23 February 2009

Essay responding to the e-book.

John Updike wrote a reverberating little piece entitled "A Case for Books" that I think expresses why so many of us serious readers are alarmed by the rise of the electronic-format book. The physical appeal of the hard copy of a novel is unmatchable even by the variable format font and crisp screen glow. And don't misunderstand me: I am hardly a modern-day Luddite (I keep a blog and check my Google calendar several times a day), but Updike's essay puts into words those hesitations and anxieties that I've been having trouble focusing. He argues that books leave remnants suggestive of our internal lives in a way that electronic books cannot; they "externalize our brains, and turn our homes into thinking bodies." They serve as "counterweight to our fickle and flighty natures." It's a short and punchy defense by a man who truly appreciates writing as an art form.

"A Case for Books" is included in his collection of essays and literary criticism entitled Due Considerations, which is well worth a read, a skim, or at least dabble.

19 February 2009

Warm house!

When the heat stops working in the house for two days in the frigid February winter, one really gets to appreciate central heating. Mmmyep. It's back on and I'm toasty at home now, with a cup of tea.

The next few weeks are going to be filled with some good Russian lit. I feel it's very appropriate for this weather. Started reading Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev today. A couple of friends and I are starting a book discussion group... following that, we'll take on Tolstoy's War and Peace.

09 February 2009

Obama's presidental news conference

A note so nobody misses President Obama's first prime-time White House press conference tonight. 8pm, news channels everywhere. Don't expect me to live-blog it or anything - I haven't yet gone that far. ;)

05 February 2009

Film sidenotes;

Quickly going to jot down some film notes before I head to my next class. I like to have my initial reactions in writing and I've been watching more movies than usual lately. Though I'm certainly behind on seeing the Oscar nominees for this year - out of the nominees for Best Picture, I've seen exactly 0. Ahem.
Onto my recent views:

No Country for Old Men (2007): A brilliantly written and suspenseful thriller, directed by the Coen brothers and based on its namesake novel by Cormac McCarthy. Javier Bardem is absolutely bone-chilling here as a murderous sociopath.

Chunhyang (2000): This is a Korean film that I found notable for its mix of both modern storytelling features as well as the traditional pansori musical poetic style involving a singer and a barrel drum player. It's a universally known tale of love and loyalty in Korea that has been made into a movie for modern audiences by director Kwon-taek Im. Great way to experience Korean culture and history.

As for movies that are currently out in theatres, I'm excited to see Coraline (a surreal animated film which opens tomorrow, based on a Neil Gaiman book), as well as The Wrestler and Slumdog Millionaire. My housemates and I tried to go to see Slumdog last week, but it was sold out at E St Cinema. Sad.
Anyway, I'll sum up by saying I'm pleased that I am getting plenty of respite from my academic- and job-related duties so far this year. My friend just got me a DVD of Shakespeare Behind Bars which I'm excited and curious about - it's about Kentuckian prison inmates performing Shakespeare. Reminds me of the episode of This American Life (which I loved) in which Missourian prison inmates get together to put on a staging of Hamlet. You can listen to that one online by following the preceding link.