Monthly Archives: June 2012

Gone Girl Starring Nick and Amy Dunne

Gone Girl Starring Nick and Amy Dunne

Gone Girl Gillian FlynnGone Girl by Gillian Flynn is #2 on the best seller list and is the best book I’ve read since “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. It is a first-person story told by two different people — that’s new! It is both a mystery and a thriller. And best of all, the two main characters are named Dunne!

You will keep turning the pages of “Gone Girl” because something mind-boggling happens in every chapter. I love the way the surprises keep coming; unexpected and yet completely logical. Amy is the rich-girl daughter of two psychologists (now THAT will make you crazy!). The parents made their fortune writing children’s books about their mythologized daughter “Amazing Amy.” And Amy IS amazing. You will be amazed at how amazing Amy is by the end of this book. You will wonder how any child who was mythologized by her parents could be any other way.

Both Nick Dunne and Amy Elliott Dunne are writers by trade, and I wondered how this was going to come together. It does, at the end. Marriage is a dicey prospect for two people in the same field of endeavor because competition rears its head in unpredictable ways.

I am recommending this book to any friend contemplating divorce.


I just saw the movie

Oct. 29, 2014 Gillian Flynn got sole credit for the screenplay and I would love to find out who really wrote it. Reese Witherspoon produced it and it would have been a great role for her 10 years ago. This images is both the opening and closing shot of the film.

It isn’t very often I think the movie is better than the book (“Bridges of Madison County” comes to mine) but this was great. Especially the line near the end, “I’m the cunt you wanted so bad you pretended to be better than you are.

The movie gave me a much better understanding of the motivations of Nick and Amy Dunne when, near the beginning, she said in a voice-over, “I don’t want to be the kind of wife that dresses you up in a monkey suit to parade in front of her friends.” And his corresponding thought was, “I don’t want to be the kind of husband who treats his wife like the Highway Patrol — always hiding from her, trying to outwit her.”

Now I am going to think about the role of Denial in a relationship, and how We Want What We Want.

Was French Class Worth It?

Was French Class Worth It?

A friend from New York asked about the French lessons I was taking to prepare for our trip to Paris. There is a myth in the US (I heard it again while we waited to board the plane) that all French people speak English, they just won’t because they are stubborn.

Sarkozy Election PosterThat’s as nuts as saying all Texans speak Spanish. According to Wikipedia, about 35% of French people speak English but the statistic is misleading. International business people (like Christine LaGarde, head of the IMF) speak English, so do upper class intellectuals in France (just as the upper class in the US speaks French). Nicholas Sarkozy could not speak English well when he was elected President of France. I don’t know if the newly elected president does either. He only spoke French when I saw him on TV exulting in his victory over Sarkozy. Oh, wait! I was watching TV in Paris… on their Election Day 6 Mai.

It is important to remember that the French HATE the English. Remember the Hundred Years War? It lasted 300 years — that’s how long they were fighting. Napoleon was planning to invade England until the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

I didn’t meet Christine LaGarde (though I would love to — I copy her hairdo) I mainly spoke to waiters, passers-by on the street and security guards. I needed to ask directions and understand the answers like how to find the correct bus stop, or where Howard would exit Notre Dame after he visited the towers. I could get a recommendation at the wine shop and buy delicacies. For example:

Rue Cler is lined with cafes, bakeries, chocolate confectioneries, ice cream parlors and what New Yorkers call “appetizing shops.” Each has a different specialty such as pâté or thousand-leaf pastries filled with delicate ham and cheese. They are bustling in the late afternoon and filled with the local people.

One we visited had an aisle down the middle with the cashier at the end. The prepared food was in a case on the left and ingredients were over a counter on the right. I asked for a slice of cheese, a couple of thick slices of country bacon and some olives from a big French guy rapidly serving people over the counter on the right. My hands full, I was propelled by the press of people to the cashier at the back, a well groomed woman in her fifties. She asked in French if this was everything I wanted.

