Monday, January 26, 2009

Random thoughts of late

Last Saturday I made mariscada for dinner, a pitcher of Sangria and watched "The Song Remains the Same" with my baby girl on my digital projector. I forgot about the famous "Dazed and Confused" clip where Jimmy Page plays with a violin bow. That concert film, preposterous and pretentious in parts of course, takes a lot of heat, but there are some brilliant moments and the No Quarter/Song Remains the Same/Rain Song section ranks really high for seamless transitions of brilliance and innovation. The only thing that flows together as well that I can think of is the Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam/She Came in Through the Bathroom Window section of Abbey Road.
I love Ancient history, especially that of Rome, Greece and Egypt. This isn't the best set of podcasts I've heard on these topics, but it is very good and it's free. This one is much better, but it costs money. I got it as a gift from a friend. There are countless others on that website I'd like to have. When traveling, or just farting around in line at the bank or shopping, I absolutely love having access to these lectures and podcasts. There are tons of free podcasts at Itunes. Some of these things pile up, and traveling gives me a chance to catch up on a lot of them.
I love the movies, but find the vast majority wretched beyond belief. I'm not the biggest Eastwood fan, but I plunked down $9.50 and saw Gran Torino last week, and it is a really good film. It captures the generational divide especially pointedly at the vacuous nature of the current one.
I also saw Slumdog Millionaire, and while I liked it, I wasn't overwhelmed or anything. It is a very dark film for sure. It captures India and poverty really well. I saw a Filipino film called Cavite, which also captured poverty really well, but the overall plot of that film was nowhere near as realistic as Slumdog Millionaire. Prior to that I saw Nixon/Frost. I've read and seen a lot about Nixon, who was before my time. The most striking thing about him I think what is that what Bush did is so much worse, but Nixon paid a much higher price. Nixon was chased out and largely ostracized for far less damaging over the top political shenanigans -- crimes for sure, but can they really compare to what W did. Bush will most likely get away with far worse crimes such as lying about reasons for war, torture, extraordinary rendition, the Scooter Libby commutation, asleep during Katrina, the Alberto Gonzales attorney purge scandal and the general politicization of the Attorney General's office, snooping on citizens et al.
I'm normally skeptical of celebrities hawking things out of their area of renown, but I was especially impressed with the Estefan Kitchen cookbook and bought a copy last week. I scanned numerous Cuban cookbooks at my local Barnes and Noble and I thought this one was the most useful by far.
My sister is a big fan of Bill Burr. I think he belabors some of his bits too much, but I like his style and agree with her on his talents. He's coming to the Phoenix area in May. Mitch Fatel will be here late next month, and I will doubtlessly check out that show.
I wonder if this was humbling at all for U2, whose new album and doubtless tour I'm looking forward to seeing. Legendary band at historical moment in a monumental location and all of Bono's efforts can't warm up that frozen stiff crowd.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In case I need a mood lifter

I want this image easily accessible for those dark, depressing or sad moments. I was only slightly comforted that the rest of the country finally "got" what an inept clown this guy was --five years too late for what was painfully obvious on day one. His legacy: financial wreckage centered on an unimaginable debt, joblessness, homes lost, medical care unaffordable, millions of Iraqis dead, thousands of Americans killed or maimed, the terrorist who killed 3,000 Americans still at-large, the language butchered, our global prestige dissipated, the culture even more dumbed down and the document he promised to "preserve, protect and defend" pissed on. Good riddance.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Friday, January 02, 2009

It's not kryptonite

I picked up a Himalayan Crystal Rock Salt Lamp in Sedona and I love it. So far it hasn't drained any of my non-existing superpowers.

Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers

I read this book in its entirety last night, which means I found it pretty compelling. I've read Malcolm Gladwell's two previous books, Blink and the Tipping Point, and I liked both of them and the author's manner of presenting scholarly research in a rich, vibrant style with lots of anecdotes and personalized stories. This book takes a look at what factors determine wild success stories, as well as the role of culture as it impacts success in certain endeavors. His chapter on why Asians succeed in math was especially fascinating. There were a few dull sections, and some of the conclusions about education I think are way removed from the real world, but overall this is a fantastic read.

New Years Day in Sedona