, while I was showing my mom and two of my sisters some of the cool shops in our area, I bought Putumayo's Brazilian Lounge. We like various kinds of electronic music (or techno or whatever; I am easily confused by labels), especially lounge stuff by groups like Thievery Corporation), and I admit that I thought if I bought something Jon would like, he might not notice the money I was spending. (I also bought a floral mat made from recycled plastic, which I love very much and used as a sort of porch to our tent when we went camping recently.) Anyway, it was another successful music acquisition: groovy and mellow with cool Brazilian melodies and words. Shortly after I bought it, Jon said we needed to get more because he was in danger of making himself sick of it by listening to it too much. Now that'…

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

This is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. The author tracks four meals from production to table: one from McDonald's, one purchased at Whole Foods Market, one from a sustainable farm in Virginia, and one he hunted and gathered himself. The writing is delightful, sometimes funny, always interesting. I felt like I read much of the book with my mouth hanging open in astonishment, even when it was about processing corn. Pollan's travels and studies revealed that there's an organic "industry" nowadays, which I suppose shouldn't have surprised me, but it kind of did. He's not preachy about his findings and doesn't insist that everyone become vegetarian or vegan (in fact, after visiting feed lots, killing chickens at a farm in Virginia, and having his first-ever hunting experience, he continues to eat meat). He does encourage us to think about where our food comes from and what it really costs, in terms of our environment, health, etc.�…

Love Potion No. 9

After bad-mouthing this movie (or at least implying that it wasn't good), I thought I should watch it. It was pretty dumb. I guess that's what happens when you write a script based on a song like "Love Potion No. 9."

The Work and the Glory: American Zion (2005)

Everyone seems too modern and sentimental in these movies. Having said that, I kind of enjoyed the first Work and the Glory movie. This one not so much. I may have been more critical because I was in a bad mood (dealing with broken appliances made me crazy last night). I thought the movie might make me appreciate my modern and convenient life, but instead I was annoyed by the actor's facial expressions. I do like Joseph Smith in these movies for some reason, though he's nothing like I imagine he really was.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

I just discovered that I don't know how to spell "Caribbean." It still looks weird to me. I loved the first Pirates of the Caribbean. That was one of my favorite rides at Disneyland when I was a kid, and while I'm not a fan of Disney nowadays and I know it's a marketing gimmick to make movies based on their rides, I loved it! It was fun and funny, the story was good, and Johnny Depp was great. It even withstood a third viewing recently. Anyway, I hardly ever see first-run movies, but I took my visiting sister to our local drive-in for the second Pirates of the Caribbean. For a few minutes at the beginning, I thought it might be really stupid, but then I started to enjoy it. The crazy action scenes are crazy and unbelievable, even cartoon-like, but the dialogue was again hilarious and clever, and the story interesting and good. I enjoyed it very much and look forward to seeing it again.

The Truth About Cats & Dogs

We have a tiny public library where we live, and sometimes I get movies from them just because they have them. I always wonder how they decide which movies they'll buy, but many are probably donated, because why would a tiny library choose to purchase The Truth About Cats & Dogs or Love Potion No. 9? Of course, I don't know how libraries choose to purchase anything, so I'll shut up. Anyway, this is an okay movie, not appallingly bad and not particularly good. Janeane Garofalo seemed happier than in most roles she played. And it's the first time I've seen Uma Thurman play a dumb girl. I liked their characters and liked that it was also about their friendship, and not just about the guy/girl thing. It was okay.

Interim: Books

Books read recently: Chocolat by Joanne Harris (all religious people are stupid and mean, did you know?)Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealey (Lucy Grealey was a poet whose face was disfigured as a child; interesting but somewhat disturbing)Truth and Beauty by Anne Patchett (about her friendship with Lucy Grealey; further reveals Grealey's amazing self-centeredness)Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King (true story of a captain and his crew who were shipwrecked off the coast of West Africa in the early 1800s; they survive slavery with desert nomads. Fascinating!)The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (true story of a Dutch family who hid Jewish people from the Nazis during World War II. Inspirational; probably everyone should read this)In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner (okay)Playing for the Ashes by Elizabeth George (a better-than-average mystery, but in general I'm not a big fan of mysteries)How Can I Help? by Lowell Bennion (Bennion has such an interesting grasp of how we should…

Interim: Films

What I watched while the blog was resting: Follow Me, Boys (the kids loved this, even though by today's standards it's about three movies in one)Blow (edited for TV)Mobsters and Mormons (funny)SpellboundHoles (so good! I love Mr. Sir, mostly because we know someone just like him)National TreasureGone With the WindOff the MapCipher in the SnowJohn Baker’s Last RaceSeven Years in Tibet (fun to see again after reading the book recently, which is fascinating, by the way)Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (five minutes thereof; hard to express how bad I think this movie is)Pride and Prejudice (2005) (after initial annoyance--because who can do better than the 1995 A&E production with Colin Firth?--came to like this very much)Master and CommanderWallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-RabbitMelinda & MelindaGood Night, and Good Luck. (I thought this was an amazing movie; and were people smarter back then? 'cause the people on TV sure talked smarter!)Curious GeorgeNanny McP…

Amazon affiliate links

So I talked Erin into signing up for an Amazon Associates account and adding salted links to the reviews on this blog. We'll see if anyone follows the links and wittingly or unwittingly sends some Amazon credit our way. My guess is it will take a long time before it amounts to anything, if ever. It also remains to be seen how we feel about profiteering (however meagerly) from what was never intended to be anything but personal musings. But we're giving it a try, and we'd be happy to have a little subsidy of our reading and listening purchases.In any case, we both still highly recommend that you borrow or buy books etc. from a friend or a local bookstore where possible. Amazon has its merits, but it can't replace the knowledgeable and personable help at a bookstore or a good friend's personal library!Updated 31 May 2011: I'm just finishing up removing all of the Amazon affiliate links so we can use a certain free spam filter that Jon found. The spammers have bee…

Now I Can Blog Instead of Doing What Little Housework I Used to Do!

Thanks, Jon, for getting this up and working again. You must really love me to give me this delightful distraction from what I'm supposed to be doing. In the next couple of days I'll try to fill in the books and movies and some music from the last few months. For now, the baby is crying and demands attention.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

This book was entertaining and somehow pertinent. I kept thinking of ways it applied to my life. Now if I could find the tipping point for getting my kids to clean the house, it would be worth its weight in gold. Or more.

Revivified blog

It's been almost 5 months since I killed Erin's still nascent blog while trying to upgrade the Typo blog software. She has patiently waited for me to fix it. Now it's back, running on Ruby on Rails 1.1 with the latest Typo from the Subversion repository, backed by PostgreSQL. And finally on a publicly-accessible webserver instead of the Rails development webserver (WEBrick). Getting FastCGI to work from lighttpd was a lot easier than from Apache. Though I hear that the Rails community is leaning away from FastCGI nowadays in favor of Mongrel. Sounds like a good idea, but a change to consider some other time. Typo's data model had changed somewhat, so I created a new blog from scratch and brought over the important data (categories and articles) manually via pg_dump and a little SQL wrangling. Sorry for the delay and the lost momentum, Erin. And thanks to Johannes Evelein for showing me that revivified is a word that people actually use. :)