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Robert Durick's Reading in 2012, second quarter

Club Read 2012

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Edited: Jun 29, 2012, 6:04pm Top

This thread is a continuation of my original 2012 thread.

This is a list of the books I have read in 2012. The titles are not touchstones; they are links to the message wherein I mention my reaction to the books. There I, so long as touchstones cooperate, touchstone the titles and authors.

1. January 2, The Novel by Steven Moore, literary history
2. January 4, The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo edited by Robin S. Rosenberg and Shannon O'Neill, literary analysis
3. January 5, Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy, mystery
4. January 6, The Book of Genesis illustrated by Robert Crumb, Bible
5. January 9, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, novel
6. January 21, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, novel, literary analysis
7. January 23, Bossypants by Tina Fey, memoir
8. January 24, Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell, history
9. January 25, Factotum by Charles Bukowski, novel
10. January 29, Kim by Rudyard Kipling, spy novel

11. February 2, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré, spy novel
12. February 3, Why Read Moby Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick, literary analysis
13. February 9, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, American history
14. February 12, About Time by Adam Frank, cosmology
15. February 14, In Search of Time by Dan Falk, cosmology
16. February 23, Paul Robeson by Martin Duberman, biography
17. February 24, The Snark Handbook by Lawrence Dorfman, reference
18. February 25, The Snark Handbook, Sex Edition, by Lawrence Dorfman, reference
19. February 26, Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman, collected fictional vignettes

20. March 4, The Snark Handbook, Insult Edition, by Lawrence Dorfman, reference
21. March 5, Voss by Patrick White, novel
22. March 6, Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief, 2nd edition, by Henry M. Robert, III, reference
23. March 12, The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch, science (sort of)
24. March 20, The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse, novel
25. March 20, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, inspiration
26. March 23, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race by Jon Stewart and others, topical humor
27. March 28, Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips, Vol. 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder by Walt Kelly, comics

28. April 7, One Book, The Whole Universe edited by Richard D. Mohr, philosophy
29. April 11, A History of Russia, Central Asia, and Mongolia by David Christian, history
30. April 15, The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré, spy novel
31. April 17, Smiley's People by John le Carré, spy novel
32. April 28, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, novel

33. May 1, The Origins of the Slavic Nations by Serhii Plokhy, history
34. May 2, The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, psychology, sociology
35. May 6, The Plot Thickens anthologized by Mary Higgins Clark, short stories,
36. May 8, The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, psychology, sociology
37. May 10, Proofiness by Charles Seife, psychology
38. May 11, True Enough by Farhad Manjoo, psychology
39. May 16, Without Conscience by Robert D. Hare, psychology, sociology
40. May 24, Paris to the Past by Ina Caro, travel, history
41. May 30, Doc by Mary Doria Russell, novel

42. June 4, Desolation Road by Ian McDonald, science fiction novel
43. June 12, Snakes in Suits by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare, psychology, sociology
44. June28, The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology edited by Jerry L. Walls, religion


Edited: Jul 1, 2012, 4:26pm Top

Stage, screen, and the like. The links are to the message wherein I mention my reaction to the performance.

A note for future reference.

1. The Adventures of Tintin, 3D, IMAX, mainstream
2. Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, IMAX, mainstream
3. Faust, Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, opera
4. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, movie theater, mainstream
5. Carnage, movie theater, limited release
6. The Iron Lady, movie theater, mainstream
7. Contraband, movie theater, mainstream
8. Enchanted Island, Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, opera
9. Shame, movie theater, limited release
10. Three string quartets, live on stage
11. Goat Rodeo Sessions Live, High Definition screening
12. Big Miracle, movie theater, mainstream
13. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, movie theater, mainstream
14. Dangerous Method, movie theater, limited release
15. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, movie theater, fewer theaters now
16. The Namesake, DVD
17. Chronicle, IMAX equivalent, mainstream
18. The Princess Bride, IMAX equivalent, revival
19. Götterdämmerung, Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, opera
20. Oscar Nominated Shorts 2012, live action, movie theater, limited release
21. Oscar Nominated Shorts 2012, animated, movie theater, limited release
22. Dudamel Conducts Mahler, High Definition screening
23. Red Tails, movie theater, mainstream
24. Safe House, movie theater, mainstream
25. Ernani, Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, opera
26. The Pearl Fishers, opera live on stage
27, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, BBC DVD
28. Travelling Light, National Theatres Live screening, drama
29. Norwegian Wood, movie theater, limited release
30. A Separation, movie theater, limited release
31. Dr. Seuss' [sic] The Lorax, 3D, mainstream
32. John Carter, 3D, IMAX, mainstream
33. Let the Bullets Fly, movie theater, foreign (Chinese)
34. Jeff, Who Lives at Home, movie theater, limited release (in my area anyway)
35. 21 Jump Street, movie theater, mainstream
36. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, movie theater, limited release
37. Jiro Dreams of Sushi, movie theater, limited release
38. Dancing Queen, movie theater, foreign (Korean)
39. One Kine Day, movie theater, limited release
40. Titanic, 3D, IMAX, mainstream
41. In Darkness, movie theater, foreign (mostly Polish)
42. The Raid: Redemption, movie theater, foreign (Indonesian)
43. Being Flynn, movie theater, limited release
44. We Need to Talk About Kevin, movie theater, limited release
45. Chico & Rita, movie theater, foreign (Spanish, sort of) animated
46. Le Havre, movie theater, foreign (Finnish French)
47. She Stoops to Conquer, National Theatres Live screening, comedy
48. Manon, Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, opera
49. Chimpanzee, movie theater, mainstream
50. Think Like a Man, movie theater, mainstream
51. Casablanca, movie theater, special showing
52. Boy, movie theater, foreign (New Zealand)
53. Bully, movie theater, limited release documentary
54. Damsels in Distress, movie theater, limited release
55. The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, movie theater, limited release documentary
56. The Avengers, 3D, IMAX, mainstream
57. Wagner's Dream, Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, documentary
58. The Five-Year Engagement, movie theater, mainstream
59. Die Walküre, Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, opera
60. Yellow Submarine, movie theater, one night revival
61. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, movie theater, limited release
62. Dark Shadows, IMAX, mainstream
63. Die Walküre, Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, opera
64. Top Gun, movie theater, one night revival
65. The Cabin in the Woods, movie theater, mainstream
66. Götterdämmerung, Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, opera
67. The Dictator, movie theater, mainstream
68. Battleship, movie theater, mainstream
69. The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall, movie theater, musical screening
70. Bernie, movie theater, limited release
71. Sound of My Voice, movie theater, limited release
72. Men in Black III, 3D IMAX, mainstream
73. The Road, movie theater, foreign (Philippines)
74. The Kid with a Bike, movie theater, foreign (France, Belgium)
75. Prometheus, 3D IMAX, mainstream
76. The Manzanar Fishing Club, movie theater, limited release documentary
77. Anna Bolena, Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, opera
78. The Tempest, movie theater, Stratford Shakespeare Festival film, drama
79. First Position, movie theater, limited release documentary
80. Hysteria, movie theater, limited release
81. Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding, movie theater, limited release
82. Safety Not Guaranteed, movie theater, limited release
83. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, movie theater, mainstream
84. Moonrise Kingdom, movie theater, limited release


Edited: Jul 1, 2012, 5:48pm Top

Here are the books I've acquired in 2012. The links are usually not touchstones; they are links to the message below in which I give the circumstances of the acquisition and attempt to touchstone the titles and authors.

1. Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy
2. Seeing Together: Mind, Matter, and the Experimental Outlook of John Dewey and Arthur F. Bentley by Frank X. Ryan
3. The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse
4. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
5. Factotum by Charles Bukowski
6. France by Russell Lamb and Dan Harder
7. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
8. Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré
10. The Literary Guide to the Bible edited by Robert Alter and Frank Kermode
11. Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick
12. A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel
13. Memories of the Future by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
14. Stoner by John Williams
15. Paul Robeson, a biography, by Martin Duberman
16. Happiness, a history, by Darrin M. McMahon
17. Beauty and Sadness by Yasunari Kawabata
18. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
19. The Myth of the Eternal Return by Mircea Eliade
20. Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Yonder by Walt Kelly
21. Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised in Brief, 2nd edition by Henry M. Robert, III, and many others
22. Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman
23. The Snark Handbook by Lawrence Dorfman
24. The Snark Handbook, Sex Edition, by Lawrence Dorfman
25. The Snark Handbook, Insult Edition, by Lawrence Dorfman
26. The Hemlock Cup by Bettany Hughes
27. Eifelheim by Michael Flynn
28. Freedom Flyers by J. Todd Moye
29. The Shift by Lynda Gratton
30. Doc by Mary Doria Russell
31. Selected Writings by Heinrich van Kleist, edited and translated by David Constantine
32. NOOK Book: An Unofficial Guide: Everything you need to know about the NOOK Tablet, NOOK Color, and the NOOK Simple Touch (3rd Edition) by Patrick Kanouse
33. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
34. Dear Mr. Unabomber by Ray Cavanaugh
35. The Gift of Thanks by Margaret Visser
36. Island Fire edited by Cheryl A. Harstad and James R. Harstad
37. Voltaire by Theodore Besterman
38. Voltaire Essays and Another by Theodore Besterman
39. Wildfire Season by Andrew Pyper
40. Pepita by Vita Sackville-West
41. The Time of Light by Gunnar Kopperud
42. Young Adolf by Beryl Bainbridge
43. According to Queeney by Beryl Bainbridge
44. Dr. Thorne by Anthony Trollope
45. The Last Valley by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.
46. The Odyssey, a modern sequel, by Nikos Kazantzakis
47. Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About by Donald E. Knuth
48. The Routledge Atlas of Jewish History by Martin Gilbert
49. True Enough by Farhad Manjoo
50. How To Be Pope by Piers Marchant
51. Authentic Faith apparently edited by committee
52. Native Paths to Volunteer Trails by Stuart Ball
53. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
54. A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
55. The Open Boat and Other Stories by Stephen Crane
56. The Symposium by Plato
57. War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges
58. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
59. How Pleasure Works by Paul Bloom
60. Making Our Democracy Work by Stephen Breyer
61. The Honor Code by Kwame Anthony Appiah
62. Ancient Greece by Thomas R. Martin
63. One With Others by C.D. Wright
64. The Plot Thickens anthologized by Mary Higgins Clark
65. The Oxford Handbook of Causation edited by Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock, and Peter Mezies
66. Robert's Rules of Order QuickStudy
67. Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th Edition, by Henry M. Robert, III, Daniel H. Honemann, and Thomas J. Balch
68. The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré
69. Smiley's People by John le Carré
70. The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ
71. Whatever It Is, I Don't Like It by Howard Jacobson
72. The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics edited by Brad Inwood
73. The Origins of the Slavic Nations by Serhii Plokhy
74. Great Baseball Writing edited by Rob Fleder
75. Pound, poems and translations by Ezra Pound
76. Kaufman and Co. by George S. Kaufman and collaborators
77. The Cambridge Companion to Marx edited by Terrell Carver
78. Verbatim edited by Erin McKean
79. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout
80. Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
81. Maphead by Ken Jennings
82. The Anatomy of Influence by Harold Bloom
83. Paris to the Past by Ina Caro
84. The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
85. Stuff Parisians Like by Olivier Magny
86. To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron
87. The Appointment by Herta Müller
88. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
89. A New Literary History of America edited by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors
90. Whores for Gloria by William T. Vollman
91. Meditations on the Soul, selected letters of Marsilio Ficino
92. Bierce: The Devil's Dictionary, Tales, & Memoirs by Ambrose Bierce, edited by S.T. Joshi
93. Without Conscience by Robert D. Hare
94. Snakes in Suits by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare
95. American Journal of Numismatics edited by Andrew R. Meadows
96. In My Time by Dick Cheney
97. Find Out Who's Normal and Who's Not by David J. Lieberman
98. When I Am Playing With My Cat How Do I know That She Is Not Playing With Me by Saul Frampton
99. Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden
100. The Baseball Codes by Jason Turbow
101. The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault
102. Desolation Road by Ian McDonald
103. Freefall by Joseph E. Stiglitz
104. Crisis Economics by Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm
105. The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology edited by Jerry Walls
106. La grammaire est une chanson douce by Erik Orsenna
107. The Path to Hope by Stéphane Hessel and Edgar Morin
108. 2052 by Jorgen Randers
109. The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
110. The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity, edited by Robert Frodeman with associate editors Julie Thompson Klein and Carl Mitcham
111. Switching to the Mac by David Pogue
112. How Do You Kill 11 Million People? by Andy Andrews
113. Why Mahler? by Norman Lebrecht
114. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
115. Blood Money by David Ignatious
116. Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
117. Asterix Omnibus, books 28 to 30, by Albert Uderzo


