Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ern's Monthly Page Turners (February 2011)

Yes, yes, still working my way through unwritten book reviews.  Here were the tomes of my choice for the month of February.  A classic, a guide to more curry shops in Japanese, a couple of rock star biographies, a visual book, and a fable for children and adults alike.  Well, I'm going to try to write the ones for March and April before leaving for vacation on the second week of May.  Where am I going?  That will be for future posts.  So enjoy my literary choices:

THE ODYSSEY by Homer – Considered to be the first book ever written, as well as the first travel essay (and you might as well throw in the first science-fiction story as well) with all the nymphs, Gods, Cyclops, and six-headed serpents being part of the story. The Trojan War is over, it’s been ten years and all Odysseus wants to do is leave Troy and head back home to his wife and child. Unfortunately, it takes Odysseus another ten years before he sees his three island home of Ithaca. Back in Ithaca, his queen, Penelope is being courted by so many men who try to convince her that Odysseus is dead and will never come back. This story is believed to have been developed over three thousand years and is actually an epic poem attributed to Homer, who is also believed to have written “The Iliad” as well. The introduction states that the original versions of both “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” are over ten thousand lines long. As this is the Puffin Classic version (Puffin being Penguin Publishers line for children) it is written in simple and easy to understand English and has less than one-hundred pages.

東京カレー旅行 [Tokyo Curry Ryoko] by les deux (滝村美保子・松尾ミユキ) & others – The title of this book translates to “Tokyo Curry Trip”. A very self-explanatory title. A couple of years ago I wrote a review of a book titled “カレーになりたい” by Jinsuke Mizuno who’s book title translates to “I Want to be Curry”. Well, the writers of this particular book don’t go as far as that but they do provide us with a handy guide to some of the best places to eat curry in Tokyo. Miyuki Matsuo, an illustrator along with Mihoko Takimura, owner of a general goods store formed a unit called les deux and created the Tokyo Trip Series featuring various neighborhoods of Tokyo. This is a special edition. Les deux along with their friends comprising of eight other women from various walks of life but sharing a common love for curry introduces us to their favorites. Not all the curries featured are from curry shops but includes curries from cafes, diners, and bars as well. The women give us fifty shops to check out. Also, as they were creating this book, they discovered that men and women have different tastes when it comes to curry. Their goal was to make a simple guide to curry shops from woman’s point of view. Of course they hope that men will read this guide as well and hope they will discover something new as well.

本に付いてる帯でこういう事が書かれてます、「東京を旅する理由がカレーのためだっていいじゃない」。私もそう思う。以前カレーに関する本を紹介しましたが、カレー番長の水野仁輔が書いた「カレーになりたい!」みたいな感じまではいかない。イラストレーターの松尾ミユキと雑貨屋の店主滝村美保子がコンビでles deux (レドゥ)を結成。二人がまだあんまり知られてない東京の街を紹介するガイドブック「東京旅行」シリーズを作りました。今まで5の街を旅して紹介された。どの街でも必ずどこかで食べるのがカレー。そしてこの本が誕生しました。東京旅行シリーズの特別編。Les deux以外に他の女性8人も加え、約50店舗を紹介されます。前書に書かれた様にこの本はカレー専門店だけではなく、カレーが美味しいの喫茶店やバー、食堂なども含まれてます。全員が女性なので、紹介する店はほとんど女性好みで女性が一人で気軽に入れる店を案内してる。彼女たちが男性でも読んで別の視点でカレーの魅力が発見出来る事も願ってます。自分も男性なので、結構気になる店はいっぱいありました。今度の休日に、この本を持ってどかかの美味しいカレーを食べに行ってみたいです。

