Friday, December 28, 2018

Film Friday: The Favourite

Starring:  Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz.

Summary:  Two cousins vie for power at Queen Anne's court in early-18th century England.  Part historical fact, part speculation, part fiction.

Verdict:  It's an entertaining, well-made film.  The three leads acquit themselves well as vicious women who are still deserving of sympathy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

So Sad Today: A Response


Melissa Broder:  Bringing a child into the world without its consent seems unethical.  Leaving the womb just seems insane.  The womb is nirvana.
Me:  I think the world has an overpopulation problem.  There are also some horrible places and some ill-equipped parents.  But it's not always unethical.  Some babies might love the womb, while others might feel trapped.

Broder:  Nobody asks to be born.
Me:  Well, of course.  But I think this is an argument to legalize suicide.  Not complain about involuntary birth which is always involuntary.  Take your eighteen years to check out the scene.  Then if you want out - it's your body your choice.  Or it should be.

Broder:  I am a superficial woman of depth.
Me:   I don't think that's unusual.  I have plenty of interests that would qualify as superficial, but I still care about important issues.  

Broder:  Like any relationship, my relationship with god keeps evolving the longer I stay in it.
Me:  I just don't know.  I posted a mediocre poem on this topic,  but I'm too lazy to look it up.  I think the absentee landlord tag makes sense.  I think people believe in a loving god because they want to believe in that.   With or without a god, I don't see how something was created out of nothing.  Neither the deists or the atheists have been able to explain this to my satisfaction.

Broder:  The Internet means I get to be with people without leaving the house.  Also, I can be anybody I want to be.
Me:  I appreciate the convenience.  But it is less personal.  The quicker connections and mass connections have replaced the deeper connections.  I don't feel like I can be anybody I want to be.  At least not how I use the Internet.  I might emphasize or downplay certain aspects of my personality depending on where I am online, but I'm always my same basic self.

Broder:  Since I'm a white girl, the cops have never fucked with me.
Me:  Well, which part matters here?  The gender or the color?  I'm a white man, and I've definitely been hassled by cops.  So spare me the b.s. that cops are all angels until they see somebody who isn't white.  

Broder:  I feel bad about my struggle, because it is nothing compared to other people's struggles and yet it still hurts.
Me:  We're dealt the hand we're dealt.  She has it better than a lot of people, but she also has it worse than a lot of people.  Other people having it worse doesn't mean she has a perfectly awesome, easy life.  I feel like my life is worthless and I want it to be over, but that doesn't mean I'm not conscious of the fact that a lot of people have way more crap to make them unhappy. I think people can feel like they have problems or are struggling while still being aware of the larger picture.

Broder:  Scared of what life is and if I am wasting mine.
Me:  Well, she's a professional writer and a wife.  So I don't think she's wasting her life.  I think my life has been a waste.  Or a failure or whatever.  But our situations are wildly different.

Broder:  All I want from you is to be liked. 
Me:  I think most people want to be liked.  It takes different forms: followers on social media, number of real life friends, a lover or a spouse, a best friend, etc.  But yeah - humans are usually social creatures to at least some extent.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Tonight I'm Someone Else: A Response


Chelsea Hodson:  I've worked for enough millionaires to know that more money doesn't mean more happiness.
Me:  Doesn't it, though?  More money means better health, better housing, better transportation, better food, better entertainment options, more and better social contacts, more influence, etc.  For men, more and better romantic and sexual opportunities.  So money in itself might not make people happy, but it certainly makes it a lot easier to be happy by eliminating obstacles.

Hodson:  How lovely to be young enough not to know any better.
Me:  Yes.  I used to think life was worth it.  I bought the lie that things would get better.

Hodson:  I romanticize the desert because there's so much quiet, so much empty space.
Me:  So Hodson lives in New York City.  Not sure if it matters here, but it might.  I live in a large city after growing up in a much smaller city, and it can be overwhelming at times.  The people, the traffic, the noise, etc.

Hodson:  How can I trust love if I can't ever truly touch it?
Me:  I don't know what it's like to be loved.  But I've been burnt enough to know that I can't trust people.  For her, maybe it's different.  Winners vs losers and such.  But yeah - we can touch people but not always know how they truly think about us. How deep or genuine their expressed feelings are. 

Hodson:  It took me years to realize silence could be an insult and was actually the worst insult.
Me:  Silence as ignoring, as in not caring enough to make any effort at all.  I live in an apartment building, so I can't die without people smelling it.  But I don't think anybody would really care.  I don't need to realize irrelevance or lack of worth, because I've lived it. I'm used to it. 

Hodson:  Everyone is so obvious, and we flatter ourselves by thinking otherwise.
Me:  I'm definitely aware of how obvious I am.  Ha.  Just not sure if it makes me stupid or boring.  Perhaps both.  Maybe this is why my attempts at writing have failed.  I lack finesse.  I'm too simplistic.  I contain a few, as opposed to Whitman's multitudes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Personal Info Dump

Been a while, so this might get a bit random.