Apr 4, 2012, 12:41am Top

Going to the movies at the local multiplex entails passing by a used book store afoot. I went to two movies today.

From the bookstore:

The Symposium by Plato. I have this in a few versions but a dollar for a good edition at hand seemed ridiculous to pass up.
The Open Boat and Other Stories by Stephen Crane. I am an admirer of Maggie: a girl of the streets and The Red Badge of Courage and have meant for a long time to read Crane's short works. Here's Maggie again with three short stories including the important "The Open Boat" for the advantageous price of two dollars.
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. I bought this well regarded novel on speculation because it is published by NYRB.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Nobody dislikes this novel, and it used to be promoted by A Common Reader, the lamented mail order book seller.


Apr 4, 2012, 1:06am Top

If we heard of an American movie with acting and script like that in Dancing Queen we would steer clear of it. Because it is foreign, very Korean, it is charming even if not compelling. There is no reason to go out of the way for this film, but if getting to it is simple it won't hurt to watch it.

One Kine Day has little to attract an audience except local (Hawaiian) color. If you have to choose between Dancing Queen and One Kine Day choose Dancing Queen.


Apr 4, 2012, 1:15am Top

Robert, You will make me go and see a movie at the end (I am yet to go around and go to the big cinema across the street...) :)

Apr 4, 2012, 3:09pm Top

Annie, you may not want to see these two. But I have scheduled for today Titanic in IMAX 3D; this is a movie I did not see when it was first released.


Apr 4, 2012, 3:24pm Top

I was speaking generally - had been reading all your comments.

I am not going to a 3D films - I get a headache 30 minutes in any of those - something about the way my eyes working or something... I like Titanic though (the first 3-4 times anyway - my sister used to watch it pretty much every Sunday for a while).

Apr 4, 2012, 3:39pm Top

It is too bad that you can't endure 3D films. When they are done well from the start, the depth and added heft can add to the mimesis. It is true that when 3D is an add-on it can be very annoying and should be avoided. Titanic should prove interesting. It is add-on 3D but by a proven master of the form (James Cameron also did the mighty Avatar). It remains to be seen.


Edited: Apr 5, 2012, 4:41pm Top

The helm was ordered full to starboard and was turned left. The ship went left. In one instance port was called and the reaction was to the right. But none of these is mentioned in the jillion goofs on the IMDb page for Titanic, so I may be wrong. I didn't see this movie when it first came around, nor had I seen it since until yesterday afternoon. Now I know why there was all the fuss, attendance and talk, about this film.

My attraction to the film was limited because I thought it would be a silly, little Leonardo DiCaprio romance, and it got away before I saw it. Meanwhile I have seen James Cameron's Avatar four or five times, so I knew that he knew his film making business. Paste on 3D can be annoying, but the fact that Cameron, a master of the craft, was doing the adaptation made the possibility of seeing this movie attractive. It is a silly, little Leonardo DiCaprio romance, but as in the story that carries Avatar this story carries a spectacular, outsized movie from beginning to end.

The filming is wondrous. There are cardboard images of people moving in front of flat backgrounds, but where it matters they are round and deep. You could run your fingers over the carved wood on the walls of the first class public rooms. Fleeing down halls there is depth into the screen; as water rushed back out of those halls, it comes from inside the screen. As Rose lies back to be sketched, she is solid flesh. On a huge screen the details absorb you before you can notice that they are violations of continuity.

I am very impressed by this movie, by this version of the movie.


Apr 5, 2012, 5:42pm Top

And didn't DiCaprio look so young in that film.

Apr 5, 2012, 5:46pm Top

He was young -- weren't we all once upon a time.

Apr 5, 2012, 10:03pm Top

I am really looking forward to seeing Titanic again in theatres. It was the first "adult" movie I was allowed to watch, and I remember it very fondly. Glad you enjoyed it.

Apr 6, 2012, 2:45pm Top

I expected In Darkness to be a long and horrifying movie. It was playing across town and ending yesterday. There was also a college baseball game across town; going to both in one trip might justify the gallon of gasoline. I went.

The movie was long and horrifying. We need to keep this knowledge of man's inhumanity to man alive; it can happen anywhere -- at your next door neighbor's house. Where Schindler's List was magnificent, this movie was gritty even dirty. The people in this movie are real and not entirely up to survival, but they did survive.

I wonder what I would have done.


Apr 6, 2012, 3:07pm Top

Hello Mr Durick, i read factotum and there was a part i remember about him lying below a rack of bicycles and i think they were new,, and he wrote something like "everything made sense for a moment" and i did the same a few times so that was good writing i thought.
I did not have bicycles when it happened to me.
Do you remember that part i meant to ask, did it strike you as good writing? thanks.

Apr 6, 2012, 3:13pm Top

I don't remember that specifically. Was that in one of his jobs as a shipping clerk?


Apr 6, 2012, 3:27pm Top

He was doing one of those odd jobs. Someone once said they could quote from naked in garden hills it, was their favourite all time book. So i read it and it was very good, so i sent them a list of my favourite parts, there were around six or seven and they were all very good bits of writing. Then i removed the message and the person said, "hey, did you just remove a message from MY thread ? " !
This doesn't mean anything though.

Apr 6, 2012, 11:24pm Top

Checking in on the new thread.

Apr 7, 2012, 12:12am Top

Hi, Dan.


Apr 7, 2012, 5:31am Top

Your lists are looking very impressive. Glad you liked Titanic. I think I'm the only person who hasn't seen Avatar.

Apr 7, 2012, 2:23pm Top

DF, I have not seen Avatar either. And like Robert, I waited until last year to see Titanic, avoiding it for nearly the same reasons, thinking it would be a silly little Kate Winslet romance. I thought it was a grand movie in the end, but to me Winslet was a much weaker link in the chain than DiCaprio, who seemed to aquit himself better than expected. But we all have our little prejudices and we pay for them in the end. ;-)

Apr 7, 2012, 3:47pm Top

Manon is playing all over the world today in high definition (also on the radio, but that is unusable for me except in dabs), except here. I have the choice of a college baseball game which will come close to selling out and therefore be a miserable experience, or a few movies across town. We'll see.

I may have given up reading. I went to bed last night and played an hour and a half of Bejeweled on my Nook before turning out the light.


Edited: Apr 8, 2012, 2:58pm Top

The movie that fit the schedule was The Raid: Redemption, an Indonesian martial arts flick. Don't believe IMDb; it is not a good movie. It is not good because the fights and other violence were over the top. The redeeming value of it was that it could have been good, and one can sit through it conjecturing how it might have been made good. That doesn't make it worth the time or ticket price.


Apr 8, 2012, 2:56pm Top

I finished the disappointing One Book, the whole universe last night. I once tried to read the Timaeus and decided I would need help. A decade or two later I saw this book mentioned somewhere; it derives from an academic conference on Plato's book. It is of almost no help. Some arcana are posited and pondered at length; these are the kinds of thing that if you need them someone in your department will tell you about them. The rest is bleh; there is one chapter on Atlantis in the movies for example. I confess to skimming.


Apr 11, 2012, 4:52pm Top

I wanted to excuse myself for not paying bills or doing my income taxes yesterday, so I conjured up a two part reason, going to a mall across town. First I thought I'd better see a couple of movies that aren't guaranteed to be there Friday.

Being Flynn is a pretty competent film. Early on it looks like its a movie about people who copulate with their clothes on, but then the copulation ceased. It vividly carries the message that drugs and liquor can allow one to opt out of feelings one doesn't want to have. Oh for the life of the street, living in a boozy haze!

I first wanted to review We Need to Talk About Kevin as, "The book was better than the movie, and I haven't read the book." But the exquisite performance by Tilda Swinton makes the effort of watching the movie worth the effort. Kevin is more of a creep than a demon, which may be a virtue but left the film in its entirety less compelling than it might have been.


