Lingua Mea Vita

Lyrical Analysis — Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
January 31, 2011, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Lyrical Analysis | Tags: , , , ,

“If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can’t help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me, or treat me mean
I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine”

Fiona Apple tends to look so sad in all of her press photos and she’s got a low, moaning cow sort of a voice, so I’m really shocked by her song Extraordinary Machine. It is quite the pick-me-up. It’s swingy and upbeat, and has a great message of self-confidence.

I’d listened to her first two albums and really dug them because they were a little sexy, a little dark, and definitely whip-smart. But I wouldn’t turn to either of those albums for a self-confidence boost.

I’d avoided listening to Extraordinary Machine, because I’d read that it was a “far departure from her previous work” and erm, “weird” and I loved Tidal and When the Pawn… so much that I didn’t want to risk not liking it and my respect for Fiona Apple to go down (ooh,  I hold myself in such high regard, don’t I?).

It wasn’t until a couple of days ago I decided to toss caution to the wind and listen to Extraordinary Machine. The album is pretty good. I don’t know why people called it weird. I was expecting weird. Like Aphex Twin weird:

But this isn’t an album review. This is me praising the chorus from Extraordinary Machine and how it took me by surprise. Good job, Fiona!

If only you would crack a smile…



The Newest, Best TV Show You Will Probably Never See

Before I even start with this post, I guess I should explain who Aaron Sorkin, who is going to be the star of this post, is. He’s a beloved and respected writer in Hollywood best known for:

  1. Writing The American President and one of my all-time favorite movies, A Few Good Men. He’s also up for an Oscar this year for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network.
  2. Being the creator, writer and driving force behind The West Wing.
  3. Drawing and quartering Sarah Palin via blog post on the HuffPo.

Now Aaron Sorkin is brewing up a new TV series for HBO, hoping to capture “the same kind of idealism and romanticism that made government sexy on The West Wing.”

…”sexy” isn’t the first word I’d use to describe The West Wing. While it was a good show, I think The West Wing was one of those shows you watched while rubbing Bengay on your arthritic joints and waiting for your vanilla ice-cream to thaw. And his other two shows, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, fared well critically, but were not on the air very long.

A move to a premium channel where you can be sexy as you wanna be could be what a Sorkin-show needs to actually hang in there. Sorkin himself said that he thought HBO is were people are turning for “more literate programming.” And with a history of airing shows like  the iconic Sex and the City, the awesome bro-fest that is Entourage, the introspective and darkly funny Six Feet Under and the only halfway decent product of the neo-vampire phenomenon True Blood, he’d be 100 percent right.

However, the true test will be set up of the show itself. Just because a show is on HBO doesn’t mean it’ll survive (R.I.P. John from Cincinnati). Sorkin is known for his “show about a show” style, and it looks like this show is going to take on that format. But I guess I’m wondering if it’s the network choice or the actual “show about a show” set-up that is responsible for the demise of Sorkin shows.

I guess only time will tell, but I’m rooting for ya, Aaron! The show about a show thing works for 30 Rock!

Of Snooki and Stephen

It’s a great day for ghostwriters, you guys!

Snooki's A Shore Thing is a New York Times Bestseller

Stephen King and Snooki (Nicole Polizzi, Jersey Shore) have something in common aside from having awkwardly thin lips! On January 30, Agent Orange Snooki will join the ranks of King, Steig Larsson, John Grisham, and Jodi Picoult when her book, A Shore Thing, debuts on the New York Times Bestseller’s List.

I hope that Stephen King hears this wonderful news, retreats to his cabin in Maine, and writes a short story about reality television stars deliberately spreading a virus to American public that eventually turns them into vampires and in the end we’re all destroyed by China because they don’t have the Jersey Shore. Well…aside from the ending, it’s already like ‘Salem’s Lot, huh?

What’s so unfortunate about this is that I was flipping channels and saw Snooki being interviewed on a talk show. A horrifying exchange occurred:

Interviewer: How did you write this book? I heard that you’ve only read like two books in your life!”
Snooki: Just because I haven’t read any books doesn’t mean I can’t write one!

Oh, Honey.

Did you think Ellen DeGeneres was reading selections from your book because she thought it was a new American classic? Do you not realize that America is making fun of you right now?

Hm, or maybe not? They are actually buying your book.

And that’s the saddest part—America is buying into this dribble. Ellen wouldn’t read a section from a book that she thought was really well written on her show. The only person who did anything close to that is Oprah (and she did it full-force, guns blazing, thank goodness).

