Monday, January 30, 2006

Book Rec

The second amazing novel I read as a script reader was Margaret Cape by Wylene Dunbar.

This is Dunbar's first novel and what a treasure of a book. Following the life of one Margarat Cape, Dunbar tells an engaging, dense tale of a Southern family and the ongoing social and racial context that permeates any generational US story (especially one set in the South). Dunbar cleverly jumps from present day to flashback across chapters. The time frame juxtapositions add insightful commentary to the story. A sub-plot (which triggers the tale) revolving around a court case adds suspense to the almost lyrical, evocative flashbacks. Just thinking back upon that novel moves me. It has that kind of impact.

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Book Rec

A long time ago .... okay, okay, okay. When I got out of college my first go round I was a script reader for like half a second. For someone with a Film Studies degree being a script reader is a wonderful job. Too bad it hardly pays and there's no future in it. In the end things really didn't work out for me but I was lucky enough to read two amazing novels from my stint.

The first was Minty Alley by CLR James. A piercing, insightful coming of age tale set in early 20th Century West Indies. I was instantly engrossed by the Buddha-like hero, who ventures beyond his safe upbringing to experience a part of society he hardly knows. The characters of the story are all full and basically jump off the page. I believe in academic circles CLR James (a West Indian himself) is known as a prolific social and literary critic. I think Miny Alley is James' only fictional novel. It however surreptitiously includes great social commentary in how the upper middle class hero navigates his new working class environment. I hope this brief review/summary of Minty Alley doesn't paint it as a clinical and distant novel. It is in fact quite the opposite. Perhaps the best description I can give is this: Minty Alley is a realistic soap opera on steriods and studying for its PhD. It is truly an exceptional work of fiction and I could not recommend it more.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Film Rec

I'm not the biggest Joss Whedon fan ... I am a fan however. It's just that I never got into the Buffy-verse. A couple years back when Whedon's sci-fi show "Firefly" debuted on FOX I remember wanting to check it out but something might have come up. Anyway, I caught "Firefly" on DVD and the sci-fi channel. The show is an acquired taste but it definitely has a peculiar charm.

The same can be said of the film SERENITY based on the series. However the film has enough kinetic action sequences and stellar visual effects to keep even mild sci-fi fans interested. And the off beat humor works effortlessly well.

I'd still say that this, like much of Whedon's work, is not for everyone and he sure has a thing for teenage girls who can kick ass. At times the script gets a little hokey but all in all it makes for a rockin' adventure in the Firefly-verse with an excellent cast of actors (in my mind the hidden gem of the series and film).

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

If no one comments on this post I'll get the hint

I'm a bit of a news junkie, so I like to think I keep up to date on most political issues and news. Now, I certainly understand posts of a political subject matter can be annoying, juvenile, tasteless, or all three. However, from time to time I would like to post about a political news item and see if we can get a decent discussion going. At the least, people can comment on how they feel about the issue.

I'm guessing the majority of blog buddies I've made here lean left (like myself). However, I am positive a couple lean right (I tend to lean right on economic issues and sometimes foreign affairs). I also think most consider themselves to be independents. As for me, I'm a registered Green Party voter in Northern California. Nevertheless, I am (like many people) all over the political map.

I read Slate a lot and think it is a journalistic goldmine. However, one of my favorite non-Slate columnists is economist Paul Krugman of the NY Times. In his most recent column he argues how our very own Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is a solid model on a basic healthcare system for all. He also points out the stark differences between the VHA and the recent Medicare drug bill. Which many point out was written with drug companies in mind. Recent news of the new drug bill not covering some Medicare and Medicaid recipients just adds to the legislation's bad rep. The federal government has said it will reimburse the states which are currently picking up the tab. Anyway, it's a good read and I would like to add that while Krugman is labeled a lefty (which I doubt he would deny) he is (like many of us) conservative when it comes to economic policy (balanced budgets, lower the trade deficeit, etc).

More Pieces

My apologies to those of you that are fed up with the James Frey scandal, but this is the last time I post about it. The other post or two is on my other blog, I'll get a link later. Probably not because I'm lazy.

Anyway, Slate has two solid articles on the Oprah "public scolding" show. The first by Troy Patterson is a spot-on review of the incident, personally speaking that is. I do give Oprah some credit for finally acknowledging Frey exaggerated a good deal of his memoir, but the move seems a bit disingenuous since it seems Oprah simply blamed Frey and his publisher for duping her. This is after Oprah publicly defended Frey from the allegations on Larry King Live.

