I am moving at turbo speed, trying to fit in more books, friends, music, fresh air, sunshine, drinks, dancing and all that good stuff as the start of the school year approaches, like a old high school nemesis on a desolate street (You can't avoid them! You must make uncomfortable small talk!). That being the case, I have been negligent of this little blog. To the handful of people who read this regularly, I offer my thanks and sincerest apologies.

Moving on...There are a couple of things I've been reading but few I will highly recommend. In the interest of documenting and sharing, however, here goes:

  • This is David Cross's author bio for his new book, I Drink for a Reason. That's Amber Tamblyn's dad in the author photo.

  • Vanity Fair's September Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett covers advertise juicy insider scoop on TV's best show, Mad Men. While the accompanying Annie Liebovitz photos are quite good (some are better than others), the Bruce Handy article is sloppy and blogger-like (in the worst way possible). I don't get the sense than Handy is a fan of the show, never mind the maniacal obsessive that should be writing about a show of this much complexity and richness. For fans of the show, however, some of the cast and crew share some easter-egg type trivia, like this bit:
    [Handy] asked David Carbonara, the show’s composer, about a lovely piece of music he used to score a small but key scene in the second-season opener (Episode 201, by the production’s accounting), in which Don, intoxicated for once by his wife, watches a mink-clad Betty descend a hotel’s grand staircase as she arrives for a night out in the city. This was Carbonara’s answer, by e-mail: “It’s a piece written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov called ‘Song of India’ from his opera Sadko. Tommy Dorsey had a hit with an up-tempo version in 1937. Matthew Weiner wanted a harp in the hotel lobby to be playing the song, then have the arrangement become larger for scoring Betty’s entrance.… But my favorite use of ‘Song of India,’ and sadly I don’t think anyone noticed, was in episode 211, ‘The Jet Set.’ This time it’s played as a jazz samba in yet another hotel bar as Don thinks he sees Betty! It’s played as source music with a bit of score overlaid on top hopefully calling us back to the previous hotel lobby in episode 201 [which had aired 11 weeks earlier in the series’ initial run], when they were very much in love. I admit it was a bit subtle, but maybe (hopefully!) it had an effect in the viewer’s subconscious.”
    I also appreciated the praise for January Jones's performance as Betty Draper, which is widely underrated.

  • With time to kill, I dropped off some books at a local library branch last week and ended up borrowing Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby and I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron, writer and director of Julie and Julia, When Harry Met Sally and other gems your girlfriend wants you to watch with her. I left the Hornby for a later date but burned my way through the Ephron with so much shame for enjoying some of it. It's a book that's written for mothers who have gone or are going through menopause. This New York Times bestseller is a collection of essays of varied length and style about New York and womanhood. The type was really big so people with poor eyesight can read it with ease, and the book is no thicker than 1 cm. I liked the feeling of rushing through a book. Also, there were a few essays on cooking and eatting. Other than that, there's little appeal for the 20, 30, or 40-something set. That said Ephron is funny and a gifted writer; she's the kind of journalist that's not necessarily erudite or well-read but loves and is skilled at the craft. Buy this book for your mom.

  • Earlier this month, I had trouble sleeping so I took an iPod loaded with podcasts to bed. There are only two I listen to regularly: This American Life and Good Food on KCRW. These are only issued once a week but I was sleepless daily. The iTunes podcast directory was a Godsend. I discovered the Splendid Table, GQ Radio, TedTalks, Stuff You Should Know, and best of all, Slate's Culture Gabfest. I highly recommend a listen. After I had read a million reviews of Julie and Julia, the contributors to Slate actually added something new to the conversation - no small feat. I've since listened to the last four Gabfests and they continue to be funny, insightful, and intrepid.

  • Oh, didn't True Blood get funny and touching again last night? (Ok, so they ployed us with Eric and Sookie again! and the Maryann bit is getting really old, but Jason with a chainsaw! A Lafayette we care about! Tara and Sookie are back together! And a fantastic cliffhanger!)

  • Also on the go:
      Empire Falls by Richard Russo
      The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman
      The New Kings of Non-Fiction edited by Ira Glass

  • One last thing: In June, the Atlantic asked, "What Makes Us Happy?" Author Joshua Wolf Shenk (what a crazy name!) interviewed George Vaillant, the long-time director of the Grant Study--a longitudinal study of 268 men who entered Harvard in the late 1930s. Shenk also looked into the troves of data at the Harvard Study of Adult Development. The Grant Study men were interviewed regularly throughout their lives for 72 years. Their lives were extremely varied (one even became president - John F. Kennedy); accordingly, patterns were near impossible to identify. In this thorough and intriguing piece, Shenk struggles with making any conclusions. Nonetheless, Valliant comes to a conclusion in this Atlantic video podcast: "Happiness is love, full stop."

    And with that, I am going to go out and see my friends and be happy.


Veronicahhh said...

please make entries like this a regular thing on your blog. thank you.

ML said...

Thanks, V!

I'm not getting comments sent to my inbox anymore so I just found this. I will be writing more soon.