Category Archives: Books

TIFF 07 Review: Jimmy Carter Man From Plains

Jimmy Carter Man From Plains (Sony Pictures Classics, October 26, 2007-selected cities)
Dir. Jonathan Demme
Let me start right off the bat by saying that Jimmy Carter is a personal hero of mine. He is a deeply soulful, peaceful and intelligent man who manages to exist and flourish in this, the most complex and potentially dangerous of all possible worlds. Not only that, but he leads his life as an exemplar of modern man. How so? He has just tuned 83 years of age and is spending his birthday in the Sudan, trying to help end the crisis in Darfur. That’s what he does when he’s not helping run the not-for-profit Carter Center, leading sermons, writing books (21 and counting), building houses, monitoring elections and oh yeah, being married to one of the strongest, most interesting women of the last hundred years, his wife Rosalynn. He is a religious man whose faith inspires him to continue his good works both within and outside of the political arena. A steadfastly devout born again Christian, he firmly believes in the separation of church and state and in this sense is the very picture of integrity.
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RIP Kurt Vonnegut

We lost a great soul on Wednesday, as Kurt Vonnegut passed away in Manhattan. In its obituary, the New York Times refers to him as “a dark comic talent and urgent moral vision,” and likens him to Mark Twain. I feel slightly ashamed that I had not realized how apt a comparison that was, until now. I could waste time, mine and yours, waxing poetic about how brilliant and thoughtful and funny he was as both writer and man, but I think I’ll simply say, Kurt Vonnegut is who inspired me to be a writer and for that I will forever praise, and as many a writer will do their inspiration, occasionally damn him.
I know our country and world are still in the deepest of holes, dear scribe, but I hope that you and your dear friend Joe Heller are up (or down!) there, having a drink and living it up.
So it goes.

Random Thoughts: Airplane Toilets & Calvin Trillin (Not Related)

In Praise of Calvin Trillin
I urge you all to read Calvin Trillin’s Op-Ed piece in Friday’s New York Times entitled “Park, He Said.” At the very LEAST, it will give you a few minutes of laughter in a world disturbingly bereft of such (automatic meatloaf carver, anyone?). If, however, you’re not familiar with Mr. Trillin’s work, you’ll be introduced to one of the shining lights of modern literature. A thoughtful, incisive and often laugh out loud funny chronicler of, well, things that suit his fancy. A satirist, as well as a top-notch food and travel writer and self-proclaimed doggerelist, “Bud,” as he is known by friends (I name drop on behalf of my parents, not me) is a true original and should not be missed.
Airline Toilets and the General Public
Am I the only one who finds it disturbing that there’s a sign in airplane lavatories that reads something like:

Disposing of anything other than toilet paper in the toilet can cause external leaks and poses a safety hazard.

Is it just me or does that read something like “If you try to flush a load of solid objects down this loo, you might just bring this plane down.” Sounds like an invitation to a deranged (or simply determined) passenger. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer that the idea not even be hinted at. How about a little lie? Something like: “Using anything other than toilet paper in this lavatory risks damaging the toilet and causing the entire plane to smell like poo?” That would sure stop me from pouring a load of ball bearings down the bog and might not give some nutty nut bar any bad ideas.
Just a thought.

The Blogfather: Hunter S. Thompson Dies

In an interesting yet not surprising reaction to the passing of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, he is being referred to as the original blogger. Clearly this is not meant to be taken literally, as the blogging phenomenon is relatively recent and Thompson didn’t keep a blog or even an official website. However, with more and more bloggers paying tribute to the man as one of their main inspirations and with the question “Are bloggers journalists?” being debated almost daily, this brings an intriguing debate front and center. In fact, the self-described “alternative news and underground culture destination” disinformation has a very interesting quote by Thompson in a piece dated March 4th, 2001:
“Gonzo journalism is a style of reporting based on William Faulkner’s idea that the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism – and the best journalists have always known this. Which is not to say that fiction is necessarily ‘more true’ than journalism – or vice versa – but that both ‘fiction’ and ‘journalism’ are artificial categories; and that both forms, at their best, are only two different means to the same end.” – Hunter S. Thompson

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