Autumn is here, and while you're relaxing with that mug of mulled cider, catch up on the best of the week with our editors' picks.
In addition to our usual fine assortment of reviews and commentary, we've got Eric Clapton in three parts, an account of a trip to Pakistan in words and pictures, and evidence that the war on terror is on everyone's mind, regardless of which side of the political aisle one sits on. Cooking (and eating) comes to Sci/Tech, and the editors take over the sports section.
It's all good, all the time, and it's all here.
From Music Editor Connie Phillips:
Ian Woolstencroft walks us back through a time when our music came on large black discs and continues the journey with his masterful Music Review: Lloyd Cole – Antidepressant.
Jim O'Donnell asks the question, "If Clapton is going deaf from his own live music, what about all the fans who attended those same shows?" What follows in Part One, Part Two and Part Three of Concert Review: Eric Clapton Going Deaf? Attend 'The Silent Clapton Concert' is a detailed review of a recent show intermingled with memories and career observations.
From Asst. Music Editor A.L. Harper:
Tim Gebhart teaches us how to appreciate jazz legend John Coltrane in his Music Review: John Coltrane – Fearless Leader.
Big Geez doesn't listen to Roger Miller anymore when he's driving. And he takes the time to explain why in his Reckless Driving And The Sound Of Roger Miller
From Books Editor Natalie Bennett:
Mayank Austen Soofi has been left agitated and outraged by a negative response to A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. He sets out, in passionate but measured prose, to explain why this Indian epic is one of "the literary milestones of modern Indian literature in English".
C. Michael Bailey is looking further back in time, to the timeless story of the Holy Grail, and what he says is a fine exploration of the mystique — Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, who with "a craftsman's care, spins two tales of intrigue separated by 800 years". This was a review that certainly made me want to hunt out the book.
From Asst. Books Editor Gordon Hauptfleisch:
In the review of the Looking Glass Wars, Snarkattack compellingly and whimsically makes an intriguingly flipped-out re-telling of the Alice in Wonderland story more curiouser and more curiouser still, making a convincing case that "the book has themes that both adults and children will find enticing."
If the author of The Shark God "tells his story with a wry and highly observant eye," Tim Gebhart succeeds in his review much along the same lines. Tim deftly explores and explicates thematic elements of culture, religion, superstition and faith that surround, in one "of the year's best non-fiction books," the story of a man re-tracing the steps of his great-grandfather, a missionary in the islands of Melanesia in the 1890s.
From Film Editor Lisa McKay:
Is it wrong that Bill Sherman's review of psychedelic soft-porn mish-mash Psyched By The 4D Witch made me want to put it in my Netflix queue?
Diane Kristine tells us why we should be excited about Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, and why Aaron Sorkin's latest effort is a worthy successor to The West Wing.
From Culture Editor Diana Hartman:
Few delight as the travel writer does. These spirited wanderers jaunt about with journal and camera, logging action with alacrity. Mayank Austen Soofi informs and amuses with his intriguing series "A Sudden Trip to Pakistan." Mayank's adventures include Crossing the India-Pakistan Border at Wagah, Shocked and Awed by a Brave Pakistani Play and On The Road In Lahore, With A Digicam.
From Politics Editor Dave Nalle:
The Great Marijuana Debate: Heads vs. Feds by Margaret Romao Toigo. A great in-depth and sophisticated analysis of the debate over the War on Drugs.
Rush Limbaugh and Company, Air America Radio, And the Folly of All of Them by Michael J. West. A level-headed look at the role which talk radio plays as political tool and entertainment.
From Asst. Politics Editor Mark Schannon:
The Projectile Vomit-Inducing Rise Of Stumblebum American Incompetence – Where Has US Pragmatism Gone? by Adam Ash. A bit of hyperbole, but more truth than would make one comfortable. It sure feels that we're are turning into a nation of bumbling idiots.
Bush, Islam, and the Death of the Liberal Mind by Haydn Shaughnessy. Interesting take on what happened to the liberal voice in America, placing the blame squarely on the liberals.
Hugo Chavez – One Man Axis of Crazy by Dave Nalle. One has to wonder why anyone- from whatever side of the political spectrum – could view Chavez as anything but a lunatic.
