What’s up so far in 2014? Home buying, it seems

[N.B.: Mostly written 6 January with minor updates over next 2-3 days. Current follow-up follows.]

So what’s up in 2014 so far? 2014 got off to a great start. For one day.

Sara and I do a kind of annual review, along with a semi-annual review and weekly reviews using assorted tools such as calendars, OmniFocus and some text documents. Neither of us do resolutions but we do want to have goals for the year, and to check up on them now and again so that we might have a chance to actually accomplish most of them. We entered 2014 with this year’s annual review pretty much done. Mine was primarily complete except for final formatting as a document in Scrivener.

Then on the 2nd of January the mail was delivered. Our place was recently bought by some out-of-towners and we got notice that our rent was going up 15%! We are already stretched pretty thin and that is just ridiculous. We immediately jumped into “can we buy a house” mode. We have been considering that anyway but we figured it was at least 6 months to more like 2-3 years in the future for us. Nope. [We need to find out right now whether we can get a loan for enough to buy a house here in Bend or we need to find a cheaper place to rent until we can qualify for said loan. If we can get a loan then we need to be seriously looking for a house that meets all of [ok, much of, hopefully]  our criteria.

Either way, (update to follow)] almost everything I had planned for this year has now been indefinitely placed on hold. My 2014 annual review/plan has been scrapped by the second day of the year. Yay, me!

Thankfully a lot of stuff is still in boxes from when we arrived here in August 2012. That will make moving somewhat easier. But we also have not weeded out near enough stuff that we were supposed to have gotten rid of by now. And we have probably acquired more stuff than we have gotten rid of. My surgery in May put in a big damper on my weeding which I had hoped to do this past summer. Sara’s full-time job has prevented her from making any progress on her stuff.

I have jumped into weeding pretty heavy the last couple of days and hope to continue. We’re donating a bunch of stuff to the Humane Society Thrift Store, some of the better books to the public library, and recycling a crapload of stuff. There is, sadly, plenty more to go through though. As we free up a bit of room by getting rid of stuff I have a bit more room to get at and sort through even more. So I guess one can say it’s looking up.

It is, though, extremely demoralizing to have just committed to and documented one’s goals for the year and to then have to toss it all away on January 2nd.

So what were/are some of my plans for 2014?

  • Read 75 books http://marklindner.info/blog/2014/01/01/reading-goals-2014/
  • Wrangle our ebooks into some kind of order, usability, etc.
  • Do some more beer tastings
  • Help with Central Oregon Beer Week
  • Do another book talk this year for Central Oregon Beer Week
  • Meet some of the beer folks in Bend who I haven’t been able to yet
  • Do some beer trading
  • Finish my “article” on Prohibition in Bend
  • Perhaps work on my Cicerone certification
  • Blog some book reviews that I am way behind on
  • Learn to make better use of Evernote, OmniFocus, Scrivener, etc.
  • Meal planning
  • Get my new tattoo started
  • Track down a citation for that damned Paracelsus quote or show that it is not attributable to him
  • Exercise more and get back into some semblance of shape
  • Visit some places in Oregon: Broken Top, lava tubes, Crater Lake, etc.

23 January update:

We found a house, put in an offer, got their counter and accepted. We have the inspection set for Saturday a.m. and are meeting with the mortgage broker tomorrow morning to do more paperwork and get VA appraisal scheduled. If all goes well with those we’ll be moving late winter / early spring.

I have been in full-on moving prep mode for about a week now. I am so damned sore. But. I am much closer to being ready. I have a good idea of what is packed, more stuff was topped off and packed and many binders and articles were packed, it is mostly segregated from other stuff, and the inventory is updated. More books were weeded.

We should have a couple weeks to move in. It kind of comes down to when we close and the 30-day notice we give our landlord. Current estimated closing is March 17.

