Friday, September 16, 2005

Watching, reading, listening

One of the benefits of listing out what you have been reading and listening to, or watching and talking about, is that you see common ideas and themes begin to emerge. Over the years these ideas can solidify into some good ol' fashioned self-education. My thoughts have been rambling about the worlds of science and faith and how they have interacted throughout history. Another recurring theme is how to be a good critic (constructive criticism is almost painful for me to offer; I consider this a weakness that needs work.) Here are a few of the ways that we have been enjoying our minutes, hours, days and weeks:

Something the Lord Made
A fascinating movie about Dr. Alfred Blalock (played by Alan Rickman) and Vivian Thomas (played by Mos Def), the men who did the first open heart surgery. (FYI: be ready for some bad language, but I sure think the story is a valuable one.)

Life is Beautiful
We're still trying to catch up on years of never watching a movie. We watched this on my birthday and loved it. Plenty of tears, certainly, but what a fascinating story about World War II and how the seemingly insane imagination of one father can expose the real insanity of what happens in a concentration camp.

The Privileged Planet
The tricky thing about talking about Intelligent Design is that it makes all sorts of people irritated, angry, jumpy or concerned. Many creationists are uncomfortable with what they perceive to be a lack of concern for Biblical inerrancy; Darwinists just wish that the ID folks would come to their senses and accept that their work is not real science. Sorry everyone - I find the world of ID fascinating, and I look forward to what is learned in my lifetime about the design of our universe.

Autumn In New England
This is a favorite CD to play as the family is waking up. When we pull this out to play on our school mornings, I can almost feel the chill of the coming months. Soothing, peaceful, a gentle encouragement to get your sleepy head out of bed and enjoy a brand new day.

The Best of Al Jarreau
Once again, we resort to the music of our early days together when we need some fun. Al Jarreau's voice is a great instrument, and the boppin' music makes for great housecleaning tunes. Not a deep or significant (or even necessarily audible) lyric on the whole CD, but it still makes for some fun. It can't all be substantial around here.

Galileo's Daughter : A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel

Halfway done with this one, more thoughts on it soon. Remarkable to read the letters that talk about Galileo's studies, his struggles with church authorities, and his hunger to make sense of the universe.

Before We Get Started : A Practical Memoir of the Writer's Life by Bret Lott
I'm working on offering criticism...but all I can think about this book is that he is trying too hard. I'll have to think some more. A worthy read, but not because it is good. That makes no sense, but I'm working on it, okay?

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Hornby is a good critic, and an unapologetic one. I could learn from him:

"A hilarious and true account of one man's struggle with the monthly tide of the books he's bought and the books he's been meaning to read."

"First, an apology. Last month, I may have inadvertently given the impression that No Name by Wilkie Collins was a lost Victorian classic (the misunderstanding may have arisen because of my loose use of the phrase, 'lost Victorian classic'), and that everyone should rush out and buy it. I had read over two hundred pages when I gave you my considered verdict; in fact, the last four hundred and eighteen pages nearly killed me, and I wish I were speaking figuratively. We fought, Wilkie Collins and I. We fought bitterly and with all our might, to a standstill, over a period of about three weeks, on trains and airplanes and by hotel swimming pools. Sometimes - usually late at night, in bed - he could put me out cold with a single paragraph; every time I got through twenty or thirty pages, it felt to me as though I'd socked him good, but it took a lot out of me, and I had to retire to my corner to wipe the blood and sweat off my reading glasses."

The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins

I'm at what my husband refers to as "the point of no return" in The Woman in White, and I am going to have to stay up and read to the end. I like how creepy the story is, but the tension is too great and the questions are too many to imagine sleeping without some resolution. There is something perfectly disturbing about the shady characters in this book!

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