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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cabin in the Woods

I have so much contempt for the horror genre that I almost avoided this movie, but then I heard several female (and not horror fans) critics recommend it. Joss Whedon did not disappoint. It's meta without being smug, scary without exploitation, and funny without being corny. Very much worth the viewing. I also love the ending. "Give someone else a chance." :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Doing It the Hard Way

There are more than one way to skin a cat (who invented this phrase?). Most people would choose the path of least resistance --- Not that there's anything wrong with it, nor am I in any position to criticize anyone for it, as I am the queen of shortcuts. Still, I sometimes admire people who intentionally, voluntarily choose to do things the hard way. No, they are not masochists. They are truly good at what they do and have confidence in their abilities. The easy ways do not interest them much. That's why they choose to do things the hard way.

I thought of this after seeing the movie "Argo." The extreme difficulty --- or at least one of them --- lies in the tone. It could have easily turned into exploitation, or jingoistic propaganda, or sensationalism. Affleck handed it deftly, except a bit of an action overkill near the end. The movie was not a complete and total success, but I very much admire his nerves to do such a difficult project.

Another recent example that I can think of is "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn. Every mystery writer knows it is nearly impossible to write suspense from the point of view of the murderer/criminal/culprit/whatever. Either you give away too much early on, or you make the reader feel like you're hiding too much from them, and the reader does not like that. Yet ... yet! Flynn made it work, and so well. As the reader, I was deceived, and deceived again, and again, but I did not mind and could not stop. I'm completely in awe.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Transitions (Skate Canada)

Patrick Chan:

2fts, crossover, double 3s, crossovers, 2ft, (4T2t), rocker, 3turn, mohawk, choctaw, (4T), a flat mohawk (3Lz), (StSq), rocker, 3turns, (CCSp), 2fts, 3turn, choctaw, crossovers, (3A), lunge, 3turn, rocker, 3turn, counter, 3turn, (3Lo), 3turn, 2fts, spread eagle, a flat choctaw (3Lz), 2ft, (FSSp), toe hops, 2fts, bracket, choctaw, double 3s, (3F1Lo2S), 3turn, hop, (ChSt), (2A), (CCoSp).

Overall: It almost killed me trying to identify all the difficult turns/steps in the middle segment. He does a string of them one after another, and my eyes are just not fast enough to pick each up in real time. Also, because his edges are so deep, his choctaws and mohawks are clearly identifiable, not the sloppy simply two foot turns other people do. Quality superb. Variety high. Intricacy superb. Difficulty high.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Manipulator

Not everyone bought the image she created for herself, although I suspect she has bought it herself. "With my big heart, I always believe the best of other people," she likes to say, oblivious to the contradictions in her words and action. Sure, some of the lies must have been conscious and intentional, but she might have been convinced of her own good intention or the absolute necessity of these lies. "I have to omit some of the truth because ..." The reasons can range from protecting others from anxiety and panic, to preserving a perfectly viable future, to "I have the right to do anything I want the company is mine alone." Never underestimate the power of self-deception.

The cult personality can manifest in a range of effects. At the top are religious and political leaders with thousands or millions of fervent followers. On a smaller scale are people whom others trust despite evidence to the contrary. Why? I can't speak for men, but in many (not all) women I observe a tendency to let emotional and personal bonds to overtake other considerations.

She loved to proclaim that her employees are "family" and call them "peanuts," and created an illusion of interpersonal closeness beyond the ordinary labor relationship. She engaged in small talks involving personal lives --- her own and others' --- and suggested work and pay as trading personal favors with each other instead of fundamentally economic transactions. Lines were blurred. She invited certain employees to stay at her house and trade personal favors for pay raises. She put her housekeeper on the company payroll by having her clean the office twice a week. She made implied demands of loyalty on employees in the form of friendship or at least the expression of friendship.

Again I doubt all her actions were derived from calculated, deliberate, and fully conscious decisions. Rather she showed a kind of emotional neediness that some women respond to. These women find emotional reward in taking care of childish people, perhaps because taking care of children and child-like adults gives them a sense of intimacy. "Please, use me." They seem to say. By using and being used, a closeness is achieved.

