Monday, March 29, 2010

Movie: "Greenberg"

Ben Stiller plays against type as an unpleasant misanthrope.  He's been recently released from a mental hospital, is totally self absorbed, and has come to spend six weeks at his brother's house in LA while the brother is on vacation in Vietnam.  He meets the brother's family assistant and begins a tentative relationship with her while reconnecting with old friends who have (justifiably) become estranged from him.

My rating:  **** (out of 5)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book: "A Short History of Women"

Well, I guess it's a history of women if that history began in the late 19th century with the British suffragist movement.  What it really is is a history of five generations of women in one family who are reacting to or bear the legacy of the 1914 hunger strike death of the suffragist.   A daughter tries to escape that legacy by pursuing a science career in the United States, while a granddaughter finds herself dissatisfied with her long-standing marriage and her fruitless war protests.   Two great-granddaughters deal with modern anxieties in ways that are not completely effective.

My rating:  **** (out of 5)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Woodpecker War - Round 2

Last fall a woodpecker decided to turn the wooden siding outside our bedroom window into his private lunch counter, and proceeded to make two large holes in the siding.  I retaliated by improvising a bird deterrent from heavy duty aluminum foil, string, and a nail.  Unfortunately, the bird deterrent banged against our bedroom window at night, preventing us from sleeping.  In addition, after about a week, the woodpecker realized that the foil wasn't actually a threat, and he went back to work enlarging the holes.  I conceded and removed the deterrent so we could get some sleep.

He's returned this year and brought a friend (mate?).  In this round of the Woodpecker War I have taped a picture of the scariest clip art owl I could find to the bedroom window.  There was no woodpecker yesterday, the first day, but how long will it last?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book: "Say You're One of Them"

A better person would have liked this book more than I did.  Written by a Nigerian Jesuit priest, the five stories describe African life from the viewpoint of African children.  It was an Oprah's Book Club selection and the stories are well-written and engaging.  However, I'm afraid the subject matter is a little too grim for me, so I feel shallow for not enjoying the book more.

My rating:  ** (out of 5)