My only big concern is weather. Well, and will my aging body hold out: preferably for it to treat all the labor as weightlifting and other “good” exercise. Seriously though, moving in the rain or a snowstorm or having ice/snow on the ground are the worst for moving. So far our winter has included almost none of any of that, which is not good. We need snow, at least outside of town.

It is all moving so fast. Which, of course, has deepened even more the feeling of upended plans. Not all is a loss, though. I am reading some and not quite as slowly as I suspected. I am helping with Central Oregon Beer Week as a member of their team this year. If you need me for any Central Oregon Beer Week business feel free to email me at mark@centraloregonbeerweek.com. I am trying to figure out what I want to do as Bend Beer Librarian for COBW; not up for another book talk for this year. Considering things and talking with people but need to decide soon to save 15% as a returning sponsor.

I met a few more Bend beer people, including one I wanted to meet in person, but, intriguingly, we met them in Portland. We attended the 1st Big Woody put on in Portland and a boatload of Bendites were there as attendees, volunteers, brewery folks representing, and event organizers/staff. That was nice and I finally met Matthew Ward (Bend Brew Daddy) and his wife Lisa. Definitely hope to hang out more with them. We also got to spend some time with non-Bendite but extremely nice guy Christopher (PortlandBeer.com) at Hair of the Dog. So possibly future trading and/or nice bottle swaps as it sounds like his are the kind of quality we are looking for. Maybe we can get Christopher to Bend, although we explored so little of Portland last weekend.

Blogging and other forms of writing have been practically non-existent, book reading is way down, research for either major topic of current interest is on hold, and most other projects listed above or not are pretty much forgotten about.

I hope this place works out and we can get settled in quickly. I’d like to get back to some of my projects recently put on hold and others, many of which have been a long time coming.

It is an adventure, and so far easier than expected, but its timing seems a little sudden.



Reading goals for 2014

For reading goals in 2014, I have decided to set myself up a short list/challenge. I will probably set my goodreads 2014 challenge number at 75 books since this year’s was so low. My TBR shelves are overflowing to no end but I pulled together 26 books of which I hope to read 12.

That’s my goal for 2014: read 12 of these 26 books plus whatever else comes my way for a total of at least 75.

Beer and Brewing

  • Beer: The Story Of The Pint: The History Of Britain’s Most Popular Drink – Martyn Cornell
  • Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements) – John J. Palmer and Kaminski
  • Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home – Sam Calagione
  • The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food – Garrett Oliver

Language and Related

  • Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks – Keith Houston
  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English – John H. McWhorter
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention – Guy Deutscher
  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything – David Bellos

Literature and Literary Theory

  • Why Read the Classics? – Italo Calvino
  • The Literary Mind – Mark Turner
  • Tolkien on Fairy-Stories – J.R.R. Tokien
  • Imagination in Place: Essays – Wendell Berry
  • Dog Songs: Poems – Mary Oliver
  • Maidenhair – Maikhail Shishkin

Western World History

  • The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community – William H. McNeill
  • The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment – Roy Porter

Assorted/Too Lazy to Classify

  • Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction – Susan Cheever
  • You Must Change Your Life: Poetry, Philosophy, and the Birth of Sense – John T. Lysacker
  • Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight – James Atlee
  • Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants – Wolfgang Schivelbusch
  • Information: A Very Short Introduction – Luciano Floridi
  • Shaming the Devil: Essays in Truthtelling – Alan Jacobs


  • Real American Ethics: Taking Responsibility for our Country – Albert Borgmann
  • Tragic Sense of Life – Miguel de Unamuno
  • The Power of Ideas – Isaiah Berlin
  • How Philosophers Saved Myths: Allegorical Interpretation and Classical Mythology – Luc Brisson

That’s it. Try to read 12 of these books, several of which have been on other lists before. It would be nice to read (at least) one from each grouping but whatever. As always, more books than I can possibly read will come my way and my TBR shelves will continue to grow.