I used to be in the camp where if I thought Americans were at least reading books, I didn’t care what the book was. This is how I excused the Twilight phenomenon in my head. But I feel like this has gone too far: Snooki’s book being on the NYT Bestsellers List (despite it only being #24) is reinforcing her influence in America.

She is just a drunken pumpkin butterball that has an ugly name that is fun to say. Ugh, it sounds like I just described a beer.

I wish for the days where the only thing Stephen King and Snooki had in common were the letter “S”.

Super Sad True Love Story, anyone?

Sex and al Medina

I guess the true testament of good screenwriting is when you can go back years later and the writing still sounds fresh. In my opinion, that’s the case for Sex and the City. I just watched the episode where all the guys on the show are having ball issues.

Charlotte says,

“We’re having Trey’s sperm tested.”

To which Miranda replies,

“Is it not doing well in school?”

ZING! Witty greatness!

In light of Sex and the City’s awesome writing, my BFF sent me something that I still haven’t fully processed yet: Imaginary Lines from an Imaginary 9/11 Sex and the City episode.

“Meanwhile uptown, Samantha was having a few explosions of her own.”

“It was at that moment Charlotte resolved that if her fellow countrymen were brave enough to revolt against knife-wielding hijackers, the least she could do was take off her bra during sex.”

“Ooooh! Oooh! New Blahniks! AL BUYDA!”

“Later that day I got to thinking about Muslims and relationships. If I couldn’t even tell Big that I was upset about our dinner, was I really any more liberated than a veiled woman? How do we New York women take off our emotional burkas?”

Samantha: “Oh please, you don’t think he’s a little cute?”
Charlotte: “Samantha, no! How can you say that? He just masterminded the killing of 3,000 Americans!”
Samantha: “Probably because he hasn’t Bin Laiden in a while.”


I just don’t know how to feel about it. I want to laugh because it’s funny, but I don’t because it is so offensive.

(And all of this is crazy because on the original opening, Sarah Jessica Parker’s name pops up in front of the World Trade Center towers.)

I’ve got to give whoever wrote it credit; the lines do resemble those in the show, and I got a guilty chuckle out of the Samantha-Charlotte exchange. But there was so much guilt involved in laughing. It didn’t feel good. The whole concept is kind of tacky. It’s like a revival of Oklahoma! throwing a joke about the bombing in there.

The lines were good, really good, but so not funny at the same time. Sex and the City definitely was edgy, but it never dipped into grotesque. The actual show acknowledge 9/11 properly—I read somewhere that the episode I Love NY was an ode to the city, but also dedicated to the 9/11 victims or something along those lines.

Oh, the conflict!

‘Ello BBC Book Challenge!
January 17, 2011, 5:34 pm
Filed under: BBC Book Challenge | Tags:

The BBC Book Challenge is one of those memes that you find on some tight-ass’s personal blog from time to time. The challenge says that the average person has read only 6 books on a list of  100 classics compiled by the BBC. The introduction is usually followed up with “Let’s prove them wrong!” and some bolded and italic titles indicating what books they’d read, but never enough titles to actually “disprove” the BBC.

But I always wonder: do these bloggers, between their shopping trips to Banana Republic and keeping up with their raw vegan diet, actually read the books they hadn’t read on the list?

Well, I wanna be a tight-ass and play along, so here’s the list ( the ones I have read are bolded). The ones I haven’t read, I will read and blog about here:

