Monday, December 29, 2008

Wives & Daughters

I was so engrossed with the BBC four-part version of Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters that I watched the final version right after I woke up this morning. It was kind of weird, watching a movie at 9:30 on a Monday morning, but I felt so involved with the characters that I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate. And I'm glad I did, the fourth installment was definitely the best. The two fathers in the story were my favorite characters, particularly the father of the brothers, the Hamlins I think... The lead actress, pictured here, was so, so good. Wonderful the way her face registered emotions...

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Yesterday I read Goffman's Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity for what I believe was the fourth time. The first time in college, after having enjoyed Asylums. The second time preparing for my orals. The third time for a deviance class I was teaching, and now, to go through concepts I will specifically reference and work with in the dissertation.

It's a great little book. (Although after all these years my copy is rather worse for wear.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Capricorn One

Last night I watched Capricorn One on the Netflix Watch Instantly feature. It was annoying because my internet connection kept going out.

Anyway, I really like this movie. As a child I saw it when it came out -- my parents just dragged us to whatever. I remember it being really scary and fascinating. I also misremembered the plot. I thought they fooled the astronauts into thinking they were on Mars.

It was a very good story, although filled with holes. Too many people in on a conspiracy, for one thing. But where it was really weak was all the speechifying and moralizing that went on. That kind of just seemed corny.

It was fun watching young Sam Waterston. So many of us must have a fondness in our hearts for him because of Law & Order.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Back to the Futures

Last night I watched Back to the Future II and tonight I watched Back to the Future III. A friend of mine had said he had his young daughters watch all three of them one rainy day and recommended them to me. I remember really liking the original. The sequels are good as well. Obviously not fresh, because obviously the concept is the same, plus twenty years have passed since they were made. Speaking of time travel.

Anyway, I really enjoyed these. They took my mind of my dissertation and were amusing. I got restless during all the fight/chase scenes, as I always do. Not an action film person, I guess.

Well, back to the present...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight was really intense and creepy. I liked it a lot. The joker character, played by Heath Ledger, was frightening and so unique. On edge and agitated, disturbed, menacing but not filled with rage.

I find the whole comic book genre kind of exhausting and tiresome and childish, but this was much better than the rest. Truly a cut above. Yes, it was over-long. Could easily have been half an hour shorter. And yes, the psychological conflicts between and within characters were broadly drawn. But I really felt for the characters and was interested in most of the scenes. It was incredibly well filmed and visually arresting.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Like Life

I was kind of disappointed in Like Life, a collection of stories by Lorrie Moore. I thought the writing would be like Anagrams, but the stories would be better constructed. The stories ARE exquisite. Excellent, but compared to the prose of Anagrams, they don't jump out in the same way. All the sentences in Anagrams crackled. Also, these stories, as much as I liked them, fell kind of flat in a depressing way. They left me empty.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Valley of the Dolls

Okay, I know you don't watch a bad, campy movie to complain about the lack of plot, the phoniness, the horrible acting. But when you watch a bad, campy movie by yourself, a lot of the "fun" goes out of it, and you find yourself just watching a cheesy piece of crap. Iconic crap, yes. But still crap.

That's what happened to me last night when I watched Valley of the Dolls. I had read the book -- and loved it -- in 7th grade and I think at some point in college I watched the movie, but don't really remember. So this was to refresh my memory. It was horrible. Not fun. Okay, maybe a little unintentionally funny. But not fun.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Le Scandal

I went to a burlesque show last night! I had never been to a burlesque show -- except I went to an amazing Coney Island benefit last spring that included one and it was amazing. But it wasn't quite the same as going to a club for the show.

We went to Le Scandal at Cutting Room. It was a terrific show. It included a regular strip act, a sexy chanteuse, a contortionist or two, a naked acrobat/aerialist, a sword-swallower, and a fire-eater. Every act was done to hot, thumping kind of music and had a real sexy slant to it. Although the fire-eater was kind of the most dramatic, my favorite was the aerialist who performed in a suspended hoop to Jessie's Girl. She was very sexy.

I kind of would like to go to a show that's less "neo-burlesque" and more old-fashioned. Just to see.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Elements of Teaching Writing

The Elements of Teaching Writing by Gottschalk & Hjortshoj is an excellent, concise, handy book on integrating writing into the curriculum. It's very well written and well organized, and the authors have a tremendous amount of respect for the teaching process. I found it very helpful, and will use it in my faculty development work as well as my own teaching.