Boycott Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's Memoirs; Don't Buy In The Line of Fire by Mayank Austen Soofi. Powerful explanation of what's really going on inside this dictator's Pakistan despite Musharraf's charming appearance on Jon Stewart's Daily Show.
From Asst. Politics Editor John Bambenek:
Rewriting History: Eight Months vs Eight Years by Big Dog. With all the carping on which administration could have done what, this post covers the facts about what was missed.
From Sports Editor Matthew T. Sussman:
Sal Marinello gets a gold star for returning "The Ramble" to our lives, but gets it promptly revoked for ever taking the column away from us in the first place.
As penance for banning me from BCRadio after I predicted the Yankees would win the World Series (which happened), DJRadiohead's penance was to write a sports article for me.† So he broke down his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide's first loss. It's a good sign of a story not getting any comments because he covered all his bases and gave a comprehensive look at the game. Or maybe it's because most of Alabama lacks the Internet.
† Not a true story
From Gaming Editor Ken Edwards:
PC Game Review: Deep Ball Defender by Jason "Njiska" Westhaver. This $20 Arkanoid clone is a must purchase for any fan of brick bashers.
From Sci/Tech Editor Lisa McKay:
If the aroma of garlic and ginger sizzling in a pan stirs your senses, you'll delight in reading Howard Dratch's fascinating (and beautifully illustrated) article on spices and their health benefits. Good to eat and good for you! Who knew?
COMMENT OF THE WEEK:
From Comments Editor Christopher Rose:
Much has been said about both the late Steve Irwin's unlikely fate and Richard Hammond's lucky escape, from the sublime to the ridiculous. This from an actual Australian is up there with the best.
Posted by S.T.M to Boys Being Boys: Don't We Love It on 2006.09.25:
If you can judge Irwin by his own standards, the truth is he never really flirted with danger… no more than, say, an airline pilot does each time he or she takes off.
If you know a bit about the animals involved, it was pretty tame stuff, despite their fearsome reputation and how it looked on screen – and as the writer has capably pointed out, he at least did raise awareness of conservation and wild animals in general.
Most of his work was charity work aimed at raising money to help animals, including those orphaned in Australia by road accidents (one of his latest ads on Aussie TV prior to his death). But the fact that his death occurred well out of his comfort zone is hugely significant.
Irwin was in the water, not on land, and filming on the barrier reef when he was stung and killed by an animal he probably didn't know a lot about. In reality, he probably didn't have a lot to fear in relation to the ray: there have only been four similar deaths recorded in Australia.
It was indeed, as we all know here, a freak accident. While plenty of Australians are stung each year by stingrays, it's usually as a result of stepping on them.
Had Irwin been filming a croc or a snake, it's unlikely he would have been hurt… he knew them.
Hammond, too, knows his stuff. Watching him pilot the latest Ford or Ferrari around the track, or taking the latest Citroen out on the road for a bash, is pretty entertaining TV fare and if Top Gear is anything more than a TV show about cars, it is just a show about having fun (hardly dangerous, for the most part, either).
In this instance, he was piloting a dragster: not the type of car normally featured on Top Gear.
Once again, the key to the tragedy is that Hammond had moved out of his comfort zone, and despite the fact that he probably had little to fear even in an accident given the protection afforded drag race drivers, it was a freakish piece of bad luck.
I have been a surfer for over 35 years, and each time I enter the water there is an inherent risk. However, I generally feel safe. I love riding big waves, but I've never been towed into one. I have stuck with what I know. However, I would like to try it and have been invited on a number of occasions to do so. One day soon, I probably will. I am told that it is easier and safer than paddle-in surfing in big waves, where your safety depends solely on your own physical abilities and acquired knowledge in a hostile, dangerous and constantly changing environment. Tow-in riders have the advantage of a buddy on a jet ski watching out for them. For all that, it will still be out of my comfort zone.
You can apply this reasoning to all kinds of situations (a new job, for instance, although the risk is not neccessarily physical). So does that mean we should all stick with what know, without challenging ourselves?
Probably not, as life would become pretty bloody dull and boring. At least Irwin and Hammond were doing things they loved, TV or not.