Also helped to brainwash people was the small, close-knit environment. I don't remember who said it --- It is easier to fool a bunch of people together than to fool an individual. When people coalesce, peer pressure works subtly and subconsciously to lead everyone into unreality. Again I don't know much about men, but if you put a group of women in the same room, they can convince each other black is white, night is day, and the sun sets in the east. Perhaps because we are so desperately trying to feel connected as one. There were company traditions that ranged from unprofessional to borderline bizarre, like employees contributed money, voluntarily, to birthday gifts to the owner in expensive handbags and loaded gift cards.

Transitions (TEB)

I'm slowly going through free skates at 2012 Grand Prix TEB. Technical elements are in brackets.

Jeremy Abbott:
Simple 2-foot turns (2fts), stroking, 2fts, short glide, (3Lz), more 2fts, 3turn, stroking, (4T), hop, (CCSp), 2fts, 3turn, short (semi-)spread eagle, crossovers, short spiral, 3turn, (3F2t), 3turn or rocker, 2ft, lunge, (CCoSp), rocker, 3turns, stroking, (3A), stroking, (1A2t), (FSSp), 2fts, crossovers, hops, choctaw? (3Z3t), 3turns, (3Lo), (StSq), (2S), 3turn, (ChSq).

Overall: Not many crossovers or stroking. Mostly simple turns. Few difficult turns. Simple steps before jumps. Quality high. Variety medium. Difficulty medium to low. It might be a little unfair to say the difficulty is medium to low because for another skater the content might be medium, but to Abbott it is obviously too low. He could do these transitions in his sleep.

My TR score: 7.25

Judges' TR score: 8.00


Takahiko Mura:

3turn, crossovers, (4T), 2fts, crossovers, 3fts, a flat choctaw, (3Lz3t), 3turn, 2fts, (3A), knee and arm movements, (CCSp), rocker, stroking, counter, (3Lo), 2fts, (3A2t), (StSq), short spread eagle, 3turn, (3S), (CCoSp), 2fts, flat mohawk, (3Lz), 3turn (1F), 3turn, 2ft, (FSSp), (ChSq), hydroblade.

Overall: His transitions are quite spare compared with the top Japanese men, but certainly a lot more and better than Amodio. Quality medium. Variety medium. Difficulty medium.

My TR score: 7.25

Judges' TR score: 7.29


Florent Amodio:
Stroking, crossovers, 2fts, (4S), 2fts, 3turn, flat mohawk (3Lz2t), 3turns, crossovers, 2fts, (3A), 2fts, (FCSp), 2fts, (StSq), standing and moving arms, 2fts, (3Aseq), twizzles, 2ft, a flat choctaw, 3turn, (3F), walley jump, a flat choctaw, (3Z), (2A), 3turns, 2fts, 3turn, (3S3t), 2fts, (CSSp), (ChSq), (CCoSp).

Overall: It's so much easier to count his transitions because they are few and simple. No intricacy to speak of. Quality medium to low. Variety low. Difficulty low. 

My TR score: 6.50

Judges' TR score: 7.11


Tomas Verner:
1-foot toe turns, 2-foot edge work, 2fts, choctaw, 2fts, (4T), 2fts, 3turns, crossovers, bracket, (2Lz3T), mohawk, rocker, 3turns, double 3's in both directions, (1A), (StSq), (FUSp), toe steps, rocker, crossovers, 3turns, (1A fall), 3turns on both feet both directions, (3Lo), 2fts, 3turn, crossovers, (3Lz), counter, 3turns, (3F), (2A), (CCoSp), (ChSq), (CSSp).

Overall: Not many crossovers or stroking. A good mix of simple and hard turns. Simple steps before jumps. Quality high. Variety high. Difficulty medium to high.

My TR score: 8.00

Judges' TR score: 7.04


Brian Joubert:
Stroking, 2fts, crossovers, 3turn (4T fall), 3turn, bracket, 3turns, 2fts, stroking, 3turns (3T), 3turns, stroking, (3A2t), hop and lunge, (CCoSp), hair-stroking, (StSq), 3turns, crossovers, 2fts, a very flat mohawk, (3F), 3-turns, (3Lutz), 2fts, 3turns, crossovers, (3Lo), 3turns, crossovers, (3S2Aseq), ChSq, (CSSp), (FUSp), 2-foot hop.

Overall: Can't say he doesn't have any transitions, but nearly all are 3turns and simple 2-foot turns. Quality medium. Variety low. Difficult low.

My TR score: 6.50

Judges' TR score: 6.79


My ranking:
1. Verner, 2. Abbott, 3. Mura, 4. Amodio, 5. Joubert. Amodio is no better than Joubert in quantity or quality, but slightly better in variety.