The second piece, by Slate's Chatterbox, takes the publisher, DoubleDay's Nan Talese, to task. In 2003, Deborah Rybak published an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune questioning certain incidents in Frey's memoir. Rybak brought her inquiries to Talese who is quoted in the article. As Chatterbox points out, on Oprah Talese stated she had first heard about exaggeration allegations when came out with a report towards the end of 2005.

Anyway, once again my apologies on continuing to post about James Frey and Oprah and this entire scandal. This is the last one.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Super Trial

Next week begins the Enron trial featuring Satan's Minions Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay. I understand defendants are innocent until proven guilty, so I'm basically saying I'm not sure if they embezzled money or not but they like to toss Satan's salad.

Anyway, I'm going to be reading the newspaper updates on this trial because I have some interest in legal matters and I think it is of grave importance that the truth comes out (even if it turns out the two of them are robots or something).

For those of you that are interested, the NY Times Kurt Eichenwald is a great reporter who's been following the Enron scandal for some time. He had a good piece in yesterday's paper.

I have a weird name

I have like the weirdest name. My first name is Viral. While it is spelled like the word that comes from virus, thankfully it is pronounced different. It basically sounds like a pronounciation of virile ("Veer-ul"). My last name is a common english first name. It starts with a D. So not only do I have a strange name, but my initials are VD.

After 27 years I'm pretty used to the weirdness of my name. Sometimes I wish the people that were in charge of transcribing East-Indian names into the english alphabet could have looked in a dictionary and went with Virul instead or something (Veeral is actually an alternative spelling I've seen people with). But having a name that's different is pretty cool. Yeah, maybe I'd change the spelling but for someone who enjoys being different ... it's not a bad name to have.


Has anyone read ...

Has anyone read Margaret Cape by Wylene Dunbar? How about Minty Alley by CLR James?

I've read both these books a few years back but they've surely remained with me. I'm just curious to see if anyone else has read or come across these two titles.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Book Club Update

The Sage-Man has a new book review on Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. Another great review, and the introduction to Berry's fiction is very interesting (personally speaking). I understand working the land cannot be all joy and a breeze, but I still wonder what it would be like ... out in quiet, open spaces.

But who wants to deal with a large, extended family? Family can be a pain at times. Am I right folks? Am I ... is this thing on? ::tap, tap::

And here's a recap of the short story links:

The 5:22 by George Harrar
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman (the Idle's pick)
Chickamauga by Ambrose Bierce

If you have a book review post please leave a comment so I can link to it. If you have a short story recommendation please do likewise.

I changed my blog's title

I changed the title to "film literate" --- the other title made me seem like Yanni. And I wouldn't mind Yanni's hair (I'd cut it a little shorter) but I'm no Yanni.

This was also the title of my online personal --- but I'll get into that later. Don't judge me! Lol.

I'll have a book club update post soon and I'll have a film recommendation post sometime today or tomorrow. The film posts will be on a regular basis, once or twice a week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I knew it!

If you don't read Slate you should ---

Slate has a very interesting "Human Nature" column that deals with sciencey stuff. Yes that's a technical term.

Anyway, a recent column pointed out something that I had suspected for years.

Female promiscuity gives males big testes and small brains. In bat species noted for female monogamy, males have small testes and big brains; in bat species noted for female promiscuity, males have testicles five times as big, but with smaller brains.

So here's another reason to not impersonate Paris Hilton. And according to you ladies we're already not the brightest people ... so stop being ho-y and we'll start smartening right up.

Ya know, you'd think the males with the bigger brains would figure out a way to entice the females ... but I guess the female species is only after one thing. Typical.


Many of you have probably read my other blog (celeboganda) which was my try at a daily snack of bit sized celeb satire. I think I'll still try to make fun of celebs every other day or something, but I've been wanting a more personal, normal-like (is that a word?) blog ... like the kind Marse and Idle and the Kats and the Ryan and the Blog Portland and the Sage --- I'm going to start calling people "the such-and-such" from now on. No wonder people love me. Okay that was a short tangent ... so the goal was to have a more personal blog and here it is.

Now I'm not sure what I should do about my posting name. "tg8" was just something random I came up with back when I didn't think I would have a personal blog. I have weird name so I'm leaning towards having just my first initial ("v") as my blogging name. But if tg8 doesn't seem so weird maybe I should just stick with it. I dunno, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Okay, on to the first post.