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If I Could Just Get It On Virtual Paper

Friday, September 30, 2005

Book 48: Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi

This is one of those books that I'd been meaning to read for a long time, and am happy that I finally got around to it. I'm a little surprised that it's somewhat controversial around the book blogosphere, as I found it to be a fairly straightforward account from one woman about what various works of classic literature meant to her as she was struggling with the fundamentalist regime in Iran. Yes, she absolutely inserts her own politics into the mix, and the book would have been less impacting if she hadn't done so. Nafisi was a professor in Iran at the time of the overthrow of the Shah and the subsequent societal change that came about as the result of the Ayatollah Khomeni's policy making. When it became too dangerous to read such books as Nabokov's Lolita or Henry James's Daisy Miller in her classes, she eventually found herself without a job. Since her dedication to teaching was impressive, she formed a secret book discussion group that met at her home - one that was comprised completely of young women whom she had hand picked from her classes. Seeing the books through their eyes (and the eyes of the students who Nafisi taught in school) made me want to peruse them again with that bit of added value and perception. A year ago or more, the book was optioned for a movie, and I'll be interested to see how it translates since I would think it would be quite difficult to display that love for literature on the big screen.

Monday, September 26, 2005

*Splooge*

Neil Gaiman/Joss Whedon co-interview at TIME.com.

My Name Is Earl

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been able to watch *a lot* of the brand new television shows. I'll spend some of my blog space over the next few weeks discussing my reaction to what I've seen so far. Although I would normally probably order these from least to most favorite, I'm going to take the opposite approach. Some of the shows I either dislike or don't care much about may be off the air before I get to them, honestly, and I'd like to make sure to spread the word as much as possible about the truly good stuff.

And frankly, the truly good stuff begins and ends with My Name Is Earl. I think some of the season's other new entries have shown some promise and I haven't given up on them yet, but My Name Is Earl is inspired, hilarious, extremely re-watchable television.

The premise is almost ridiculously elegant in its simplicity. Earl, a redneck who has devoted his life to thievery, whoring, and drinking excessively, wins $100,000 on a scratch-off lottery ticket. Immediately after doing so, he is hit by a car and put in the hospital - losing the ticket in the process. While stuck in traction, his wife has him sign some papers, and then informs them that they are now divorced. With nothing to do but watch the television, Earl watches Carson Daly elaborate on the concept of karma and realizes that perhaps if he does good things himself, bad things will stop happening to him. He sets out to correct his past wrongs, and the results are uproarious thus far.

Jason Lee is outstanding in the role of Earl, and Ethan Supplee and Jaime Pressly are terrific in their supporting roles as well. The show is extremely wry and unafraid to take advantage of Earl's redneck nature in order to throw out some extremely politically incorrect humor. And it works. I've watched the pilot twice now, and I've laughed hard both times. In the beginning, I had planned to give My Name Is Earl a try simply because I'm a big fan of Jason Lee. The premise looked horrific to me and I was working on the assumption that it would be cancelled in short order. Then, lo and behold, I started seeing good critics' reviews come in and started getting my hopes up...a little. I'm really pleased to say that if it can continue to maintain the greatness it started with, My Name Is Earl is definitely a long-term keeper.

NFL PICKS

I neglected to post my NFL picks yesterday, but I'll go ahead and do so for posterity since David keeps track of how we're doing on his blog. While I typed that, Ladainian Tomlinson scored again.

Carolina/Miami:
Carolina

Minnesota/New Orleans:
New Orleans

New York Jets/Jacksonville:
Jacksonville

Philadelphia/Oakland:
Philadelphia

Buffalo/Atlanta:
Atlanta

Cincinnati/Chicago:
Cincinnati

Tampa Bay/Green Bay:
Tampa Bay

Indianapolis/Cleveland:
Indianapolis

St. Louis/Tennessee:
St. Louis

Dallas/San Francisco:
Dallas

Seattle/Arizona:
Arizona

Pittsburgh/New England:
Pittsburgh

San Diego/New York Giants:
San Diego

Denver/Kansas City:
Kansas City

Friday, September 23, 2005

After a brief break from blogging due to a bit of ennui and malaise, I've realized I suddenly have plenty of things to write about. I should be back to being superblogger immediately. Between my book list and the new television I've been watching, there's pop culture discussion galore sitting in the recesses of my mind.

Today's topic is Book 47, Marjane Satrapi's Embroideries.

Having enjoyed Satrapi's Persepolis and its sequel, Persepolis II, I was really looking forward to her newest graphic novel. Her work is quite unique in that she tells her memoir about her childhood in graphic novel format, allowing for a very emotional impact. You see, Satrapi grew up in Iran, specifically during the time when the country expelled the Shah, Khomeni took over as the Ayatollah, and women and girls were transitioned into being forced to wear veils while in public. Both Persepolis novels are remarkable in that they illustrate life in a land very foreign to most U.S. readers in an accessible, sympathetic manner. Embroideries continues in a similar vein, but is a little more focused on relationships between men and women in that country. While you might believe that the title, "Embroideries" sounds sweet and light, in honesty, it is quite the opposite once you realize what the author is referencing. The book doesn't have the same impact of its predecessors, but with that said, it still packs a punch. It seems humorous and easy-going on its surface, but when you dig a little deeper, you realize just how surprisingly dark the subject matter is.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Here are my picks for the NFL for this weekend. I'm not going to go into detail like David does - I usually just go with my gut on these and little else (which might explain why David's picks were better last week).

