Sunday, February 04, 2007

Reviews.

Yesterday, I had a migraine. Good times. I couldn't stand to look at a computer screen or TV all day, nor could I concentrate enough to knit. So I fell back on old-fashioned entertainment. I read a couple books.





The first book, "The Man Who Ate Everything" by Jeffery Steingarten. If the name sounds vaguely familiar, he's one of the regular judges on Iron Chef America: The grouchy one who is rather dry and witty. He used to be (not sure if he still is) the food critic for Vogue Magazine, is a lawyer, and has quite an education. You've got to love a man who does a taste test on thirty-three kinds of catchup (with McDonald's french-fries, no less, because that's what catchup goes best on), criticizes salad, and starts off his foodie book with a list of the foods he's afraid of. Plus he produces statements like "For one entire day in 1976, I weighed 116 pounds. This was the culmination of a yearlong diet composed mainly of low-fat cottage cheese and single malt Scotch, plus nine hundred packs of cigarettes and a daily vitamin pill. I hit upon this happy combination all on my own, and it is the only diet that has ever worked for me." at the start of his chapter on dieting. The chapter on wine, beer, and booze is titled "Just Say Yes". There's another chapter on raw vegetables called "Salad: the silent killer". If you eat, if you're interested in food at all, you'd enjoy this book. It was first published in the early nineties, but it still cotnains a lot of up to date information. I think there's a sequel. I'm already planning on buying it. He's honest about food (backing it up with a lot of scientific research), and unless you live on beef lard and lettuce, you'll come away from the book thinking "Gee, my diet's pretty good."


The other book:

"Kushiel's Scion" by Jaqueline Carey. (I try to post pictures of books, because no matter how literate you are, it helps to know what they LOOK like when you're trying to find the darn things.) This is the fourth book in the 'Kushiel' series, after "Kushiel's Dart", "Kushiel's Chosen", and "Kushiel's Avatar". Unlike the first three, this book is narrated by a new character (Imriel de la Courcel, for those of you who've read the first three), but has the same magic. Historic fantasy is the official genre - Carey has re-imagined the history of Europe and the story takes place in a middle ages free of the dark ages and Christianity, with gods who are a bit more active than ours. All the nations seem to be taken from their high point in history and jumbled together. Italy is in it's city-state era, Germany, Ireland, and Britain are tribal, France is a peaceful feudal monarchy, etc. It's a broad, sweeping epic to rival J R Tolkien. There are few books that make me stay up all night reading, but all the books in this series have done that to me. And the conclusion of the first trilogy, "Kushiel's Avatar" was actually better than the first and second books in the series - that takes real skill. So, if you're in the market for sweeping epics (oh, and did I mention the narrator of the first three is a professional S&M prostitute?), this is your kinda stuff.


And a movie. To round things out.
The other night, the husbeast and I watched Miami Vice. It is probably the worst movie I've seen in two or three years. Mainly I despise it as a writer - the plot twists and turns and leave dozens of hanging, unresolved plot lines, and generally make no sense. But I also hate it as a kid who grew up watching the TV show. Darn it, that show was SLICK. It was cool. It set fashion trends. Crockett and Tubbs looked GOOD. So what in hell happened to the movie? They wear nasty tee shirts and old jeans. The music was not nearly as much of a presence as in the TV show, either. Then there were general 'What the fuck?' things: why is there a Chinese chick running around with a Columbian gang, who supposedly grew up in Cuba? They couldn't find a Hispanic actress? Who ARE these people? None of the secondary characters are introduced in such a way as to explain who they are. And most of all, if this is an action movie, why in hell isn't there any action? It's a whole lot of two guys skulking around acting like drug dealers. One gunfight. One explosion. Please.

Five minutes of "Bad Boys" or "Bad Boys 2" has more wit, action, and understandable plot in it than the entire two plus hours of Miami Vice.

9 comments:

Catie said...

those books sound good. I just finished Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. Haven't seen Miami Vice... guess I won't now.

Bells said...

Bummer about the migraine Julie. I hate them.

Love the sound of the Steingarten book!

And the Carey books sound like something i would like, so thanks!

Amy Lane said...

Oh gods...catie read Tigana? I ADORE THAT BOOK... one of my favorites, period the freakin' end. But back to Julie's review--I sort of liked the movie, but I too was disappointed. I even like Michael Mann's whole minimalist dialogue thing, but it sooooooooooo didn't do it's thing there. (Last of the Mohicans, Heat, yes...Miami Vice, the movie? No.) I've got all four of the Kushiel books ordered...they're arriving in April. I don't know why April...but since I ordered them when we had no money, and we should probably have money in April, April is good...I'm really looking forward to them anyway... glad to get a good review--especially since my book got it's first bad one. I'm starting to feel like praise for one author sort of sheds it's little radioactive molecules on us all...

Camille said...

I do love the Kushiel books! I'm in the middle of re-reading chosen just now. I'm glad to hear that scion is just as good as the others!

Melissa said...

My husband and I saw "Miami Vice" on our anniversary. First one, no less. Not that I'm bitter or anything ... ha ha. I put up with it because I have a not-so-secret crush on Colin Farrell, but he was so scuzzy the entire movie - I just hated every single minute of it. Truly, truly awful. There was no chemistry between Farrell & Foxx - we saw the Canadian movie "Bon Cop, Bad Cop" a few weeks later, another movie about two (in this case, reluctant) partners, and the chemistry was palpable. It makes the movie much better when it isn't patently obvious the leads can't stand each other. "Bon Cop, Bad Cop" is supposed to be coming out in the States, so definitely worth looking for. On the bright side, I've read Steingarten's book and loved it. Will have to check out the others - I'm not much for fantasy usually, but those sound really interesting ... and you can't argue with books narrated by an S&M prostitue, can you?

an said...

I loved the Kushiel series too. I would go to Chapters when I had a bit of free time, and work my way through them when they first came out, and then get them from the library to read them again, in a bit more comfort.

The Lions of Al-Rassan is also super fabulous by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Kristen said...

Yes, migraines are teh suck. I hope yours is long gone now.

Those Steingarten quotes made me laugh. I'll have to check that book out. :)

Thanks for the heads-up on Miami Vice. I never watched the show, but my husband seemed a little eager to see the movie. Now i have an excuse to not watch it if he rents it.

debsnm said...

One question - are there amature S&M prostitutes?

Sarah said...

YEA another Kushiel fan, I Loved them. Enjoy Scion it's good.