Friday, February 27, 2009

Don't Sleep; There are Snakes

Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle by Daniel L. Everett

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
There were some interesting ideas in this book regarding linguistics being tied to anthropology, but overall it just wasn't very engaging. It wasn't a bad book by any means, but it didn't compel me.

I did find it fascinating to see another culture that thinks and speaks in a completely foreign way, and the process the author went through to decipher it all.

View all my reviews.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscars Review

Because I am a huge fan of movies, here is my obligatory Oscar post.

When I was a kid, I loved to watch the Oscars. I really enjoyed the pageantry and glamor, and I thought that watching somehow connected me with Hollywood. As I got older, I watched them more to inform me about movies, actors, and directors. The last several years, this fascination with the Academy Awards has turned to interest, to indifference, until recently it has finally moved into complete disdain. These people work four months a year, doing a job they love, getting paid extravagant amounts of money, have adoring fans, and they expect us to watch as they pat each other on the back in fancy dress? Ugh. All that being said, of course I still watched the awards last night.

I have to say, I really enjoyed the format change. They somehow managed to blend a star-studded spectacle with a feeling of intimacy. The opening number was rather lame, but other than that I found Hugh Jackman a great and clearly talented host. I liked the decision to have a showman as a host rather than a comedian. As Mr. Jackman said in the Barbara Walters' special before the awards, "It's time to have more show, less biz."

The gimmick of having five past Oscar winners come out to announce the nominees was interesting. It was very cheesy, but for some reason it worked. And sometimes, the actors actually sounded sincere as they described the nominee. I vastly preferred it to the standard method of clips from the film.

As for predictions, I made them, but I didn't post them here or anywhere else. I generally have a pretty good track record, but I just find it annoying. It bothers me that so often the best predictors have nothing to do with the performance. For example, I correctly called Sean Penn for Best Actor, though I know many people thought it would be Mickey Rourke. The reasons have nothing to do with their skills as actors. Hollywood hates Mickey Rourke. The Academy was afraid of what he might say if he won. And despite all the movies to the contrary, Hollywood itself does not like underdog stories or comebacks. A studio's success depends on the cult of the new. Add to that the political guilt felt by the passing of Proposition 8, and Sean Penn playing a gay activist is a lock. And if anyone didn't pick Heath Ledger, they just weren't paying attention.

Without going through every category, here are some more thoughts:
  • I was disappointed that Slumdog Millionaire came away with so many awards. It was a good film, but not that good. It didn't deserve a sweep.
  • I was very pleased that Man on Wire won, as I feared Trouble the Water might slink in for political reasons.
  • I didn't understand why Hugh Jackman made a big point of saying "the musical is back!" Because of Mamma Mia? Seriously? Where was he when Chicago won in 2003? Hairspray, The Producers, Dreamgirls... any of these ring a bell? I think the musical has been back for a while.
  • The gowns were very elegant and nostalgic, which was nice. Penelope Cruz even had a vintage dress, which was beautiful.
Overall, it was a good show. It was full of pomp and circumstance as usual, but I found it less irritating this time around.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Lives of Rocks

The Lives of RocksThe Lives of Rocks by Rick Bass

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
A very nice collection of short stories, several set in or near Houston, Texas.

It's a little hard to review a collection of short stories, since they can be very different. However, they do all reflect the writer's style, which I found very enjoyable.

Almost all of the tales in this book dealt with nature, and had a romantic, nostalgic feel. The writing was clear and often used imaginative metaphors or descriptions. Of the ten stories in the collection, my favorites were Pagans, Her First Elk, The Canoeists, and Titan. The title story, The Lives of Rocks, was also the longest. It was quite good with beautiful imagery, but it didn't grab me as much as the others.

I think it would be a great book to have along on a camping trip, or any time when you were able to curl up next to a fire in cold weather.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Khan, the Italian Opera

This will probably get a lot of play on the interwebs, but it is just so awesome I had to have it on my blog as well. Plus, who would have thought I'd use the label "Khan" more than once?

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Eats, Shoots  &  Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
A self-confessed "stickler" takes a light-hearted look at the history and future of punctuation.

Overall, I found the book amusing but not great. It read very quickly due to the conversational tone, which is a positive. It was interesting to read the origins of some forms of punctuation, but it was never too scholarly or dry.

Some of the other reviewers have complained about the author being too pedantic about grammar, but I couldn't help but wonder if they read the introduction or first chapter. She admits at the very beginning that she's a "stickler" and realizes that most of her points are rather inconsequential. Yes, some people do get bent out of shape when commas or apostrophes are misplaced; at least she can laugh at herself about it.

View all my reviews.

© New Blogger Templates | Webtalks