I’ve been meaning to write reviews for all these things for a while, but I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time. So here are my mini reviews, because I can’t seem to keep up with everything.
All the President’s Men
I watched this movie for the first time this past weekend, and it was excellent. I knew the basics of the Watergate Scandal, but there was a lot I didn’t know, like how far beyond the simple break-in the scandal went. I was most fascinated by (and surprised by) the movie’s accounts of what Donald Segretti called “ratfucking”; the war of illegal dirty tricks waged against the Democratic Party by CREEP, using the secret six million dollar slush fund. Segretti was employed by CREEP to torpedo Democratic candidates in numerous ways, including forging letters and planting fake news stories with the press. Interestingly, Karl Rove was involved in doing some of this illegal work, and it appears he never quit.
Newsfire RSS/XML Feed Reader
I’ve been reading most of my regular news sources and favorite blogs in a piece of software that pulls in RSS or XML syndication feeds and aggregates and organizes them. Because I’m on a Mac, I chose Newsfire, which is one of the more popular readers, but there are numerous Feed readers for the PC as well, many of them are shareware or free. It’s a much easier way to keep track of my favorite websites and to make sure I don’t miss posts by my friends.
The Mermaid Chair
by Sue Monk Kidd
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as her previous book, The Secret Life of Bees. The heroine Jessie Sullivan returns to her childhood home on a tiny island to care for her disturbed mother, who in a fit of religious mania had cut off one of her fingers. While there, Jessie has an affair with one of the monks at the island monastery. I didn’t really buy into the “existential” angst that Jessie is supposedly feeling; the motivation for her affair. I kept wanting to tell her to get over it.
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
by Ruth Reichl
This was a fun, quick read by Ruth Reichl, who was the food critic for the New York Times for several years in the 80s, before moving on to become a critic and editor of Gourmet magazine. Reichl recounts how she attempted to write restaurant reviews that were useful to regular people by visiting many New York restaurants in disguise to fool restaurant owners, who would otherwise recognize her and give her special treatment that other guests wouldn’t receive. The book is an enlightening insider’s view of both the New York restaurant scene and of The New York Times, as well as an education in fine dining and in gourmet appreciation. There are some great recipes in it, as well. The only thing that bothered me was that Reichl gets a bit too into the disguises she wears at times; she revels in creating characters that seemed to me a bit over the top.