I don't know about all the nay-sayers (nor do I care) - I thought Valkyrie was really good, and that includes Tom Cruise as Colonel Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg. He plays well as a man sure of himself and of his convictions. The rest of the cast was great too - Tom Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard, Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hollander, Thomas Kretschmann, Christian Berkel, and Jamie Parker - and I learned a thing or two about the assassination attempt of July 20, 1944. I knew about that, and that it failed, but I didn't know that these officers had been trying for a couple of years to assassinate Hitler, and that he kept eluding them because he kept changing his plans and schedules. I also didn't know anything about the "Valkyrie" part of their conspiracy - how they were planning to overthrow the government after Hitler's death. Good stuff, well played.
Alex Berenson's debut novel The Faithful Spy was my last book of the year. A satisfying conclusion; I liked it a lot. It's a thriller about CIA agent John Wells who has infiltrated al Qaeda, and has converted to Islam during his years in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now that the masterminds have called him back to the US for a big mission, can the CIA still count on him, or will he cross them? The next installment featuring John Wells is due out in paperback in February; I'm looking forward to it.
2009 is going to be about big changes in this space. I guarantee it. Put whatever’s left of your house and your savings on it.
People will not come to “my” blog. They will go to “their” feed aggregator, where they can read all the people they’re interested in reading. If they see something of interest, they will dig deeper and come to my blog.
People will not come to read “my” tweets. They will go to “their” tweet aggregator, where they can read all the tweets of all the people they’re interested in following. If they see something of interest, they will follow the links provided.
People will not come to see “my” pictures in Flickr. People will not come to hear “my” music wherever.
“My” time is over.
It’s a different perspective.
Readers want everything and everyone they read aggregated; they select what to read, when to read it, how to read it. How to read it, where to read it, what device to use.
Similarly, listeners want everything they listen to and everyone they listen to aggregated for them; watchers want everything they see and everyone they see aggregated for them.
150 g (1 1/2 sticks) butter 4 eggs 150 g (3/4 cup) sugar 20 g (2 tbsp) vanilla sugar (buy it, make your own, or use 1 tbsp of liquid vanilla flavoring instead. Being a good German, I use Dr. Oetker. :-)) 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking powder 150 g (1 1/2 cups) flour 4 medium size apples butter to grease the form
20 g powdered suger 10 g (1 tbsp) vanilla sugar
How to do it:
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Let it cool off, but not harden.
Beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt into a creamy mass.
Add the cooled butter, baking powder, and flour.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C aka 400F.
Peel, quarter, and slice the apples into thin slices. Mix into the batter.
Grease a 9 inch spring form pan or pie pan, fill with the apple batter, set on the lowest rack.
Bake for about 50 minutes.
Set on a cooling rack for a few minutes. Remove from the spring form pan. Dust with the powdered sugar/vanilla sugar mix.
I drove up to San Francisco to see Milk with my nifty friend Sarah Dopp. I figured the right thing to do was to see it at the Castro Theatre, right where the story unfolded in the Seventies. It was something else to sit in the theatre and see the surrounding neighborhood on film.
The theatre was pretty full, and instead of advertising, we got photos of local gay and political life back in the Sixties and Seventies, including pictures of Harvey Milk and Dan White and George Moscone.
PS: And I'm nowhere near as eloquent as Dervala. She says exactly what I felt:
The film opened with real footage of men being pulled out of New York bars and loaded into police wagons. They were homosexuals, and therefore criminals and psychiatric cases, and they covered their own faces as if they agreed with those assessments. That was the detail that shoved me into tears that lasted throughout the film: these men—fruits, faggots, queers—were already imprisoned by shame.
Two more films to report on, and I am all caught up, hooray!
I saw The Day The Earth Stood Still because I like Keanu Reeves, despite all of your complaints about him. Hey, and Jennifer Connelly, and that guy from Mad Men, all stubbly-shaven. What, even Kathy Bates and - John Cleese!?!?! I had planned to brush up on the original film, which I may or may not have seen. TiVoed it when it was on, but then I didn't feel like it. So there. I liked the remake well enough, except for the ending. Silly aliens, falling for us being all cute and well-intentioned occasionally! I'll predict this won't end well.
With bunches of new films opening on Christmas Day, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was one of several on my list, and the top pick for my friend Jason, whom I hadn't seen in way too long - we bumped into each other serendipitously at Whole Foods late at night.
I liked that film. Yeah, it didn't really make any sense - what did he mean, he was born under, what did he call it, "unfortunate circumstances"? But the effects and/or makeup were good, Cate Blanchett was mostly lovely, although I didn't care for her old-woman makeup or her accent. And it was just a great fantastical story. I enjoyed it.
The year is not quite over yet, and I've made my quota of 52 books with room for a couple more. Here's how I got from 48 to 52.
I decided to read Ian McEwan's Atonement because I'd liked the film, and heard several people say that the film wasn't bad, but the book was much better. True - great great language! I really enjoyed it. I read it in England, where it was set, late at night, which seemed right.
Also set in England is the Doomsday Book, one of my favorite time travel stories by Connie Willis. This is probably the fourth or fifth time I've read it, and it was really neat to look at some of Oxford's landmarks that are described in the story.
Before I left for England, I saw The Oxford Murders at the bookstore, and decided to add that to my English lit list. Oh, and the guy selling Oxford sightseeing tours told me there was a movie made of it, and he'd seen some of the filming. The book is by an author from Argentina, Guillermo Martinez, and I liked the lyrical style at the outset, but I didn't really believe the story. The conclusion had me shake my head. I think it's one of those stories that a writer sets up by working backwards from the end. Would never work like that in real life, I don't think.
Back to familiar territory with The Watchman by Robert Crais. This is billed as "A Joe Pike novel", Pike being Elvis Cole's sidekick. Elvis is just a supporting character in this story. I liked going deeper into Pike territory, but it's not my favorite in the series. Partly, it's another case of me not believing the story would really unfold like that, and partly because I didn't believe all of Pike's actions. Still, good ride. Crais is a helluvan entertaining storyteller.