August 2013 Archives

Moon

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Click for availability and more information Moon
 
I just looked at the DVD Moon starring Sam Rockwell. Rockwell portrays the Supervisor of the Lunar Industries company, which has discovered an unlimited energy source on the moon. His job is to coordinate a fleet of automated excavation equipment. He's about to finish up his three-year commitment, which has kept him away from his family. Strange things start to happen. He starts to have hallucinations, a "clone" appears and he's involved in an accident when he attempts to go out and restart an excavator. And he makes a shocking discovery that has a profound effect on his life. Rockwell does an admirable job portraying the lead character. The special effects alone are exceptional. This is an unusual film, which deserves your attention.
-Carl

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The Fallen Angel

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Click for availability and more information The Fallen Angel, by Daniel Silva
 
Daniel Silva has become synonymous with terrifically entertaining reading experiences and his 2012 book, The Fallen Angel, adds to this reputation. As The Fallen Angel begins, Silva's great fictional character Gabriel Allon is happily restoring one of the Vatican's great Caravaggio masterpieces. However, when a woman's bloody body is discovered on the floor of St. Peter's Basilica, Gabriel is asked by a high Vatican official to investigate this very curious incident. Thus Allon, who has a most diverse double identity as a renowned art restorer as well as an agent for the Israeli government's Mossad force, becomes involved in yet another adventure. He discovers the connection of the dead woman to an international art theft operation that is also related to Middle Eastern terrorist organizations. Silva's story remains very interesting as Allon discovers plots that, if successful, would threaten world stability. Much of the action occurs in Jerusalem and, as usual, the readers of Silva's books can get terrific insight into the complex world of Middle Eastern politics. The Fallen Angel is a great read and should make the reader want to explore Silva's other works, especially those featuring Gabriel Allon.
-Roy

The Island President

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Click for availability and more information The Island President
 
If you still don't believe in global warming, then you should look at The Island President. This documentary DVD, released in 2011, follows President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives on his quest to save his islands from the rising sea. The Maldives are a group of 1200 islands over 400 mile of sea in the Indian Ocean that are only 1.5 meters above the ocean. It's the lowest-lying country in the world. Experts predict the oceans will rise more than this if global warming continues. One island has already lost 300-feet of beach to erosion as the ice caps melt and sea levels rise. Even the fish are becoming scarcer and scarcer, effecting the major industry of the island nation. President Nasheed sets out to convince other nations to reverse global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Nasheed starts with the AOSIS (Association of Small Island States). Despite their reservations, he asks them to agree to a joint document which shows their unified support of his cause. He then travels to England to speak to Parliament. Nasheed tells them his country can't wait any longer - the threat is imminent. He then talks to the United Nations, and heads to the World Climate Summit in Copenhagen. Nasheed talks privately with leaders of India, China and the United States. He wants the countries to agree to lower CO2 emissions to 350 ppm (parts per million). They agree in principle to his request.

Nasheed was elected President in 2005 after 30 years of an oppressive regime. When he took office, he realized that global warming was the most important issue for his country. Unfortunately, in 2012 he was forced to resign as the military leadership threatened a coup d'├ętat to return the former tyrant. At that time, CO2 emissions were measured at 387 ppm compared to his target of 350 ppm.
-Carl

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Life

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Click for availability and more information Life, by Keith Richards, with James Fox
 
Even if you're not a Rolling Stones fan, you should still read Life by Keith Richards with James Fox (2010). I'd read Mick Jagger by Philip Norman (2012) earlier, and wanted to compare the two. So I downloaded the e-Book onto my iPad and away I went!

The Richards book is about twice as long, but provides an in-depth look at what has been called "the greatest rock and roll band of all times." Richards describes his early childhood. He grew up in a lower class family, and was the victim of bullying. He explains how his grandfather intentionally left a guitar hanging around so Keith would get interested in music. Surprisingly, he was a Patrol Leader in a Boy Scout Troop, but was summarily dismissed due to his tough disciplinary tactics! He was also part of a glee club until he was replaced.

Keith explains how he met Mick Jagger, who came from a more middle class family, while taking the train to school. They soon discovered they had the same interest in American rhythm and blues. Years later they would put together a band and travel all over England to perform - many times for very little or no money. Eventually they hired a manager who promoted them. Unfortunately, as happened with so many early (especially Black) rock groups, their manager got greedy and pilfered their money. Fortunately, Mick was very sharp financially, and he found a new manager who was very fair.