Apr 11, 2012, 5:27pm Top

Second, I recently added two books to my wishlist which I wanted right away. Both were available in Barny Noble's store at that mall, and they were cheaper there than on-line. I made a list of books from my wishlist that were available and cheaper there, including those two, and picked them up between movies. I think I was led to all of these by LibraryThing, although I can't remember where in most cases.

The Plot Thickens anthologized under the authority of Mary Higgins Clark. The is a mystery story fund raiser with works by twelve authors (or so depending on who's counting). The desiderata for the stories were that they contain, "a thick fog, a thick book, and a thick steak." Interested in the steak, I put this book on my wishlist, and it was one of the two that actually prompted me to cross town.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. This novel is set in a cooking class. I like novels, and I like food. I had forgotten what this book was and had to ask at the help desk because I had no idea what part of the store it would be in.

One With Others by C.D. Wright. Darryl recommended this, effusively. It is poems about the civil rights struggle in Arkansas. This is the other book that I first set out for.

Ancient Greece by Thomas R. Martin. I think my interest in this book is the possibility of pre-classical history.

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges. I have at least one other unread book by the author; this one can't hurt. I also wonder about that war business. I am finishing up a history of the Eurasian Steppe, and it seems that war was the central point of existence for four millenia or so. I've been to the Hiroshima peace museum, while I was in the Navy, and since then I've never seen much sense made of it even if we might sometimes be compelled to engage in it.

The Honor Code by Kwame Anthony Appiah. This is subtitled 'How Moral Revolutions Happen.' We in the United States may need one. I wonder how frightening one might be.

Making Our Democracy Work by Stephen Breyer. Part of the revolution probably has to have roots in our courts. This book purports to tell what judges should do.

How Pleasure Works by Paul Bloom. I've given up on happiness. I can't afford hedonism. Maybe I can learn enough about being pleased to make life more tolerable.

I could read any of these right away, but I already have three books I want to take on as soon as I am done with A history of Russia, Central Asia, and Mongolia probably tonight. Diplopia aims my eyes in two different directions, but I still haven't learned how to read two books at once, let alone three.


Apr 11, 2012, 5:31pm Top

Sounds like a great day Robert.

Apr 12, 2012, 7:01pm Top

A History of Russia, Central Asia, and Mongolia by David Christian is volume one of a two volume work the second volume of which appears, disappointingly, not to be forthcoming. Central Eurasia from 100,000 years before now through the Genghis Khan and successors Mongol conquest is covered in this book; fortunately there is a reference in it to a book on medieval Russia. The scope of the book includes the forests and tundra of the the region, but it is mostly about the steppe.

A theme of the work is that the steppe is deprived of rain so that agriculture is difficult although possible with irrigation. So pastoralists reign, and nomadic pastoralists conquer even as agriculture actually is established. With little writing on-site for the longest time, reports from outside and archaeology are the sources for most of this history. It means that there is a lot more about conquest than about cultural values; it is still rich in the telling even if the vast scope of the subject is covered in a little over 400 pages.

I'm glad I chased this one down.

I didn't start anything new when I finished this about 11:30 last night, and postal tracking shows that there should be two packages from Barny Noble in my mailbox. The choice will be hard.


Edited: Apr 12, 2012, 9:10pm Top

I didn't buy books last month because I bought a Nook. Two boxes came to me today from Barny Noble filled with the books that I ordered when that billing period for my credit card ended.

The Origins of the Slavic Nations by Serhii Plokhy. This will follow on Christian's book and address the area that most interests me. Putatively it covers from the tenth century through the reign of Peter I, but the first chapter actually has some background to that involving the Scandinavians.

The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics edited by Brad Inwood. I claim allegiance to stoicism even if I weep. I have read a lot about stoicism and still have considerable depths to plumb.

Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th Edition, by Henry M. Robert, III, Daniel H. Honemann, and Thomas J. Balch. We have a psychopath on our AOAO board of directors of which I am the secretary. I may need this to prevent damage to me, the other directors, and the association.

Robert's Rules of Order QuickStudy. This is for quick access, I hope, in practice to the contents of the big book above. It was published recently but does not say, that I can find, which edition it is derived from.

The Oxford Handbook of Causation edited by Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock, and Peter Menzies. My attitude towards life is partly governed by my belief or disbelief in free will. Causation impinges on that belief. These Oxford Handbooks are often valuable; I had a coupon for a discount on this one.

The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ. A non-Christian, I have received good counsel from Jesuits. I don't have access to them much any more. This book will, I hope, lend to their counsel.

Whatever It Is, I Don't Like It by Howard Jacobson. I liked The Finkler Question (without becoming enthralled by it), and the title sucked me in.

The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People by John le Carré. I was enthralled by the recent movie of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I read the book then found the the BBC adaptation at Costco, bought it, and watched it. I reckoned then that I needed the rest of the Karla series. The BBC adaptation of Smiley's People was at Costco, and I have it. Now I have the books and have the duty and inclination to go on.

I should probably not buy any more books for a while.


Edited: Apr 13, 2012, 6:47am Top

>21 Poquette: - Glad I'm not the only one, Poquette. I probably should have seen it when it was in theaters because it sounds like the special effects and experience on the big screen were better than the plot or script or anything like that.

>22 Mr.Durick: - Mr.Durick, will your theater be open again for the encore of Manon? It was worth seeing especially if you like Anna Netrebko though the production was as drab as everyone said.

The book was better than the movie, and I haven't read the book.

Ha ha ha

Those are some diverse lists.

Apr 13, 2012, 3:48pm Top

The last time I was at that theater, to see Titanic in the sister auditorium, nobody knew, but the future attractions list on Fandango shows Manon. I remain hopeful but with low expectations.

A good bit of We Need to Talk About Kevin is sticking with me. The movie may have had some substance that I didn't see. But it is one of its faults that puzzles me the most; there were almost no human interactions depicted outside the family. It may go on my memorable films of 2012 despite its faults.


Apr 16, 2012, 1:02pm Top

Robert - coming in late, but very intrigued by your comments on A History of Russia, Central Asia, and Mongolia. And, good luck with your psychopath.

Apr 16, 2012, 4:25pm Top

I have read and enjoyed The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré. I am happy to be caught up in the Karla series. The reading engages me not in a galloping to see what's next but in the pleasure of seeing the depiction. The Phnom Penh airport seemed familiar even if the author didn't mention any U.S. Navy C-130's. My basic training was in T-28's; I saw them at Phnom Penh as war planes; I saw them in this novel as war planes; I have a hard time believing in them as war planes.


Apr 17, 2012, 3:33pm Top

I lucked out with yesterday's movies, good excuses to drive across town (I also lucked into some sausages from Whole Foods and bumped into some people I knew visiting from Atlanta whom I had wanted to talk with). Both movies opened with shoe shine scenes and moved on from there.

Chico & Rita is an animated story of love between two very passionate Cubans set to some powerful music of the mid-twentieth century (in fact the movie is probably even better to someone who has concentrated on that music). Things do not go smoothly for them, but their passions remain alive. I am a stoic so passions are alien to me insofar as I can avoid them; my reaction to the film, perhaps an existential one, was that I wanted to get drunk and die.

Instead I went to Le Havre and regained my stoicism under a spell of human warmth that is rare in adult story telling. I wanted to say that it lacked even a speck of treacle, but I feared someone would argue, "Oh, come on; what about the dog pointing to the cupboard?" And I don't want to argue about this.

Both films are recommended, and for warmth I think the French story told by a Finn is worth looking for.


Apr 18, 2012, 3:39pm Top

I liked the depiction of Southeast Asia in The Honourable Schoolboy; that same facility was not in Smiley's People. John le Carré has written a page turner in his conclusion to the Karla Trilogy. I am happy I read it. I have another le Carré in my bundle, but I don't think I'll be pursuing him much farther. I do have yet to watch the BBC adaptation of Smiley's People, and I am looking forward to that.

We find out what happened to the cigarette lighter.


Edited: Apr 20, 2012, 5:08pm Top

Wow, Robert, those are some lists! (just to echo others). You do see a lot of movies...and you saw Avatar multiple times? Oy. While the actual film art/craft was intriguing the storyline left me cold (so retro).

Apr 20, 2012, 4:04pm Top

The eighteenth century comedy She Stoops to Conquer continues to be funny in the twenty first century, in this case in the National Theatres screening. What it tells us of the human condition is, however, thin. The production is sufficiently elegant and camp to hold one's attention, but I don't think that I have taken much away from it.


Edited: Apr 21, 2012, 11:36pm Top

I can bend my trip to town to go by the local branch of the public library. That library was having a Friends of the Library book sale so I went in.

The Cambridge Companion to Marx edited by Terrell Carver. Communism doesn't work, but Marx understood a lot, and I want someday to understand him. I have all three volumes of Capital but am afraid to take them on without help.

Kaufman & Co. edited by Laurence Maslon. This is a Library of America collection of comedies written by George S. Kaufman with various collaborators. This is not a book I would have gone after, but for a dollar I thought I might find something in it to enjoy.

Pound: Poems & Translations edited by Richard Sieburth. This is a Library of America collection of Pound's poetry other than the Cantos. Although I may never have the courage to tackle them, this is a volume I would go after and might even already have. Both of these Library of America volumes were library books withdrawn from circulation; I don't think that they should have been.

Great Baseball Writing edited by Rob Fleder. Baseball is America's pastime. Who doesn't need another collection of baseball writing?


Apr 26, 2012, 3:27pm Top

Manon is an opera about a horrible woman and a weak man with a strong, loving father who cannot be there all the time to protect his son. The story offers opportunity for some beautiful music, and in this Metropolitan Opera production it is a showcase for Anna Netrebko. It is a French opera so there is dancing, ballet in the third act.

I don't know whether this will rerun this summer. If it does it will afford a chance to hear some glorious singing.


Apr 26, 2012, 6:35pm Top

A 20% discount coupon sent me into my wishlist for a book from Barny Noble. It was in today's mail

Verbatim edited by Erin McKean. Over the years I have lost track of Verbatim, the periodical. It had pleasant articles on aspects of language that were more entertaining than systematic. This book could catch me up.


Apr 27, 2012, 5:21pm Top

With a special screening last night at a multiplex in town I thought I would also take in a couple of checklist movies.

