Saturday, December 26, 2009

Logicomix!

Every so often I read a book and think, "I wish my dad were around to read this."  The most recent is "Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth" by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou—a graphic novel centered around the life of Bertrand Russell and detailing the "Quest for the Foundations of Mathematics" through the development of the discipline of mathematical logic.

I found it on one or two "ten-best" lists and gave it to my son Ben for Christmas.  On the way to wrapping it I picked it up and started to read it (being as careful as I could not to break the spine).  I enjoyed what I read and kept going.  To my surprise, I wound up loving this book.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Taming of the Shrew

Yesterday I saw the Boston-area Actors' Shakespeare Project's production of The Taming of the Shrew.  It was the first production of theirs that I'd seen; I'd heard great things about them and it didn't disappoint.

But what are we to make of a play that so unabashedly supports male dominance of marriage?  I saw the play on Sunday afternoon, and that performance had a brief question-and-answer session with the cast.  I asked them how they dealt with the issue, ending up by saying (in jest, mostly), "How do you look at yourself in the mirror each morning?"  Clearly, it was something that they all struggled with, and how could they not?  One actor said that while it is true that the play is patriarchal, it's not true that the play is misogynist, that they're not the same thing.  True enough.  The woman who played Katharina, said, if I'm recalling correctly, that she tried to look at the play mainly as a love story and she was glad that while she was playing the character she didn't have to think about the broader implications.  She did a fantastic job, so I'm glad she didn't have to look at them while she was at it either.  I don't mean to be getting down on the cast here in any way, incidentally: they did a great job with a play that can't be anything but deeply troublesome these last forty years or so.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pandora is changing my life

OK, I have a bunch of music.  Mostly it comes from CDs that I own (really!).  At one point I ripped it all to mp3 files, set up a server, and had two Squeezeboxes that I could listen to anything in my collection any time I wanted to.  I made some play lists that played over and over in my office waiting room.  When I had a party, I would (sometimes) make a big play list and play it as background music.  Other than that I hardly use it.

Yet More on Wild Things

Will I ever write about anything else?  Stay tuned to find out.

In the meantime, here is a thoughtful NY Times piece by A. O. Scott.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More on the Wild Things

Can I be a self-respecting liberal and still love David Brooks?  A piece well worth reading, with lots of stuff I wish I'd put in my last blog entry.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

There has been a trend in recent years (thank God) toward kids' movies that adults will enjoy.  "Where the Wild Things Are" seems to have brought this trend to its ultimate conclusion: a kids' movie that adults enjoy and kids don't like.

We saw it last night.  Claudia and I loved it, but Sydney (11) and Ben (16) didn't.  Rainer (13) said she did, but I'm not sure...

The film is visually beautiful, and they did an incredible job making the creatures—the Wild Things—very faithful to the book.  Maurice Sendak is apparently happy with the movie, and I'm glad to hear it: the movie shares Sendak's refusal to talk down to kids, or to sugar-coat kids' internal lives in any way.

There is no Disney happy ending, there is no cookie-cutter moral, and so even though it's not violent by modern standards, it's darker and more complex morally than what kids are used to.  It resonated with the novel I'm reading right now, Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, whose subtitle is "Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer," whose plot centers around an attempt to inculcate subversiveness by introducing children's literature which has a larger element of the Brothers Grimm than is fashionable at the time.

So even though I said that kids don't like it, that's an overstatement, and we all agreed that it generated a lot more discussion than any movie in recent memory.  So my advice would be: drag your kids to see it, you won't be sorry!