Monthly Archives: May 2005

Not for lunchtime reading

A friend lent me her copy of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. I first heard of it on Six Feet Under and was intrigued. Basically the author goes into details about what really happens (and has happened) to cadavers. There’s a chapter on the Body Farm, one about anatomy classes, and so on. Although it gets a little too detailed in places for my own taste, and therefore is probably best not read at mealtime, I have to say Mary Roach has a great sense of humor. Interesting, informative, and engaging book.

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Keeping the momentum going

So Lost’s season finale was last night. I unhooked the phone, lest any inconsiderate telemarketer or friend call, and I sat down to watch it with great anticipation. I never know if anyone outside my friends are reading this, but if you don’t care to be spoiled, you might want to go and do something else now (same thing goes for Watership Down).

On the whole, I’m happy with the end product. I’ve already got the Season 1 DVD pre-ordered and I’m glad I did that. We didn’t learn the answers to any of the huge questions like where are they? or what Lostzilla (the giant, invisible, tree-stomping monster) is all about, or what’s in that mysterious hatch. There was, however, some resolution to a few of the various characters’ respective stories, which makes me happy. Nobody I cared about died (and believe me I was terrified that either Hurley or Charlie were going to come to a bad end). As far as I can see, there’s lots of room for some interesting episodes next fall.

A friend of mine, who doesn’t watch the show regularly, thinks it’s going to go the way of Twin Peaks — that is a brilliant first season that never quite gels after that. And there’s something to be said for that POV. If you start with a bang, unless you can maintain a high level of excellence, there’s nowhere to go but down. Given modern audience expectations and attention span, you can’t spin out the anticipation too long either.

Couple of points I found intriguiing. There’s a scene where Locke distinguishes himself as a “man of faith” from Jack’s “man of science.” Locke’s behavior all along has been consistent with that of an Old Testament prophet–the sacrificing of Boone, the belief he’s being tested, and so on. Interestingly this particular scene takes place after Lostzilla attempted to carry off Locke with distinctly mechanical sounds in the background. Is that because we’re seeing the events from Jack’s perspective?

On another note, up until the last few episodes, there’s been a disturbing parallel with Watership Down. In the book, there’s a sequence where the rabbits travel to a strange warren of very healthy, very docile rabbits for whom mention of the outside world and any question of “where” are taboo. It turns out that a farmer has made this particular warren a very comfortable one. He’s kept other threats away. He leaves food for the rabbits. And periodically, he traps and kills them.

Back to Lost. Despite the incontrovertible evidence that there are other people on the island, for the longest time, few of the castaways mention it. Claire was kidnapped for weeks–a 8 and 1/2 month pregnant woman, mind you–and after the initial attempt at rescue, the other castaways are tripping off into the jungle alone totally unconcerned. No mention of her. No further attempts to get her back. I don’t think it was sloppy writing. I think that was intentional.

Anyhow, just some random thoughts…

Serendipity

I just returned from two library conferences. Of course, I took along some books to read on the plane. The first was Possession, a book I have never been able to get enough of. The second was a remainder table purchase. It looked interesting. It cost four bucks. I said, “why not?” and bought it.

My initial intent had been to post my thoughts about The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime on my personal blog, but it had so much to do with librarianship, that it seems more relevant to post it here.

It was inspired by the exploits of one Gilbert Bland who made a good chunk of change razoring out rare maps from special libraries and then selling them. Bland, who is aptly named, doesn’t appear to have left the biggest mark on the world, so Harvey expounds on the history of maps, specific anecdotes, tales of map making, the interesting world of map trading, and so on.

What interests me specifically are the bits about the library world. The special librarians take a fair amount of flak for not wanting to divulge their records to the police. I can see how that frustrated the authorities, but on the other hand, if librarians have a problem with the PATRIOT ACT, it should come as no surprise that they’re going to cavil at opening up their patron information to the cops. Also, if the authorities weren’t treating the thefts as serious matters, is it really that big a shock that libraries would be reluctant to press charges?

Still, a very interesting read.

Should we apologize to China?

My Sunday morning ritual involves coffee, the newspaper, breakfast (usually something I had to actually cook up), coffee, and lately, watching the general horror that is Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee. This past Sunday, the horror in question was her Chinese “inspired” mess.

Funnily enough, the general literature is largely positive of the lady. I can only conclude that these journalists know nothing about cooking, or if they have, never watched the show. The concept behind the show is appealing enough: perky Martha Stewartesque lady showing you how to whip up good meals using basic easy-to-find ingredients with none of Martha’s insistence on raising your own chickens or milling your own flour. It’s a great concept, but there are a lot of other TV chefs out there doing this very thing.

Meanwhile, there’s Sandra Lee doing and saying the most culturally insensitive things I’ve heard on my TV in years. The recipes are mindnumbingly awful. Her execution is worse. And she’s still on the Food Network because????