Chimpanzee may show nothing new to people with cable teevee and thousands of channels including wildlife channels, but it was special photography for me who is not jaded in this regard. The narrative was tempered for children, I think, but the great appeal of this movie works regardless of the narrative -- it is beautiful. There is ape warfare and the slaughter of a monkey, but threats to my sensibility were not extreme.

Think Like a Man was funny enough for someone already in the theater, but it was really superficial about the human condition. Wait for this on teevee if you have one.

Casablanca was screened in a 70th anniversary homage. I had never seen it and went to it ready to accept its worth as an ancient cinematic curiosity that people must be dutiful to and came away thinking it is a very good movie. I wonder how a person becomes a hero.


Apr 27, 2012, 9:40pm Top

>41 Mr.Durick: I've been interested in seeing Chimpanzee since seeing an interview with Jane Goodall on "The Daily Show." Glad to hear it's worth it. From the clips that were shown it looked beautiful.

Thanks to spotting an old dusty VHS tape in my library's movie section a few years ago I was able to see Casablanca a few years ago. It quickly became one of my all time favorite movies.

I wonder how a person becomes a hero.
Me too.

Apr 28, 2012, 3:42am Top

re 38:

Robert - was that the Kaufman of Marx Bros. fame? He was a perfect fit for the brothers - their films where he had writing credits were always sharper & more focused...

I agree with your comments on that other Marx too. A prophet who understood a lot about the patterns of history, but ultimately a false prophet.

Apr 28, 2012, 5:21am Top

Amazed that anyone has not seen Casablanca - but now you have.

Apr 28, 2012, 9:25am Top

Thinking about Casablanca now...a great movie.

Apr 29, 2012, 11:01pm Top

zenomax, according to Wikipedia it is the very same George S. Kaufman. I don't know much about him, but I think I recognized the name from among Broadway standards that I heard of in my childhood even though I never experienced anything to with them.


Edited: Apr 29, 2012, 11:19pm Top

I filled up on coffee yesterday at a morning long session on condominium management for AOAO board directors and couldn't go home because of it, so headed across town knowing something would play at the right time at that multiplex.

Boy is a bittersweet tale of a Maori boy who meets his father and grows rather faster than kids in real life do but given the movie's givens grows credibly. I would have had to force my schedule to see a screening where the director, writer, dad-actor was available afterwards, and I wish I had.

I have attracted bullies from as early as I can remember through now. I am now 67 years old and big enough that few get very far with me. Even so the psychopath on our board of directors seemed to single me out. So Bully held a lot of import for me. I sympathized with every one of the kids. If Ja'maya had shot one of her tormentors and I had been on the jury, there would have been no conviction. A vice-principal shows that she just doesn't get it and just doesn't care. Please, if you can, see this movie.


Apr 29, 2012, 11:27pm Top

After the movies I went upstairs to see if Barny Noble had anything that I had to take home right away. Four things caught my eye, but I came away with only one because I forgot to go back for a copy of Pen World magazine and the other two were cheaper on line.

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. I got this because the recent, well-received book on psychopaths is not yet available as a paperback, and I want to get started on how to deal with the psychopath of whom I have spoken. I am half way through a book on the origins of the Slavic nations, but I may read this before I get back to Russia.


Apr 29, 2012, 11:45pm Top

I have read The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery for discussion Wednesday night at my church's book group. I will let the others talk. I was reminded, however, of The Unbearable Lightness of Being which seemed, especially from the movie, to have the theme that when you're happy you die. I found the book readable and credible even if nothing very important has emerged from it for me yet. There were some good people depicted in the work, and I am happy to see that -- I don't find my cynicism to be an especially happy trait.


Apr 30, 2012, 10:02am Top

Robert, I hope that The Sociopath Next Door does not recommend shooting the psychopaths.

May 1, 2012, 9:31pm Top

I am still looking for a fairly comprehensive, readable book on the origins of Russia, Ukraine, et alii. I have finished The Origins of the Slavic Nations by Serhii Plokhy. Its scope is not entirely restricted to the tone of documents over the years, but emphasis is on them. There is nothing about what Slavs are although there are frequent assertions that the Slavic nations had plenty of people who were not Slavs -- most importantly Scandinavians. Some linguistics could probably have clarified some ethnic delineations. With polysyllabic names with similar endings given in the Ukrainian style, with those names spread over the book, with treaties seen one place from the point of view of Muscovy and in another place altogether from the point of view of the Hetmanate, for example, and the only reference of one to the other the name of the treaty, the book is a jumble.

I worked hard at this book and am disappointed. I think tracing a path through Wikipedia might be more productive.


May 2, 2012, 12:37pm Top

I recently saw a production of Once in a Lifetime by George S. Kaufmann and Moss Hart -- it was an amusing take on the shift from silent film to the talkies -- 3 vaudeville stars from NYC travel to Hollywood to make their fortunes by teaching silent film stars with wretched voices how to speak. It was the basis for Singin' in the Rain.

May 2, 2012, 3:59pm Top

Once in a Lifetime is one of three Moss Hart collaborations in the volume; the others are The Man Who Came to Dinner and You Can't Take It With You. Edna Ferber is equally represented.

I'm happy to see a play enacted, and reading a play usually doesn't demand more than an evening's sitting. I think I don't pick them up on the same grounds that I don't usually pick up short stories. I am not, however, fully informed about why that is. Maybe someday...


May 2, 2012, 9:08pm Top

I've seen productions of all three. The Asolo Rep, which did Once in a Lifetime this season, will be doing You Can't Take It with You next season -- in a schedule of all American plays.

May 2, 2012, 10:29pm Top

Did they all look readable? Or should I put reading off until a local production looms?


May 3, 2012, 9:11am Top


Robert, you might be interested to check out this book (which I've had on my wish list for some time now): Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-forgotten Europe by Norman Davies An Amazon UK reviewer says
"The chapters describe the history of: the Visigoths in France and Spain; southwestern Scotland in the 5th-12th centuries, but really addressing British history in general at that time; Burgundy in France; Aragon in northern Spain; the area that is now Belarus and Lithuania; Byzantium; Prussia; northern Italy; Galicia (the one that was in what is now southern Poland and Ukraine); Italy around Florence in the 19th century; Saxe-Coburg in Germany; Montenegro, which used to be part of Yugoslavia; the short-lived (one day!) Rusyn republic in what is now Ukraine, 1939; Ireland since 1916; and the Soviet Union." From reviews, this seems to be more readable than Plokhy's text.

May 3, 2012, 3:09pm Top

Vanished Kingdoms will be out in paperback in November. It is now on my 'forthcoming' wishlist. Thank you.


May 3, 2012, 3:21pm Top

Martha Stout can be too wordy in her generalizations in The Sociopath Next Door, and her semi-pseudo case histories read like the science fiction of the fifties in cramming information into dialogues of too obvious artifice. She is an expert, however, and exposes a good bit of what we lay readers need to know about these people who can be near us without our knowing about it until too late.

A sociopath is a person without a conscience. The primary diagnostic of someone who has dropped hints of sociopathy is that that person seeks to be pitied. Now this can be in a sophisticated way; these are not wimps. Also they are not, or not necessarily, stupid. Most of them have studied charm to the extent that they are quite good at it and will have allies. Because they are not stupid, they are usually, but not uniformly, not convicted criminals; they do their damage in ways that cannot typically be prosecuted, although when they reveal themselves broadly they can be anathematized. Sociopaths cannot be convinced of their error(s) nor can they be redeemed.

Most of Stout's thirteen points in dealing with sociopaths cannot be readily summarized, and they run over three or four pages. But one important point is to avoid them. Once you recognize a sociopath as a sociopath, stay away.

I like this book, yet I plan to read more on the subject.


May 5, 2012, 3:53pm Top

I like to maximize the utility of driving across town, so I decided yesterday to see a movie and catch a college baseball game.

Damsels in Distress was perfect in every regard but one -- it failed to entertain. I could admire twists and turns and attempts to say something and still not think the movie amounted to 99 minutes of well spent time. So there's the loss of half of my rationalization of a thirty mile round trip.

Then the visiting team couldn't win for losing. The third baseman sat down a couple of times to watch a batted ball pass him by on its way to left field. Sadly the visitors' error tally on the score board was out. Anyway the game was over after the top of the seventh with a 14 to 2 score for the home team. There went the other half of my rationalization for going across town.


May 6, 2012, 3:24pm Top

I drove across town yesterday again to the same mall. The movie I saw was The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye. This is a weird movie about a weird couple in love. I had become weird-deficient so this movie suited my needs, but it is so off-mainstream that any recommendation I might give for it would be very guarded. Through its harshness I seemed to sense some real warmth, but the grit can get in your teeth.


Edited: May 6, 2012, 3:53pm Top

Before I left to go across town I made a list of the five books from my Barny Noble wishlist that were about the same price in store as on line. I found four of them; the other was somewhere in the store but no telling where.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. So I can continue my obsession with these people.

Paris to the Past by Ina Caro. I want sometime to pick up again on my virtual travels in France, and this will serve that need when I get to it. It is an interesting fact, but I wonder at the marketing of this book which makes a point of the identity of her husband.

The Anatomy of Influence by Harold Bloom. I respect and admire the man, and I can use his help with literature.

Maphead by Ken Jennings. I like maps.

The book I couldn't find was When I Am Playing with My Cat, How Do I Know That She Is Not Playing with me? I also picked up a copy of Mad magazine and Pen World magazine.

I went beyond there to be among friends, and one of them gave me Wherever You Go There You Are. It is a timely reminder that in my life I should be walking regularly and meditating regularly.


May 6, 2012, 10:10pm Top

Robert, I have Ina Caro's The Road from the Past: Traveling through History in France. I keep looking at it telling myself how much I want to read it. Maybe I'm been saving it for the right mood...?

May 6, 2012, 10:58pm Top

I don't have any idea when I will read it, but perhaps someday we can exchange notes on it.


May 7, 2012, 4:34pm Top

The Plot Thickens is a fund raiser comprising stories by mystery writers meeting Mary Higgins Clark's desiderata of including a thick fog, a thick book, and a thick steak. I read this book hoping for exemplars of creative writing about thick steaks; I did not get enough of that out of my reading. The stories are pleasant entertainments any of which I would have been happy to sell under my own name to a reputable publisher, but I am not carrying away anything from my reading, and I am not motivated by these to read any more of any of the authors.