TATTOOS & TEQUILA : TO HELL AND BACK WITH ONE OF ROCK’S MOST NOTORIOUS FRONTMEN by Vince Neil – First, there was “The Dirt”. Then came “Tommyland”. That was followed by “The Heroin Diaries”. And if you still don’t know what I’m talking about, then you must not be a true fan of Motley Crue! This book which is also the title of his latest solo album is written in Vince’s own words. “The death of Razzle, the death of Skylar, the broken marriages and children left behind, there still is, a lot of grief inside me. It would be years before I would realize the toll of a lifetime of strife. It’s not easy for me. They flew me to yet another rehab…” Any rock fan knows that Razzle was the drummer for Hanoi Rocks. I even remember the headlines from some of the papers after that particular incident – “Drunk Killer Vince Neil Sentenced to Touring World with Rock Band”. And then there is Skylar, his daughter who passed away at the tender age of four You know it’s such a shame that the stories of some of my favorite rock stars are full of tragedy. Of course most of Motley’s antics were already described in “The Dirt”. This is more of the story of just Vince and those closest to him. He talks about being kicked out of Motley Crue, starting his own band, being asked to rejoin Motley, although he was pretty unwilling at first but since it made business sense, there you have it. Which is probably why I haven’t bought any of their latest albums. But hey, aside from the band, Vince has his own tattoo parlor shop, he has this book deal, he still fronts Motley Crue. It’s too bad these rock stars have to fall rock bottom or lower before they turn their lives around. Or as Vince states near the end of the book, “These days I’ve got businesses to run. I like the action. Something to get your heart pumping. Healthier than a syringe full of cocaine powder like I was doing back in ’81 with my girlfriend Lovey, that’s for sure…But you got to admit…those days are a lot more fun to talk about…”

GUS VAN SANT : ONE STEP BIG SHOT by Gus Van Sant – Yes, that would be the director of such movies as “Drugstore Cowboy”, “Elephant”, “Paranoid Park” and “My Private Idaho”. This is a pretty clever visual book. It’s a collection of Polaroid pictures of actors and actresses that Van Sant had taken at casting calls. You will find some early pictures of Keanu Reeves, Matt Damon, Nicole Kidman, and John Travolta to name just a few before they became the big names that they are now. This books was published to coincide with an exhibition titled: “One Step Big Shot : Portraits by Andy Warhol and Gus Van Sant” at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon.

MUSTAINE : A HEAVY METAL MEMOIR by Dave Mustaine – And yet another rock star biography. This time from one time Metallica member and founder to leader of the successful thrash band Megadeth! As with Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Mustaine’s rise to fame was not an easy road. I think the blurb on the sleeve of the book pretty much covers his entire life – [Impoverished, transient childhood? Check. Abusive, alcoholic parent? Check. Mind-fucking religious weirdness (in his case the extremes of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Satanism)? Check. Alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness? Check, check, check. Soul-crushing professional and artistic setbacks? Check. Rehab? Check (seventeen times, give or take). Near death experience? Check that one too.] It sounds like the plot of some Afterschool Special. And although I never saw Motley Crue in concert, I can say that I have seen Megadeth!! But like all my favorite rock stars, their demise is of their own doing. They have no one but themselves to blame for the times they’ve hit rock bottom. Mustaine’s bitterness at being kicked out of Metallica still shines through. You may remember that he took part in Metallica’s documentary “Some Kind of Monster” but felt he was duped into participating. He talks about the various members that took part in the band. I can tell you all that Marty Friedman appears on Japanese television quite often and event toured with a favorite Japanese artist of mine, but I digress. This book and Vince Neil book are only for hard core rock/metal fans.

AHMED AND THE OBLIVION MACHINE : A FABLE by Ray Bradbury – I picked up this title in a bargain bin. A fable it says. Um…I didn’t get it. At all!! You know, I love Ray Bradbury – “The Martian Chronicles”, “Fahrenheit 451” and such, but this. Ahmed is the twelve-year old son of a caravan leader. On one particular day, he falls off his camel and finds himself lost and alone in the desert. As Ahmed’s prospects look bleak he begins to cry. His tears awakes a God called Gonn-Ben-Allah, Keeper of the Ghosts of Lost Names. Since Ahmed has woken the god from his slumber of 10,000 years, the God gives the boy the gift of flight and takes him on an incredible journey. Um, okay.

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