Books Read in 2013

My book reading goals were modest for 2013. According to last year’s books read post I had committed to 50 books read on the annual goodreads challenge “because that ought be easily doable.” Well, yes, that was. It seems I even met part of another goal: I read a bit less than half as much poetry, but I believe I failed to do any reading about poetry.

Seems I started 147 books and finished 141. Three came into 2013 as being read but they were all really on hold and never got touched in 2013. I am still reading 3, have 1 on pause and have given up on 5.

Of those books started, two were read and re-read this year but only counted once, and one was a re-read of something from a previous year.

For assorted reasons, none of my lists are perfect but I hope to simplify things in the future. I keep a spreadsheet of all books read (“definitive” document), a goodreads account which gives me a list by default, a shelf at Open Library, and a folder in Zotero. Here are this year’s goodreads and Open Library shelves. I have 138 things in goodreads, 142 in Open Library, 144 in Zotero, and 155 in the spreadsheet.

Neither is perfect but they give a great feel for what I read. The only things missing from both are a short graphic novel in pdf and a pdf about WordPress and responsive design.


  • Fiction: 82
  • Nonfiction: 41
  • Poetry: 15
  • Graphic novels: 67 (most are also F, but several are NF)
  • On-pause: 1 NF
  • Gave-up: 5 (2 NF, 2 GN/F, 1 F)
  • Currently reading: 3 (1 ea P, NF/translation, NF)
  • Together: 11 (6 NF, 3 F, 1 F still reading, 1 NF on pause)
  • Same author: Charles Bamforth 3 + 1 re-read + 1 edit + 1 co-edit; Michael Lewis 1 + 1 co-edit; Gail Carriger 2 F; Michael Jackson 2; Carolyn Edwards 1 NF + 1 F; K.W. Jeter 2 F (Excludes graphic novels/comics)
  • Translations: 5 (4 F, 1 F/GN) (+1 NF/Ebook on pause, 1 NF currently reading)
  • Ebooks: 7 finished (Kindle 3, PDF 3; Overdrive 1; Together 2 + 1 OH; 1 on pause; 1 still reading)

Things learned:

In goodreads if a book has a begin and end date then it is considered read if on any home-made exclusive shelf, such as gave-up. (Not tested if only has ending date.) But even if you have a start date, if you don’t have or clear the end date then it doesn’t show up on the provided yearly reads shelve (see Stats page).

Open Library is doing a lot less maintenance or importing of records, so I keep having to add more and more of what I read. Much of it. It has grown tiresome. Sad to hear coming from a cataloger, if I say so myself, but it’s the solid truth. I am probably not worrying about Open Library next year.

There’s no grand lessons from any of this or from my reading. I have gotten a lot out of many of the items I read (and perhaps re-read) this year. I guess this post is just a continuance of something I have done for a while now.

Previous Books Read posts

What are my reading plans for 2014?

I have decided to try a little “challenge” of my own for 2014. Although, honestly, it is more like a nudge in a general direction than like an actual I care whether I achieve it or not. See next post for details.

[Updated several minutes after posting}

Beer and Brewing: Realized I ought comment on this as it was a large part of my leisure reading and personal and professional learning reading this year. I finished 24 books on beer and brewing across diverse angles and approaches. One was an Overdrive ebook from the public library, one was fiction (also from DPL), one was a re-read of a book from late last year, two were re-reads of books first read this year. One other I am still reading, and two others were given up on.


Thursday night we went to see Spamalot at the Tower Theatre. It was incredible!

This was a Stage Right Productions performance presented by the Tower Theatre Foundation.

On Friday, Sep. 6th, which being the first Friday of the month was Art Walk, the Tower opened their doors to the first rehearsal by the cast in the Tower itself. Previously they had been practicing in the 2nd Street Theater where they generally perform. We popped in just before they opened the doors and stayed for 3 or 4 numbers. This was without costumes, props or any amplification but we could still tell it was going to be hilarious so we immediately purchased tickets. We were able to get seats in the second row, just house right of center for a show that eventually sold out.

