"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Billy Crystal is Still Foolin' Me

Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My KeysStill Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys by Billy Crystal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't have a very long commute. Still, when the misery that is American broadcast news gets to be too much, I take a break from my car radio to listen to an audio book. This is why I decided to listen to Bill Crystal's memoir/exploration of aging. And let me just say, I cannot imagine reading this book. Experiencing it as an audio book seems both obvious and mandatory. Only listening in 15 minute commute segments proved too slow. A couple of CDs in I yanked the case out of my car and gorged on 2 CDs at a time in my apartment.

Billy Crystal has been a welcome guest in my family's entertainment circle since he appeared in the sitcom Soap. We have loved his standup, his impersonations, and many of his films. When Harry Met Sally is one of my all-time favorite films and certainly my favorite romantic comedy. It was a pleasure to revisit all of these cherished memories through Billy's perspective, humor, and voice. The chapters he reads before a live audience are riveting in their hilarity.

The appeal of this memoir may come down to whether or not you are already a Billy Crystal fan. The approach he takes is inevitably an extension of his lifelong comedic style and wit. I think it is safe to say his recent Emmy Awards tribute to the late Robin Williams counts as something of a supplement, and a good sense of how this book comes across: candid, sentimental, bright. Thank you, Billy.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Border Seen From Space

Here is one of the most fascinating images I have seen from NASA this year. Look at this agriculturally defined border between China and Kazakhstan. Then head to NASA's Earth Observatory website to read the complete caption. Extremely interesting.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

An A-Plus for 'Europa Report'

Last week I went on a date to the movies. As we waited for the previews to start, one of the movies we discussed was Gravity. I am both a movie lover and a dedicated space enthusiast, so I relished the film. Even where it takes liberties, it does so to achieve a wonderfully vivid depiction of the cluttered realm of Low Earth Orbit.

My date, on the other hand, did not care so much for the movie. Her number one gripe was how Gravity beats you over the head with its themes. I had to agree with her. The chief strength of the movie is not character, plot or dialogue. Its brilliance lies in cinematography.

Around the time Gravity came out, a much lower profile--and lower budget--science fiction film had a limited release: Europa Report. Check out the trailer, which is as smartly edited and expertly teasing as is the movie.

Europa Report depicts, as plausibly as possible, a human mission to the moon of Jupiter. Real science indicates the possibility of a real subsurface ocean with the real potential to harbor life. That's right. We might have neighbors in our solar system at this very moment. I enjoyed my second viewing last night and felt the need to plug this film. Hope you'll give it a try.