Archive for June, 2012

Game of Thrones is Addictive

June 30, 2012

We’ve been watching Game of Thrones the last couple of nights and I find it addictive.  It is not my typical type of television fare, but it is incredibly well-written, acted, and produced.  It’s visually enticing with it’s accurate portrayals of a medieval life in small villages spread across the Seven Kingdoms.  The plot is interesting and leaves you guessing.  There is some nudity and violence, but when you compare it to True Blood, it’s actually very little.  I was horrified by the Queen’s incestuous relationship with her brother, but I decided to keep watching because I’ve heard such great things about the show. I’ve decided to read the books because I’ve been told that there is more detail (of course) in the books and I will get more out of the show by reading the books.

Homer & Langley by E. L. Doctorow

June 29, 2012

Shana’s blog reminded me of a book I read (fiction based on a true story) of the Collyer brothers. They lived in a mansion on 5th Avenue and were champion hoarders. One brother had gone blind and was wholly dependent on the other. When found dead, one of a fall, the other of starvation, the house was literally stuffed with newspapers, cars, pianos, furniture, clothes, etc., much of it gathered off the streets of the city. (In a strange twist, they conserved quite a bit of energy, as they often refused to pay their electric bill.) I don’t remember how many tons of stuff was removed from the house but it was impressive.

Hard to tell who’s crazier, the Collyers or No Impact Man.

 

No Impact Man- A documentary worth watching

June 28, 2012

Louis and I recently watched a documentary about Colin Beavan who wanted to dedicate one year to a special project- to have no impact on the environment while living in Manhattan.  It was absolutely fascinating.  Colin convinced his wife to join him- they vowed to not produce trash, make new purchases, use air conditioning, use public transportation, etc.  They documented the whole thing on camera, on Colin’s blog, and he wrote a book about the experience.

The family shopped only at the local farmer’s market, which meant that they only ate what was in season and they greatly reduced their trash because of the lack of packaging.  They rode their bikes to work and around the city.  They stopped buying new clothes and saved a ton of money.  Six months in, they switched off their electricity and lived by candlelight.  Colin created his own worm box, which they used to compost all their food scraps.

Overall, I think it was absolutely fascinating and it made me realize that there are a few things that I could do that would help the environment without going to the extremes that the Beavan family did for this project.  My first goal is to start composting.

“No Impact Man” is available on Netflix- check it out for some food for thought.

Click here for Colin’s blog.

His efforts also spawned  No Impact Project which focuses on educating and promoting a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

“The Abdication”

June 28, 2012

Written by Juliet Nicolson this book is probably exactly what you would think it is about–the abdication of Edward VIII.  It is part soap opera and part examination of pre-WWII England.

I enjoyed it for several reasons.  I have a great interest in WWII and the days leading to that conflict.  Nicolson has done her research and portrays the major English characters of this period very well.  Although some of the characters are fictional, I think they represent composites of attitudes and social classes of that day.  Most of the focus of the story is on the King and Wallis Simpson. Both of whom are seen as very unlikeable people.  I have never seen the King portrayed, either in books or movies, as anything else.  When you read how Elizabeth II and her father both conducted themselves, you realize that Edward VIII just didn’t get his responsibilities or just didn’t care.  Wallis Simpson comes in a close second in the selfishness department. 

In addition to the obvious historic elements of the story–anti-Jewish hatred in Britain, the Berlin Olympics, British politics of the day, this was a very readable story that captured the time period and some of its famous/infamous personalities.

Two unrelated comments

June 27, 2012

I recently heard Frank Partnoy being interviewed about his new book “Wait–The Art of Science of Delay.”  Basically, he was advocating waiting as an option that is not chosen as much as it should be.  He discussed some psychological studies done with children regarding delayed gratification as an indicator of future success.  Waiting for a period of time before they ate that “second marshmallow” might in the end result in a better way of life.  \

My favorite part of this interview was his discussion of how to answer emails.  Print them out, put the list in a drawer, and then wait until the last possible moment to reply.  By doing this, your reply will be a better one than if you answered immediately.  He had lots more to say.  I guess what I should do is think over what he had to say and then wait to read our copy of “Wait.”

On a totally different topic, I recently saw “Haywire.”  If you like an action movie featuring a tough, athletic, no-nonsense female hero with amazing physical agility, this is for you.  Added to this was a plot that kept you guessing.  Characters who weren’t what they seemed–good guys becoming bad guys each double-crossing each other.  The chase scene on a snowy upstate road was well done but did border on being campy.  All in all, a good action movie with a twist–a female in control.


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