Week In Media: 10 Cloverfield Lane, One Million Bullets, Magicians Trilogy, & Good Girl

The magic of 10 Cloverfield Lane is that the ads don’t tell you anything. I won’t tell you anything, either — because that’ll ruin some of the fun. This movie is tense and unforgettable. There isn’t a moment you’ll feel safe to go to the bathroom. You will hold your pee inside happily.

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6 Book Reviews! In Limerick Form!

I love writing book reviews, but I often worry that they’re tedious to read. Imposing limits on them is challenging for me. And it’s fun (maybe!) for you. Let’s go!

Accomplished-Books

The Warmth of Other Suns.

As current events show
America stands in the shadow of Jim Crow.
Though you might be aghast,
it’s important to learn about the past.
You can’t fix what you don’t know.

Before Watchmen.

I grabbed this on a lark.
Its storylines are dark,
but the writing
is exciting,
and it really hits the mark.

Better Than Before.

The key to making life better
is to be a go-getter.
Set your habits;
Let them multiply like rabbits.
Use your personality type to the letter.

Failed-Books

The Bees & Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies & The City Under The Skin.

I die a little inside,
to admit that I tried —
but I failed.
I chose to bail.
I put these books aside.

As a personal note about this entry, I am absolutely never doing this format again.

This post took days to write.

Turns out I can’t rhyme at all. Basic kindergarten poetry is beyond me.

4 Not-Quite-Beach-Reads That I Technically Read At The Beach Last Week

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Best American Non-Required Reading 2013 // Dave Eggers (editor): There’s a brief, fun segment in the beginning — after which every one of these pieces is depressing in some way. Though many parts are beautifully written, there is no relief from the sadness. I want to recommend this, but I can’t. It’s too much.

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder // Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The unexpected is going to happen eventually. No matter what tragedy happens, someone always profits. This book is about positioning yourself to withstand — and even gain from — the unexpected. There are tons of really cool ideas in here, but I kept getting distracted by the fact that the author is an asshole. It’s still worth reading.

Flight of the Silvers // Daniel Price: Each parallel dimension has its own natural laws. When 6 people are transported from our dimension to another with different physics, they have innnate powers. And are, of course, being hunted for study. It’s not flowery prose, but the plot’s interesting. (It reminded me a little of the 1990s Tomorrow People.) I look forward to the next installment.

A Tale For The Time Being // Ruth Ozeki: This story’s mostly about a bullied Japanese girl, her depressed father, and her Zen Buddhist great-grandmother. That part — the bulk of the plot — is contained in a journal a Canadian woman finds on a beach. The novel cuts back and forth between the journal and the woman trying to hunt down the girl. This book isn’t just a novel; it’s also about philosophy, technology, nature, and Schrodinger’s cat. Though the Canadian woman’s pretty boring, I still recommend this one.

I was so busy not calling my grandmother that I couldn’t finish these two books.

I once fretted over not completing books, but life is too short and my to-read list is too long to linger over literature I’m not interested in.

This week’s Fail List comprises two books, a nice mix of fiction and nonfiction.

TLDR

(Mom, TL;DR means “too long, didn’t read.”)

Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. This is one of Time’s 100 Greatest Novels, and is often declared “one of the most important works of American fiction.”

About 50 pages in, I was confused about what I was reading, so I went to the Wikipedia page, which informed me there were 400 characters. The plot summary was a tome in itself.

I continued reading the novel. The first bit is set in England. All was well. Then the protagonist goes to some tropical resort (???) though the war is still on (??? why isn’t he fighting???) and rescues a woman from a Pavlov-trained-octopus attack (???) who is spying on him (???). This is where I lost interest, because I couldn’t figure out what these people were doing putzing around during war time and why, if they knew the protagonist’s dick could predict where bombs would land, they didn’t keep him in the place where bombs were landing. Wouldn’t that be useful? Couldn’t they use that to evacuate buildings beforehand?

If you are interested in a piece of Great American Fiction That People Are Always Talking About, I recommend Infinite Jest instead.

Steven Pinker’s The Stuff of Thought. This book about linguistics turned into That Thing I Read To Help Me Fall Asleep. It’s several hundred pages about verbs and such. This is typically the sort of thing I get zesty about. I couldn’t get into this one.

Not all is lost on the reading front, however.

I did manage to complete

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This is by Jon Ronson, who’s probably best known for having written The Men Who Stare At Goats. (I love you too much to lie to you: I haven’t read that one. I saw the movie.)

Them is a pretty light, quick read. It’s just what I needed.

It’s fun — as fun as you can have when chillaxing with jihadists, white supremacists, and paranoid people who are convinced the New World Order is forthcoming.

The overarching terror of the extremists is basically “the Jews are coming for us all, and will rule with an iron fist.”

The author is Jewish, and he talks to these people. He’s surprisingly not murdered. He might be crazy.

Most of the book is devoted to the “Bilderberg Group,” a real entity. Conspiracy theorists outside the group are convinced it’s the New World Order. Do their meetings determine the fate of the world?

The book culminates in Ronson party-crashing their event.

(There are a few other chapters in the book, about 3/4 of the way through, that are about totally unrelated things. These chapters are confusing, because they didn’t tie into the primary narrative.)

The extremists are surprisingly — and perhaps a little disappointingly — normal. They have kids, and struggle with not being taken seriously. Sometimes they’re funny. Sometimes they’re sad. Sometimes they’re petty. Typically they’re terrifying.

Sadly, if there is a Jewish conspiracy, I have not been invited to the meetings.