I looked longingly at the little quiche in the case on the left. She said “La quiche?” I nodded. She was already out of her chair and heading for it when she said, “Combien?” “Une,” I squeaked.

She wrapped it up and returned to her chair as the line pressed behind me and I churned through my mental rolodex. “Je suis desolee de votre derangement,” I stammered, knowing it wasn’t quite right. “Je vous en prie!” she scoffed and rang up the purchase. I was so relieved that she thought it was natural to help people get what they wanted. I realized that is was probably her family store and the men slicing ham and cheese were her sons.

The food was sensational and it was really nice to have something to eat in the apartment when we came home wet and tired.

Knowing some French really makes a difference. In Paris, yes, and even more in the countryside. And the difference it makes is the quality of your experience. You will have SO much more fun if you can understand the waiter when he says, “Oh, don’t have that. Everyone has this.” Just know that he will say it in French.

Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

I slogged all the way through this book to the end, page 474, and found on the last page has a quote by Alan Kay. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” The book I read on the plane back from Paris was ABOUT Alan Kay and, frankly, it was more interesting.

I like Tim Ferriss. I read all his books. I visit his websites. I have watched a real-time webinar with him. I saw him speak at WordCamp. But, I gotta tell you, this is the most self-absorbed guy I have seen in a long time. I typed in many of the web links he lists at the end of chapters and the ones that start with all seem to be affiliate links. That is, every one goes to a retail site where you can purchase the item he touted in a way that provides a financial kickback to Tim Ferriss. The book is a big affiliate marketing technique! I gotta hand it to him — this is a new one on me.

The information in the book was interesting but conflicting. He includes in an appendix a long essay on self-experimentation by Dr. Seth Roberts that recommends no breakfast and much saturated fat like bacon. The weight lifting diet he shows has no corn, beans, tomatoes or carrots. It is just dark green leafy vegetables (presumably for fiber and calcium) and lean protein. And the perfect posterior model does her exercises BEFORE breakfast contrary to the paleolithic diet he recommends. Well, I have been trying it for a few days and so far, it seems to trigger migraines.

Lizz Free Or Die – Lizz Winstead

Lizz Free Or Die – Lizz Winstead

Lizz Free Or DieLizz Winstead, a comedy writer on the team that created the original “The Daily Show”, grew up in Minnesota as a progressive in a conservative Catholic household. Her series of “messays” (messy essays) shows how it shaped her ambition. As the youngest, she was the family comedian. I always wondered what happened to Catholic girls who grew up in a relatively happy and safe family. It looks like this one drove herself too hard, became very angry and hard to work with, burned out on a couple of important jobs, and developed writers block.

How very interesting! I thought all this only happened to people with unhappy childhoods! But no, Lizz talks about how “Lizzilla” developed and breathed fire not only on the job, but on her Moroccan vacation. Lizz got a lot of pushback as her early career evolved from ordinary girl humor to political humor but she got a luck break to develop a daily TV show of satirical news reporting. The bad news is: they made her the head of the writing team and she had no experience with (1) TV or (2) leading a team of writers. As she tried harder, she got more stressed, her jokes got meaner and she got gone before Jon Stewart arrived.

It was hard to make a living afterwards, but she finally landed a job on Air America, the new liberal radio network that was supposed to counter Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. Problem was: (1) she did not hide her scorn for the network’s owners and (2) she didn’t know radio. On the plus side, she persuaded a talented radio personality from Northampton, Massachusetts to move to NYC to join their network. Rachel Maddow.

I liked Lizz’s writing and her inventiveness with language. I certainly agree with her anti-Catholic politics. I think she might have been a casualty of the “you can have it all” myth that was going around in the 70s and 80s. It took her a year longer than she expected to finish the book because it was so hard to stay focused when she was simultaneously trying to write comedy routines.

I understand feeling scattered and I wish I blogged more. Sigh.