Saturday, November 21, 2009

Trying something new...

Because I keep forgetting to write reviews (since this is a separate blog), I've decided just to integrate it into my main blog. I realized it was wholly unnecessary to keep them different sites, since it just means more posting to keep each one interesting. So... to see further reviews and my other thoughts and words, go to Savour Every Moment.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Doctor Who Series 1, 2, and 3

I have been putting this off for a long time. It looks like now there's going to be a break between me watching the first three new seasons and the fourth, since I ordered the fourth from Amazon. I had seen one or two episodes of Doctor Who previously, and liked it. But what really got me to watch the whole new series was Jeff showing me "Blink," which is the Steven Moffat episode from Season 3, which focuses on Sally Sparrow and the weeping angels. It was terrifying and well-written, and so so good. After that I decided it was high time to watch Doctor Who. Luckily for me, seasons 1 through 3 were on instant play on Netflix. And so it began.

I was hooked after about, oh, one episode. I COULD NOT STOP watching season one. I loved loved loved Rose, and really liked the Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston (who was that invisible guy on Heroes!). I was upset that Eccleston was leaving because I did like him oh so much. But that lasted about five minutes (well, once during the Christmas special the Doctor actually starts doing stuff). And so began my full-blown obsession with David Tennant. And Doctor Who in general. I loved the first season but was completely and irrevocably obsessed by the second one. I cried, hard, at the end of the second season. I loved Rose Tyler. I miss her. The third season Christmas special was ok but I don't like Donna (so... err... hopefully she doesn't suck so bad for the 4th season). I liked Martha, though.

Ok, so a more specific season-by-season review.

Season 1: Best episodes were "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances," the Steven Moffat-penned two-part episode. I have a theory about the dancing metaphor but anyway, ask me about that later if you care. "Dalek," "Father's Day," and "The End of the World" were also good. In addition, I liked the finale, "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways." None of the episodes were particularly bad. I do like Captain Jack Harkness, too.

Season 2: Definitely my favorite season so far. David Tennant, as mentioned, is absolutely brilliant as the Doctor. The Christmas special was great, "The Girl in the Fireplace" was marvelous (Steven Moffat - see the trend?) as was the two-part "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit." I loved the introduction of K-9 in "School Reunion" and our glimpse of Sarah Jane Smith. The two-part Cybermen episodes were quite good as well. The finale was heartwrenching and great. So basically, no duds. However I must say in the first season and the beginning of the second I hated Mickey Smith. I wanted him to go away. He finally gets less annoying in the second season, though, and by the end of it he's alright by me.

Season 3: Rather hit or miss. I do like Martha, she's pretty much great. But there are definitely duds in this season (notably "The Lazarus Experiment," which was just bad, and the two-part Dalek episodes, which were amusing but not great). "Blink" is by far the best episode in the season. I also enjoyed "The Shakespeare Code," "Gridlock," and "42". The final trio of episodes is good too - especially the last one. I like that they brought back Jack Harkness, and that they hinted that he might be the Face of Boe...

I am looking forward to getting my season four in the mail! There's a Pompeii episode, which will be delightful since I'm a Classics major. hehe.

Doctor Who overall rating: A++++++
Season One: A
Season Two: A+
Season Three: B+

Sunday, October 25, 2009

People are Unappealing (Even Me)

Author: Sara Barron
Pub. Date: 2009

This is a collection of essays about how quirky and annoying people can be. Rarely does a book actually make me laugh out loud - but this one did, often, and heartily. I would recommend this to everyone. It's fun, interesting, and you might even realize there's something annoying about you (but ultimately, that's what makes you interesting).

Grade: A+!

The God of Small Things

Author: Arundhati Roy
Pub. Date: 1997
Winner of the Booker Prize

This is a well-acclaimed novel, and clearly popular in the UK (it has been on the Big Read and all). At first, while reading it, I found it lyrical and magical. I loved the way it circled around the center action and teased the reader with small bits of knowledge.

But then about 2/3 of the way through it, I got tired of it all. Instead of lyrical, it became tired and repetitive and pretentious. I was just ready to know what had happened and was getting annoyed with all the hints at it.

There's a fine line between artistic and pretentious, and for me, this book crossed it. Had it been a bit shorter, I would have still been caught up in it and liked it a lot. But no. It dragged on too long for my taste.

Grade: C-

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Geography of Bliss

I wanted to throw this book in a lake (unfortunately, it's a library book). At times it was funny, sure, and it was kind of interesting. But I couldn't get over its shortcomings and so I didn't finish it (maybe you think that makes me unqualified to form an opinion of it, but I don't). First off, a real gripe I have with this these pop science (I use science loosely here, because I couldn't think of another way to describe the genre) books is that they never seem to have a bibliography, or always cite their sources. I mean, the author is no researcher, but still he quotes a whole lot of other works, which it would be nice if he had collected them at the back (and not, dare I say, too hard). In addition, he showed moments of extreme cultural insensitivity. Clearly, the question "are you happy" is not always an appropriate one to ask. Take when he was in Qatar. He even knew it was an inappropriate question, but asked it anyway.

Weiner is also ridiculously ethnocentric. When he talks about culture, he is referring to the American definition of 'high culture', not the definition that you should be using when doing cross-cultural research. The claim that Qatar has no culture is absurd! There is no place without a culture. Sure, it might not have its own arts, literature, music, etc., but those things are not equivalent to culture. He criticizes, ridicules even, parts of some of the cultures he visits. For instance, he sees the Bhutanese use of phalluses as an apotropaic symbol (they ward off evil spirits) and makes fun of it. This would be uncalled for and really offensive even if it was a uniquely Bhutanese custom. But no, he doesn't seem to realize that the use of the phallus to ward off evil is fairly common, and dates back at least as far as the ancient Romans.

Finally, Weiner expects to know all there is to know about a culture's view of happiness by going for a week or two and talking to a few people. This is completely outrageous and presumptious. You can't come to such broad conclusions after a week as a tourist. Basically, thanks to my being an anthropology major, I could not take anymore of this. So, I urge you to be suspicious while reading this book. If you can enjoy it, by all means, do. But don't believe that it's necessarily very true.

I, for my part, am going back to fiction.

Grade: F

Monday, September 21, 2009


Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Written by: Dustin Lance Black
Starring: Sean Penn, James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Josh Brolin

This movie, based on a true story, is moving and well-done. Everyone and everything looks prettier than it would have, of course, this is Hollywood after all. But the historical context and events are portrayed and set up well. There are some great performances, notably by Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. I really enjoyed this movie, though it was sad, and it made me think a whole lot. Watch it if you're interested in history, San Francisco, or the gay rights movement!

Grade: A

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Bucket List

Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written by: Justin Zackham
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman

Two old men with terminal cancer decide to leave the hospital and complete their 'bucket list', or list of things they want to do before they die. The beginning, I found, was painful in that it was what you might really go through in the beginning stages of being diagnosed with cancer. The 'funny' parts were more amusing than funny; I didn't laugh much. However, the movie is quite sweet and endearing. The character development is good but sort of cliche. It's sad, though, so be warned about that. It makes you want to do more with your life. As a side note, I love how Morgan Freeman's character is so trivia-obsessed. There's a bunch of Jeopardy in it! Awesome.

Grade: B