On Wednesday I watched the DVD of Monty Python and the Holy Grail that we got from the Deschutes Public Library. I wanted a good frame of reference for Spamalot since it is “a new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture” and I hadn’t seen the movie in a good while. You can pillory me now if you must but I really don’t think the movie has held up very well.

Anyway … the show was stupendously excellent! The serious amount of work that the cast and crew had put into the production was evident. I thought everyone was quite good but I want to point out a few of my favorites.

Gary Fulkerson as King Arthur was a great choice. “Solid as a rock,” one might say.

Tommy Kuchulis as Sir Lancelot (also as French taunter and Tim the Enchanter) was particularly good in his early scene and was absolutely superb in the gay song and dance number. He threw himself into it with total abandon and the fun he was having was clearly evident.

Randy Brooks was very good as Sir Galahad with long blond hair and—except for one still to-be-named actor/part—after his earliest scenes I thought he would be my favorite of the evening.

Michael Stumpfig as Sir Robin was exceptional! (Also as Guard #1 and Brother Maynard.) I loved pretty much every second he was on stage. His facial expressions and body language/movements were perfect for his role. He was almost my favorite of the evening.

That “honor” goes to Russ Pennavaria as Patsy. Patsy was so far beyond superb in every way! Even if he hadn’t been the one to sing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” I still would have been totally enchanted by his performance. Everything he did, from galloping along clomping his coconut shells to being put out when Arthur is complaining about being alone to his soul beaming forth when Arthur calls him family, was the epitome of stagecraft.

As I said, everyone did a wonderful job and the musical was immensely hilarious. I am so very glad we went. Thank you to all involved and congratulations on an incredible show!

Be sure to check out 2nd Street Theater’s website for upcoming shows and ticket information.

We never know how high we are. 420 humor.

I get a Poem-A-Day via email from Poets.org. If you like poetry then you should sign up for the free poem-a-day from the Academy of American Poets and be sure to check out the rest of the site if you are not familiar with it. It is a great resource!

I think someone there was having a little 420 fun yesterday when I saw the following subject line in my email: We never know how high we are (1176) by Emily Dickinson, which actually discplayed as:

We never know how high we are

I saw that first thing in the morning when I checked my email and just cracked up and wondered who at The Academy had such a sense of humor.

On that note, Emily Dickinson:

We never know how high we are
   Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
   Our statures touch the skies—

The Heroism we recite
   Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the Cubits warp
   For fear to be a King—

Gelman, Dark Times Filled With Light

Dark times filled with light: the selected work of Juan GelmanJuan Gelman; Open Letter 2013WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder
Saying that I enjoyed this book is true but also must be expanded upon. Juan Gelman, of Argentina, has been writing poetry for decades and, according to the introduction and back jacket is regularly “on the short list of Nobel Prize candidates” (xi).

His early poems were the ones I liked the most and they are small commentaries on life, love, the act of poetry, and the typical mundane aspects of life. His middle and later poems are more focused on the Argentine reign of terror and the “disappeared” and his decades of exile in Europe. These are powerful poems that address a heinous period in Argentina’s and its people’s history that needs to be known more widely. His poems of exile are especially powerful. I marked all four included poems from Under Foreign Rain (footnotes to a defeat) (1980) as ones that spoke to me in an utterly heartrending manner.

The poems come from 26 different books and, I assume, give a good idea of his writing across time. Some of the books only had one poem in here and sometimes I found myself wishing for more if what was included particularly resonated with me.

Thank you Open Letter and the University of Rochester for these wonderful poems in translation. If you have any interest in reading (and supporting) literature in translation—all kinds of lit from all over the world—then do yourself the favor of looking into Open Letter. I have a subscription to them and have enjoyed the couple I have managed to read so far, with the added bonus of having several other translated works sitting at my fingertips when I am ready to dive in.

