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Showing posts from June, 2009

Two old, two related, one unrelated

I'm a bit behind in my book reviews, so I'll give the abbreviated version for two of the most recent and one that was finished, I don't know, four months ago?
First up, the oldest (though not the oldest date of publication) Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. This book has made such the rounds that it is even poked fun at in the book Stuff White People Like (Well, perhaps the book is not being made fun of, rather the middle and upper class, left-leaning Whites are the target). In short, Pollan follows corn and beef, the two items that Americans seem to eat the most of, through two (three, actually) food systems: conventional (or if you prefer, industrial) agriculture, what Pollan labels "Big" organic (essentially commercialized and idustrialized organic processes) and sustainable ag. He goes into great detail about corn, it's history, it's sex (yes, truly!) and what it's found in. He also follows a cow in the industrial system from …

Up with Up

Yes, that was a lazy title, but if you don't like it, write your own. Pixar continues to create quality productions that reinforce the fact that if you don't have an engaging story and characters to care for then you ain't got nothing--hear that George Lucas? There are probably three million sites to check out a synopsis for the movie so I'll skip it. I will rather touch on a couple of thematic elements found in this "cartoon." 1) Dreams deferred and readjusted. Carl, the elderly main character, (Kudos to Pixar for showing that the elderly can carry a "children's" movie) has to come to grips with the fact that his dreams of adventure, with his wife Ellie, did occur, just not in the way he had expected. Perhaps this is better thought of as contentment, especially in such an age as ours. The other main character, Russell, a quasi-Boy Scout (he's a Wilderness Explorer) comments that the things he remembers most about spending time with h…

Bitter & Sweet

My son had his pre-school "graduation" this past Thursday. Normally I look on these things with a bit of disdain--do we really need to ritualize every progression we make in life? Honestly--if everybody is a winner then are there any winners at all? OK, so I attend the ceremony and enjoy it. What took me by surprise was the tiny corrugated shard of sadness I felt, knowing he would never be this age again. Knowing I would never drop him off at his school (my old building) nor pick him up there again.
When he was an infant I couldn't wait for him to mature--let's face it, on many levels babies are boring. They don't much of anything--sure, sure, they possess an ontological sweetness, but really...they eat, sleep, cry, and void waste. Slugs can be more fascinating at times. I derive much pleasure from his age right now (most days) and look forward to when we can discuss ideas--metaphysical and cultural--but I enjoy the journey too. He will never pass this …

Hombre So-So

A little ball of cottony lightning tumbled in my stomach as I opened the package today. Hombre Lobo, the new Eels album was delivered to my mailbox this afternoon. I promptly tore off the plastic wrap and inserted the CD into my player. The little ball of cottony lightning soon fizzled out.


Most of the "12 songs of desire" are only moderately interesting. A 4/4 tempo, minimal sonic colors, and bland lyrics unfortunately dominate on this. Only "Fresh Blood", "All the Beautiful Things", and "Beginner's Luck", approach E's usual compositional talent. It's not that the album sucks, but E has set the bar much higher than this--hence the disappointment. Artists tend to fluctuate in their output, this just happens to be a lower point in the Eels arc. You could find better starting places in their discography if you haven't listened to Eels before. If you're already a fan, you may find more to like than I did, but I think …

An amnesiatic book review

I finished Eric T. Freyfogle's Agrarianism and the Good Society: Land, Culture, Conflict, and Hope some time ago and I remember being very impressed with it. This is the trouble with writing reviews some time after the reading--cranial folds don't always release their wards too easily. I remember the crux of the book was how can we steward land in a way that is wise balancing both public and private needs in addition to considering the needs of the land (and supported ecosystems as well) itself. Interestingly, he looks not only at the example of an ecologist (Aldo Leopold), but also literature--Cold Mountain and the fiction of Wendell Berry to help make his case. I remember being impressed that Freyfogle didn't just diagnose the problem but had suggestions as well. Not policies, per se, but principles to apply to policies.
Since this is such a crappy review I'll just throw some quotes out that I had highlighted.
Something for "Environmentalists" to conside…