The local newspaper that had been doing the NFL pick 'em contest didn't do it this season.  So I wasn't able to win anything. Ha.

My barber left the place.  She was a good one.  Tried somebody else at the same place, and she did the cut right, but I'm disappointed with some of the peripheral stuff.  Like her lack of listening skills.

So I'm disappointed in Last Exit.  I was led to believe it would be separate from City Beat, but apparently that's not the case.  Heavy involvement from CB, with their infamous identity politics.

I saw At Eternity's Gate.  Dafoe was good, but the director got too cute.  Too artsy.

My father died.

My dental issues keep getting worse.  But I got a multi-month supply of blood pressure pills without having to go back to the E.R., so we'll see what I can afford I guess.

Been donating Hot Wheels to various toy drives.  Put together a bag of hygiene products for a homeless drive, but I had to go with Axe Essence in case they get hassled and the cops aren't down with Anarchy.

Britt got a nursing job, so she's not at the coffee house anymore. You may read about her here:

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Personal Info Dump

Last Exit Reading Event

So I went to this on Friday.  The authors read excerpts from their work and then took turns asking each other questions. When it was over they stuck around for a bit to sign books and mingle with the socially skilled people.  I bought two books and managed to say something stupid to each author, despite not saying much. But other than that, I thought it went well. :)




Ana Carrete was also there, but she read from zines. 

Ordeal by Innocence: A Review


Elliptical Rating: 4 / 5

Note: I received a promotional copy through the First Reads program.

I've read several by Christie and this one holds up pretty well against the others. It's certainly one of the faster-paced novels I've read by her. In the absence of a dominant detective (Poirot, Marple) she does a good job of juggling the different characters. The solution makes sense.  The ending is cute, but a bit silly.  

(I don't like the cover, as there are seven suspects. Not a factor in the rating though.)   

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Off the Shelf: This or That Tag

Courtesy of Dr. Sterkel at this fine blog:

1.  Series or Stand-Alone?

Stand-alone.  Too many authors write series so they don't have to come up with new ideas.  It's also a way to get readers because they feel obligated to continue what they started, not because the books are good.

2.  Magic Earned or Magic Born?

Neither.  The only good thing we got from the Harry Potter books was Lindsay Lohan's SNL skit.

3.  Enemies to Lovers or Friends to Lovers?

Friends to Lovers.  I think it's more realistic.  Not that I've ever wanted  a friend to be my lover.  But some of the basics needed for a good romance are the same as the ones for a good friendship.

4.  Hilarious Banter or Emotional Ruin?

A spot of humor can be good. But I think a heavy dose of cynicism is part of a healthy diet. Not like 'my brother's dying from cancer'.  More like people are horrible and the world sucks. So more like jaded and dead inside than whining and crying.

5.  Love Triangle or Insta-Love?

Love triangle.  I think insta-love is stupid.  It's either lust or people desperate to find somebody to latch onto.

6.  Keyboard-Smash Names or All Names Start with the Same Letter?

Keyboard-smash.  The same letter thing just seems lazy.

7.  Mean Parents or Dead Parents?

Dead.  I don't care about your parents.  I don't want to read about them.

8.  Supermodel Looks or Constantly Complaining About How Plain They are?

Supermodel looks.  Plain people are all over the place.  I don't need to read about them.  I don't need to read books about complaining either.

9.  Face on Cover or Typography on Cover?

Face.  Typography just seems lazy.  If you can't be bothered to come up with a good pic for your cover, why should I be bothered to read your book?

10.  Villain Turning a Little Good or Hero Turning a Little Bad?

I feel like villainess who's good in bed should be an option.  I'll go with hero who's a little bad though.  Not turning. Just already is.  Like Rick in Casablanca.          

If you would like to do this tag, have at it.  After you've visited Dr. Sterkel at the link I posted above.      

Monday, July 23, 2018

City of Devils - A Review


Note: I received a promotional ARC through the First Reads program.

I thought this was an interesting and informative read. French brought a lot of different elements together: business dealings, drugs, gambling, war, poverty, etc. Having not been previously familiar with 1930s Shanghai, the international culture of the city really stood out to me. The pacing and readability are decent, and at 276 pages there's enough meat on the bones without being too daunting. 

Shanghai between the world wars was a home to those with nowhere else to go and no one else to take them in... The city asked nothing of them, not visas nor money nor status. Shanghai became a city of reinvention.

Food inflation; firearms deflation - that's the Badlands' law of supply and demand. 

Music Monday - Red Scare

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Off the Shelf - Americana


Goodreads Rating: 3.64
Elliptical Rating: 5
Elliptical Review (September 2007):
"This might be the Great American novel other authors only hope to write. Kerouac based it on his life, so a few famous Beats are in it with different names. It's the kind of book you can read once and then go back later and enjoy random sections. The ending is classic."