One of the many poems that particularly spoke to me:

I Sit Here Like An Invalid (from The Name of the Game (1956-1958))

I sit here like an invalid in the desert of my desire for you.

I’ve grown used to sipping the night slowly, knowing
you’re in it somewhere filling it with dreams.

The night wind whips the stars flickering in my hands,
broken-hearted widows of your hair, still unreconciled.

The birds you planted in my heart are stirring and
sometimes with a knife’s cold blade
I’d offer them the freedom they demand to go back to you.

And yet I can’t. You’re so much a part of me, so much alive in me
that if I died, my death would kill you.

Two new blogs: By the barrel, and Commonplacing

I recently started two new blogs. My new beer blog is called By the barrel, or Bend Beer Librarian. It will document my journey into craft beer appreciation. My twitter handle is @bythebbl.

After having to give up on moving to WordPress Multisite—couldn’t seem to migrate this blog without breaking an unacceptable amount of things—I installed two more instances of WordPress and set to learning a lot more about configuring WP—both thematically and securely.

If you want or need to know about WordPress I sincerely (and seriously) recommend Digging into WordPress by Chris Coyier and Jeff Starr, both the ebook and the blog.

This post might give you some ideas of their value: Best of DigWP.com. Or a post I wrote here a couple years ago: Digging Into WordPress v3 and its authors rock

I have finally been able to make full use of the book and the blog, along with some other sources I found via Google. Up until today I primarily focused on By the barrel as that is a new venture I am starting and I wanted to get it out there. Although there is some tweaking left to do, I think it is ready to be ‘released.’

Be aware that I did copy six posts over from this blog that were entirely about beer and beer events. But I do have some new stuff primed and almost ready. A couple of book reviews will be leading things off. It isn’t the Bend Beer Librarian for nothing.

Commonplacing is less ready for prime time as I still need to do a lot of backend business. It is really for me and serves as my Internet commonplace book. I started it about two years ago at Posterous and then switched to Tumblr for a better workflow of getting things into it. Recently I decided I wanted full possession of my own content and as I was already starting another blog I might as well start a third. As I said, feel free to poke around and even subscribe if you like but I cannot promise anything regarding its value to others.

From now on most of the beer-related stuff will be over at By the barrel although I reserve the right to mention them here. Grab a glass of tasty beer and join me in my new excursion.

Books Read in 2012


In 2012, it appears I started 97 books, finished 86 books, am currently still reading 6 books (some far more actively than others), have 3 “on pause,” and have given up on 2 books.

The two assorted places to find good first approximations of which books I read in 2012:

Open Library has 10 more books and I could go in and pull out those I failed to finish or still have ongoing but I am not going to. As for books I fully finished, goodreads is pretty darn accurate.

Assorted Breakdowns:

  •  Fiction: 13
  • Nonfiction: 12
  • Poetry: 32
  • Graphic Novels: 29
  • Continued from 2011: 1 poetry, 2 nonfiction
  • Rereads: 1 fiction and 1poetry 2x in same year (but only counted once) (Moonstone and Blueshifting)
  • Ebooks: 3 fiction, 4 poetry
  • Still reading: 3 fiction, 4 nonfiction, 1 ebook
  • On Pause: 1 each fiction, nonfiction, poetry
  • Gave Up: 2 nonfiction
  • Books by male authors: 52
  • Books by female authors: 27
  • Books by multiple authors: 7 [too lazy to differentiate this year]

Same author, multiple books:

  • Mike Carey & Peter Gross: 5 graphic novels
  • Gail Carriger: 4 fiction and 1 manga
  • Joe Wilkins: 2 poetry
  • Hubert & Kerascoët: 2 graphic novels
  • mpMann (with different people): 2 graphic novels

Previous Books Read posts

What are my reading plans for 2013?

