2015, Books, Non-Fiction

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (2015) by Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner

This is a fascinating book about how human beings can potentially get better at predicting the future and the types of people who are probably better at predicting the future. (Not pundits, I’m sure you’re shocked to hear.) I suspect I would have liked it more had I not already been familiar with Tetlock’s work.

1965, 1966, 1967

War and Peace [Voyna I Mir] (1965, Sergey Bondarchuk)

This is an epic, 7 and a half hour adaptation of War and Peace, sort of on the scale of The Human Condition, but not nearly as long and far more ambitious. Apparently made in response to the Hollywood version, this film (or series of films) mostly realizes the promise of Peak TV decades earlier …

2011, Books, Non-Fiction

You Are Not So Smart (2011) by David McRaney

I got this book years ago, when I still listened to this podcast. And the problem is that, due to this very podcast, I started reading a lot more pop psychology and psychology than I already was. And so, in the interim between this book coming into my possession and reading it, I learned a …

2011, Movies

A Separation [Jodaeiye Nader az Simin] (2011, Asghar Farhadi)

The is an unrelentingly bleak tragedy about the dissolution of a marriage in Iran that leads to a misunderstanding that compounds into a destructive feud between two families. It is well shot, well constructed, and well acted and it was a chore to watch as a result. (I mean that as a compliment.)

2001, Books, Fiction

The Corrections (2001) by Jonathan Franzen

Full disclosure: I suspect that, had I read this novel when it came out, I would have loved it. I would have found it funnier then than I found it now, I wouldn’t have noticed the misogyny I wouldn’t have cared an iota about the unlikable characters, and I probably wouldn’t have been aware of …

2021, Movies

No Time to Die (2021, Cary Joji Fukunaga)

I don’t quite no what to do here because I must admit that I have only seen Skyfall and Spectre once each. And I have very little memory of either, except the vague impression that I didn’t like them, and that they were going the way Bond movies always go near the Bond’s run, getting …

2008, Movies

Synecdoche, New York (2008, Charlie Kaufman)

I’ve finally gotten around to watching the film that temporarily killed Charlie Kaufman’s career as a director. If you don’t know Charlie kaufman was one of the most acclaimed American screenwriters of his era, and then he made this film. Though it is now regarded by some of one of the best movies of that …

2016, Movies

The Memory Illusion (2016) by Julia Shaw

This is an extremely accessible and thought-provoking tour through all the ways in which the human memory is not as reliable as we all believe. Though, like many of these books, it does contain a bit of a Greatest Hits of psychological studies and cognitive biases, the focus on memory is usually clear enough to …

2021, Movies

Vince Carter: Legacy (2021, Justin C. Polk)

Vince Carter is not why I’m a basketball fan, that’s Steve Nash. But Vince Carter is why I paid enough attention to basketball to discover Steve Nash. And, of course, I was a pretty impressionable age when Vinsanity was happening. So I have a soft spot for him and for his story. (I am the …

1937, Movies

Make Way For Tomorrow (1937, Leo McCarey)

This film is maddening and all the more maddening given its reputation. I suspect its reputation is earned in part from the Americans who had not seen films like this and decided that this must be some kind of masterpiece. Why did Orson Welles like this movie so much? Had he never seen anything like …

2020, Movies

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles (2020, Laura Gabbert)

This is a weird one. The film mentions Yotam Ottolenghi in its title, and the film focuses on him as its main character, and yet he is not one of the chefs baking cakes for the gala at the centre of the film. Seriously.

1970, Movies

Original Cast Album: Company (1970, D.A. Pennebaker)

This brief documentary about the creation of the original cast album for the musical Company is so brief because it was supposed to be a TV pilot. The idea was to have a TV series based around recordings of cast albums. I’m not sure there would have been enough, but it’s kind of a neat …

2018, Books, Hockey, Non-Fiction, Sports

The “Down Goes Brown” History of the NHL (2018) by Sean McIndoe

If you follow McIndoe on Twitter or you’ve read him at his professional stops since the original blog, you pretty much know what you’re getting here: quality hockey writing with jokes. However, if you’ve followed him since the blog you’ve likely heard some of this before. And if you’ve ready books about hockey (or read …

1934, Books, Fiction

Tender is the Night (1934) by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Apparently I read this years ago and forgot. I wrote the following: “The same great qualities as with his other classics but lacking the completeness of The Great Gatsby. There are still moments of profound insight and lots of great description, but it lacks the earlier novel’s wholeness. I don’t mean to nitpick. It’s a great …

2021, TV

Muhammad Ali (2021)

Burns and Co’s second documentary series focused entirely on one person is even longer than and more in-depth than Hemingway. But, fortunately, Ali’s life is, in many ways, a grander subject. At least for the first half, the series is in many ways an alternate history of the post war United States. And even when …

2020, Books

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World (2020) by Virginia Postrel

I have read way too many history books in my life. (Or not enough, if this book is any indication.) Few of them mentioned clothing (or any form of textiles) for any reason other than to paint a scene. The ones that did dwell on textiles at all, did so as part of bigger economic …

1957, Movies

Nights of Cabiria [Le notti di Cabiria] (1957, Federico Fellini)

Some people say, I prefer the “early, funny” Woody Allen, in preference to his more ambitious and serious films of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Well, I have similar feelings about Fellini; I prefer the “early, realist” Fellini, or what I might less charitably call the “early, good” Fellini. I find Fellini’s later films incomprehensible …

2010, 2015, Books, Non-Fiction

Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air (2010) by David J.C. MacKay

This is an excellent, detailed analysis of what we need to do to got sustainable. It is currently available online for free and I strongly recommend reading it.

1991, Movies

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991, Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, Eleanor Coppola)

Having seen Apocalypse Now many times – including Redux, which I maintain is better – I have finally got around to watching the documentary about the infamous shoot. At this point I have seen hundreds if not thousands of documentaries and most of them were made since this one. And I will say that your …

1963, Movies

High and Low aka 天国と地獄 [Tengoku to jigoku] (1963, Akira Kurosawa)

This is a startlingly original kidnapping film, which bucks film conventions of the day – of any day, really. I suspect it might have been a little shocking, both in its form and its somewhat taboo inclusion of heroin addiction as a subplot. MILD SPOILERS

1999, Movies

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999, Michael Patrick Jann)

This is very dark, quirky mockumentary, a little like Christopher Guest with way more murder and no interviews. It’s super oddly paced, and it some of the humour hasn’t dated super well, but I kind of admire its mean spirit and how it stands apart from the Christopher Guest school.

2021, TV

Hemingway (2021)

This 3-part series is, to my knowledge, the first time a single person has gotten the “Ken Burns Treatment.” Given how much stuff Ken Burns’ has created, I certainly could be wrong. But it’s the first of the prestige PBS Ken Burns’ series I am aware of that focuses on one person. (The Roosevelts is …