November 25, 2010

For some reason, my husband of almost 5 years was surprised last night when, watching Jeopardy!, I ran the “British Poets” category.

George’s sense of humour

November 18, 2010

For someone who talks so much about how he’s a big kidder, I’m having a hard time understanding George W. Bush’s sense of humour (reading Decision Points right now). He talks about a lot of “jokes” that he (or the people around him) made, but the first thing that actually made me laugh was this:

“[My employer] had a saying about well-educated folks he knew: ‘Book smart, sidewalk stupid.’ I was determined not to let that phrase apply to me.”

And I don’t think that was the intention.

Then shortly thereafter he talks about his dad:

“When the nurse came to check on him, he asked, ‘Are my testicles black?’ She was taken aback. ‘Excuse me, Mr. President?’ He repeated his question, ‘Are my testicles black?’ As she reached for the sheet, he quipped, ‘I said, are my test results back?’ His medical team roared with laughter.”

In this regard, at least, the whole thing says too much about powerful people, who are used to the people around them saying they’re funny, or smart, or whatever, whether that bears any resemblance to the truth or not.

When I saw Oliver Stone’s W with my mother-in-law in theatre, I actually came away from it with more sympathy and, I think, understanding for the man. I think hearing the same stories the way he tells them might just undo that.

Stories by Daniel Desario

November 16, 2010

James Franco’s slim volume of short stories,  Palo Alto, was more to my taste than I had expected. I knew that he does a lot of different kinds of work, and takes all of them seriously, so I wasn’t too concerned about the quality of the collection; but the description on the book flap made me expect a series of stories that was clever and nihilistic rather than intelligent and passionate.

The book is a sort of fast-paced view of a group of teenagers growing up in Palo Alto, Calif. (where Franco grew up). Either the location explains the drugs and sex that are rampant throughout the volume, or being a teenager was a lot different for most people than it was for me. Probably some of both, and I’m sure there’s some exaggeration for effect.

The key, for me, was that Franco really captures the voice of these teenagers, and can create sympathy where it’s unlikely any would have existed, otherwise. In with all the teenage angst, sex, drugs, and violence, there’s a genuine-ness to his writing that shows that he’s not just engaging with the exercise intellectually, he also really understands and really…I can’t believe I can write something so sappy about such a hardhitting collection…cares.


November 9, 2010

– At work I’m cataloguing a backlog of paperbacks. Who knew so many different people could be King/Queen of the Thriller / Master[s] of Suspense?

– I also get to see all the new books first, which is both a perk and a job hazard. I put four holds on the last batch. One was this:

Which was absolutely frickin’ hilarious. Another was this:

Less laugh-out-loud hilarious, but still bitingly funny.

And then two boring books: one on JFK’s security detail, and Prince Charles’ new book, which just sort of looks like a thicker Inconvenient Truth. But I wanted to take a look. Luckily I got the first two back on the shelves within a day.