I hope the book did some good for the literacy project it was meant to raise funds for.


May 8, 2012, 6:06pm Top

I think that the only way to watch The Avengers is in 3D IMAX. There are a few cute jokes and some nominal character expositions, but this movie is machinery, fighting, flying, Captain America doing superhero parkour. As it is on the huge screen in high definition with roundness in depth where roundness in depth is material this movie is a grand spectacle. On the small screen it would be a throwaway.

Wagner's Dream is a documentary for people who have seen at least some of the recent Metropolitan Opera production of Wagner's Ring cycle. I suppose it could entertain someone who knows the operas but haven't seen this production, but not in as compelliing a way. I have seen this production and thought that might be the only time I would see it; this documentary has me planning to go watch Das Rheingold tomorrow night.


Edited: May 8, 2012, 6:16pm Top

There is probably still room for the mental health professionals to be wrong about psychopathy as they seem to so wrong about child psychology, but there is also evidence that psychopaths have different brains than the rest of us. I have read The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson who makes it clear that there can be some dangerous misinterpretations in dealing with mental aberrations. Ronson is a journalist and like many books by journalists nowadays his book is much about Jon Ronson's explorations of psychopathy. Nevertheless it complements The Sociopath Next Door handily. Even together they don't finish the story for me so I have ordered a couple of Robert Hare's books on the subject.


May 8, 2012, 11:11pm Top

Emily Blunt is beautiful and funny in The Five-Year Engagement which is a very charming movie about romantic love from the producers of Bridesmaids. It doesn't have the weight or the humor of Bridesmaids but it is a good way to spend a couple of hours.


May 8, 2012, 11:24pm Top

I probably should read The Sociopath Next Door since I are one . . . I need to know how I am expected to behave.

May 9, 2012, 7:11pm Top

There was a coupon from Barny Noble. So there was an order with this in it; it alone was in the mail today.

Stuff Parisians Like by Olivier Magny. This is an addition to my virtual sojourn in France. I used to have a half dozen or so books in this category, but, as the big pile they were in rearranged itself, they have gone underground.


May 10, 2012, 5:17pm Top

Having thought I'd likely never sit through the Ring again, I set out last night for the Metropolitan Opera's rerun of Die Walküre at a movie theater in town. I was grabbed hold of by it again, and I have a crush on the Rhinemaidens.


Edited: May 11, 2012, 3:54pm Top

I opened the movie listings yesterday to see whether I had to catch anything last night before it ended in the area. Yellow Submarine was playing one time only across town. I decided to risk a late afternoon cup of coffee to power it, and I will have go into town to see The Cabin in the Woods rather than get to it at the local multiplex.

Yellow Submarine is about The Beatles' siding with Pepperland against the Blue Meanies. It is an excuse for music and psychedelic era graphic arts. When I first saw this in a theater around 1968 nothing like it had ever been done before. It could probably be copied, and copies could become tiresome. But that hasn't happened, and this is a very pretty movie. The humor in the illustration is simple and sublime. The music has all of the quality of The Beatles.


Edited: May 11, 2012, 4:15pm Top

Proofiness by Charles Seife takes on the misuse of numbers in justifying spurious points of view. It starts with such misuses as Senator McCarthy's claim that he had identified 205 communists in the State Department; nobody could refute that. It goes on to show the errors in polls, namely margin of error and systematic error. Elections have no margin of error, but in being a measurement they have systematic error; essentially, the author says, the 2000 Bush presidential election in Florida and the 2008 Franken election in Minnesota should have been draws and, therefore, settled by law as draws. Prosecutors misuse data to see that black people die at the hands of the state, and Antonin Scalia sees to it that facts don't influence Supreme Court decisions.

This is a maddening book. It also serves to strengthen one's resolve to challenge numbers presented without real authority.


Edited: May 11, 2012, 4:30pm Top

On the way into the movie last night I stopped in Barny Noble's for magazines (a Trains special issue on train wrecks and an issue of Scientific American Mind with an article on free will) and books as cheap there as on line.

To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron. I was okay with Thubron's book on Siberia but hadn't thought I'd read more of him. This book was mentioned favorably on LibraryThing the other day. I have read a substantial albeit small part of The Mahabharata and thought that this book might color my perception of Mount Meru.

The Appointment by Herta Müller. A favorable mention of Müller's The Land of Green Plums on LibraryThing the other day brought her name back into my field of view. That latter book according to the helpful man at customer service is much cheaper on line, but this one was a little cheaper in store. It will go into my bag of novels to be read immediately out of which I haven't read in a year or so.

When I Am Playing With My Cat... still hasn't found its way back to the philosophy shelves in that store, so I wasn't able to get it.

There should be a package or two in today's mail from Barny Noble. I'll get out to check it in a bit.


May 11, 2012, 6:57pm Top

Two packages from Barny Noble came to town about the same time, but only one was in the mailbox today. A coupon provoked the order.

A New Literary History of America edited by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors. This is the coupon book. When I am interested in literature but don't want to face it first hand I can read a book like this.

Meditations on the Soul selected letters of Marsilio Ficino. Poquette liked this, and I would like to save my soul, so I ordered it.

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris. This is a very well regarded novel so I thought I'd better get it. It will go into my bag of novels, but I will probably also mention it to my book group at church.

Whores for Gloria by William T. Vollman. When Vollman is on he is a hit. A mention of this book on LibraryThing made me think its theme would interest me.


May 12, 2012, 4:10pm Top

True Enough by Farhad Manjoo. We are misled. We mislead ourselves. Much of the time we don't care. Here are some of the ways it happens. There is not much here on what we can do about it, but the book is interesting in reminding us that even if we mean to be objective we often aren't.


May 12, 2012, 6:35pm Top

An ambiguous post office entry on the internet notwithstanding, there was a package from Barny Noble in my mailbox. This order was provoked by a coupon at a time that I wanted a couple of more books on sociopathy.

Bierce: The Devil's Dictionary, Tales, & Memoirs by Ambrose Bierce, edited by S.T. Joshi. I bought this book from my wishlist to make the coupon more valuable than it would have been with either of the other two books. I have been a fan of Bierce since, I think, elementary school.

Without Conscience by Robert D. Hare. I wanted more on the general problem, and Hare is an academic authority on the matter. I am also interested in whether the hero of my steak novel, which I may never write, is a psychopath.

Snakes in Suits by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare. Although my interest in the problem was prompted by a neighbor I also had, I think, a couple of psychopathic bosses among all the bad bosses in my municipal career. I think psychopaths are common above the O4 level in the military, and I spent ten years in the Navy. I am retired; this is for looking into my own history.

I have a book to look for in one of his stores, but my intake of books this month is already pretty high.


May 13, 2012, 3:54pm Top

It seems that I've been seeing previews of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel forever and have wondered what the reviews would say. The local review made it sound a little tedious but implied that old people might get something out of it. I am old, and I wanted to be in that direction for an event in the evening, so I went.

The previews showed a scene that implied much more development of one story line that got only a tiny bit of its beginning and a hint at its culmination in the movie as shown. Otherwise the parts from the previews got laughed at on cue. The audience was fairly thick for an underpromoted movie like this; the audience was the age of an opera audience.

The performers nail their performances. The feel good parts among the old folk are entirely credible. India is well represented although, perhaps appropriately, Indians have a limited role. The ending is a facile wrap up, but it fit the story.

I liked this movie.


May 13, 2012, 4:29pm Top

I've found all your thoughts on sociopaths interesting...I've been thinking of reading a few more books about it after my experience with my recently-acquired x-boss. I think he's the first person I know who meets all the criteria. I've only read The Sociopath Next Door and have been thinking of reading Snakes in Suits and Emotional Vampires.

May 14, 2012, 4:01pm Top

Rachel, I am now well into Without Conscience by the psychologist who invented the psychopath test, so I've experienced three books on psychopathy, and so far The Sociopath Next Door seems to be the most useful. I have yet to read Snakes in Suits which, for me, is more about my history. In chasing down Emotional Vampires I found that I have a copy of Nasty People: How to Stop Being Hurt By Them Without Becoming One of Them and wish that I knew where it was. I wonder whether I should dig up something on narcissism which seems to relate to these things (it also seems that if I have a touch of these things it is more likely a touch of narcissism than a touch of psychopathy).

If you read either of those two books I'll be interested in what you say here about them.


May 14, 2012, 6:41pm Top

As a member of The American Numismatic Society once a year, I think, I get a hefty hardcover volume of the American Journal of Numismatics. This year's was volume 23 and was in today's mail.


May 14, 2012, 6:52pm Top

Robert, I ordered Without Conscience today. I agree that The Sociopath Next Door was really helpful.

Edited: May 15, 2012, 7:31pm Top

When I got up yesterday I had on my calendar the movie Dark Shadows to see in IMAX because I could see it in IMAX at the same multiplex where I planned to watch the Metropolitan Opera's rescreening of Die Walküre. I went to my computer and found a posting from a Facebook friend claiming that Dark Shadows might be the worst movie ever made. My desire to stir my bones took me to it anyway.

Dark Shadows has Johnny Depp playing a vampire released from burial to return to his dysfunctional family 200 years later. It is played with high camp and some handsome women. The house, seemingly bigger inside than outside, is gorgeous inside and outside as is the putative Maine coast (inside and outside?); IMAX captures that gorgeousness. How could we capture the validity of the movie as a serious work? We could discuss the conundrums facing a moral monster. We could discuss the potency of a long held passion and the will to express it. The movie doesn't stand up to that. It is merely not the worst movie ever made. It is an empty entertainment that likely didn't hurt anybody in the theater I watched it in -- none of the three of us.

Die Walküre shows the family dysfunction in Valhalla. The fall of the gods arises out of a misplaced duty of a husband, Wotan, to his ever so nasty wife, Fricka. A lot of people sing loud and can hold an audience's attention for four and a half hours. This is the second time I've seen this Metropolitan Opera production on screen. I am sorry that I will be missing Siegfried on Wednesday, but I am hopeful about seeing Gotterdamerung for a second time.


Edited: May 16, 2012, 5:40pm Top

Last night there was a one night revival of Top Gun on the largest screen (an IMAX equivalent) in town. I had never seen the movie. The film was not really up to the huge screen. The movie, story and depiction, was not very good. I am not sorry I put it off for so long.

