All posts filed under: Reviews: Books & Film

Watch “March 15 Sermon by James Finley, Ph.D.” on YouTube

I recently came across this little homily from one of my favorite spiritual teachers, James Finley. He’s been called the spiritual teacher that spiritual teachers listen to when they listen to spiritual teachers…or something like that… In any event, what makes him compelling has nothing to do with needing some kind of esoteric or highly specialized knowledge. It’s that he’s just had a mature presence, the picture of someone experienced, i.e. he has suffered, but he is also relaxed and calm, which always gives me a sense of reassurance, because when someone who is serene and light can talk about the deepest most difficult shit that we have to endure, then it means something. [Footnote: my auto-correct keeps changing “spiritual” to “Doritos.” I change it back, but I’m quite certain that there are Doritos teachers who are also fans of James Finley. There is no doubt in my mind.] In any event, if you have ten minutes to watch the homily, let me know what you think. [Note on photo: that’s early 2012, when I …

Live free or die trying

I recently finished that Ken Burns documentary that I’ve been watching (more on that in another post) and decided to re-read the Vietnam War chapter in Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of The United States (more on that in another post), as a follow-up. As can happen, one thing leads to another and before I knew it I was reading Zinn’s chapter/s on the Civil War, which is where I came across the words of Harriet Tubman. Here is the quote, in context:

David Foster Wallace

But, so, what do I read next?

If you’re an avid reader, you are doubtless acquainted with a familiar phenomenon, the thrilling but also potentially problematic process of choosing the next book. I usually have at least two or three going at a given time, but right now I’m working the tax season at a CPA firm, so there isn’t all that much time to read. But I have a 20 minute commute, plenty of time to enjoy an audiobook. Surprisingly, choosing a book for my daily commute took a while, as can be the case when I want to find just the right book, the right book for the right time, the book that excites me and makes me want to dig in, ASAP.

The Brilliance of My Brilliant Friend | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

I’m nearly at the end of watching HBO’s My Brilliant Friend, the recently aired adaptation of the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan Novels. I’ve now read all for novels, though I’ve only reviewed the first, My Brilliant Friend. The books were quite brilliant and the new HBO film series builds on that. I’ll gave more to say on that another day — because, my god, there is so much to say — but for now I wanted to pass along the thoughts of Rhiannon Cosslett, writing in The Guardian. Her analysis of females portrayed in film brings out the richness of the new HBO film series (and by extension the novels): what struck me most about the shifting of the story into a different medium is the time given to the two main – female – characters, and how revolutionary it still feels to see female friendship explored onscreen in this way. If the portrayal of this friendship was revelatory in the novel, with all that form’s facility for introspection, then on screen it is even more …

Westworld [Heart Shaped Box] | YouTube

I’ve just finished watching the second season if Westworld — and wow — but more on that wow at another time. For now I wanted to share this vid, since for me a major part of the pleasure of watching Westworld is the music, the symphonic sounds of Ramin Djawadi, the composer of the music of Westworld. There are beautiful recreations of old grunge tunes, like Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” or “Heart Shaped Box” by Nirvana. And perhaps that’s meant to be metaphorical, like Arnold and Ford’s recreation and re-imagination of humankind.

The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

I started watching Ken Burns’ 18 hour documentary on Vietnam, and after five episodes I’m hooked in, way more hooked, in fact, that I would have ever thought possible given that this is a war documentary. I’ve generally stayed away from watching or reading about war, whether it’s a novel or a blockbuster moview or a documentary, I’ve tended to find other subject matters. For some reason, though, this series has me intrigued and glued to the tube.

Binging on Westworld

I spent a pleasant New Year’s Day in my pajamas, binge-watching the first season of Westworld with one of my friends. Westworld is a beautiful show; it’s visually elegant, the pacing is deliberate but builds on itself, and the writing is fantastic, there’s nothing wasted. I’ve heard, in fact, that they interrupted the whole production process, putting the show on hold, all so that the writers could fine tune the show. It certainly paid off. It hooked me in, and I stopped only to satisfy the most basic of biological needs. It all made for a hellagood New Year’s Day.