Monthly Archives: June 2009

8 posts

Whatever — Whatever?


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One wades through an awful lot of pretentious chatter published when a new production of a work like “Waiting for Godot” is mounted. But what work is ever like Samuel Beckett’s excruciating 2-Act masterpiece? An English friend of mine, a literary scholar and sharp theater critic who has passed most of his life in Cambridge, detests that writer’s work. Although recently widowed and cast into the slough of desolation, he quotes from Godot in an e-mail when it is a matter of trying to describe his state of mind in his mid-Seventies since he was left waiting for …?

Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R.A. Scotti


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Not quite a century ago, on August 29, 1911, thousands of people began flocking to the Louvre (among them, Franz Kafka and his friend Max Brod) to gaze at a blank space on a wall. The 49-acre Louvre – still the largest museum in the world today – had been closed for most of the preceding week for the investigation of a singular occurrence: the most famous painting in the world had disappeared from that blank spot.

Yellowstone Drift: All of This Begins Here


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The Yellowstone steadily flows down to the Missouri, then Mississippi and finally the Gulf of Mexico, always as gravity’s companion – this movement is the essence of all rivers. The repetitive nature of the day to day routine out here is hypnotic, rapidly washing away anxiety and, finally, useless ego. An unaccustomed serenity and well-being pervades as the canoe tracks its own way with slight help from me. Everything is now the river and its fertile, riparian corridor with all of the creatures who depend on this water to live moving in synchronicity.

Movie Review: Food, Inc.


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Shocking and heartbreaking, Food, Inc. gives us those nitty-gritty details of how a tomato is grown or how a chicken is raised. It reveals that every step of the process from farm to factory to functional product is not as scrupulously regulated as government organizations like the USDA and the FDA would have you believe. According to Pollan, “the industrial food system is always looking for greater efficiency. But each new step in efficiency leads to problems.”

Shadow and Light by Jonathan Rabb


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A man is found dead in a bathtub, brandy is poured and the whodunit game grows darker with every turn. Throw in a gritty 1927 Berlin, a major film studio and a chief inspector who never misses a beat and the pages practically turn themselves.

How Rome Fell by Adrian Goldsworthy


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Goldsworthy takes many of the reasons advanced by earlier scholars and shows them to be of far less significance than is often believed. In some cases, many of the old explanations are simply incorrect. Rome’s growing reliance upon “barbarian” troops, for instance, more often helped to safeguard its frontiers than to threaten them. Nor did rusty drain pipes, moral depravity or savage Hun raiders storming across the Eurasian steppes knock Rome off its pedestal.

Marlee Matlin: Bold Moves and Few Regrets


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“I worry about nothing except doing work that I like and that I look at as quality work. I don’t think of legacies or what people think. They are bold moves because I’ve found I can get the most attention with doing things that people don’t expect of me. It’s just the way it is.”

Nobody Move by Denis Johnson


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For people who liked Johnson’s recent National Book Award winner Tree of Smoke or his drug-laden 1992 short story collection Jesus’ Son, his latest, Nobody Move, is a real change of pace. Originally published as a four-part serial in Playboy in 2008, this hardboiled noir tale plays with the conventions of thrillers and crime stories, utilizing nearly every stereotype and trick from the arsenal of Dashiell Hammett, Quentin Tarantino, Elmore Leonard, and Raymond Chandler.