Wine of the Month - August, 2008

July 31st, 2008
2006 Emiliana Natura Carmenère
2006 Emiliana Natura Carmenère

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The 2008 Man Booker Prize (Nominees)

July 30th, 2008

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction represents the very best in contemporary fiction (from the UK, Ireland, and the Commonwealth). One of the world’s most prestigious awards, and one of incomparable influence, it continues to be the pinnacle of ambition for every fiction writer. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors, and even publishers. In 2004, not only did Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty reach the bestseller lists, but previous winners The Life of Pi (2002) and Vernon God Little (2003) were also amongst the bestselling books of the year. Congratulations to last year's winner Anne Enright for her novel The Gathering.

The White Tiger by Aravind AdigaThe White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor ArnoldGirl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian BarryThe Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
From A to X by John BergerFrom A to X by John Berger
The Lost Dog by Michelle de KretserThe Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser
Sea of Poppies by Amitav GhoshSea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda GrantThe Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant
A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed HanifA Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif
The Northern Clemency by Philip HensherThe Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher
Netherland by Joseph O'NeillNetherland by Joseph O'Neill
The Enchantress of Florence by Salman RushdieThe Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
Child 44 by Tom Rob SmithChild 44 by Tom Rob Smith
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve ToltzA Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
The 2007 Nominee List

July 29th, 2008
Per Petterson - Out Stealing Horses - 73People like it when you tell them things, in suitable portions, in a modest, intimate tone, and they think they know you, but they do not, they know about you, for what they are let in on are facts, not feelings, not what your opinion is about anything at all, not how what has happened to you and how all the decisions you have made have turned you into who you are. What they do is they fill in with their own feelings and opinions and assumptions, and they compose a new life which has precious little to do with yours, and that lets you off the hook. No-one can touch you unless you yourself wants them to. You only have to be polite and smile and keep paranoid thoughts at bay, because they will talk about you no matter how much you squirm, it is inevitable, and you would do the same thing yourself.

Beer of the Month - August, 2008

July 28th, 2008
Blue Moon Honey Moon Summer Ale

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The Dancer Upstairs

July 25th, 2008


The Dancer UpstairsThis taut political thriller set in Latin America marks John Malkovich's explosive directorial debut. Academy Award nominee Javier Bardem (Best Actor, 2000 - Before Night Falls) stars as legit policeman Agustin Rejas, who faces the greatest challenge of his career - to catch the leader of a terrorist movement threatening to collapse his government, while being stopped at every turn by his own corrupt supervisors. As the fight becomes more ferocious, Rejas' search brings him ever closer to the guerilla leader. But when, amidst the chaos, he falls in love with his daughter's ballet teacher (Laura Morante), Rejas must choose between his heart, his country, and his own well-being.

Javier Bardem is Agustin Rejas, the man who stopped practicing law -- because it was too corrupt -- to become a police officer in Latin America. He is the hard-working, by-the-book cop who is chosen to lead the investigation for a ghost -- a man going by "Ezekial" is leading a revolution throughout the country, but he leaves no trace. The synopsis provided with the DVD mentions a love interest Rejas takes in his daughter's ballet teacher, which is true, but it is not the steamy romance you might deduce (from the title?). Whenever I read a storyline and see it cut to "he falls in love with," I am immediately afraid that the plot will suffer for it. I was worried for no reason this time. The relationship is thrown together rather quickly, but it serves a purpose so I hardly took notice, beyond it maybe suggesting that we are all a little corrupt.

My only complaint was the lack of development. Two things I would have enjoyed further depth were his relationship with his wife and why he craved this ballet teacher and why conditions were so bad in the country that a revolutionary leader could become such a hero to the people. Neither elaboration, however, was ultimately necessary to the story.

I really liked this movie. I have not enjoyed a low-budget thriller like this in quite a while; one that is successful for its story and not its big names nor its hollywood flare. And while they are not all that similar, you may enjoy this movie if you liked The Motorcycle Diaries.

Some scenes were pretty graphic, which leads me to reiterate the disclaimer I made for another film: In my experience it is very difficult to separate a movie from it's graphic elements. So please be aware, if not cautious, of those elements in this movie. In other words, I speak highly of this movie, but it is not for everyone.

