Otherwise known as My Leisurely Journey to Vegetarianism And Incidentally You're An Idiot If You Don't Convert To It Also
I was pretty let down by Foer's first stab at nonfiction, especially since the reviews said it was even-handed. This was not as detailed or remotely objective as Omnivore's Dilemma and Fast Food Nation. Although it had some interesting information - like the brief info about PETA and Smithfield - I felt like I was being force-fed (trying... to... avoid... puns) the conclusions instead of letting me have the facts and come to revelations/decisions on my own. And the conclusion-jumping was a bit much: If we stop eating meat > animals won't be hurt > factories won't pollute > Global Warming will cease > we'll be happy lettuce munchers.
With the two books mentioned above (which he openly criticizes) there was a pull instead of a push, and I didn't feel like I was being talked down to. This just made me feel entrenched in meat for no other reason than I was insulted... and it makes me want to bathe in steak and drink turkey blood.
Tone aside, this does present a good case against animal cruelty, which even meat-lovers would want to change. Reform is something we need to demand, but saying that the only way to change factory farming is to become a vegetarian is just plain naive.
I like that Franky doesn't just bash Christians' lack of quality in the arts, but really draws a line in the sand about quality in general. A few gems stuck with me, like his take on non-believers being called TO something. What is it? Is it sheep to call other sheep, or is it enjoyment in the life and creativity we are given? He sometimes goes a bit extreme with how much he downplays the importance of preaching and the church, but I like the concept of work and creativity being just as valid as missions and ministry.
Mr. Elwes is not the best writer -- and spends a little too much time humblebragging and singing the praises of his co-stars -- but I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look into this great novel/script/film, and actually introduced the movie to my kids this week. Such a classic.
Love Cranston, and thought he was a great reader for this profanely fitting follow up to Go the F*#$ to Sleep. I have 2 kids, and this perfectly encapsulated the internal monologue that runs through our heads as parents.
P.S. My favorite reader of the first book is Werner Herzog.
Leaving Bulgakov out of a Russian Lit Lineup is pretty much akin to leaving Iron Man out of an Avengers movie.
That aside, I loved this course. The only downside was the lack of coverage of Bulgakov, as a result of his being banned for so long in the Soviet Union (and virtually unknown in the west at the time the professor was working on his PhD). The author didn't so much as mention him.
This covers everyone from Pushkin to Solzhenitsyn, providing incredible historical context, perfectly pronounced Russian phrases and poems, and an in-depth walk through *almost* all the best Russian works.
I lived in Ukraine for 10 years, and this course still opened my eyes to a lot more about the Russian culture I was unaware of. It's brilliant, funny, educational, and insightful. Anyone vaguely interested in the history and/or literature of this part of the world should pick this up now. 36 amazing half-hour lectures for one credit is a steal!
You can't write a book like this without JD Salinger. You also can't get the genius of George Saunders without this work. So as a bridge connecting Tenth of December to The Catcher in the Rye, I am very grateful for its existence. As for its own merit, it was honest and rambly and self-pitying and desperate and depressing and irritating -- with what ended up to be very little heart. Or at least it didn't translate into heart for me. Being disgruntled with life and the lemon-throwing machine it can be only transcends it if the characters can overcome and grow from how they handle the challenges.
•He hunts without a shirt on.
•He takes over the TV station/media and exiles the majority stock holders in order to create his own news.
•The FSB plants bombs in apartment buildings and blames the Chechens (bags of hexagen marked as sugar).
•He hires 7 ambassador-cronies to oversee the various regions and control the voting process.
•He reverts to the former Soviet national song… slash fear-mongering totalitarian state.
•He jokes on Larry King Live about a nuclear submarine that sank during a drill with no rescue attempts, killing 113 Russian sailors.
•He cuddles with dolphins.
•300 hostages (mostly women and children) were killed by federal troops that stormed a school.
•129 hostages were killed post-rescue due to a gas attack by a SWAT team at a Moscow Theatre.
•The dismantling of democracy reaches completion.
•Innumerable Russian journalists, lawyers, and dissenters are imprisoned/exiled and/or killed.
•Polonium murders abound.
•He steals Kraft’s NFL Championship ring.
•And much, much more!
It's basically Deep Thoughts crammed into a flimsy plot. I love his stuff, but I could only take so much at a time due to dryness desensitization. Then I'd come back to it and it was hilarious again. His tone is hysterical, and I could definitely see re-listening to this in the future.
Equal parts Fast Food Nation, The Informant!, and The Omnivore's Dilemma. It does a great job of showing the closed door meetings, food industry rivalries, Wall Street, the government, as well as our own demands that have gotten us into the cluster we are in today. It was highly informative in not only mentioning the key players behind the food giants (like Cargill that provides the salt/sugar/fat and Monell that does the taste research), but also in the gradual developments and insider terms/tricks (stomach share, bliss point, checkoff money, line extension, single serving, vanishing caloric density) that have come together for the perfect storm of our obesity problem. Food = Drugs. I'm not going to lie... it made me want cookies, cheese, and chips pretty bad, though!
No duds to be found in this short story collection. What I like is how unassuming the 'tagonists are. (They aren't really 'pro-' or 'ant-'.) Many of the characters have a fragile psyche and plenty of self-doubt and guilt for everyone. The prose remains fascinating and unpredictable, juxtaposing an impressive vocabulary with the simple internalizing that usually goes unspoken. As with any writer, it was cool to see recurring themes, phrases, and concepts that he circled back to, and yet I never knew where each story was ultimately headed. There was social commentary, sci-fi, po-mo, slice-of-life family drama set in the near future, and ultimately a large amount of creativity. I also found a few of his articles in the New Yorker to be entertaining/thought-provoking. He reads his own work well, and sounds good sped up to the 1.25 setting.
Sprawling, ambitious, and yet somehow hits its mark. Traces the history of how we communicate, how we measure information, how far we've come, and why it matters. It unapologetically spends time in the weeds to walk through the theories (and their developers) of the mathematical/philosophical/biological underpinnings of what makes information so vital and yet overwhelming.
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