Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rob Recommends "The King's Speech" (the movie)

It’s not often that I agree with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I, for one, would trust me a lot sooner than I would trust the Academy to pick anything but Best Make-up. I can’t be lobbied and my vote can’t be bought. I never have any friends or relatives up for nomination and I have never taken a film course. So you can believe me when I say that The King’s Speech is a really good film. As you no doubt know, the movie is about King George VI, his terrible stutter, his non-fawning speech coach and yes, his big speech on the eve of World War II. Not an obviously attractive subject. (What, no chase scenes?)  See it for the acting, a satisfying story and especially the interplay between King (Colin Firth) and “doctor” (Geoffrey Rush).  
A note: While the main storyline is apparently pretty close to “true,” some history has been mangled in the filmmaking process. 
Another note: Check out Debra's post on the recorded book version.

Recent Photography Books

Whether you are hoping to take some nice family photos at the beach this summer with your new digital camera, are interested in learning advanced lighting details for your photographic subjects, or enjoy reading essays on photography, you may enjoy some of our newest books in this genre.

Rethinking digital photography : making & using  contemporary & traditional photo tools by John Neel.

The life and death of buildings : on photography and time by Joel Smith

Light essentials : a subject-centric approach to lighting for digital photography by Don Giannatti

Believing is seeing : observations on the mysteries of photography by Errol Morris

Why photographs work : 52 great images - who made them, what makes them special and why by George Barr

Composition : from snapshots to great shots by Laurie Excell

500 Cameras : 170 years of phtographic innovation by Todd Gustavson

Simply beautiful photographs by Annie Griffiths


Friday, June 22, 2012

Megan recommends: The Kissing List

The Kissing List by Stephanie Reents

Don't let the title of the book or its cover fool you.  This book doesn't qualify as chick-lit.  Rather, you're getting linked short stories by an author who is a former Rhodes Scholar.  Yes, there's a single girl in the city theme, but it's more along the lines of HBO's Girls than Sex and the City.  Reents is a talented writer.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I loved listening to Diane Keaton's Then Again

Diane Keaton's remarkable, insightful, stunningly written memoir about her mother and herself would be enough of a great read on its own. The audio version, narrated by Keaton, enhances and embellishes the story  with the 'voice' of the author - at times funny, sad, desperate, confused, hopeful and brimming with love. We meet Diane's mother through Dorothy's journals, kept over a lifetime.  We get a glimpse into the mother/daughter relationship, hear stories about the Keaton and Hall families and  begin to understand how tremendous creative energy can be passed on from one generation to the next. Keaton also shares her sentiments about her own career, boyfriends, phobias and illnesses.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Megan recommends: Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

This is a great novel about four women from an Boston Irish Catholic family and their relation to the family's summer home in Maine.  Alice, the matriarch, Kathleen, the daughter, Ann Marie, the daughter-in-law, and Maggie, the granddaughter are the four protagonists.  Each has a story to tell in alternating chapters and ethnicity, tribalism and religious identity have strong influences on all of their lives.  This book has lots of local color and reminded me of the novels of Alice McDermott. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rob Recommends The Columnist

A novel in the form of a memoir of an extremely obnoxious a##h##e. I’m guessing it’s harder than we think:  to have the narrator prove his arrogance in almost every paragraph yet be oblivious to how his audience is judging him. And this is what makes The Columnist a fun read—catching every self-serving rationalization, every twist of a knife told as stroke of fortune and every conceited deceit disguised as innocent miscommunication. And the story itself? We follow the career of Brandon Sladder from novice (but self-inflated, nevertheless) reporter to influential (yes, and still self-inflated) columnist and opinion-maker. Along the way Sladder uses all who would befriend him—girlfriends, editors, secretaries, prostitutes and sources—dumping them when they were no longer needed. The author works real people into the plot, but never makes it explicit just which (if any) big shot columnist Sladder is modeled on. (The play based on the book does name Joseph Alsop as the satirical target.)  Those old enough to remember the heyday of the Lippmans, Alsops, Restons, Pearsons of the last century will especially enjoy this book.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Are We Alone?

     by Dimitar Sasselov 

Intended for general readers, this volume on the history and possibilities of astronomical and biochemical research examines the study of super-earths, distant planets similar to earth that allow scientists to study how earth may have been millennia ago. Sasselov (astronomy, Harvard U.) explores the implications of these discoveries for biological research in chapters which discuss both the study of extraterrestrial bodies and the search for the origins of life on earth.

Life of any kind has yet to be found anyplace except on the Earth.  However, within the last few years astronomers have found over 3000 exoplanet candidates.  In December the Kelper satalite teleoscope found two earth sized planets orbiting sun like stars.  The planets were not in the sun's habitable zone.  This book has the cutting edge information on the search for alien worlds.