29 July 2013

July Culture Update

When I finished Cryptonomicon a few weeks ago, I swore I wouldn't read another big thick Neal Stephenson book.  I loved Snow Crash & The Diamond Age but I really struggled with Cryptonomicon.  Then Amazon offered Quicksilver cheap on audio & Kindle - paired together it would be less than the cost of a paperback copy.  Guess who's now sailing toward England on the Minerva with Daniel Waterhouse and Captain van Hoek?  I'm happy to say I more or less get where this one is going a little better, and frankly it's a little more humorous as well.  Seems more tightly focused than Cryptonomicon was.  The sheer number of characters gets a little overwhelming at times, but thankfully the reader for the audio version is excellent at creating distinct accents for all of the characters.  I've never listened to Jim Dale doing the Harry Potter series, but I would imagine Simon Prebble is a close second if what I'm hearing now is true.  I'm also trying to finish Evensong by Gail Godwin before it's due back at the library.  She knows pastoral ministry in and out, even if the novel itself gets a little clunky and the main characters are incredibly high church Episcopalians.  It's good stuff.  Just yesterday I checked out Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs from the library and I'll get into that one as soon as I'm done with Godwin.

Our streak of good movies continues with Despicable Me 2 and Cloud Atlas.  Well, I watched Cloud Atlas on my own - Beloved is most definitely not into most science fiction (though I'm working on it - see below).  Despicable Me 2 is, without a doubt, the funniest movie I've seen since Date Night.  I would take the minions & Gru once over a thousand "Wolf Packs" and assorted Hangover knockoffs.  The scene where there's a fire on Gru's desk is, by itself, worth the full price of admission & popcorn:

Musically, we continue to be a household dedicated to All. The. Taylor. Swift.  Which honestly isn't that bad.  I've got friends who will pillory me for saying it, but look:  she writes her own stuff most of the time, seems to be able to stay away from drugs & too much booze, and likes her fans.  Given the choice between this and whatever the hell Britney Spears is doing right now, guess which one I'm going to endorse for my girls?  Thankfully, Ainsley doesn't know about the concert coming up this week in Des Moines - it's been sold out for months and there's no way we could afford whatever tickets we might find on the secondary market.  I've still got my own stuff for when I'm on my own, which right now seems to be a rotation of Mumford & Sons, Storyhill, David Lee Brown, Prokofiev and Green Day, and it works for me.

Falling Skies has become our favorite summer show.  Period.  Good story, great actors, incredible special effects for a TV drama.  Just another chink in the armor of the movies, I guess - if Falling Skies were on the big screen, you'd be hard pressed to know it was a TV show at all.  And in the "this it completely bizarre" department, Under the Dome is a Stephen King book that's getting better being made into a tv show.  I picked up the book & read the first 100 pages this weekend just to see if I wasn't remembering the book right, but I was:  it's one of King's worst IMO, full of sloppy characters who seem more like a bunch of jingoistic caricatures than actual human beings.  But the show has tweaked the story and brought out some real depth.  I'm not sure what to think about this, honestly:  even The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, good as they were, didn't quite live up to the stories on which they were based.  Watching a story get better on screen shifts my whole reality.

Well, that's it for this month.  Happy reading, watching, listening, what have you!

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