I leave you this week with one book, one film, and one article, because I said so.
White Boy Shuffle-Paul Beatty. I have not read (and enjoyed) a book so filled with energy, punchlines and prose that flips and doubles back on itself. Centered around Gunnar Kaufman, and his rise from privileged black boy in privileged white suburb to privileged black boy in a Los Angeles ghetto, to a prodigiously talented basketball player and poet who becomes the unwitting spokesman, it provides a powerful exploration of assimilation and what success can mean when the rest of society defines you not only by your skin color, but by your expected lack of success. Most impressively, Beatty weaves hyperbolic stereotypes with such confidence that–despite one’s best attempts at sensitivity–one finds oneself barely noticing the horribly clichés, a clever and deeply troubling experiment on the reader that Beatty deftly executes.
Broken Embraces-An film in the ripples before the waves of Pedro Almodivar’s and Penelope Cruz’s skyrocketing careers, the film is a great example of Spanish cinema: a plot a little bit too intricate for its own good, solid acting by its main cast, somewhat dubious acting from its supporting cast (who, because of the plot, almost always end up with overly important roles towards the end), and somewhat dreary sets.
Subplots aside, the film is narrated by “Harry Caine” the nom de plume cum nom regulière (cum more unnecessary french phrases) who is telling the story of whoe he became blind and heartbroken. Penelope Cruz plays a former prostitute who marries her powerful, obsessive (and altogether too old) boss, who on a whim decides to try acting, gets cast in the film of the director. Hopefully it doesn’t bear to close to the muse relationship Cruz and Almodivar have, but the actress and director begin a torrid love affair, which makes the marriage quickly abusive. The two go into hiding and as revenge the cuckolded husband plans to destroy the film, choosing the worst takes, etc.
Cue gay son with unaccepting father subplot, a tepid murder mystery plot that never amounts to everything, and the film eventually becomes a story of redemption, with the blind director (blinded in a car crash).
A decent film if one loves Penelope Cruz (who doesn’t), Almodivar, Spanish movies, or any combination of the three (Love for Cruz being taken for granted amongst the global male population0. If not, I would recommend Volver.
“The Enemy Within”–The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/06/the-enemy-within/8098/
I love sci-fi. I love hard sci-fi that deals with interstellar travel, cryogenic freezing, computer programs that run as humans, alien cloud consciousness, ships the size of planets, sci-fi that deals with infinity, wormholes, alternate universes.
With Stuxnet, a computer virus that seems to have been developed by a nation state, it seems that some of that future that I love to geek out about (and rant about on first dates) is here. GOldberg’s article follows an earlier virus but it is a fascinating, compelling article, its only fault in being a little bit too slickly written. I really recommend it if you want an overview of how much computers are a very big part of our world, and not just superficially, and where warfare and terrorism could be headed.