Friday, April 25, 2008

Fractals, fractals, everywhere

In between madly packing for a weeklong stay in Ann Arbor and ignoring one last Legal Reasoning paper, I managed to finish A Wine Miscellany (which I bought a few weeks ago while also procrastinating).

Frankly, I was disappointed. It's a simple trivia book about wine -- not colors and tastes and descriptions, but the business of wine. (So it counts as Econ, maybe, and not necessarily procrastinating...) The aggravating thing was, it had great stories -- stories about the oldest vines, the newest vines, the oldest labels, creatively named labels, the most expensive bottles, long-lost bottles, how Masters of Wine get their title in the UK, literary references... It had such potential! Unfortunately, though wittily written, it lacked a coherent thread to tie it all together. There was no flow, no recognizable order to the presentation. But even more frustrating for a history nerd, sometimes there were no years cited for some events (except for the ages of the wine), and no sources cited for some historical or cultural claims. It bugged me. I know a collection of trivialities shouldn't, but it did. Oh well.

So I watched State and Main while packing. A satire of the film industry and its glamorization of small towns, it was a decent movie. It also starred, like, everyone imaginable. The idea: a film company sets up camp in a tiny Vermont town to shoot a film. William H. Macy is the hilariously oblivious director, Alec Baldwin is the scuzzy film star, Philip Seymour Hoffman is the quasi-bumbling screenwriter everyone ignores, and Sarah Jessica Parker is the prudish and ditzy actress.

While the film pokes fun at Hollywood, the fetishization of small towns, and small towns, it never truly critiques it. For the apolitical, that's ideal. But for me, that's the film's only failure. Okay, the sarcasm and the stock typing and the overly-simplistic search for "purity" was kinda funny. The storylines wrapped up too neatly, good still easily conquered evil, and all was well in Mayberry at the end of the day.

Which made it a good movie to watch while packing...

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