At Home – Bill Bryson (Book 5 of 25)
One of the rules of the challenge is if a book is 500 pages, it can count as two. Well consider this a tactical error. At Home, coming in at 452 pages, just misses the cut. It was a MONSTER. I had a crink in my neck last weekend so I pretty much sat around and read this for 8 hours a day, and it still took me a week. Although my pace became glacially slow once I went back to work.
All that said, with Bill Bryson writing, you know this shit will at least be interesting, even if it’s a history of the home and domesticity. Yeah, it sounds boring, who wants to know the history of the dining room? But Bryson always asks interesting questions that lead to a greater story. For example: of all the flavorings and spices in the world, why did the West settle on salt and pepper? Turns out the salt and pepper trade have a pretty violent history, replete with intrigue, colonial brutality and high sodium content.
Unfortunately, the book’s particular focus is on Britain in the Victorian period, which I could give fuckall about. How shitty was the Victorian era? You have the Industrial Revolution in its laissez-faire glory, with kids working 16 hours a day and everyone getting a single day off a week, if they were lucky. People were regularly dying of cholera, amongst other preventable diseases. Of course, the upper classes totally shat on the poor, saying they were responsible for their own ills.
Why are people so obsessed with this time? Why all the costume dramas and period pieces that show shitass nobility and their lives? All I know is that my ancestors were barely clinging to life as tenant farmers in the motherland, along with millions of my other Irish brothers and sisters, many of whom died of hunger in a famine where their country was EXPORTING food. Fuck that noise.
So anyway…the book was long, but good, although I’m not in a rush to read it again. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to move on from the Victorian era.
The Illusionist (Movie 7 of 50)
Except I decided to watch the Illusionist, which meant I was stuck it that time a little bit longer. Yeah, yeah, I know. Technically it’s probably not Victorian because A) it’s not England and B) I think it takes place a bit after her death. But close enough. I do think it’s kind of funny that two magician movies that took place in the late 19th/early 20th century were released in the same year, 2006. I still think the weirdest example of something like that is when they released two films about Steve Prefontaine, a runner who never even got an Olympic medal, at the same time (although Without Limits is seriously dope).
I really didn’t know what this one was about beforehand, only that it had magick! When it turned out to be a period piece, I almost shut the damn thing off. However, since I have no friends and had nothing else to do, I decided to watch the entire thing. My complaining aside, the movie was solid. I’m always a fan of Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti is regarded as a great character actor, although I’m not smart enough to really say that with authority and will only parrot the sentiment. For a movie that took itself so seriously I had to suspend logic (and disbelief) a little more than I would have liked. But shit, it’s a movie about magick! Honestly, it felt like a Masterpiece Theater set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I kept waiting for the pledge drive where they try to sell you some John Denver records.
Anyway, not in my wheelhouse, but not terrible. At least nobody died of cholera.
Haywire (Movie 8 of 50)
First off, this movie was ILLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!
Fucking finally! Due to the ridiculous embargo on the Santa Barbara area, I had to go to god damn Hollywood to see this one. Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, to be exact (thanks again, Santa Barbara!). I missed the first five minutes or so because the entrance to the actual movie theater is not at the famous façade area, but instead in the mall next door. Nevertheless, I paid my $13.75 (!!!!!!!) and settled in. I was kind of annoyed by a lady who was STANDING behind me making weird noises with her mouth for the first half of the movie, but she eventually sat her annoying ass down and stopped causing such a racket.
I must say I really enjoyed this flick and it’s always cool to see a chick who can actually kick some ass. It’s nice to have a woman who looks like she can actually do it, unlike the waifish Angelina Jolie and Milla Jovovich. Sorry ladies, I can’t take either of you seriously as athletes or ass-kickers. Gina Carano would woop your ass, straight up.
Then again, she is a former champion cage fighter.
Speaking of which, this had some of the coolest fight scenes I’ve witnessed, with some truly graphic shit mixed with some ill-ass acrobatics, but not in that corny ass Matrix or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon way. I guess it was sort of like the Bourne movies, but 70 percent as intelligent. Which is totally fine with me. I also have to Gina her props. Besides delivering some of the coolest moves I have ever seen during a fight, her acting wasn’t terrible. Not that she had to do much, but still.
Full disclosure: I find her quite alluring and her looks definitely won’t be a hindrance in Tinsel Town. Whether or not she has a long career, nobody knows. But she has some pieces in place to play some fun action roles. Gina, you could definitely holla at me anytime. As long as you don’t put me in armbars.