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“We’ve found out that having a price is really cool for making profits.”

If they were really trying to convince people that they are hetero, they shouldn’t admit stuff like this.

It’s bliss. When you’re watching a movie, and all the pieces fit together perfectly, it’s bliss. Nothing is wasted. The scene at the beginning that you thought was irrelevant was key. At the end of the story, you see the author’s handiwork. I expect that we like this because it’s how history will ultimately work. What doesn’t make sense now will seem like an essential part of the divine tapestry at the end of all things.

When a story builds you up with all sorts of teasing moments, you expect a payoff. You expect that all the details will be woven together right. Take Harry Potter, where the details were painstakingly put together so that the ending would work. And it did.

When a story teases you with these sorts of moments and then the end of the story doesn’t pay off, there’s a huge letdown. You feel betrayed. What about … what about … ? You thought that it would all tie together, and be part of some larger purpose in the story. Did it all mean nothing?

And that’s pretty much why I hated how Lost: Season 4 ended.

Since I haven’t posted in more than a month, I might as well pretend like I was too busy to come by because of the books I was reading (even though that isn’t true: I have no excuses).   So here goes.

For fun:

·    The Making of Star Wars.  This was a lot of fun, with good pictures and background to the original film.  I can’t say I learned anything new, but it was still fun.  Now I’ve got to find the one on Indiana Jones.
·    Fast Food Nation. Second time through, I’m still amazed at what we do with food. Interesting read.
·    Summerland.  Children’s fantasy.  Good guys defeat the devil.  Harry Potter uses some British archetypes (e.g., boarding school); Chabon uses American archetypes, such as Bigfoot and the Puget Sound.  Baseball is key to the story.  Pretty good.
·    Water For Elephants.  Interesting setting (the circus), well-worn story (young man falls in love with another man’s wife).  I was interested enough to finish, but not much more.  No weight to the story, really.  And far too much (read: any) graphic sex.
·    New England White.  This was a wonderful read.  600 pages long, and worth it all.  I remembered enjoying Carter’s first novel a few years ago, but not this much.  This is a story of a murder at an Ivy League college, and the college president’s wife is curious.  One scene was a delightfully suspenseful night-time visit to the dead man’s home.  The cast of characters is enormous, and Carter wields it easily.  Recommended. (In contrast to the previous book, this was thoroughly clean, to the point of almost lacking profanity)
·    Inca Gold. Good old Clive Cussler.  Can’t really beat this, as long as you don’t read more than one a year.
·    Still haven’t gotten back to Galileo’s Daughter, which is a shame.

For Class:
·    Summer for the Gods. This was a summary of the Scopes Trial, and particularly how the trial has assumed a mythology of its own that is not what the original trial actually achieved. This book is readable and interesting.
·    Breaking the Spell.  Daniel Dennett is another silly atheist, and he’s also rather wordy.  His most interesting point: conceding that those who hold the Bible in high esteem might as well not bother reading his book.
·    Selections from a few others, but nothing worth mentioning.

On deck:

· The Italian Secretary
· Bambi vs. Godzilla

Hitchens is always fun to read, and to listen to.  Here is his intriguing account of waterboarding.  From personal experience.

In the last week or two, here are some books I’ve read, in no particular order:

  • Black Jacobins.  On the Haitian revolution, by a Marxist. Obviously for class.  Intriguing story about the first successful revolution in the third world, but it could have been shorter.  The most interesting thing was how the “revolting” slaves fended off the French and the British simultaneously.
  • Radical Spirits.  On Spiritualism and women’s rights.  Also for class.  Pretty dull actually.  Spiritualists were crazy, the movement is interesting (look it up sometime), the book was boring.
  • The Lost Ark of the Covenant.  Read about 100 pages of it and found it too focused on the personal journey of the author, and not enough on the ark itself.  Taking a tactic from my wife, I skimmed to the end, to see the fellow’s conclusions.  He believes the ark has been discovered and is in a museum.  It is made of ugly wood and used to be a drum.  Glad I skipped most of this one.
  • The People’s Choice. I picked this up because of the premise. The president-elect dies between election day and inauguration. Who should the electors choose as president? They’re not bound to choose anyone, actually – so they have to choose between the loser of the election, the vice-president-elect (who’s a doofus), and someone else. Fun premise, poor execution.
  • Manhunt.  This one is about John Wilkes Booth, the assassination, and his flight from Washington.  I finished this in about a day and couldn’t put it down.  Great reading, recommended.

Still on the list:

I’ll let you know what I think of these.

I was going to try to think of some way to properly comment on this, but my wife said it best:

“It’s good to know there’s a country stupider than us.”

Is it bad karma to post this just after we’ve moved to a new place?  I dunno, but it’s kind of interesting to read about.

In lockstep with my leader, I will post this for reference.

How is a $300,000,000,000 housing bill supposed to help us be responsible with our money?  If anything, this encourages me to let my house payments get behind.  After all, the government will bail me out.  The bill punishes responsible homeowners by forcing us to use our taxes to help those who bit off more house than they could chew.

Poster

The Happening doesn’t entirely deserve its bad rap. The key to this may be to have low expectations, which I did – I was expecting the train wreck of the year. But it was actually enjoyable and thought-provoking. I would see it again for sure.
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