Verner is better than the rest of the bunch in terms of intricacy, variety, and difficulty, and his quality is as good as or just a smudge less than Abbott's.

The judging quality was not atrocious, but can't be called good either, which is true in nearly every grand prix event every year.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ethan Frome

Am reading this short novel at the moment. It is absolutely striking, made all the more remarkable by the author's background and the time she lived in, and reminds me of George Eliot. This is American realism at its best with a woman's sensibility --- I say this not as a knock but as a praise. I think the literary world can do with a little more women's sensibility.
Edith Wharton

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Brothers

Eric is the elder. He enjoyed a few years of undivided attention until Patrick came along. Eric was more introverted than Patrick. Father favored the younger son, while mother gave more attention to the first-born. They fought, but no more than other siblings. Then the family emigrated to the states. Father was a doctor, and mother stayed home. Patrick fit into school right away, despite the language barrier. Eric took longer to adjust, but his grades were acceptable and he never got in trouble. Life was smooth sailing.

At 10, without any previous signs, Patrick had a brain aneurysm the nearly killed him. During a school field trip, he complained of headache and passed out. The teachers took him to a local hospital, where the surgeon drilled a hole in his skull to relieve the intracranial pressure. He was then transported to a large university and had three more brain surgeries to repair the blood vessels that burst, possibly because of congenital defects.

He lived. The aneurysm left him paralyzed on the entire left side. With rehab and physical therapy, he recovered some function in the leg, but the arm remained useless. He was teased at school. He went to a college near home and commuted.

Just when things were looking up, father died suddenly of a heart attack before turning 60, leaving a frightened wife and two sons. Mother clung onto the boys who had just entered adulthood. She never felt truly at home in the country that remained foreign, but there was no way of turning back. She grew up with the belief that women must depend on men to survive the world, and for nearly three decades her husband was as dependent as any man can be. After he was gone she moved next door to her older brother and depended on him.

Patrick graduated from college and found a job and lived at home with mother. With the help of a few added gadgets, he learned to drive. On the weekend he drove mother to supermarkets and bought groceries and had lunch and dinner with her. He earned a paycheck and enjoyed his colleagues' company. His disability made it difficult to drive more than 20 miles each way to the office, but his colleagues offered him carpool. By all appearances, he was a sweet, easygoing, and well adjusted young man no different from other Asian youths of his age.

His able-bodied brother Eric, however, followed a path that baffled everyone. He got into college all right, but barely passed his classes with all-night computer games and videos. Once graduated, he couldn't keep a job and moved back home. It was hard to say whether it was a blessing or a curse that father left enough money for the three of them to live on. Mother had enough to buy a house with three bedrooms. Eric's share was not enough to allow him to move out and live on his own, but enough so that he did not have to find a job. He hid in his room all night and slept through the day, refusing to socialize with anyone, especially his mother's relatives who lived nearby. His relationship with mother had deteriorated to the point that the two of them could not finish a conversation without yelling at each other. Now he talked only to his brother, who had also begun to lose patience with his seething anger and resentment.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Bride

Among the dozens of photographs shot on the wedding day, only two showed the bride with a tight little smile on her face. In all the other photos, she looked as grave and serious as the day she had taken the university entry exams, unlike the spontaneous, glowing smile on her graduation photo.

The groom was but slightly taller than the petite bride: a square-faced, confident young man. He had recently received his license to practice medicine and been accepted to a prestigious American hospital for his residency. The girl had only met him on three previous occasions and had only a few days to consider his proposal.

"What's to consider? He and his family came with excellent references." Her parents urged her. "He's a doctor and is going to America to make big money. He is well educated and went to the best university. It's a perfect match." 

Indeed it was, as her father and brother were dentists and she grew up surrounded by the smell of disinfectant. She wished he had been taller and more handsome, like the lead actor in the movie she had seen last week, but his square jaw and self-assured manner smile seemed to suggest professional success and familial prosperity. He did not drink, smoke, or gamble. He had a clean romantic history and did not have an ex-wife, mistress, or bastard. Go to America with him, live in a skyscraper, raise a few beautiful children, and have a charmed life. The prospect was irresistible.