New England/Carolina:
New England

Pittsburgh/Houston:
Pittsburgh

Baltimore/Tennessee:
Baltimore

Indianapolis/Jacksonville:
Indianapolis

Philadelphia/San Francisco:
Philadelphia

Detroit/Chicago:
Detroit

Cincinnati/Minnesota:
Cincinnati

Tampa Bay/Buffalo:
Buffalo

Arizona/St. Louis:
Arizona

Seattle/Atlanta:
Atlanta

Green Bay/Cleveland:
Cleveland

New York Jets/Miami:
New York Jets

Denver/San Diego:
Denver

Kansas City/Oakland:
Kansas City

New York Giants/New Orleans:
New Orleans

Dallas/Washington:
Dallas

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pop Culture Weekly

Books

Currently Reading
Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville

Next in the Queue
The Finishing School, by Muriel Spark
The Dew Breaker, by Edwidge Danticat



Music

Currently Listening To:
Various New Orleans-related CDs I've accumulated over the years, including the Meters, the Neville Brothers, the Iguanas, Zachary Richard, and more.


Movies

Most Recently Seen
Inside Deep Throat - this documentary is consistently engaging and provides a fascinating look at the emerging porn industry of the 1970s.

Most Anticipated
I'm going to give some love to Neil Gaiman's MirrorMask here (mainly because I've already seen Serenity)


TV

Currently Watching
I've had a few shows return in the past couple of weeks. Gilmore Girls is the one that makes me the most ecstatic, and The O.C. was entertaining enough and basically a table-setter for the season. As far as new shows, Reunion was incredibly, mind bogglingly awful, and Supernatural was quite terrific. Bones is still sitting on the TiVo, and I'm looking forward to it since David Boreanaz is the star. Oh, and Battlestar Galactica this past week was sucky for the first half hour, but the second half payoff was just outstanding. Lucy Lawless is hot.

Most Anticipated
You know, I'm surprised to be saying it, but my answer here is My Name Is Earl.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Friday, September 2, 2005 has been declared International Blogging for Disaster Relief Day, and as such, I am going to postpone the usual content that might appear here to participate, as I feel almost sick to my stomach that I don't have the resources to simply pack up my car and start helping people down in a desperate city that I love myself.

As an aspiring writer, I have long harbored a dream that at some point in the future, when I had the financial means and capability to do so, I might temporarily find myself an arty apartment in the French Quarter of New Orleans where I would spend several months to work exclusively on books and stories. Having visited the city, it is a place that continues to resonate in my imagination. Stories of real-life vampires and voodoo and quirky residents who have passed through its streets gave me a true affinity for the place. Now, I see that city falling into ruins, and even though I am heartbroken at the realization that it will never be the same again, none of that even matters at this point. There are thousands of people there who urgently need help. Since the city is one of the poorest in the nation, many of the people whom you are seeing on television had no transportation that might allow them to evacuate the town, and now they are suffering because the worst-case scenario has been realized. I beg of anyone who reads this column to offer some aid, even if it's in the smallest of increments.

Naturally, the primary and most reliable source of assistance is The American Red Cross. Before you head over to their site to donate, check in with your human resources office to see if your employer might offer a matching plan. If you can't get to the Red Cross site directly, there are plenty of places that are acting as intermediaries. Visit either Amazon or Apple and you can still get your contribution to the folks who need it.

Following are a host of other organizations that might more particularly match either your beliefs or the level of assistance you want to offer. In addition, there may be local agencies and drives that are gathering supplies to send to the area, and you can certainly learn more by checking the Web site for your local newspaper.

Feed the Children
Network for Good
The Salvation Army
Volunteer Florida
Serve Alabama
America's Second Harvest
Catholic Charities USA
B'nai B'rith International
United Jewish Communities
Union for Reform Judaism
AmeriCares
Brother's Brother Foundation
Christian Relief Fund
Convoy of Hope
Direct Relief International
Food for the Poor
Islamic Relief
Mercy Corps
Northwest Medical Teams International
Operation Blessing
PETsMART Charities
Samaritan's Purse
World Emergency Relief

And in the meantime, it sure couldn't hurt matters any to visit The Hunger Site and click through to their family of sites to give for free.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Pop Culture Weekly

Books

Currently Reading
Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell

Next in the Queue
Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
The Dew Breaker, by Edwidge Danticat
The Finishing School, by Muriel Spark


Music

Currently Listening To:
XM Radio (I've been obsessing over the Katrina coverage).


Movies

Most Recently Seen
Dirty Deeds - I like Milo Ventimiglia, but the movie just isn't good. Or funny.

Most Anticipated
The Exorcism of Emily Rose


TV

Currently Watching
The fall television started on Monday with Prison Break, and it's really an intriguing, if violent, show.

Most Anticipated
I'm looking forward to seeing what's going to happen with the kids on The O.C. next week.


 
     


 
 

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