Looks Like Me But Isn't

Looks Like Me But Isn't

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Some Suggestions...

This list comes from the last two months of activity. Believe when I say I won't feel the least bit bad if you dislike or hate any of these. On the other hand, I will feel good if you enjoy them. Try them and if you feel like sharing; tell me what you thought.


A Drink Before the War - Dennis Lehanne

Enjoyable bestseller stuff. Even though the author claims to not want to get too involved in writing scripts for his books, his team of Boston P.I.'s, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, seem to have been made for the big screen. It may be easier to find actors committed for the long haul of 5 different books on TV. I can only hope it's cable TV though, so they can say all the bad words. This was his first book.

Darkness, Take My Hand - Dennis Lehane

Second installation for the Kenzie and Gennaro team. Still enjoyable, though this one darkens at exactly where A Drink Before the War ends. Definitely not happy stuff.

Mystic River - Dennis Lehane

A good read even if I much preferred the movie. Clint Eastwood is an awesome director and the acting cast was excellent too. I was surprised how faithful the movie is to the book. Dialogues are faithful and only a few scenes had to be juxtaposed or cut from the book to make the movie. If you've seen the movie, don't waste your time on the book.

Arabian Nights and Days - Naguib Mahfouz

This Egyptian Nobel Prize winning novelist definitely deserves a read. I loved the story, it picks up from the day they "lived happily ever after" in the classic A Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Even though it is set in a medieval time and place and full of genies it deals with important modern issues. Will your conscience allow you to do something wrong for a good cause? Is there anything but a solitary path towards salvation? After reading this I will be checking out more of books.

The Old Capital - Yasunari Kawabata

Kawabata also won a Nobel Prize and this book is just one of the reasons why. I am a big fan of Japanese literature and he is definitely one of the causes. This is a very moving book where the poetics of what is not said are just as important as what is actually said. The spacing of phrases and timing of words and actions gives you time to reflect and feel with the characters what is happening. I should note also that the translation by J. Martin Holman is awesome. I have read most of my favorite Japanese writers in Portuguese because the translations, today, are better than many of the American English ones, especially translations from a few decades ago. Holman re-translated this novel and I look forward to reading more stuff translated by him.

A Mentira (The Lie) - Nelson Rodrigues

A novel written by a Brazilian journalist and play write. He captured the fears and tragedies of the middle class and showed how most of them were caused by the smallest of self interested minds. He did this in the decades of the 1950's - 1970's when middle class theater-goers could be horrified by phrases like, "me and your wife, we did everything while we were in that bathroom". Sorry for you English only readers, there is no translation of this particular book. I'm not even sure if there are any of his works available. If interested I have a few short stories I personally translated, email me and I will send you them.

The Twelve Caesars (Penguin Classics) - Suetonius, Robert Graves (Translator)

I'm sure not many of you are history buffs but I think considering today's political world and the candidates you might find this a fun read. For an ancient Roman book, it contains very readable biographies of generally incompetent, narrow minded, self interested leaders who took on the name of Caesar the Great after he died.


Donnie Darko

Was he a sci-fi hero or just a teenager trying to come to grips with his ego and teenage sexual desires? The movies unanswered questions can lead you to many conclusions. A very good movie just for that point. It also scores with the inclusion of literature classes, the scorn for the sleek and simplified self-help gurus as well as having two of my favorite actresses.

The Office (4th Season)

One of the few things on TV I can actually enjoy. Great ensemble comedy. The only thing is I only buy the DVD's of complete seasons because I travel too much to watch the episodes when they are scheduled. At least I don't have to watch commercials.

Ran - Akira Kurosawa

Only a 75 year old master of cinema could make such a mature translation of Shakespeare's King Lear. I can't prove it, but I bet the British have adopted the film as the best representation of King Lear. It's all that. It is a painting of color moving. It is the story of loyalties and betrayals. And Kurosawa used primary colors to express primary feelings. In general, there is no film by Kurosawa that you shouldn't watch, they only are better or worse amongst themselves, but this is a definite watch.


Out Louder - Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood

A combination of two of my favorite things in music: jazz and funk. MM&W are an established trio of organ, bass and drums. Scofield one of the great jazz guitarists makes the quartet. Great beats, great jams and they even have some classics from both the jazz world and pop world. If you get a chance I suggest trying to find a bootleg of them on the Out Louder tour. Fantastic stuff.

All I Intended to Be - Emmylou Harris

If I knew why I bought her album I would tell you. The only thing is I heard a part of a song in an interview of someone else and I liked it. I was more than pleasantly surprised. I used to think she was country. She has much more in common with the Man in Black than I ever thought. She has the same ability to transcend boundaries and do it with confidence. She could sing any one's song and it would sound like hers.


I like beat driven music. I like a woman's voice. I like when the songs mean more than they appear to mean and the lyrics contain a sort of black humor. She does quite well.

Now playing: Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood - In Case the World Changes Its Mind
via FoxyTunes

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