  1. Pride and Prejudice — Jane Austen
  2. The Lord of the Rings — J. R. R. Tolkien [I read the Two Towers, not sure if this counts]
  3. Jane Eyre — Charlotte Bronte
  4. Harry Potter series — J.K. Rowling
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird — Harper Lee
  6. The Bible
  7. Wuthering Heights — Emily Bronte
  8. Nineteen Eighty Four — George Orwell
  9. His Dark Materials — Philip Pullman
  10. Great Expectations — Charles Dickens
  11. Little Women — Louisa May Alcott
  12. Tess of the D’Ubervilles — Thomas Hardy
  13. Catch 22 — Joseph Heller
  14. Complete Works of William Shakespeare
  15. Rebecca — Daphne du Maurier
  16. The Hobbit — J.R.R. Tolkien
  17. Birdsong — Sebastian Faulks
  18. Catcher in the Rye — J.D. Salinger
  19. The Time Traveler’s Wife — Audrey Niffenegger
  20. Middlemarch — George Eliot
  21. Gone With the Wind — Margaret Mitchell
  22. The Great Gatsby — F. Scott Fitzgerald
  23. Bleak House — Charles Dickens
  24. War and Peace –Leo Tolstoy
  25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — Douglas Adams
  26. Brideshead Revisited — Evelyn Waugh
  27. Crime and Punishment — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  28. Grapes of Wrath — John Steinbeck
  29. Alice in Wonderland — Lewis Carroll
  30. The Wind in the Willows — Kenneth Grahame
  31. Anna Karenina — Leo Tolstoy
  32. David Copperfield — Charles Dickens
  33. Chronicles of Narnia — C.S. Lewis
  34. Emma — Jane Austen
  35. Persuasion — Jane Austen
  36. The Alchemist — Paulo Coelho
  37. The Kite Runner — Khaled Hosseini
  38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin — Louis de Bernieres
  39. Memoirs of a Geisha — Arthur Golden
  40. Winnie the Pooh — A. A. Milne
  41. Animal Farm — George Orwell
  42. The Da Vinci Code — Dan Brown
  43. One Hundred Years of Solitude — Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney — John Irving
  45. The Woman in White — Wilkie Collins
  46. Anne of Green Gables — L.M. Montgomery
  47. Far From the Maddening Crowd — Thomas Hardy
  48. A Handmaid’s Tale — Margaret Atwood
  49. Lord of the Flies — William Golding
  50. Atonement — Ian McEwan
  51. Life of Pi — Yann Martel
  52. Dune — Frank Herbert
  53. Cold Comfort Farm — Stella Gibbons
  54. Sense and Sensibility — Jane Austen
  55. A Suitable Boy — Vikram Seth
  56. The Shadow of the Wind — Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  57. A Tale of Two Cities — Charles Dickens
  58. Brave New World — Aldous Huxley
  59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night — Mark Haddon
  60. Love in the Time of Cholera — Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  61. Of Mice and Men — John Steinbeck
  62. Lolita — Vladimir Nabokov
  63. The Secret History — Donna Tartt
  64. The Lonely Bones — Alice Sebold
  65. The Count of Monte Cristo — Alexandre Dumas
  66. On the Road — Jack Kerouac
  67. Jude the Obscure — Thomas Hardy
  68. Bridget Jones’s Diary — Helen Fielding
  69. Midnight’s Children — Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby Dick — Herman Melville
  71. Oliver Twist — Charles Dickens
  72. Dracula — Bram Stoker
  73. The Secret Garden — Frances Hogdson Burnett
  74. Notes From a Small Island — Bill Bryson
  75. Ulysses — James Joyce
  76. The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath
  77. Swallows and Amazons — Arthur Ransome
  78. Germinal — Emile Zola
  79. Vanity Fair — William  Makepeace Thackeray
  80. Possession — A.S. Byatt
  81. A Christmas Carol — Charles Dickens
  82. Cloud Atlas — David Mitchell
  83. The Color Purple — Alice Walker
  84. The Remains of the Day — Kazuo Ishiguro
  85. Madame Bovary — Gustave Flaubert
  86. A Fine Balance — Rohinton Mistry
  87. Charlotte’s Web — E.B. White
  88. The Five People You Meet in Heaven — Mitch Albom
  89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  90. The Faraway Tree Collection — Enid Blyton
  91. Heart of Darkness — Joseph Conrad
  92. The Little Prince — Antoine de  Saint-Exupery
  93. The Wasp Factory — Iain Banks
  94. Watership Down — Richard Adams
  95. A Confederacy of Dunces — John Kennedy Toole
  96. A Town Like Alice — Nevil Shute
  97. The Three Musketeers — Alexandre Dumas
  98. Hamlet — William Shakespeare
  99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — Roald Dahl
  100. Les Miserables — Victor Hugo

Some of these are tough to group. Do people actually read the entire Bible or all of Shakespeare’s Plays (seriously, I don’t know if I’ve met anyone who has read Measure for Measure). In these situations, if I feel like I’ve read most of it, I’m counting it as “read”. Also, why is Hamlet separate, BBC?

Otherwise, it looks like an interesting list. Some I’m eager to dig into (I’ve never read any of the Russian powerhouses), others not so much (I am NOT a Steinbeck fan). My friends in high school were really into Jane Austen and Hitchhiker’s Guide and I was going through my Stephen King/James Michener phase (because those two are JUST alike :P), so I’ll finally be able to decide whether or not I actually like them.