I like this book because it has so many levels. It talks about the relationship between the band-mates, guitar techniques developed and used by Richards (great for you musicians) and the celebrities they ran into. It wasn't all fun and games as Richards, in particular, developed a strong drug habit and had to go "cold turkey" repeatedly. Also, the authorities were constantly hassling them, arresting them in the middle of the night and even planting drugs on them. They became the "bad boys" to the Beatles' "good boys". Ironically, they became the darlings of the Monarchy, and Mick was knighted for his contribution to music!

I'd always thought Keith Richards was a burned-out drug addict; but after reading this book, I realize he's very intelligent, and a gifted story teller! I'm serious. If you don't believe me, give it a try. Just pick it up and browse it. I guarantee you'll be hooked!
-Carl

Fever

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Click for availability and more information Fever, by Mary Beth Keane
 
Fever is the retelling of Mary Mallon's aka "Typhoid Mary" story. The author has a vivid form of storytelling akin to an oral history unfolding. History tells us that Mary Mallon's "healthy carrier" genetic trait was a huge medical discovery for its time. She was the first to be exposed and sent to trial and socially outcasted/isolated. Keane's novel is in the perspective of the main character. We can relate to Mary Mallon's strife in her bewilderment and denial of her being responsible for the spread of typhoid fever to anyone she cooked for. We learn that Mary's dream as a young adult was to become a cook; she took pleasure in creating exquisite meals for her wealthy employers. We also grasp how not only did Mary have to continue her everyday life as a threat to society but also we learn about her personal life and how in early 20th century she was also scorned by her peers about her companionship with Alfred, her boyfriend of 20+ years. Although they never married and due to her first isolation from the Department of Health, Alfred reacts in a way anyone would in light of uncertainty. Through the character Alfred, Keane brings to light addiction of alcohol and narcotics. In the early 20th century, opium and heroin were used loosely as a form of pain medication, it isn't until years later that it is learned that these now illicit drugs create life-threatening addictions and cause of deaths.

Lastly through Mary we learn about societal issues that she dealt with in her generation that we continue to face today in the 21st century. Fever is an intriguing read than many can enjoy.
-Marilynn

String quartets nos. 2-4

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Click for availability and more information String quartets nos. 2-4, by David L. Post
 
If you have a taste for contemporary chamber music, this CD should appeal to you. The music herein, despite the composer's adventurous harmonic palette on Quartets 3 & 4, is both inviting and arresting due to Post's imaginative textural, motivic and rhythmic ideas. Quartet no. 2 and Fantasia on a Virtual Choral will acclimate you nicely to the two other quartets which, tend to be a little more challenging. The playing of the Hawthorne Quartet, which comprises members of the Boston Symphony, is exemplary, as is the recorded sound.
-David

Click for availability and more information The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South, by Bruce Levine
 
The American Civil War remains a subject about which volumes of books continue to be published. As the historian Bruce Levine argues in his latest book, The Fall of the House of Dixie, "nearly every major study of the Civil War...continues to take the military story as its organizing principle and narrative spine." Departing from this pattern, Levine has written a fascinating study about the society of the Confederacy and the revolutionary shift it experienced due to the war. In 1861, the American South was dominated by an extremely wealthy and powerful white population that was determined to maintain its position, even by breaking away from the United States of America. Slavery was the Southern institution that fueled the economy for the landowners. While the war was embraced by the vast majority of whites at its beginning, cracks in this support increased as the war continued in its bloody destruction. Levine draws upon a wide range of diaries, speeches and articles written during the war by a wide-range of members of Confederate society to vividly show how the Confederates began to become disillusioned with the waging of war against the Union forces. Eventually, "the House of Dixie" did fall and its demise, as recounted by Levine, is a fascinating historical study. The Fall of the House of Dixie is very readable, interesting, well written and highly recommended.
-Roy

Saving Armpit

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Click for availability and more information Saving Armpit, by Natalie Hyde
 
Will the beleaguered Terriers baseball team ever win a game? How can they win without a real coach? Packed with fast paced action and humor, the story throws many curves as the Terriers use teamwork and imagination to help not only the town's baseball team but the town itself survive.
-Deirdre

The Lemonade War

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Click for availability and more information The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies
 
Evan and his younger sister, Jesse, react very differently to the news that they will be in the same class for fourth grade and as the end of summer approaches, they battle it out through lemonade stands, each trying to be the first to earn 100 dollars.
-Deirdre

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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