I really have no idea. I plugged in 50 as the number of books I will read at the goodreads challenge for 2013 but only because that ought be easily doable. I want to back away from so much poetry. I coarsely gave a reason why on my review of Adrienne Rich’s Later Poems at goodreads and I may write about my reasons here. Or I may not. I do want to devote more time to reading about poetry–I have several books I should dip into already–and I should work more on writing a few more poems myself. But reading the poetry of others is doing little for me right now.

This is the first year in several that I am not entering the year already embarked on a specific reading challenge. My physical To Read shelves are literally overflowing and they do not include many others already in our possession that I want to read, nor those in goodreads marked as Want to Read, nor those I will come across, and so on. I really need to get my physical To Read shelf(s) under control so I hope to do a better job at that.

I also have a couple new personal learning projects in various states of formality that I am undertaking so some of my reading will be concentrated there. More on those later.

Otherwise, for now, I have no specific plans for reading in 2013. Except to do it!

Hysteria (movie)

[This, too, is a late DigiWriMo post.]

Thankfully, later after watching The Tree of Life we watched Hysteria, which we have also been wanting to see after seeing the previews a couple years ago. It by no stretch came to conservative Sioux City so we missed it in the theater. We couldn’t even find it in Omaha, although we could be wrong on that count but we had looked repeatedly while it was in theaters. Ninety miles one way is a long way to go for a film but we would have.

After we watched it I tweeted,

Cleansed my movie palate with Hysteria, based on this most excellent book by Rachel Maines http://marklindner.info/blog/2011/02/02/maines-the-technology-of-orgasm/ [tweet]

The next morning, Karen Coyle tweeted to me:

@mrlindner One of my favorite books. See: bit.ly/UYGA8X [tweet]

Check out her review at that link. It is much better than mine.

We saw the preview for the movie in the cinema shortly after I read Maines’ excellent book and I knew that it was (somewhat) based on Maines’ book immediately. It looked hilarious and as The Technology of Orgasm is one of my favorite books of all time—which I had discussed a fair bit with Sara as I read it—we really wanted to see it. It did not come to Sioux City or environs and time went by. We moved and even more time went by. Sara got it from the public library finally and we watched it last night. The movie was as good as we hoped and we are in the process of watching the documentary (actually excerpts from Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm) that comes as an extra feature on the DVD. It is also pretty good and features a lot of Rachel Maines, along with a couple of others, so I am happy to be able to hear her talk about her research also.

The Technology of Orgasm The Technology of Orgasm: “Hysteria,” the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual SatisfactionRachel P. Maines; The Johns Hopkins University Press 1998WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder  
Katherine Young (Ph.D. and author of Presence in the Flesh: The Body in Medicine) puts forth the idea that the Copernican Revolution was revolutionary in another way than is typically thought. She had been outlining some long time ideas on human sexuality in that males were thought to be of the elements of fire and air, thus hot and light, and that women were of earth and water, and thus heavy, cold and wet. When the Copernican Revolution replaced the Earth (female) as the center of the solar system/universe with the sun (male) then female sexuality as a topic disappeared from discourse.

It is an extremely interesting idea but I would really like to see some good supporting evidence. If anyone knows of any books or articles that address this idea I would be most grateful. My initial skepticism leans toward the shift having started well before and that the displacement of the Earth from the center was perhaps the final straw. And even if the idea as presented is true, then I imagine it is hingeing on a highly condensed version of reality, in that the Copernican Revolution involved an awful lot of historical, political, societal and religious changes that were highly intertwined and influencing each other in multiple ways. Symbolically this idea is highly interesting, but I imagine the reality of the shift away from a supposedly fairly prevalent knowledge of female sexuality and needs to one that pretty much discounted female sexuality would have to be far more complex than a shift in symbols.

I would love to have my skepticism discounted though so please do pass along any sources you may be aware of that address this issue. [I went back and re-watched that section and got her name and the name of the book she wrote, Presence in the Flesh: The Body in Medicine, which Sara has requested for me.] So, if you are aware of any other sources that address this intriguing topic please do pass them along.