It all happened so fast. Before she knew it, they were engaged. Family parties were held at restaurants and hotels. Gifts were exchanged between parents. She was not without ambivalence, but neither did she have any specific objections. No, she had no objection besides "I have not had much time to know him well" or "Is this going to be the rest of my life?" Neither was sufficient to slow down the inevitable train of events arranged by both families. Time could not be wasted, for the girl was soon to be 25, almost too old to find a good match, and the fiance would depart for America in a month. The plane tickets were bought, which caused a stir as no one in the two families had taken a plane trip before.

Yet she was not entirely convinced. Doubts trickled in the back of her mind. A part of her could not quite grasp the concept of becoming a doctor's wife or living in another country or not being able to walk up the street and talk to Mom and Dad whenever she wanted. It felt like a dream, even on the day of her wedding. A big party for the families, that's what it was. She was not sure why she was going through the motions in a clumsy white dress with a lace veil pinned to her hair, but surely no polite young woman from a decent family would make a ruckus in such an occasion and cause her elders to lose face. So she played along and followed orders --- It was easy enough, as someone was telling her where to go and what to do every step of the way.

Indeed she had doubts, but she hardly had time to acknowledge or contemplate them. There was simply no time. The union must go on. 

Forty some years later, when she looked at her photos of the wedding and the grave young face that was once herself, she would remember how odd it all was, the day that began the rest of her life.


这两天在 in-laws 家里,每次出门老头老太坚持要开车,老头在车里放了一盘邓丽君的碟,翻来覆去地放啊放,搞得我也被传染了,到YouTube上稀里哗啦地翻来一堆邓丽君的视频来听。说实话她的抒情歌曲并不是我那杯茶,但是只要是华人谁没听过邓丽君的歌儿呢?

在YT上翻了一会儿发现她的技术真的很强大,虽然一向以“甜美”著称,但撇开音质之外她有很细腻自如、成熟精确的控制,该煽情时煽情,该收敛时收敛,多一分嫌太腻,少一分嫌单薄,恰到好处且极有主见,perfect judgment。难怪啊难怪红遍全球经久不衰,绝非偶然啊。(废话,到现在才明白一点实在是太后知后觉了吧?)

(忍不住来一句不敬的:她唱的大部分流行歌曲并不算难度超大就是了,当然这并不能抹杀她的 perfect interpretation。)

发现一个有趣的现象:邓丽君的中文红歌基本都是比较甜美温婉型的,但她的日文红歌的风格和声音要求比较大,变化比较多,她的处理也常常比中文歌更有力量,更强悍。说起来我更喜欢这种有力的风格。见有人收集的 Teresa Teng in Japan 集锦视频。

Thursday, November 22, 2012

He gives you what you want, and then some.

Finally have time to sit down and re-watch The Hollow Crown: Henry IV part 2. Last night it hit me. Of the many things Shakespeare does, one thing he does exceedingly well (in his best work, of course) is to give the audience what they expect, just like Hollywood blockbusters and popular culture, and then something else that subverts the expectation.

In his time, Shakespeare was no low-budget indie filmmaker embarking on a path of artistic enlightenment separate from popular consumption. He had to sell tickets. He was no Paul Thomas Anderson or Jim Jarmusch or John Sayles. There was no virtue in shunning the box office for art. He had to give people what they wanted. 

So he did. He gave them a ruthless, blood-sucking loan shark of a Jew. He gave them a black man who comes to a white man's home and takes away his daughter with his virility. He gave them patriotic, rousing battle cries on St. Crispin's Day and blood-boiling victory at Agincourt. He gave them a pair of star-crossed young lovers. He gave them the sword-crossing revenge climax they sat through the entire play for. Oh, he was not going to turn away his ticket-buying audience by questioning their stereotypes and prejudices and needs for a good tale with a satisfying end. No, he put on a good show and gave them what they wanted. 

And then he gave them more than what the audience bargained for and, after satisfying their expectations for assurance, he fucked with their mind with just a little more. The loan shark Shylock questions, "If you prick us do we not bleed?" The black man says, "the one that loved not wisely but too well." The soldiers question what was in it for them bleeding and dying in the mud of Agincourt. Falstaff sneers, "What is honour? A word." 

