Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Entertainments II

1. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, which I'd never even heard of until a couple of years ago. Because of the title similarity, I guess I assumed it would be something like Cold Mountain, but actually it's more like Oscar Wilde meets Wuthering Heights. A phrase that sticks with me is the characterization of one of the characters as a "trying female." Such a useful description.

2. Jagged Little Pill, the Alanis Morissette album from several years ago that I recently rediscovered thanks to my iPod, which I've been listening to on my commute, since there's only so much NPR you can take at rush hour without getting bored and/or depressed. Lots of cool songs in addition to the familiar singles. That woman has a way with words. I can't help but wonder how many different men she's trashing, how people manage to careen from love to hate, and about the success of her future relationships given her apparently poor track record (and the potential intimidation factor among men who've listened to this album). Incidentally, my favorite songs by Morissette is not on this album: "Thank U."

3. My guitar -- the one Ben gave me before we were married and that I've been very occasionally trying to learn how to play. One of the many cool things about the web is being able to find lyrics, chords and tabs for any song you'd care to play. So while the rest of the family was trick-or-treating last night, I sat on the couch and made a lot of progress toward being able to play all the chords to "This Boy." Speaking of Beatles, my father sent me a copy of the new Spitz biography just because he knew I was probably salivating over it (and he was right). I'll dive into it as soon as I read my library book, "You Gotta Have Wa."

3. OK, maybe entertainment is the wrong word, but "How We Die" by Sherwin Nuland. If you can get beyond the purple prose, he has some interesting things to say about the issue of the so-called "good death" as well as the medical mechanisms of aging, disease and the end of life. His main points, which certainly resonate with me, are that death is not to be feared so much as the pointless and painful prolongation of the life of someone very old or terminally ill; and that the quality of a person's death is much less important than the quality of the life that preceded it. Three cheers for the hospice movement, and for total honesty between doctor and patient.

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