I just finished reading the Hobbit, which is the first of the Tolkien books I've ever read. I found the tone to be more in line with the style of Hobbittown than the films. Now I haven't read the LOTR trilogy, and it seems like there's got to be a shift in the next three books tonally; I just noticed there was enough of a stylistic difference between what I got from the films and what I got from this book that I thought I should comment. Still, wonderful book, and I'm definitely at some point going to go all the way with Tolkien.
I'm about two-thirds of the way through Ian McEwan's Saturday, and the way he puts this clear-eyed analysis in the brain of the main character but yet doesn't allow that character to express this stuff outside of his head is masterful. I love it, and it's so true to life. His daughter is a celebrated poet whose first book of poems is being published and is mostly about her affairs with various men. It's titled, My Saucy Bark. How awesome is that name? I frickin' love it, and he even includes some of her poetry, which is well constructed and well analyzed. McEwan is amazingly knowledgeable on so many fronts that he can give it to his characters. I love the uneasiness Henry (our hero) has about his daughter's poetry.
As for Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, I'm also about two-thirds done after misplacing the book for about two weeks under a pile of papers. I got back at it last night, and he's going out from his search through his past back into the present, which is exciting. The middle section of the sorting out the lost past is wonderfully multi-media and includes all these pictures of the books and comics and so-forth that he finds in the attic of his grandfather's house. There's also some poetry here. There was this really fantasmo quote that I wanted to include, but it'll have to wait 'cause I left the book at work. It had something to do with giving up poetry to be a gunrunner.
I also got restarted on The World at War, which is a piece of historical Non-fiction: a wonderfully considered and well-researched account of the waning of the Western empires. Niall Ferguson does such an incredible job of putting together the relevant info and moving deftly from the historical to the sociological. It's just a great piece of non-fiction.
Oh, and Erykah Badu's new album, New Amerykah Part. 1 (4th World War): Badudabulous and even Badupendous (okay that one didn't work, but Badutastic seemed tired and I wanted one more). Apparently she's already recorded the next one, and it's called N.A. pt. 2 (Return of Ankh). I just can't wait.
So, I went to see what was being billed as The Next Generation of Ballet last night, and I thought I'd include it here with a bunch of other stuff so that I didn't get too formal in my analysis. I did think the whole thing was quite impressive. Professional ballet dancers have amazing technique, and the choreography had such a keen sense of a kind of moving tableaux at moments that I would intake a sharp breath with the wonderment. There was a piece set to a Phillip Glass (I feel like song is the wrong word here) number/movement, which started with a chinese influenced samisen-like orchestration and then moved into more trad. modern classical stuff. This was the main and longest piece including a set change where the main dancers came forward of the curtain to dance while the change took place. Amazing stuff: fifty or sixy dancers with about eight primary dancers, some really killer imagery and great diagetic sense.
Still I have to make some mild yet sharp critiques of the whole thing. The technical virtuosity of the ballet can at times sideline the passion and the feeling, which might be valuable main attractions. It feels like at times the non-technically challenging movements are rushed through to get back to the virtuosity, which I feel is a mistake. Also it was clear that the choreographers were trying to move beyond the confines of the language of ballet movement, and there were definitely some successes there; there was a fluidity of movement that would show up on occasion that felt new and not a part of the trad. ballet dance palette (of course I'm not in any way an expert, I'm just going on vibes here). Still, this was just the first step in a project of opening the doors of possibility. There are miles to go before we sleep. Anyway...
So, I know that I have a tendency to blow off hyper-linking this blog in any way, which is semi-intentional and semi-lazy. In one sense, I do feel like there's too much information at our fingertips, and the value of knowledge is somehow denigrated by the fact that it's so readily available and no longer has to be sought out as much or fought for as much as in the old days (I think that makes me old if I talk about the old days). On the other hand, it's really just a rationalization for my laziness. Maybe I'll go back through and suss out some links someday. Yeah, and the Democrats are gonna suss out the soaring national debt (I really like the word suss [and also brackets]).
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