I was a naval aviator. There is a line in the movie about flying freighters out of Hong Kong with a load of rubber dog shit. That actually was the kind of flying I liked to do, especially out of Hong Kong. But the athletic skills of the tactical community cannot be denied; I just didn't think that this film captured that even as it depended on it.

I hope to see The Cabin in the Woods today.


May 17, 2012, 11:59am Top

I'm amused at your adding of Top Gun into all this mix of movies.

Edited: May 17, 2012, 6:12pm Top

I was amused at my mistaken apprehension of Kelly McGillis in Top Gun. She was the same height as Tom Cruise in the one scene where I was thinking about the matter, and so she must be short. But something says that she is 5 feet 10 inches tall and that Tom Cruise had to wear lifts in his shoes in scenes where he stood next to her; I thought that was in IMDb's page on the movie, but I can't find it now.

I saw The Cabin in the Woods yesterday. I am not a general fan of horror movies, but I am attracted to ones with a good rating (I generally skip vampire and zombie movies and books). This movie got favorable reviews. It turns out that it is a zombie movie with a twist. The twist makes it entertaining enough to watch, but it is still a zombie movie. I can't really recommend it even though I was not bored by it.


Edited: May 17, 2012, 6:27pm Top

On my way to a church potluck last night (that kept me from Siegfried) I stopped at Costco for a pie. They had In My Time by Dick Cheney. Apparently he was once Vice President of the United States; the back cover of the book refers to him as "one of the most steadfast and influential statesmen in our nation's history." So I bought the book. I wonder who wrote it.


May 17, 2012, 6:25pm Top

Reading book after book about psychopathy has made me look at every bit of nastiness as possible psychopathy and to make me doubt the humanity of man, the latter a little like reading about totalitarianism.

I have finished Without Conscience by Robert D. Hare. It is from a decade and a half ago; it is written by the preeminent scholar of the pathology. Unlike the two newer books I have read on the subject, it emphasizes the violent and criminal psychopaths. It suggests that treatment despite many failures and good reason for failure might be possible though his treatment was not yet tried; the newer books still talk about the failure of treatment.

He emphasizes that the Psychopath Test should be administered by trained evaluators and that false accusations can be devastating. He singles out Dr. Death, an expert called into court in Texas to see that convicted criminals die at the hands of the state, for special attention as someone who makes facile and wrong evaluations.

I have Snakes in Suits yet to read, but I think I have to step back from the subject for a book or two.


May 17, 2012, 8:08pm Top

...but I think I have to step back from the subject for a book or two.

Meaning you won't be reading the Dick Cheney book either?

May 17, 2012, 8:11pm Top

Maybe not right away.


May 18, 2012, 4:23am Top

>77 Mr.Durick: - I read that article on the child sociopaths - disturbing stuff. I felt very bad for the parents and siblings of the profiled boy. Been following your reviews on the psychopath books - I might try to get some of them. I've known at least one definite - there are some maybes.

Glad you got to rewatch the Ring Cycle. Did you happen to catch the interview with Robert LePage in the NY Times? I thought he came off as somewhat arrogant and ignorant. Still, looking forward to his production of The Tempest next season.

They had In My Time by Dick Cheney. Apparently he was once Vice President of the United States; the back cover of the book refers to him as "one of the most steadfast and influential statesmen in our nation's history." So I bought the book. I wonder who wrote it.

Meaning you won't be reading the Dick Cheney book either?


May 18, 2012, 4:13pm Top

I don't remember the LePage interview so it is likely but not certain that I didn't read it. He was not arrogant in Wagner's Dream, but I wondered throughout what his authority was in staging an opera.


May 20, 2012, 4:28pm Top

Despite what I said in February (also the month in which I had my last haircut) I went back to Götterdämmerung yesterday. It is tedious and stupid and engrossing. I will never ever see it again until the next time I want to or need to.


May 20, 2012, 4:50pm Top

One of the possible routes between Götterdämmerung and Saturday night was via the in town Barny Noble store. Frustrated in my attempts to keep the smaller store across town in business by buying When I Am Playing With My Cat... by Saul Frampton there, I thought I could pick it up in the larger, angrier store. I find it hard to read Montaigne despite my respect for his writing, so I can pretend familiarity with him by reading about him. I have contentedly read How to Live.

The bargain book table had a copy of Find Out Who's Normal and Who's Not by David J. Lieberman that I though might arm my defense against neighborhood psychopaths. And I think that the Who's Not part might ease my fretting about the dangers of society. On the other hand I don't know anything about this book, and it might be a bargain because it isn't worth full price.


May 22, 2012, 4:37am Top

The article I was thinking of is this one -


where LePage says that his production is too radical for the stuffy Met-goers but then claims that his work is going to strip away all the modern interpretations that European directors do to "get even with" Wagner. He also talks a lot about how they fixed the creaking and such of the set but at the same time is angry that people criticized the machine for breaking down. Then he calls his critics "purists" "specialists" and people who sit "with the score on their lap."

It is tedious and stupid and engrossing.

I read a quote somewhere - Wagner has some great moments and some tedious half hours.

I will never ever see it again until the next time I want to or need to.

Ha ha ha

May 22, 2012, 5:08pm Top

I guess that I had read that article without deriving arrogance from it. In Wagner's Dream you could see some of the opera goers he talked about who wanted it their way and no other. I do believe that the machine was not altogether ready for prime time performance, but it was still a respectful and largely successful effort -- the extent of that success in my eyes I suppose could suffer on exposure to another production (I may have to put the DVD set of it that I have and can find on my looong list of things to do).

Without checking the HD schedule for next season I am hopeful about LePage's coming efforts.


Edited: May 22, 2012, 5:26pm Top

So with a target performance for the evening I decided to give up yesterday entirely.

I could have seen The Dictator locally, but I wanted to be within walking distance of the rest of what there was to see. This is a comedy about the solitude of an autocrat. He lives in a beautiful house that is sufficient to his happiness until he sees what more the world had to offer. The funnier bits were in the trailer and mostly occurred in the first few minutes of the film, but good quality comedy kept coming. This works on a small screen and could wait for the DVD.

I paid a premium to watch Battleship on an especially good screen with especially good sound. Neither the auditorium nor the movie were worth the premium. In fact the movie wasn't worth the price of admission nor was the movie worth the time spent watching it.

This multiplex screws up its Fathom Events screenings pretty regularly. On Saturday there was a big gap in the sound during the Norns' recapitulation in Götterdämmerung and last night there was a big gap in the sound during an early and lively dance in The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall, my reason for going out for the day. That soured me for awhile longer into the musical. I went to this not expecting much from it but to see a cultural artifact of the society I missed while I was employed. It is a play, almost an opera, about opera and about a murderer who has an excuse. A lot of the music is mush, but there are repeated themes good enough to penetrate; some of it is downright good. Some of the singers were strong and in good control through most or all of their range. When the Phantom sang, "It is over now, the music of the night," I was seriously moved. Now I will be looking for a DVD of the musical.


May 23, 2012, 10:23am Top

Interesting link on the Lepage debate. Although Lepage is fluently bilingual, I sometimes think he doesn't choose quite the correct English words in interview format, particularly in a live interview situation, and that this interferes with his presentation.

I always think of him as a visual performance person first and foremost, so I thought his comments on people following the score at the opera were quite funny, as the primary reason for going to any Lepage production would be to watch, even at an opera. That said, he does integrate sound and music masterfully, although I haven't seen his Wagner productions.

May 24, 2012, 2:58pm Top

>96 Mr.Durick: – I didn’t catch Wagner’s Dream – what were the people they interviewed angry about? Did they just want the Schenk production back? The LePage production was actually pretty traditional except for the machine/technology.

LePage’s production of Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust was lauded and I remember reading a positive review of something else he did (not for the Met, may have involved water and puppets). I’m looking forward to his work on Ades’ The Tempest and Messiaen’s St. Francois though part of that is because I’m excited to see those operas.

>97 Mr.Durick: – Sounds like a fun idea – a whole day of movies. Sorry about Battleship.

>98 SassyLassy: – SassyLassy – I could see that about LePage as some of the things he says don’t sound quite idiomatic. I still think his defense of the production is confused and contradictory including, as you said, his assertion that people who stare at a score are the ones who are criticizing.

I think the fact that he is a visual production person was one of the things that bothered me about his Ring cycle – he seemed more interested in the machine than the characters. All the singers were mainly just standing around in Das Rheingold though it got better in the later operas. Like MrDurick said – I was comparing it to another production that I saw live where I thought the characters were more developed. The machine could do some pretty cool effects but at times it was just a backdrop for some attractive, realistic projections. Considering that the Met paid a pile of money for the machine and even had to reinforce their stage, I thought the machine should be doing spectacular effects all the time as something much cheaper could have been used if they only wanted a background for the projections.

Overall, I enjoyed the cycle although a lot of that is because I love the music. The singing and orchestra were very good (better than the other one I saw), the machine was interesting enough, I liked a lot of the projections and I was mostly satisfied. I do think there was plenty to criticize though (no one could NOT comment on the machine malfunctioning or a singer slipping off it, kind of hated the costumes, character problems). Peter Gelb seems to be reacting negatively to some harsh reviews of the season, most notably the one from Alex Ross, and it irritates me when he says the production is being slammed because it’s so revolutionary and that the critics are all uptight score-clutchers. The LePage interview seemed to be part of that defensiveness.

May 24, 2012, 3:57pm Top

There were quick cuts in Wagner's Dream from one opera goer to another each briefly commenting on their expectations. The ones against it seemed to be those who just wanted their Ring and nothing else, a sort of "I have been to 68 productions, and I know better" thing.


May 25, 2012, 5:00pm Top

I learned from Paris to the Past by Ina Caro that the author of The Years of Lyndon Johnson is known to his wife as Bob.


PS The author's constant calling on her husband's name and the fundamental concept of the book (railroad day trips from Paris) are not disqualifying quirks. In the end I trusted her and if I were to go to France in the next couple of years I would carry this book with me. Yet there was something inadequate about this book -- it may be that it was that I was not there. So the inadequacy was not in the book but in my circumstances. Yet there are other books reflecting on place that are not inadequate in that, at least to this extent; I'm thinking of a couple of books I read in the recent past about Siberia. I think that I will go read the other reviews.


