Thursday, June 4, 2015

What I'm Reading/Watching

The Signet Classic paperback on Voltaire:  I had already read Candide, but this collection includes a couple novellas (Zadig and Ingenuous) and thirteen short stories.  Some were very topical, dealing with specific Jesuits and Jansenists and their feuds, while others were more broadly philosophical and always witty and insightful.

The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics by John Pollack:  Pollack, winner of the 1995 world pun championships, has a brief (154 pages, not counting bibliography, acknowledgments, etc.) account of the history, popularity, and neurolinguistics behind puns.  Very accessible, but at times a bit disorganized, it's a fun read on the subject.  Its original research is limited to asking questions of comedians, writers, linguists, and and neuroscientists, so it's really more of a summation of existing research.

Ended up seeing Lucy (2014) on DVD.  Holy crap was that movie stupid.  The whole 10% of the brain thing would be okay if Besson didn't try to make the movie seem profound by having characters ponder the meaning of being human his liberal use of nature footage.  Then there's the problem of having an action movie where the main character can manipulate matter and no one else can.  There's never any sense of real danger for Lucy.  That said, I can see this having a cult following.  It has a couple big names (Scarlett Johannson and Morgan Freeman), the plot is laughably stupid, and it has some pretty cool visual effects.

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