So we leave the theater but are haunted long after. In the back of our mind a suspicion stirs that he was in fact fucking with us, that in fact the Jew is us, the black man is us, and the evil, twisted villain, Richard III, is us too. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Alcoholic parents

I have no first-hand experience or knowledge about alcoholic parents, and reading accounts of family members of alcoholics cannot help me imagine or understand their rage and resentment. Oddly enough, a light bulb went on in a recent analogy through a weak and incompetent employer. It is someone in a position of considerable authority over employees, but struggling with a series of failings. She has let her staff down again and again, each time with tearful apologies and promises for improvement. Granted, the failings are not entirely within her control, but then neither is addiction entirely in the control of the addicts. She would always announce bad news via teleconference and never in person, even though she lives no more than 15 minutes away from the office. For the last few months she has ceased to come to the office altogether, as if too ashamed to face her staff. Over time, the tone of these teleconferences descended into weirdness. She was at times suspiciously cheerful and other times frantically gloomy. Promises were made and broken, made and broken, and made and broken. As hope disappeared gradually like the Cheshire Cat, people began to whisper in their offices, roll their eyes, shake their heads, and sigh and shrug.

Then today I read a feature story on about Whitney Cummings who grew up in a dysfunctional household. Suddenly it all clicked. So that is what it's like (sort of) to have one or two alcoholic parents. It's a cycle of promise, hope, disappointment over and over, until finally one has no choice but to detach oneself from the afflicted with resignation. Everyone has failings, but somehow some people seem to have a cyclic and pathetic pattern of failings that require the finality of emotional separation, which is closer to death than anger, contempt, or rejection. (I wonder if, 5 years from now, I would find the above written a bit too sentimental or ... whiny.)

Monday, November 19, 2012


This is just a placeholder for a lot more (potentially painful) exploration about how much we (overly imaginative people? everyone?) are emotionally invested in reflections of our own needs, desires, and unfulfilled wishes embodied in another person, a group of people, or ideals and ideologies. And the conflict or contradictions between the real other people and our projection. There is much drama to be had.


This week I'm visiting in-laws in deep suburbia outside of Atlanta.

It is odd how lifestyle in suburbia is so fundamentally different from that in an urban or semi-urban setting. Everyone drives everywhere --- pick up grocery, go to movies, hang out at Starbucks, etc. Naturally people settle into their three- to four-bedroom single-family houses. Their time is consumed by lawnmowing, floor-sweeping, cooking in the open kitchen, and, perhaps, gazing at the big, green backyard for hours on end and napping on the back or front porch. I would bet (since I have no real data to prove the theory) that suburbanites spend more time with their spouse and children and less time with friends and social acquaintances. It takes a lot more effort, time, and gasoline to go out.

There are sidewalks, but no one to walk on them. One person I know takes his daily walking exercise in a mall. He drives 2 miles up the parkway from his house to a shopping mall and makes loops from Macy's to Burlington Coat Factory and back. I can understand why. It feels incredibly lonely for one to walk on bare concrete sidewalks with cars rushing by and not a human figure in sight. Walking inside a mall, one is surrounded by not only blaring neon signs but also straggles of teenagers and their giggles and chatters. Instead of a sense of being surrounded by steel leopards running by you, one has a sense of living in Asimov's Caves of Steel, permanently cut-off from the sun and natural air. Of course, the best setting for a walk is alone in the woods, but alone by the highway is disturbing.

As I've been living in a more-or-less urban setting for years, I've taken my own lifestyle for granted. Perhaps the urban lifestyle has its own unnatural aspects and artificiality. I promise I will reflect on that at some point during this week.

I am not interested in the simplistic, idealized, wishful-thinking-driven theories of Richard Florida. Rather, what I am interested in is how the divergent lifestyles between urban and suburban residents subtly shape their views of life and psychology --- it can't have no effect on a person's mind being surrounded by your house and lawn and the walls of your car versus being surrounded by strangers without such distance and barrier.

The Godwulf Manuscript

Found this "first Spenser" novel, originally published in 1973, in the piles at the second-hand bookstore behind Eastern Market.

It's very Raymond Chandler. Perhaps the most tonally close to Chandler than any other hard-boiled mystery I've read. The only difference from Chandler is that Spenser had sex with female clients liberally, while Philip Marlowe never did so on any of the pages, although in one of the novels it was implied.

Come to think of it, why did Chandler avoid a more promiscuous life for Marlowe and deliberately make him into a medieval white knight in his approach to women? It was in stark contrast with Hammet's attitude toward nonmarital sex. One of the theories I've seen is that Chandler was gay. I have no way of verifying that claim, except that I saw a clip of him at a party some time in the 50s, and the clip was in a documentary about Christopher Isherwood.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I giggled like a girl during the first half of the movie. The second half got tense. The ending was lovely and adorable. What's not to love? Love the deceptively casual mumbles of the Duplass brothers. It's bromance, rom-com, and found-footage all mixed into one without any feeling of post-modernist snootiness.