Hysteria: Good romantic comedy based on an excellent and important book.

Follow-up: Tonight (3 December) we watched the full documentary, Passion and Power: The Technology of Orgasm, which we got through ILL. It was good but it was only 74 minutes vs. the 47 minutes of excerpts on the DVD of Hysteria as an extra. The additional material was interesting but probably not worth going out of one’s way to acquire. You can find more information about it here.

Young’s book has also arrived by this point in time and I look forward to having a go at it, but I am highly disappointed to say that neither Copernicus nor Copernican Revolution are anywhere to be found in the index. I want to know more about this symbological interpretation but am remaining highly skeptical as to its actual explanatory depth.


The Tree of Life (movie)

[This is one of the remaining DigiWriMo posts.]

On Black Friday, we finally got around to seeing The Tree of Life, which was a pretty big movie not that long ago. I knew a little about it—that it was fairly existential, had (at least) two major interpretations, was well-acted, and beautifully shot—and I had been looking forward to it.

At less than a half hour in I tweeted the following:

Is The Tree of Life worth watching? <30:00 in & I’m bored to tears and falling asleep. Decent nature photography but … [tweet]

It was putting me to sleep and I really was not impressed in much of any way yet. Sure, there was some great “nature” cinematography but much of it seemed to be NASA images or stuff taken from assorted nature documentaries; the stuff that wasn’t simply CGI, that is, or ginned up in more analog ways. Seeing as I get the NASA Image of the Day in my feeds and I am fairly well-versed in nature documentaries they were going to have to do better.

I sat through the whole movie, despite Sara suggesting I go upstairs and write. When it was over I tweeted:

Um, The Tree of Life is one of the worst films I have seen. Pretty sure @esquetee has a different opinion of it. Oh well. [tweet]

It is not that there was little action, as I adore so-called ‘foreign’ and independent films, many of which most Americans cannot sit through due to lack of action. That is not a problem I have. Storytelling is what is important and I guess, for me, the issue was that there really isn’t a story in it.

Honestly, to me, as a whole, this movie seriously sucked. Sara liked it. As she said, it is open to interpretation—which I fully agree with. But we even seemed to disagree on how many boys the family had. The problem with such a work that is so open to interpretation is that it has to give you something to work with, something you can hang an idea, and perhaps an argument, on. In my opinion, The Tree of Life gives one nothing to work with at all.

It did, though, leave me pensive and in a contemplative mood. But. With nothing to contemplate it was an absurd mood to be in! It simply managed to piss me off. Late Friday afternoon would have been a perfect time to be in such a mood if only there was some content to the mood.

I did read through the entry for the movie at Wikipedia and while I agree that if one takes that interpretation then it makes reasonable sense, but I see absolutely no reason to do so. Perhaps that is what the filmmakers intended but, if so, I say that they failed. Brad Pitt’s character in no way—to me anyway—represents ‘Nature’ or even ‘nature.’ Nature is not obsessed with the freaking lawn! Nor is nature stuck in a dead end job and trying to grasp for what it can along the way. And Jessica Chastain’s character fails to embody ‘grace’ for me. And that is assuming one even buys into the whole lesson about one “must choose to either follow the path of grace or the path of nature.” [Wikipedia]

Now clearly, many people disagree with me about this movie (see the Wikipedia entry) and perhaps you, reader, are one of them. More power to you! I am glad that you enjoyed it, just as I am glad that Sara did. All of the above was based on my opinion and if I failed in a few cases to word it so explicitly then I apologize. Please take it that that is the case. I would not argue that your opinion of the movie is wrong or misguided as we all react to story, and the telling of it, in different ways.

Thankfully, later we watched Hysteria. That will be the next post.

Synopis: The Tree of Life: Sucks. Although many others have a vastly different opinion.