May 26, 2012, 7:19am Top

Enjoying your movie reviews, although 99% I'd never consider going to a theater to see.

And your adventures is psychopathy convince me that I will continue to get my lessons on the subject through fiction.

May 28, 2012, 9:47am Top

Noting your thoughts on Caro.

Edited: May 28, 2012, 7:20pm Top

On my way to Saturday night I planned to stage my final foray from the mall across town with two movies and a list of books available from Barny Noble about as cheap in store as on-line. These books came home with me.

Crisis Economics by Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm. How to predict national financial calamity. My way is to assume that the rich have bought America and that the people won't do anything about it. I hope to give them a chance to show me their way.

Freefall by Joseph E. Stiglitz. My cure that nobody will buy into is meaningfully regulated capitalism. This book, according to its back cover, rejects regulation in favor of planning to arrive in a future without crisis. I hope to see whether that is a useful aim.

The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault. Somebody on LibraryThing liked this novel, and I liked its description. Among other things I am a lexicographer-manqué. This novel is about lexicographers who find citations in their files to a book never written.

Desolation Road by Ian McDonald. Richard Derus raved about this book even for people who don't read science fiction. I loved science fiction when I was a teenager but gave it up when I realized most of the instances were bad. I still like the genre; I just never touch it (the occasional Marvel comic and many movies aside). I have this book based solely on his rave.

The Baseball Codes by Jason Turbow. I like watching baseball games, but what I don't know about the game could fill a book. I'm hoping that this is that book -- probably not.

Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden. I would like to be very rich. I am not. Meanwhile the rich are different from you and me. It is possible that this book will fascinate me by the differences she exposes.


Edited: May 28, 2012, 8:06pm Top

On Saturday I saw two movies that played locally only at that multiplex.

Bernie is a perfect move. I don't mean by that that it is the most entertaining or the grandest, but it is entertaining and some of the audience applauded at the end. The movie unfolds at just the right pace, and it unfolds in details. Each performer is entirely appropriate to the part and plays the part as a real person. The story is credible (I caught two plot holes in passing but can remember only one, and it doesn't matter very much) probably in part because it is based on a real life story. Just for its craft I would recommend it, but I liked it too.

Sound of My Voice is not about people except for the central figure. The casting and acting are good enough for the script demands. The story is in the story per se and what the truth is about the central figure, and it is a small tour de force. I was rattled by Martha Marcy May Marlene and was reluctant to see this one because it is another movie about a cult; my fears were not realized.


Edited: May 28, 2012, 8:09pm Top

Church is in town. I went to the service yesterday morning and was due back for a retirement party for the director of religious education in the evening. Rather than go all the way home and back I went to a nearby multiplex.

The reviews of Men in Black III have been not just mixed but polarized -- this movie stinks versus this is one of the most entertaining movies. The one mention against 3D that I saw was roughly of the order of, "I am too much of a cinephile to admit such gimmickry; it's just proof that the movie is not worth our attention." The one mention in favor of 3D was of the order of, "This is such a good movie and to have it fully fleshed out in 3D is just right."

I liked the first two Men in Black movies and so I went to this one to find out for myself. I saw it in 3D IMAX. The 3D was mostly good, and the big screen was glorious. I wish producers could see their way to shooting all of a movie in 3D with the IMAX camera so that the audience could lose itself in the métier and not have their attention caught by the variation. I liked the movie, the story, and the people in it. The lead monster was styled well. Emma Thompson did a star turn and was beautiful. Griffin, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, may be my favorite extraterrestrial; I am really happy that he was in the movie.


Edited: May 29, 2012, 6:17pm Top

A coupon induced an order. I tried to keep the value of the coupon up with one book, and I tried to reduce my textbook wishlist with another.

The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology edited by Jerry L. Walls. Even if I don't believe in cosmic teleology, reflecting on the eschaton can give me a look at what I might fear will happen or hope to happen and tell me something, insofar as they have similarly reflected, about my fellows.

La grammaire est une chanson douce by Erik Orsenna. Someone on LibraryThing led me to believe that this tiny book, in French, could help me with my French reading. So here it is.


May 31, 2012, 2:48pm Top

I'm curious about The Baseball Codes. There is another book out, from 2009 with a similar title.

May 31, 2012, 5:33pm Top

Is it The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime? You have both according to the work pages, but you don't have them tagged 'baseball' nor do they show up in a title search in your library. I haven't read either yet, and I don't know, now, where this one is.


Edited: May 31, 2012, 5:44pm Top

I finished Doc by Mary Doria Russell last night. It is not as inventive as The Sparrow and Children of God, and it is not as human (to my point of view; I know that we could spit at each other over this) as A Thread of Grace, but it is more inventive and more human than Dreamers of the Day. The last was interesting, I think, only to someone who has pored, somewhat, over that particular history and even so lacked character. Doc stands on its own and makes human some characters that I've known only by skimpy reputation, glosses from television most likely. I was glad for that, but I don't think that this is a great book. I liked the setting and context; the novel gives us the history as people-history, and that may be its greatest strength.


Jun 1, 2012, 6:39pm Top

I went to see The Road last night just because it was the last night this Philippine horror thriller would play at that multiplex. It wasn't altogether bad, but it was pretty bad. I could have finished the current Scientific American if I had stayed home.


Jun 1, 2012, 6:51pm Top

nothing human is alien to us

Jun 1, 2012, 6:53pm Top

I've known a lot of aliens in human bodies.


Jun 3, 2012, 12:13pm Top

#109 - i don't own them, i only "have" them on my wishlist.

Jun 3, 2012, 4:01pm Top

I suspected something like that, but I didn't mean to pry further.


Jun 3, 2012, 4:05pm Top

The Kid with a Bike got a good review in the local paper and won an award or two. It is about a monomaniacal boy and the people he encounters. The kid was not appealing or interesting. The attractive woman was not well motivated. What happened lacked drama. I was bored by this movie, but I didn't have any place else to go so I sat through it until the end. I spotted no Gauloises in the film.


Edited: Jun 5, 2012, 5:41pm Top

Desolation Road by Ian McDonald lived up to my expectations, but they were not high. I hoped from recent reviews that it would be better, but I have read science fiction and usually steer clear of it. McDonald entertains. The book is a pleasant excursion into settled Mars where an outcast founds a new town; then it is about the town and how its people impinge on it. There is in the book a microcosm of humanity; it is rich but of course still short of the expanse of reality. Meanwhile the focus on any of the characters, even with the town as a character, isn't fine enough or lingering enough to be really revealing.

There's nothing wrong with reading this for fun.


Edited: Jun 9, 2012, 3:43pm Top

From the reviews that I've seen and from the trailers we can expect Prometheus to be all about the visuals. Noomi Rapace is very different in this film from what she was in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but it is clear that the movie is not about acting or story. The story is just enough to string along the pictures. The pictures are good, but not grand or exquisite; this is no Avatar.

So don't see this if you can't see it on a very big screen (IMAX being the best) or in 3D. If you can see it in IMAX 3D it is worth watching if you like science fictiony picturescapes.


ETA: Somebody thought this film was better than it really was. The narrative of this movie was not good enough to bring up the cosmic questions in any meaningful way.

Edited: Jun 10, 2012, 5:32pm Top

I saw this little book on the shelf at Barny Noble's yesterday and wanted it for its shape and color. It turns out it was translated from the French too.

The Path to Hope by Stéphane Hessel and Edgar Morin. This is a short polemic by two former members of the resistance who claim that humanist values are more important than economic values.

I checked to see whether it was available in French, and it was not.


Jun 10, 2012, 5:44pm Top

Here's a movie that you should see if you can: The Manzanar Fishing Club. In New England in sixth grade, about 1955, I heard from a teacher who had served in the army in Europe in World War II about the internment of Japanese Americans during the war. My memory of it is that we were encouraged to believe that it shouldn't have happened. Some of the interned Japanese Americans at the Manzanar (California) camp were able to sneak out to nearby streams and not so nearby lakes to fish for trout. This is their story told simply and softly.

The great value of the film is that it rests easily but tells us clearly that a wrong has been done (and we should never do it again) and shows us the indomitability of the spirit.


Jun 11, 2012, 1:02am Top

My aunt was raised in Long Beach, CA for the first part of her childhood and tells a horrible story of being in kindergarten and watching one of her friends, a Japanese boy, being taken to the internment camp. The Manzanar Fishing Club is going on my list of films to see.

Jun 11, 2012, 1:16am Top

I trust that you will like it and hope that there is something new there for you.


Edited: Jun 11, 2012, 6:12pm Top

It doesn't seem that The Limits to Growth was so long ago, but it has been forty years. Here's the follow up: 2052 by Jorgen Randers. As a recreational apocalyptician I am necessarily interested in the future. This thread to the future interested me way back then and caught my eye again. This book was on my forthcoming-books wishlist; I ordered it as its publication grew imminent, and here it is.


Jun 12, 2012, 11:15am Top

recreational apocalyptician That's the best description I've ever heard for such an interest!

Jun 13, 2012, 4:54pm Top

It took me eight days to read the not very long, not very recondite Snakes in Suits by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare. I expected more from it, and I expected to be entertained by the unveiling of the psychopaths in bureaucracies. This book has some interesting facts in it, but it is so dull that I played one hour games of Bejeweled on my Nook rather than return to it. Perhaps people actually in bureaucracies would feel closer to the material, but I, as a retiree, just wanted to be done with the book.

This book will not be the last in my exploration of the pressures of psychopaths on the rest of us, but I may take another break. I'm meeting with the resident manager of my condominium this afternoon to discuss dealing with the resident psychopath on our board of directors; my interest in the subject is as close as my back yard.

Meanwhile I am making credible headway in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology.


Jun 13, 2012, 7:20pm Top

At the last meeting of my church's book group a woman spoke up on behalf of a woman who was not there and suggested that we read The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje for discussion in September. The group agreed with that idea. The book was scheduled to come out in paperback less than a week later. I placed an advance order for it. It was in my mailbox today.


Jun 14, 2012, 4:22am Top

Shades of Antigonish. I am glad the book is there and hope it will be there tomorrow.