The DVD contains an absurdly cute Q&A with the brothers. To have a brother who is so close that he practically shares your brain must be the luckiest, loveliest thing in the world.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gone Girl


Yes, I just got to the second half of the hot-selling book (audio) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

It's almost an upside-down, inside-out kind of noir. Melikes. 

Hell has no wrath like a woman scorned. Still, it's funny. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Diana Krall

I love old jazz too. Maybe I'll get her new album Glad Rag Doll. Krall does not sound as old school as Catherine Russell, but still very nice.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Clam linguini

It was a success, if I may say so myself. Based on Mario Batalli's recipe with only 7 ingredients: Fresh egg linguini, short-neck clams, extra virgin olive oil, white wine, tomato, parsley, red pepper flakes.

And absolutely no cheese!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pump Six and Other Stories

八奇嘎路皮的短篇小说集,前阵子从某同学那里揩油过来看。很有趣,大部分是现代 ecological science fiction,设定与人物背景很全球化,非常有(目前的)时代感,而非传统的科幻题材。Ecological sci fi 其实很多年前 GRRM 也写过,但是1980年代的环境问题和今天的环境问题已经大不相同。

科幻小说一贯有世界大同的传统,但白人男作家想象出来的种族大融合最多不过是给面目模糊不带文化特点的未来人物取一个异国情调的名字,例如 Larry Niven 的星环世界系列中的主角 Louis Wu,本质上难脱自己的文化背景。八奇嘎路皮则是真正的 globalization 时代的作家,走过外国路,见过外国人,甚至学过外国话,小说里的中国人、泰国人、乃至住在美南的印度移民,都很有现代感和真实感,小小的语言障碍不能掩盖作者对世界/亚洲形势的理解,他不是殖民/后殖民时代的科幻作家 --- 满纸的“放屁”和“他妈的”用得挺顺溜啊哈哈。

系列中一多半的短篇小说设在“收缩时代” (The Retraction),是我们现在的扩张时代 (The Expansion) 之后留下的废墟,世界上的 fossil fuel 已经用光,也没有核能和电力,能源来自机械动力和农业,而世界农业被控制农作物基因的跨国大公司掌握在手中。虽然是科幻,但话题都是 ripped from the headlines。他的获奖长篇小说 The Windup Girl 也是设定在收缩时代的。


小说集刚读完,还没来得及翻开 The Windup Girl,飓风就来了。真够巧的。

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Il Giovane Montalbano

Much unexpected, the father-son relationship in the series brought me to tears in the last two episodes. It must have come straight from Camilleri's own life, because it is just too true and raw and so uncharacteristically restrained (for an Italian production). So this is why Montalbano could not face his father's death in one of the novels and had to hide in a remote hotel and stuff his face with the best food one can find in Sicily, cooked by an ex-convict. When grief strikes, one always has good food, eh?

Usually I'm suspicious of sequels and prequels, but this one is beautifully done.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Yes, even an avid reader and author of 9 books (none of which I have heard of) can be kind of a rude jackass.

I heard the interview with Joe Queenan (yeah, I know, Joe who?) on NPR this afternoon in the car and was both appalled and amused. He pretty much called everything that's not considered classics "trash" or "stupid." He had nothing good to say about libraries, bookstores, or book clubs. His insights into the classics are also pretty bizarre, like the only way to approach Emily Dickenson is on your knees and what's the point of discussing Shakespeare since the market has spoken about him.

It was just unexpected that the usually serious, safe, mainstream, cautious, and a bit dull All Things Considered would (intentionally, I'm sure) air such a brash interview. I couldn't help laughing. I mean, I think he's wrong, but I also love his gusto. I have my own views on what's trash, which is often another person's treasure, and what's stupid, but I, like most people, don't say it out loud in polite company, but sometimes I would also like to blurt out, "That's garbage!"

This is why I was both offended and delighted by the interview. --- See, I can be contradictory too!

The Last Jedi as a Spiritual Descendant of ESB

I was about 9 or 10 years old when I made my first contact with Star Wars. It was the novelization of "Empire Strikes Back," ...

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