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July 24th, 2008
HellboyJohn Myers: What makes a man a man? A friend of mine once wondered. Is it his origins? The way he comes to life? I don't think so. It's the choices he makes. Not how he starts things, but how he decides to end them.

Recipe of the Month - August, 2008

July 23rd, 2008

Corn Vichyssoise

4 cups water
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 ears of corn-kernels cut off the cobs and cobs broken in half
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry vermouth
salt and pepper
3 tbsp heavy cream
2 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

In a saucepan, bring the water and broth to a boil with the corn kernels, cobs, onion, garlic, celery and vermouth. Simmer for 20 minutes. Discard the cobs. Puree the soup in a blender. Strain into a large, clean saucepan, season with salt and pepper and whisk in the cream. Serve the soup hot or chilled; garnish with the mushrooms, cilantro and olive oil.

6 servings.

This recipe is from the August 2008 Food & Wine magazine and is also available at

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Movie of the Month - August, 2008

July 22nd, 2008

Charlie Bartlett

Charlie BartlettAnton Yelchin (Alpha Dog) stars as Charlie Bartlett, who has been kicked out of every private school he ever attended. And now that he's moved on to public school, he's simply getting pummeled. But when Charlie discovers that the kids who surround him -- the outcast and the popular alike -- are secretly in desperate need, his entrepreneurial spirit takes over. Hanging up his shingle in the Boys' restroom, Charlie becomes and underground, not to mention under-aged, shrink who listens to private confessions of his schoolmates, and makes the imprudent decision to hand out the pills he's proffered from his own psychiatric sessions. Meanwhile, at home, Charlie keeps charming his way out of an inevitable confrontation with his adoring but utterly overwhelmed mother Marilyn (Hope Davis).

Then, Charlie Bartlett makes his big mistake: falling in love with the beautiful and bold daughter (Kat Dannings) of the school's increasingly disenchanted Principal (Robert Downey Jr.), who is hot on his trail. As Charlie Bartlett's world and fledgling psychiatric practice unravel, he begins to discover there's a whole lot more to making a difference than handing out pills.

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July 21st, 2008
Undercover BrotherUndercover Brother: Are you telling me there really is a "Man?"
Conspiracy Brother: What do you think? Things don't just happen by accident! Sometimes people - mostly white people - make things happen!
Undercover Brother: So the conspiracies we've believed for all these years are true? The NBA really did institute the three point shot to give white boys a chance?
Conspiracy Brother: Of course!
Undercover Brother: Then the entertainment industry really is out to get Spike Lee?
Conspiracy Brother: Come on man! Even Cher's won an Oscar! Cher!
Undercover Brother: Then O.J. really didn't do it?

Book of the Month - August, 2008

July 18th, 2008

Teacher Man: A Memoir by Frank McCourt

Teacher Man: A Memoir by Frank McCourtNearly a decade ago Frank McCourt became an unlikely star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with Angela's Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Then came 'Tis, the glorious account of his early years in New York.

Now, here at last is McCourt's long-awaited book about how his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer. Teacher Man is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises he faces in public high schools around New York City. His methods anything but conventional, McCourt creates a lasting impact on his students through imaginative assignments (he instructs one class to write "An Excuse Note from Adam or Eve to God"), singalongs (featuring recipe ingredients as lyrics) and field trips (imagine taking twenty-nine rowdy girls to a movie in Times Square!).

McCourt struggles to find his way in the classroom and spends his evenings drinking with writers and dreaming of one day putting his own story on paper. Teacher Man shows McCourt developing his unparallelled ability to tell a great story as, five days a week, five periods per day, he works to gain the attention and respect of unruly, hormonally charged or indifferent adolescents. McCourt's rocky marriage, his failed attempt to get a Ph.D. at Trinity College, Dublin, and his repeated firings due to his propensity to talk back to his superiors ironically lead him to New York's most prestigious school, Stuyvesant High School, where he finally find a place and a voice. "Doggedness," he says is not as glamourous as ambition or talent or intellect or charm, but still one thing that got me through the days and nights."

For McCourt, storytelling itself is the source of salvation, and in Teacher Man the journey to redemption -- and literary fame -- is an exhilarating adventure.

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