Friday, August 25, 2006

Pop Culture Roundup

I read through The Book of J by Harold Bloom this week, which is a literary analysis of the "J" writer, or Yahwist. The theory of "J" is part of a larger theory that four writers contributed to what we know today as the Torah. This book includes a presentation of J's contributions pulled out and strung together, as well as Bloom's commentary on the characters and storylines included in J's narrative. At times Bloom's pomposity gets the better of him ("Tolstoy recognized the story of Joseph as Tolstoyan"), at other times he takes on an anti-religious tone ("J takes care to avoid making Joseph a religious prig and instead has him reject his master's wife's advances on pragmatic terms"). Bloom's overall presentation of J is one of literary genius (throughout the book he makes comparisons to the likes of Shakespeare and Homer) and religious humorist, depicting Yahweh as "human-all-too-human." He suggests somewhat erroneously that J was a woman based on "her" depiction of imperfect men and conversely strong heroines, conveniently overlooking, for instance, Sarah's jealous rage after Abraham gets his concubine pregnant first, as well as her doubt that God can provide a son for her. Read the book for its imaginative take on part of the Torah, but avoid swallowing it whole.

We watched Three Kings this past week, which seemed to have laid the groundwork for George Clooney's later turn in Syriana. The movie is set right after Desert Storm, where a handful of troops who never got to see any action go looking for one of Saddam's secret bunkers and gold bullion stashes. They end up leading a group of Iraqi refugees around the desert and ultimately to safety in Kuwait, and they all learn firsthand the feelings of resentment, abandonment, and desperation among Iraqi citizens after the U.S. begins pulling out. I felt very tense watching this movie. I can't really explain it. I felt tense for the soldiers getting out okay and for the refugees who weren't being cared for by their own government OR the military forces who had come to "liberate" them. I expected a mere action movie, but this was something else. And very rarely do I feel like this while watching a movie. It was weird.

One episode left of Entourage for the season. I'm not sure, but I think that the guy who played Rufio in Hook was in this last episode...or at least he looks like him. Anyway, Johnny goes to shoot his TV pilot and needs to ease the tension that he he does. Turtle goes to find a limited edition pair of sneakers (that possibly-Rufio-from-Hook designed), and Vince helps voice what a good chunk of the audience is thinking when he says, "They're just sneakers. What's the big deal?" And we get an interesting side character in Bob Ryan who was once a big shot producer and is now discovering that he and Hollywood have lost touch with each other. The way he deals with it is both annoying and understandable. I read this week that this season is actually split, much like The Sopranos was this year. That should be something considering that previews for this upcoming episode feature Vince considering the replacement of Ari.

I've really been digging Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" lately. And while not typically a country fan, I've also been digging "Not Ready to Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks. Of course, the only way I'm going to hear the latter now is on Mrs. Jeff's iPod since they've become "conservative" America's whipping posts.

Around the web, I can't wait until Meg starts posting regularly again. Meanwhile, Ian has.