Archive for the ‘review’ Category

New earth on the barrens

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

As part of my quest to read every apocalyptic novel ever published, I’ve just finished Riddley Walker by John Russell Hoban (1980). It was recommended to me by a co-worker, and I can’t believe I’d never heard of it before. In case you don’t know it either, it takes place in England roughly two thousand years after planet-wide nuclear holocaust, and the whole thing is written in a dialect Hoban invented, a guess at what the people of Kent might sound like at such time. (more…)

Post-Avatar depression

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

We're blue, too.Several news outlets this past week, including CNN and a local NYC paper, reported a worldwide phenomenon: Many people who have seen the James Cameron film Avatar are experiencing depression.

They’re depressed because they’ve seen a world that is beautiful, in which every living thing is connected and in harmony, and they’ve been reminded how far they are from living that way.

I went to and had a look at the discussion there for myself. And you know what?


New York story

Friday, January 15th, 2010

My friend S. and I waited in line for over an hour last night for a free screening of The Book of Eli (very good, neat twist, God-y but in the best way possible) and the free tickets ran out just ahead of us.

So S. and I go into the cinema to see if there was anything else playing – the smell of popcorn was that tantalizing – but there’s nothing at the right time, and I’m ready to leave. S. eyes the staircase. “Let’s just go up here for a minute,” she says.

I’d never been to this theater before, but she’d been here lots of times, born and raised in the city. At the top of the stairs is a ticket-taker, so I hesitate. Nearby is another cinema worker, chatting on the phone. “Bathroom?” S. says, and the woman gestures. We walk right in.

Who knew you could do that?

I’m giddy, having snuck into the movies – I feel like a little kid as we’re walking down the main drag, past the popcorn concessions (gotta get some), past theater after theater. I’m trying to figure out what we’re going to see. S. is just heading for the bathroom – she really did have to go.

And suddenly we’re in the doorway of a movie, I can’t tell which one, but I have my suspicions as there are security guards and a guy waving a wand-style metal detector. S. is walking so purposefully, he assumes she belongs there. “You were here before, right?” he says, and waves her in. I ride her wake, trying not to screech with joy.

We’re in. And The Book of Eli is just starting.

We had to stand, but it’s just under 2 hours and we both work on our feet all day at the bookstore, so no sweat (my feet are much better these days).

Later she told me how she and a friend happened to walk past a theater downtown showing a premier of some big movie, and all the stars were there. She and her friend just walked right in. Saw the movie, saw the stars.

New York!

Review: 2012

Monday, December 14th, 2009
This is all you need to see.

This is all you need to see.

The only reason anyone would go to see a movie like this is for the special effects. Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow – we all know the plot will suck and the science will be dodgy at best, but who cares, right? Let’s blow some shit up!

That’s why 2012, from the same director, is such an enormous disappointment. I could have forgiven their nonsensical explanation for the end of the world – neutrinos from solar flare activity somehow microwave the earth and boil the core – if only they’d given me more of what I paid for: disaster porn.

We do get to see Los Angeles break in half and slide into the ocean, a sight I can never get enough of. The lumps of burning magma from the Yellowstone supervolcano were very well done, I thought, as was the hemisphere-enveloping ash cloud. And I did enjoy watching a battleship named the USS John F. Kennedy slam into the White House, and St. Peter’s Basilica roll over a dense crowd of worshipers. (more…)

Review: The Lost Symbol

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Buy this book at Amazon.comYeah, I know. Dan Brown is the crappiest and trendiest of all crappy trendiness, and I ought to be ashamed to admit that I even picked the book up and looked at it.

If you, like 10 billion other people on the planet, read The Da Vinci Code, you won’t be surprised to learn that his latest book, six years in the making, is every bit as awful – and yet captivating. A friend of mine pointed out that one of the secrets to Dan Brown’s success as a writer is that he makes stupid people feel smart, by telling them all this great stuff; and he makes smart people feel smart, because they get to pick apart his writing, his factual errors, and his lack of originality. Everybody wins.


Review: On the Beach

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

On the BeachI’ve always been a fan of apocalyptic literature, and I’ve heard Nevil Shute’s On the Beach mentioned often as a must-read in the genre.

The basic plot is that the countries of the northern hemisphere have engaged in all-out nuclear war, a war lasting about a month. Between the nuclear blasts and subsequent radiation sickness, everyone in Russia, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America are dead. The story takes place in Australia, where the eerily calm survivors – there were no bombs for them – are waiting as the radiation creeps southward. Our heroes are an American submarine commander, stranded by the war in southern waters, his Australian liaison, the liaison’s wife, and a female friend of theirs who befriends the submarine commander. We wait and watch with them until the end. (Spoilers ahead.)