Goodreads Rating: 4.14
Elliptical Rating: 4
Edited Elliptical Review (March 2010): 
"Obviously, "Howl" dominates this collection. In length as well as notoriety. The first section is a testament to what can be done with words. The third section is also good stuff. Though the second section is less impressive. But it's a 4 1/2 star poem, even by my harsh standards.
"A Supermarket in California" and "America" are the two other pieces that stand out. The quartet of earlier poems are just that - the work of a poet who was still developing his talents."


Goodreads Rating: 3.94
Elliptical Rating: 4
Elliptical Review (March 2017)
"There's a lot here: some history of bridge building, statistics and trivia about the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, how it affected people who were living in the area, info about people who worked on the bridge or were involved in the planning, etc."


Goodreads Rating: 3.64
Elliptical Rating: 4
Edited Elliptical Review (April 2010):
"Jacobs does a good job of presenting what amounts to an introduction to Weather. He takes us through the organization's chronology and addresses both their successes and their failures. He also gives the reader a picture of them in relation to other left-wing groups of the era. And he raises various issues regarding race, gender, and class, as well as indivdual freedom or lack thereof in the U.S.
I think his reluctance to delve more deeply into the driving personalities behind Weather was a mistake. It was inevitably a personality-driven group due to its small size. I would also have appreciated more input from former Weather members in the current era, or looking back on their time in Weather, in other words. Though to be fair to Jacobs, he might have asked to interview them and been refused. There is a leftist slant to the writing, though Jacobs admits as much at the outset, so it's tolerable."


Goodreads Rating: 4.02
Elliptical Rating: 4

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Happy Canada Day

Cobie Smulders

Jill Hennessy

Kristin Kreuk

Evangeline Lilly

Mia Kirshner

Nina Dobrev

Rachel McAdams

Stana Katic

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Off the Shelf - Espionage

Goodreads Rating: 4.07
Elliptical Rating:  5


Goodreads Rating: 3.91
Elliptical Rating: 4


Goodreads Rating: 3.74
Elliptical Rating: 4


Goodreads Rating: 3.94
Elliptical Rating: 4


Goodreads Rating: 4.13
Elliptical Rating: 4
Elliptical Review (July 2014):
" Disclaimer: I received a promotional copy through the First Reads program. So a tip of the hat to Random House.
Note: The edition I received was a 304-page uncorrected proof.
Macintyre did a good job with this one. His writing is accessible. The book moves at a good pace. It is packed with information, and quotes from first-hand sources are frequent. There are humorous anecdotes, as well as accounts of covert field operations. The Afterword, by John Le Carre, is mostly notes he took from a 1986 interview of Nicholas Elliott.
While Macintyre handled the subject well, one can not escape how depressing the subject is. It's essentially 300 pages of horrible stuff happening. Philby might be the main focus, but the underlying theme is the damage caused by English arrogance and incompetence. There's no way to undo what was done. There's no happy ending."

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Off the Shelf - GBT

Note:  The Off the Shelf series will only include books that I gave 4 stars or more on Goodreads.  Almost always 4 stars.

Goodreads Rating: 3.91
Elliptical Review (courtesy of Goodreads):  None. 

Goodreads Rating: 3.63
Elliptical Review (courtesy of Goodreads):
"Good book, sad ending."

Goodreads Rating: 4.01
Edited Elliptical Review (courtesy of Goodreads):  
"Surprisingly enjoyable collection from a radical feminist with numerous 'all-female' ties, including Mills College.
The title was inspired by slasher flicks. There are ten pieces that share the title: Final Girl I, Final Girl II, etc. Mary Rowlandson, Patty Hearst, and Jack Kerouac make appearances."


Goodreads Rating: 3.91
Elliptical Review (courtesy of Goodreads): None


Goodreads Rating: 3.97
Edited Elliptical Review (courtesy of Goodreads):
"Funny stuff. Sedaris has a writing style that keeps things from getting boring. Topics covered include: his father, his sisters, his brother, living in Raleigh and New York city, taking guitar lessons from a midget, various pets (mostly dogs), jobs as a writing teacher and a mover, drugs, art, learning to speak French, and his relationship with his boyfriend.
Occasionally, he would make contradictory statements. Like he'd make a broad generalization, then talk about something that doesn't fit the generalization, as though he never made the generalization. I also think he wrote a bit too much about learning French. The 27 chapters are separated into two sections, and I found the first section to be better: funnier, more interesting."

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday Ten

In honor of the World Cup, my unbiased list of the best soccer players ever.

Hope Solo

Mia Hamm

Alex Morgan

Landon Donovan

Patrick Dempsey

Tim Howard

Cristiano Ronaldo

Lionel Messi

Diego Maradona