Posted by: CJ | April 18, 2009

Books, movies, culture…

I got my shipment with On Writing Well today. It also came with Rick Perlstein’s two books Before the Storm and Nixonland.

I’m really excited to finally read Nixonland. I read Before the Storm, about Barry Goldwater’s 1964 bid for president, last spring and really loved it. As I gather, the two books piece together how the liberalism of the New Deal morphed into a more conservative period. His books also make the broader case that to understand post-New Deal politics, at least up to Clinton, you really need to understand the 1960’s. That’s when all the fun stuff happened anyways.

Now if I only knew of comparably good books about the Reagan years. (The politics of the Ford and Carter years seem somewhat boring, from a historical standpoint. Though maybe I’m wrong about this?)

However, I put reading off for awhile tonight to watch The Maltese Falcon. It’s part of a broader project I’m undertaking. I’ve decided to watch a classic or culturally significant movie each weekend for my own cultural betterment. Or something. Really I just feel like I haven’t been catching enough references lately. I’ve never watched Saturday Night Fever or The Big Sleep, so those are next up on my list. After that there’s a bunch of Rogers and Hammerstein I need to see, Woody Allen classics, the Kevin Smith oeuvre, and early Richard Gere.

A few days ago I would have questioned the necessecity of Rogers and Hammerstein. But then I read the wikipedia artice on Grease. (Don’t ask, I was just following the wikipedia flow.) I apparently never watched the musical or movie in a non-autistic mood. I hadn’t realized there was much of a plot, let alone subplots of high school intrigue. And this is despite singing almost every song in Grease multiple times due to high school choirs and show choirs. While this lack of knowledge is clealy acceptable in a haute-culture moral sense, it intolerably hurts my feelings of all-knowing infallibility. So Oklahoma! and Carousel for me. Probably is a suitable karmic punishment for my egoism anyways.



  1. In a non-autistic mood? That amuses me, and explains a lot. You probably need to see West Side Story too.

  2. But, as I understand it, West Side Story is just Romeo & Juliet with dancing and Leonard Bernstein instead of Shakespeare.

    Part of what confused me with Grease was suburban high school politics. At the time, those notions were very foreign to me. But Romeo and Juliet with gang violence and a racial divide made perfect sense.

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