Monday, July 25, 2005

Nonfiction, music and more!

It's supposed to be hot as a mother on Tuesday. Regular readers know what that means: neither of us will have the energy to post. Maybe Flop will surprise us.

Here are some reading and music recommendations to hold you over.
  • David Enders, Baghdad Bulletin. This book splits into two themes: on the one hand, there's his first-person account of being a college senior who heads into Baghdad intent on starting Iraq's first English-language newspaper. On the other hand, there's his reporting about Iraq in the first 18 months of the American occupation. The former reads like the reporting of a young Graham Greene in hell; the latter is toughminded and has an eye for human detail and tragic absurdities. Enders, who is a social acquaintance, is presently back in Iraq, and updating his blog semi-regularly.
  • Linda Greenhouse, Becoming Justice Blackmun. Whatever her intentions, Linda Greenhouse's book makes Harry Blackmun look like a flighty, oversensitive, occasionally petty man. Still, I learned a lot about Roe v. Wade (an opinion that the justices didn't expect to explode like it did) and the strange ways personality factors into judicial decisionmaking. Also, Justice Thomas really liked Justice Blackmun, but Justice Blackmun grew to hate his former best friend, Justice Burger. It's like Heathers with old dudes in robes.
  • Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale. This history of evolution begins with humans, traces back through hippos and rodents, and eventually eubacteria. This is a huge book, alternately interesting and boring. It made me like Madagascar and dodo birds; I learned that the hippo's closest living relative is the whale; that human males are prone toward polygamy; and that gibbons are monogamous. It also settled a raging debate in this blog's comments sections as to whether squirrels are rodents, which means it has practical value. As the book extends farther back, it becomes increasingly dense and theoretical, such that my generalist mind struggled to keep up. I recommend it nonetheless.
  • Mark Tushnet, A Court Divided. Written by a constitutional law professor at Georgetown, this book aims to explain the Rehnquist court to non-lawyers. I liked the first half of the book, which breaks down the jurisprudence of individual justices (Scalia's First Amendment; Anthony Kennedy and Gay Rights) but the focus on constitutional doctrine in the second half is probably tough sledding for anyone who hasn't attended law school and uninformative for people who have.
  • Sufjan Stevens, Illinois. A couple months ago I decided I wasn't going to listen to any more soothing music, and would henceforth insist on rocking. This album doesn't rock, but it's beautiful, a series of short stories and personality sketches set to pretty music that's ultimately is unsettling. I didn't like his Michigan album, but this works for me. His song about John Wayne Gacy creeps me out every time -- disturbing lyrics, punctuated with high-pitched, wailing lilts.
  • Six Feet Under. Hell, did Nate die? Now I'm going to feel guilty for badmouthing his show for the last two seasons.
  • Entourage. Johnny Drama beat up a car. A season and a half, and it's the first time anything interesting happened on the show. Man, I can't stand those guys.

9 comments:

Flop said...

I'm going to have to disagree on Entourage. That show has been highly entertaining all summer. In fact, even up against a fall lineup of Arrested Development and Scrubs it'd acquit itself well. If you think of the show as being a portrait of male bonding, it's pitch perfect. My favorite grace note from this week's episode: When Turtle gets a free shot at the back of Drama's hand, and Eric and Vince open their car doors to lean out and see. I don't know, it just rang true to me. And nothing is better than Ari. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go headbutt some kangaroos.

CrimeNotes said...

Wrong! It's a wreck.

I'm not surprised, though, that you enjoy a show were friends critically injure the hands of other friends.

evil girl said...

flop smashes a bottle on your hand once, and you never let him forget it.

evil girl said...

it's not even like he severed one of your tendons or anything.

CrimeNotes said...

You weren't there. You didn't see all the blood. It was horrible.

Cody with a Y said...

C'mon guys, Hug it Out

CrimeNotes said...

1.) I don't like hugs. 2.) If I did, hugging this out would probably result in crippling injury.

evil girl said...

um, i was too there when flop smashed a bottle on your hand.

i cleaned up the blood. and the glass.

CrimeNotes said...

Oh.

I must have assumed that you weren't there, because anyone who witnessed such bloodshed would not encourage the victim to be forgiving.