Jun 14, 2012, 4:38pm Top

It is time for summer reruns of operas selected from the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series. I missed Anna Bolena in the regular season and was happy to be able to see it in a theater last night. There is lots of loud singing in this opera, and in this production it was pretty much all good. I did not see the problems in Tamara Mumford's singing that the newspaper of record's reviewer saw, but I'm prejudiced in her favor -- she was my favorite Rhine maiden. The presumptions of the drama are good, but I don't think it develops very well; the singing about it is clearly the thing here.

A row of three men in the audience talked throughout the performance. Early in the second act I said, "Please be quiet." Later, Anna Netrebko went for a sustained high note that unfolded gloriously; one of the old men had to comment about it to another before it was over. On the way out I told them that they shouldn't be in movie theaters. I suppose I'm one of those old cranks who should let people have a good time; it's not all about me, after all.


Jun 14, 2012, 6:02pm Top

More power to your elbow Robert. You are quite right some people should not be allowed out in public.

Edited: Jun 15, 2012, 4:58pm Top

The Tempest from the 2010 season at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival played on screen at the same theater last night. I had quibbles about the production and the casting as it went on, but by the end I knew that I had been through a special experience. This is or will be out on DVD; the big screen made some of the effects especially good, but I think that the acting will shine despite the format. If it is possible to imagine a perfect Ariel, she is here though I didn't believe it in the first few seconds of her being on stage. The special effects in this filmed stage version were far more polished and credible than the special effects in Julie Taymor's The Tempest. Christopher Plummer was central and imposingly proper to the role.


Edited: Jun 15, 2012, 6:17pm Top

The mailman ran out of parcel boxes for our driveway and found me on my back porch to hand over the coupon inspired The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity edited by Robert Frodeman with associates Julie Thompson Klein and Carl Mitcham. It just seems to me that there are a lot of answers which are not found by asking one question. I hope this book shows how to use the other questions.


Jun 17, 2012, 7:58am Top

>130 Mr.Durick: - I thought Plummer was brilliant as Prospero, but I hated the way Miranda was depicted. In my mind, she should be naive and innocent, but not stupid. I get frustrated when the audience laughs at moments that I find touching, rather than comedic.

Edited: Jun 17, 2012, 4:24pm Top

Yesterday between movies looking for a book for someone else, I found myself in Barny Noble's store across town.

Switching to the Mac by David Pogue. The touchstone is squirrely, but I think it goes to the right edition, the "Lion Edition." I am somewhat tired of the junk that is sold as computers nowadays, and I've had problems with Windows. The high expense of Apples and their not having some of the software that I need kept me from them the last time I replaced a suddenly dead machine. But I thought that if I were well armed ahead of time I might enter the fray with some chance of winning. I hope to read this before the current computer breaks. This had a 20% off sticker on it in the store. This is published by O Reilly; I used to respect their computer books, but their Nook book was bad, so I'm a little fearful.

How Do You Kill 11 Million People? by Andy Andrews. The is a cute little hardcover that like a puppy with gentle eyes called out to me to take it home.


Edited: Jun 17, 2012, 4:37pm Top

First Position records the preparation done by young dancers for the preeminent competition in ballet. There is no sign of the moviemakers in this film; it is all the dancers and the dance, along with their families and environment. The athletic grace and dedication of these kids, at ages when most people are awkward, made me cheer on all of them, and there was one, if she hadn't won something, I would have been devastated. For balance there was a reasonably talented boy who decided to tell his mother that he just didn't like dance. I really liked this movie.

On the other hand, I didn't really like Hysteria. It was innocent and colorful, so it was pleasant enough to sit through. Although the themes of democratization and of respect for women are powerful, this movie was pretty much empty. I'm not coming away from it with anything.

I've been seeing several interesting trailers recently. I hope that they play here.


Jun 17, 2012, 4:43pm Top

Cait, my problem with Miranda was that I couldn't believe that she was fifteen years old. I mostly got over it, but Molly Ringwald in Tempest seemed, at least at the time, better to fit the part.


Jun 17, 2012, 7:16pm Top

An interesting assortment of books and movies as usual. I hope How Do You Kill 11 Million People is not a how-to book.

>128 Mr.Durick: - I think you were perfectly justified in telling those men off. It sounds like they were the ones who were preventing other people from having a good time and making it all about them.

Jun 25, 2012, 1:21am Top

Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding got an adverse review in the local paper, but I had seen the trailers, and I like Jane Fonda, so I went. The theme of the movie requires that the Woodstock area be idyllic; it was perhaps portrayed too slickly so. The geriatric hippies were played a little too broadly. But that part of New York is pretty and is shown to be pretty in the film. The people have some interesting problems, only some of them common. It wasn't worth a trip across town just for it, but once there it was worth the ticket and time.

Somewhat better was Safety Not Guaranteed. This movie has humor, color, human warmth, a plot, goofiness. It doesn't amount to great, but it is a movie I am glad to have seen. Where safety is not guaranteed is on a trip to the past. A team of magazine writers is sent to see what was behind an advertisement for a time travel partner. There is some homage to other movies; the Back to the Future De Lorean is replaced with a rusty middle of the line Datsun or Nissan Z car. I liked this movie.


Edited: Jun 28, 2012, 11:48pm Top

I missed the well-regarded Melancholia the recent celestial apocalypse movie, and so made a point to see Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, the current celestial apocalypse movie, and I'm glad I did. It is a very sweet tale about two people coping with the last few weeks of human life on earth. Keira Knightley is imposingly beautiful in her role, and Steve Carell is credible in his. There are no glossy metallic special effects in this movie; we know about the apocalypse because we are told about it. The characters may not have great depth, but they are human. There's a spectacular home kitchen in this movie which one might want to see just for hints on how to redo the back of the house. Oh, and there's a dog; he's pretty good although I was thinking that if they could have worked in a lion cub it would have been really great.


PS Also there's a spider, and in the credits there's a spider wrangler.


Jun 29, 2012, 6:02pm Top

It is possible to think about end things in a number of areas, but eschatology is largely a Christian endeavor. The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology edited by Jerry L. Walls is a largely Christian reference. It is also often technical theology, so that some articles went right over my head without leaving me a hankering to dig further into them. The end things of eschatology are the final things of individual lives (what happens at death) and the final things in the development of the world. So other religions, even the cyclic ones can be said to have some eschatological concerns. And one article makes it clear that popular entertainment dives into the subject.

Christian eschatology is tied up very much in the resurrection of Jesus, even though it is God's (the Father's) will that is being enacted. Someone not interested in Christianity would have hard going with the details of the status of the body and the soul in the time between death and judgment. They also might find the distinctions between premillenialism and postmillenialism to be vacuously arcane. Christian thinkers, contrary to some of the more simplistic atheists out there, do have a problem with the end of the cosmos differing between the Biblical depiction and the scientific depiction; the answers, although religious thinkers are often accused of certainty, are not entirely in.

A person in despair hoping for relief at death is not likely to be much comforted by the notion of objective immortality brought to us by process theology. But buying into the all merciful God who leaves Hell vacant at the end could provide immense comfort, and, so far as I can see, that comfort is not to be denied.

This book is not for anybody who does not already know that it is for them.

For the record I am not Christian, and I don't expect meaningful personal immortality.


Jun 30, 2012, 10:47am Top

> 139

Interesting, though I don't think I'll pick it up. What got you into such a technical tome?

Jun 30, 2012, 5:39pm Top

I don't mind competent journalistic explanations of complicated matters, but I am opposed to simplistic chatter. It seems that in religion there is a canyon between simplistic chatter and serious deliberation (with only a few congenial gap fillers). So I tend to go to the technical tomes, at least from time to time, to find what I need to find about my relation to the universe. Now when that veers off towards cosmology I have to read the journalists or the popularizers among scientists, but if I bend over a book on systematic theology written by one of the Claremont doyens, for example, I can often come up with something germane to my life that I can understand.

Meanwhile I have found that the Oxford Handbooks tend to be, like the Cambridge Companions, credible collections of contemporary articles on serious thinking about their subjects in whatever field. So, for example, I have The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Taylor Coleridge waiting to come forth from BN.COM on Monday.


Edited: Jun 30, 2012, 8:38pm Top

> 141

I understand your problem. As a Catholic I don't really get nourished by the popular apologists at places such as EWTN. Most of the books on the Bible I read tend to be academic "Biblical Studies" tomes. But your comment might be even more true when it comes to eschatology. I was explaining to an Australian friend how popular the Left Behind novels are in the states and she just gaped in bafflement.

Jul 1, 2012, 4:17pm Top

I went to a theater to see a Bill Murray (with Tilda Swinton) comedy, and I saw a trailer for a movie with Bill Murray as Franklin Roosevelt.

Moonrise Kingdom came on soon enough. It is an exquisitely made movie. From all the details I saw, like the credits for the book dust jackets and the cast list for Mr. Bishop instead of Walt Bishop, I suspect that there were a million more that made the movie rich and interesting subliminally. The interior of the Bishops' house could invite one in forever. The movie is sweet much as Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is sweet; I think maybe the latter is sweeter for being somewhat more underplayed. A fellow I know said on the way out, "It's marvelous." It is also humorous and in an unreal way real.


Jul 1, 2012, 5:46pm Top

So when the movie was over yesterday I went upstairs with a list of books, from my wishlist, costing about the same in store as at BN.COM and came away with five of them:

Asterix Omnibus, books 28 to 30 by A. Uderzo. I like Asterix a little at a time, so I am acquiring these omnibuses slowly. But they are publishing them slowly, so it works out.

Why Mahler? by Norman Lebrecht. I don't know why; maybe I'll find out. Somebody must have mentioned this as a credible explanation. Lebrecht has a pretty good reputation.

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson. This is a novella in a setting that interests me. I suspect that LibraryThing led me to it.

Bloodmoney by David Ignatius. This is a thriller, a genre not usual for me but not unheard of either. I suspect that LibraryThing led me to it and I saw some relevance to our situation in the world.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. I guess this was on my wishlist because I wanted to sample Barnes and because it won the Man Booker Prize.

I have a few short books now, two of them here, so that I can up the count without tackling anything too big. I didn't return to the 75 Book Challenge this year because I wanted the psychology latitude to tackle some fatter or slower works.


Jul 1, 2012, 6:04pm Top

I have continued this thread here.


Group: Club Read 2012

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