Archive for the ‘Sock Puppet’ Category

BOOK: Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

October 23, 2009

I somehow managed to get through both high school and college (as an English major, no less!) without ever reading this novel, one of the most famous books ever written.  Don’t ask me how it happened.  I don’t have an answer.  What’s important is that I finally got around to it, right?

When I first started reading this book, I was absolutely flabbergasted by how completely wonderful it was.  The first 200 or so are not only brilliantly written, but quirky and hilarious and delightful as well.  I couldn’t put it down, and only about fifty pages into it, I was so in love with the narrator, (call him) Ishmael, I was seriously starting to consider making him a Boyfriend of the Week (hey, weirder Boyfriends have happened: meet Sock Puppet).

And then I got to the middle.  The middle 200 or so pages of this novel are absolutely brutal.  Unless you have a vested interest in whaling yourself, and particularly in the ins-and-outs of butchering the whales you have snagged, you are going to get to the middle of this novel and curse my name for having recommended it to you. There is an entire chapter, I kid you not, that provides step-by-step instruction on how to behead a sperm whale.  Now, granted, the fact this process requires a detailed tutorial makes some sense,  because beheading an animal that has no neck would be no easy feat, right?  The thing is, once you’ve read that chapter, there is no un-reading it.  And I have to confess, well, let’s just say: regrets, I’ve had a few.

THAT SAID, the nice thing about the sloggy middle of this otherwise-entertaining book is that the chapters are short and usefully-titled, which makes it extremely easy to skim past the parts that are of no import to you.  Jump past the whaling encyclopedia and straight on to the end, where the action heats up anew, the characters start getting their asses whomped, and fights, fights, fights!  But exciting drama aside, the analogy of Ahab’s obsessive whale hunt, and the analogies that can be applied to his ultimate fate, are thought-provoking and powerful.

All in all, this book had a tremendous impact on me (to the point where I started using lines from the text as my Facebook status updates, even, because they were so beautifully written), and I’m very grateful to the friend of mine who encouraged me to read it along with him.  Maybe you’ll feel the same way about me if you pick it up now yourselves.  Let me know, yes?


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MOVIE: Vantage Point (2008)

July 28, 2008

First things first, I’d like to formally thank the person who recommended this movie to me, even though I rather lamely cannot remember which one of you geniuses it was. Not only is this movie an absolute blast to watch, but it’s a veritable EX-BOYFRIENDPALOOZA! Dennis Quaid! Eduardo Noriega! Matthew Fox! William Hurt! Heck, even Richard T. Jones is in this! If they’d thrown in a cameo from Sock Puppet, it would’ve been my Movie of the Year for sure.

This intriguing, gripping film is about what happens between 12 and 12:23 pm one afternoon in Spain. The short version of what happens is that the U.S. President, in Salamanca to announce his new anti-terrorism partnership with the Spanish government, is shot and killed while speaking to a large crowd in the town square. But instead of just telling us the story of how and why this happens, the movie instead tells us the story of the same 23 minutes told, told, and retold from the perspective of a variety of different characters: a television news producer (Sigourney Weaver), two Secret Service agents (Quaid and Fox), a Spanish police officer (Noriega), an American tourist (future BotW Forest Whitaker), the President himself (Hurt), and then finally, the terrorists responsible for his shooting and the subsequent bombings, kidnapping, and car chases.

To say anything more than that is to spoil all the twists for you, which, I’m sorry to say, the movie will do a fine job of all its own — the one thing I was greatly disappointed by in this film was the fact that my Mom and I had just about every twist figured out LONG before they were revealed, including a very significant one I had pegged five minutes in. I hate it when that happens. It’s the work of shoddy writing, too much “telling” instead of “showing,” and some too-transparent, sub-par acting on the part of one of the aforementioned ex-Boyfriends, though I won’t say who.

Interestingly enough, however, despite the fact I think we both found this movie a bit too much on the predictable side, we were also COMPLETELY gripped by it, and very, very entertained. The constant rewinding and replaying from another point of view was clever in a Lost sort of way, and it also reminded me a little bit of Denzel Washington’s fine thriller Deja Vu, both because of the timeline stuff and because it also had a very fun car chase scene in it (though not one as creative as the comparable scene in Deja Vu, of course — that one is still tied for first place in Awesomeness with the car chase scene through the mall from the Blues Brothers (“Man, this place has got EVERYTHING!”)).

All in all, it was two hours we thoroughly enjoyed. And I’m really looking forward to A) seeing it again someday soon and B) seeing more of Eduardo Noriega in anything, although Spanish movies are so much better than American ones, it’s hard to wish he’d move to Hollywood. Even though I secretly want him to.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Thriller, Action
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Eduardo Noriega, William Hurt, Matthew Fox, Richard T. Jones, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver.